My name is Ellen Somma. I’m a User Experience (UX) Specialist for the Government of Jersey.
What my job involves
User Experience (UX) is how users feel when they interact with our organisation via our website, applications or online services.. It includes everything they see, hear and do.
My job is to make sure that digital government services are easy to use and accessible. We do this by carrying out user research, which focuses on understanding customers behaviours, needs and motivations. Once we understand this, we can design and create online services that people will find useful and easy to use.
There are lots of different user research methods. It’s my job to make sure we use the method(s) best suited to a particular project as well as planning, designing and running the research, analysing and sharing the results.
How I got into this profession
I started in user research when I was working as an online forms developer. Part of my job involved conducting usability testing where you have ‘real life’ users testing forms whilst you observe them. The aim is to identify any usability issues that they encounter.
In 2017, I started working as a Content Strategist for the Government of Jersey on gov.je. This role gave me the opportunity to gain further knowledge and experience in different user research methods and website accessibility and that’s when I found a real passion for it.
Qualifications or skills needed for the role
The number one key skill for a job in UX is empathy. You have to be able to understand and see things from the perspective of your users.
In terms of qualifications, a degree, equivalent qualification or experience that involves a high degree of analytical or numerical content is useful, as analytical thinking is critical to the role and you have to be comfortable crunching numbers and data as part of that.
User experience / research credentials or qualifications gained through recognised UX training programmes or online learning are also useful. Nielsen Norman Group is a UX research and consulting firm used by leading organisations worldwide to provide reliable guidance on user experience. I am UX certified through them with a speciality in User Research.
Being a woman in tech
Tech is an area that more women should consider for a career. There’s the misconception that you need to have lots of technical knowledge or know how to code to work in tech, but there’s actually a huge variety of jobs within tech that require a broad set of skills.
I feel very fortunate that my previous job roles have led me to my current role because I really enjoy it. I work with great people, many of whom are women and we encourage and support each other in what we do.
What I enjoy most about my job
I enjoy all aspects of my job but the part that I enjoy the most is seeing how testing an online service, with even a handful of people, can highlight issues that no one anticipated. It’s so satisfying to be able to identify those issues and then make positive changes to resolve them.
It’s a constant lesson to me that we should never assume anything, and it really validates the importance of testing.