What does a Head of UX do all day?

With Llara Geddes, Head of UX at Beauty Bay.

The purpose of this ‘day-in-the-life’ is to give transparency to the mythical beast of UX. It will also help anyone interested in breaking into the UX industry know how others made it and possibly shed some light on the role of a UXer for other people in an organisation who may not understand.

This week: Llara Geddes, Head of UX at Beauty Bay.

Why the shoe? You’ll find out…

How did you get to this stage in your career?

Get comfortable and I’ll try (and probably fail) to make this succinct:

I left school at 17 and went to work in a shoe shop. I’d done well in exams but didn’t know what I wanted to do in life or at uni. Having seen a number of older friends hate/failing at their degrees and/or going into jobs that had nothing to do with their degrees and having to start at the bottom anyway, I decided to pause university and work for a bit until I figured out what I wanted to do with my life. But I knew for sure that I liked shoes and music, so it was either schuh or Virgin Mega Stores (google it) for me – schuh won.

I worked up through store management, then moved to our customer service team at head office where I, again, worked up through the ranks, getting to a pretty senior position. BUT, I wasn’t happy and felt stuck. And so, I applied for, and got, an entry level position in marketing! Had I not had such a great understanding of our customers and in-depth knowledge of the brand, I would not have got that role.

Once I was in there, I took ownership of our social media accounts and grew my role to take in social media strategy. As part of that, I ended up working with an agency on Facebook apps and, in an effort to speed up our working practises with them, took on something called wireframing (see where this is going yet? Are you even still there?). And so, I wireframed, specced out, did user flows and UAT tested all our apps from that point!

Still unaware that this was an actual full time job, I interviewed for a community management role at an agency. When I took them through the aforementioned work, they quickly suggested that they might have another role of interest – digital media producer. Which was essentially UX and project management! And the rest is history.

Was there a lightbulb moment when you saw the value of UX?

I think the first time I got involved with user testing. In my first role, we didn’t get much opportunity to do it (which seems madness) so, when I saw the power of that insight, it BLEW MY MIND!

What does your average working day look like?

It sounds like a cliché, but there really is no typical day!

I could be doing reviews of areas of our site, research into improvements, spending time working with my team and supporting them or collaborating with other teams (creative, dev, customer service, visual merchandising and more) to help understand their needs.

We’re in the process of moving into working in sprints so I’m getting stuck into planning sprints right now and writing stories. I most enjoy digging into a problem and acting on insight from data. And team working. I least like admin and planning!

How do you use remote UX testing in your testing process?

We’ve been able to utilise remote testing to get valuable insight when we lacked data. Going forward, we’ll be using it to validate and test assumptions, to get insight on our existing estate and to test new concepts. It’s such a great way of telling a story too. It’s all very well showing someone a report or pulling out insights, but to be able to share a video, demonstrating an issue on site is far more powerful!

What other UX tools or resources do you use?

Data insight, A/B testing, face to face testing sessions, surveys.

Do you think the people in your organisation understand UX?

To a degree. I think, in the past, there’s been some misconception that it’s been too muddled with web design. We’ve been working to counter that (which is really easy for me, as I’m not a web designer!) and the business really buys into the value of the function.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

In order: She-Ra, a post office worker, a vet, a marine biologist. Worked well for me.

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