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Gain A New Perspective On User Experience Design From Katherine Hinds

In recent months we’ve conducted interviews with members of our technical support and marketing teams. Today we continue this series, but with a twist. In 2020 the Technology Association of Oregon (TAO) launched their “I Am Tech Oregon” program to highlight their members. Originally designed to highlight CEOs and members of the TAO Board of Directors, in 2021 TAO expanded the program to feature members who aren’t in the majority.

TAO’s Marketing & Regional Programs Coordinator Ruthie Ditzler recently interviewed Katherine Hinds, one of Extensis’s UX Designers. Katherine was instrumental in designing the user experience for our Digital Asset Management platform, Extensis Connect, though she has had an impact across all of our solutions. We’ve adapted TAO’s interview for our blog, and we hope you enjoy.

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Ruthie Ditzler: You work as UX designer at Extensis. Tell us more about yourself.
Katherine Hinds: I was born in Mexico; my father is American and my mom is Honduran. I went to school in the US, and fell into UX design. I had more of a marketing background during my time in college, and then I made the switch to UX design after I graduated. This is my first job in UX design, though I previously worked at Extensis as a marketing intern.

RD: What you were interested in at school, and what did you study? Can you talk us through what originally got you interested in UX design?
KH: I started out by studying marketing, but since I had to take a science prerequisite as part of my coursework, I enrolled in a web development class, which allowed me to pursue an interactive media combined major path. I loved the class so much that I considered pursuing a major in Computer Science, but my professor told me I might be more of a fit for UX. I never really thought it would be a career path for me. I wasn’t sure if I was really meant to be a designer, or if I was good enough for the tech world. But the more I did it, the more I realized I have a passion for UX design and the tech world.

RD: That prompting and encouragement from mentors is so important, "Hey, did you ever think about how you're good at this?" Have you seen yourself represented among peers and leadership?
KH: As a Latin woman, I have not seen any other Latinx UX designers, and I haven't seen a lot of Latin women in tech in general. It's ridiculous, representation is in the lower single digits. While most of the UX designers I've seen are women, which means a lot of my peers are women. In that sense it’s been nice, to have that sense of camaraderie with other people that have had the same experiences. In tech I don't see a lot of women, and even fewer Latin women.

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RD: I always ask about Impostor Syndrome. Is that something that comes up for you in your work, and if so, how do you deal with it?
KH: It comes in waves. Especially when I first started my job at Extensis, Chad (Slater, Extensis Director of R&D) has provided the best support system. In the first couple months there were times when I came to Chad and told him, "I don't know what I'm doing here, I don't know why you trust me with this, I don't know if I'm smart enough to figure this out..." Those were the moments where I felt it would fully drown me. But I've had a great support system, and I did my best to stay informed. I’d look at articles, I’d watch tutorials. If I didn’t feel certain about something, I’d just keep trying to learn. Growing up, it came up a lot. There were classes in my high school for computer science, but I never thought I was smart enough. Slowly, I’ve tried to push that aside and learn on my own, and use my support system.

RD: What do you think is the best career decision you've ever made?
KH: Working at Extensis! They gave me an opportunity I couldn't turn down, and I’m forever grateful. I don't think I would have learned as quickly as I have if I hadn't taken this position. Initially I was pretty hard-headed about not wanting to live in Oregon, if being super honest. I’m happy I didn't turn it down. I've learned so much and worked with incredible people.

RD: Anything you wish you had done differently?
KH: I wish I would have stood up for myself earlier. There were a lot of moments I stayed quiet. I don't think I have any regrets. It's all been stepping stones and learning experiences for me.

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RD: What about mentors? We've talked about being a woman in tech, have you had any mentors that have influenced you? If there was a UX designer on the call right now, what suggestions would you offer them for seeking mentorship?
KH: I've had multiple mentors, though not necessarily UX designers. I've had cheerleaders when I’ve needed someone to believe in me. I have been in contact with a lot of UX designers, and I’ve considered their guidance very valuable for me. If I could offer any recommendations, it’s to always be learning. I like keeping up to date with Instagram, and people that have quick slides with easily-digestible UX advice and tips. I've tried to network myself around UX designers, so I don’t have any one specific mentor.

RD: If you could share one piece of wisdom, what would it be?
KH: I have one post-it note that I keep on my table: “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (Airman's Odyssey)

RD: And now we have some questions from our audience:

What are the handles for the Instagram accounts that you follow for tips on UX design?
KH: I’d be happy to share these. Check out @UI_gradient, @pix.ux, @nitishkmrk, and @uxui_daily. I also really like @interfacely and Dribbble.com for inspiration. Also, I’ve found uxcel.com is a great resource for keeping up to date and testing your knowledge.

What advice do you have for making your voice heard as a young/entry-level designer?
KH: I'm pretty hard-headed by nature. What's helped me a lot is asking for help and noticing who has your back. And doing your research, knowing talking points, knowing your value, what you're supposed to be doing. That gives me backbone, vs "I think I deserve this, or I think it's this way."

Your progression and growth is really inspiring, where do you see yourself in 5 years or 10 years?
KH: I want to continue growing I could see myself taking on a managerial role, or taking on a company or business... I see myself continuing to climb or learn... I do see myself in a managerial position in the future.

Do you have some insight or comments on the paradigm shift in UX, with the growing youth movement?
KH: I do think a lot of the younger generation is they're a lot more aware of diversity and accessibility. It's been great to see.

Do you find there are any barriers to conflict management and communicating since you are a Latina?
KH: Yes, I feel like a lot the time I'm walking on eggshells to some degree. It's a lot of figuring out, how much is a balance between knowing my resources, and taking up space and recognizing where I am because I am a minority in this space. I'm very careful with my words, how I express myself and who I share my words with. A lot of it is observing people, listening before deciding, and asking myself, “Are these people I can speak with and share with?” It's tough, but that's the reality.

How do you incorporate more diverse perspectives in your design?
KH: I recognize I am a white-passing Latina. I’ve had to be proactive in surrounding myself with people that have different backgrounds, people with disabilities, language barriers, color blindness, and speech impediments. That would be my advice, surround yourself with people with different backgrounds. For example, I'm not colorblind, but I know multiple people who are. I rely upon the people around me and their diverse backgrounds to become a better designer.

What advice to you have for young girls who want to get into tech?
KH: Do it (laughs) I've beaten myself up for too many years, I’ve let too many people tell me I'm not smart enough. If things shift, it's all about rolling with the punches. Just try it.

We’re grateful that Katherine is a part of the Extensis team. Watch the full interview here, or on the TAO YouTube page.