Hi, I'm

Whitney Mitchell

User Experience Designer and Researcher  |  Nashville, TN

I'm passionate about designing solutions that make people's lives easier. Relying on user-centered research to inform design solutions, I ensure a product's end goals are met and break down the design process to keep the product's development efficient.

Working as a front end programmer, I realized my passion for user experience design upon witnessing its power to transform the development process. I saw that UX is the first step in building a successful product: it's how we verify that we're solving real, relevant problems efficiently, and too often it's this work that doesn't get done.

Currently, I am pursuing research-driven, user-centered design work. Please read on to learn more about me, or check out my resume or LinkedIn, and contact me with any thoughts, insights, questions, or opportunities. Thank you for stopping by!

Approach

My goal with any project is to define the challenge, design the best possible solution to that challenge, and minimize the complexity/frustration/wasted resources of developing and maintaining the design solution.

I take a user-centered, iterative, research-based approach to the design process. Understanding relevant competitors and empathizing with individuals who may share the problem to be solved, enables me to to verify during the research stage that the solution I'm designing is appropriate and prioritize project requirements by their impact and cost. 

Moving forward into the design stage, I iterate through design ideas, user flows, and wireframes, conducting usability tests along the way. I find these processes are the most direct, effective tools to maintain focus on the user and the design's efficacy beyond the research stage. 

The image below illustrates my approach, from defining the challenge through design delivery.

Background

My path to UX design has been rich and varied. There have been times it was hard to see exactly where my skills and experiences would lead me, but looking back it's clear that using design to solve problems for people was always inevitable. The common themes have always been creative thinking and a curiosity about human behavior.

Below is a summary of the professional, academic, and personal experiences that have led me to UX and a description of how each has contributed to my skillset. Some are more glamorous than others, but all of them have been integral to shaping my passion for understanding people and their problems.

Liberal Arts

I graduated Magna Cum Laude with a bachelor's degree in Political Science, with minors in Philosophy and Women's Studies. I also took a variety of other liberal arts and mass communication electives in college that trained me to think critically about the human experience. My studies helped me hone my communication skills and develop my ability to understand problems/situations from a variety of perspectives. In hindsight, this was the first clue that my passion was always people.

Food Service

This is the less glamorous part of my experience, but undeniably valuable. Food service has been integral to developing my ability to understand others. I spent 5 years as a Starbucks barista and 3 years as a cook at a Portland, Oregon pizza restaurant. These positions taught me how to work with teams made up of extremely different individuals, balance opposing stakeholder goals, and change strategies (and succeed!) in the face of ever-changing requirements and constraints. These experiences also taught me the real world value of understanding what others (customers, coworkers, and management) need to make their days/lives easier.

Visual Arts

From pre-school through college, I always took an assortment of art classes. I've remained particularly fascinated by fiber arts, primarily because of the dichotomy between its potential for total creative abandon, and its roots in complete practicality (fibers become threads, threads become fabric, fabric becomes a tool that advances civilization, and so on). I've also had the pleasure of planning and displaying my work in gallery shows, and I find it especially fulfilling when a piece of work I created brings about human connection.

Apparel Design & Construction

I spent several years studying apparel design in Portland, Oregon, where I learned to create patterns and construct garments, tailoring them to individuals' specific measurements. The first step in the apparel design process is acquiring those measurements, which become the basis for pattern-making and lots of subsequent design decisions. This was my first experience actually using design principles to create solutions, and it has informed everything I've pursued since. Apparel design even echos key programming and digital design principles, like reusable components and documenting one's decisions!

Programming

In 2016, I made the shift from food service to programming. I'd realized that I wanted to help people move through their everyday lives with greater ease and pleasure, or, as I put it at the time, "I just want to make things work better for people." It seemed that building software was an ideal and practical way to help people solve everyday problems. I completed Nashville Software School's full-stack web development bootcamp and found work as a front end programmer for a small company building a cloud-based web app for legal professionals. This was where I fully realized the value of doing the design work before building the product. I began to understand that design work is where I have the greatest potential to positively impact people's use of a product. 

My employer didn't have the resources to devote to a UX team. However, through trial and error, the development team recognized that, in order to increase productivity, we had to implement some processes for gathering project requirements and getting stakeholder buy-in before ever writing any code. When we actually started implementing these processes and communicating closely with our primary users throughout the development process, we saw a drastic increase in the satisfaction each new feature provided upon its release, and a decrease in the number of changes/bugs/etc. that had to be resolved later.

This experience -- seeing the difference between building a product with no design, versus building one with some initial design work -- showed me the importance of understanding the user, researching, and designing a thing before building it. It not only makes everyone involved happier and more productive, but it assures the user's satisfaction and the validity of the product itself. Once I realized the power of the UX design process, I knew it was where I wanted to focus my energy. I enrolled in the UI & UX Design class at Nashville Software School, and I have devoted my energy to pursuing work that will improve product designs while allowing me to fully indulge my passion for human behavior.

For more specific/traditional information about my background, please check out my resume, LinkedIn, or feel free to contact me!

Contact Me

If anything here stirs your interest, I'd love to hear from you! I'm currently pursuing challenging UX research and design work, as well as peer mentorship/friendship.

Let's get coffee and chat! Email me, or use this handy form here!

 
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