Elise Walker

Credentials: Direct Supply

Position title: UX Researcher

photo of Elise Walker

Major: Marketing

Certificate: Digital Studies

Graduation Date: May 2016

How did you end up at Direct Supply?

My career started with an internship in e-commerce data analytics working with a UX team. I then worked in web management, ran my own UX consulting business and then worked for a software company on a large, specialized UX team. I was recruited to Direct Supply to build out their UX research practice.

I fell in love with UX because it is a field that balances analysis, creativity, empathy and problem solving. I take great joy in pulling together different data sources and eventually finding the problem. I love collaborating with product management, developers and UX to find a solution that best fits the business goal, technical challenges and user needs.

What does a typical week look like for you?

I do a lot of different things in a typical week. I have a lot of meetings with both customers and internal team members. A big part of my role is designing and executing research projects that help inform the viability of the project, the user experience design and recommended feature set / scope.

Research projects can involve a lot of things:

  • Writing open ended research scripts for qualitative testing
  • Facilitating research calls with customers
  • Analyzing research calls in a UX research library for themes
  • Building research presentations for executives, stakeholders and engineers
  • Collaborating with UX designers to design prototypes to test

I also gather data in other ways. For example, I conduct surveys and look at digital analytics.

My role also involves speaking about research and UX best practices, working with product managers and tech leads, facilitating customer conversations at Direct Supply conferences and advocating for research projects and development.

How has Digital Studies influenced your career path?

Digital Studies provided an excellent practical education in tech skills and concepts. I’ve used skills, like prototyping websites, from my digital studies courses in my actual career.

Did you have a favorite Digital Studies class or professor when you were a student?

I really enjoyed my 3D digital studio class, as it really stretched my digital design skills, time management and ability to learn complex design tools. I also took a cyber ethics course that really reframed how I thought of search engines and bias in research.

Do you have any advice for current students?

I recommend taking classes that challenge you and interest you. There are hundreds of careers that don’t fit in a perfect box of a single major. I like that the Digital Studies certificate gives you opportunities to take a unique blend of classes across different departments to reflect different digital careers.

Additionally, if you’re looking to get into a certain digital field, it’s always helpful to do informational interviews. They are a great way of getting a taste of what that job is actually like and getting advice on what things to learn, read and pursue for that career path. I recommend reaching out to someone on LinkedIn and asking for a 30 min conversation. Brainstorm your questions ahead of time and research their company to make the most out of it.

A career in UX also demands an awesome digital portfolio with case studies. If you haven’t had a professional project yet, look for volunteer or academic opportunities to do UX research and design. It can be challenging to get into an entry level UX job and having a practical portfolio can give you the edge.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career thus far?

I am most proud of helping launch a software product that exceeded the earnings forecast and helped retire two older redundant platforms. I know it was a success because of our customer-centric testing approach, agile development, and of course the software sales numbers. I find it rewarding to build things people actually need and that help them do their jobs easier.