Get to know Kayla Ferris, UX & Product Designer
What is you role?
Associate UX Designer
How long have you worked at Uplift Delivery?
I’ve worked at Uplift for 6 months - so still pretty new!
What did you do before you worked at Uplift?
Before Uplift, I worked as a Graphic Designer.
What made you want to shift to UX Design from Graphic Design?
At the beginning of the pandemic I was temporarily laid-off from my Graphic Design role for about a month. During that time - like a lot of others I suspect - I really evaluated what I wanted to be doing with my time, talents, and skills. After some thinking, I felt like I wanted to be taking on more complex problems, be more involved on the strategy side of things, and use design to help solve problems and better people’s lives. And UX Design allows me to do just that.
With Graphic Design, design is used to communicate value. But with UX Design, design is used to provide value - and that feels really fulfilling to me.
I enrolled in the 10-month UX Design Program at CareerFoundry in January of 2021 to begin my transition into UX Design.
What brought you to Uplift?
When I was about 8 months into my course at CareerFoundry, Pam (our amazing recruiter) reached out to me on LinkedIn. I was surprised that someone would be interested in me for a UX role when I had no experience at all - especially when I wasn’t even done with my course.
So BIG shoutout to Pam for seeing some potential in me and bringing me in to interview at Uplift.
What is your favorite thing about working at Uplift?
The people for sure. Not only is everyone at Uplift super fun and funny (for example, we have an ongoing debate about if the Kool Aid man is the jar, or the liquid - he’s totally the jar btw) but everyone here is also extremely knowledgeable and talented.
I think Uplift is an amazing place to work, especially for someone who is more junior in their role like me. Most of my coworkers at Uplift are pretty senior in their career and have been in their roles for quite a while. There’s that saying “If you are the smartest person in the room, then you are in the wrong room” - and Uplift is definitely the right room. I am able to learn so much from everyone around me and I think it’s an amazing environment to grow in my skills and career.
Shoutout to Abs for being an amazing mentor and dealing with all of my newbie insecurities!
What does your day to day look like in your current role?
Day-to-day really looks pretty different depending on the project and what stage that project is in. For example, I’m currently in the Discovery phase with my current client. So, my day-to-day is a lot of analysis of current state assets and products, documentation, and diagramming. Basically a lot of creation of assets to help with our understanding. But later on in the process we’ll get into things like creating task flows, sketching screens, and designing interaction flows. So, there’s really a large variety of things I could be doing on any given day.
What do you think is the biggest challenge of UX Design?
Hmm, that’s a big question. I think my biggest challenge so far has been more related to the consulting side of things than the UX side of things. I’ve been learning and growing both skill-sets at the same time here at Uplift.
But, I think the biggest challenge has been gaining trust and alignment with stakeholders. As a consulting firm we are constantly needing to build relationships with our clients from the ground up, and that can take some time. People can be very averse to change - even if change is what we were hired to deliver to them. So, I think I’m still trying to figure out the best way to gain that trust quickly, get the whole-team aligned, and stay aligned throughout the process.
So if anyone has any advice on that - please let me know!
What is the best career lesson you have learned so far?
I think the best career lesson I have learned so far is that I should never have to ask permission to understand what I am designing for. I think people can sometimes expect UXers to just make pretty screens and start designing those screens as soon as possible.
But I think it is really important to understand the product that we are designing and have a lot of clarity about how that product needs to work and what it needs to accomplish (and have everyone on the team aligned in that understanding) - that way we can translate that clarity, and thus ease of use, to our users through our designs.
The other piece of advice I’ve found really valuable is that it's important to take up space - and be assertive and confident in my decisions and presentation of those decisions. This one in particular is definitely still a work-in-progress for me.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
I think my proudest accomplishment is seeing the progress of my dog, Tina. We adopted Tina about a month into the pandemic, and she had a lot of issues. She had been a breeding dog for 5 years and honestly didn’t really know how to be a dog. She was extremely timid and trusted nothing and no one.
Now, 2-years later she has really flourished. She is potty and leash trained. She trusts me fiercely (my boyfriend, not so much still lol), loves belly rubs, and has even started playing with some of the other dogs at the office.
While she still has a long way to go, seeing her come out of her shell and learn how to be a happy dog has been absolutely amazing.
Who has had the biggest impact on your life?
This is cliche, but definitely my Mom. She is literally the smartest and most supportive person I know. She has taught me so much about what it means to love someone unconditionally and how to show that love to others. She’s the best.
What are your hobbies?
I’m a huge theater nerd. I grew up doing choir and theater and minored in musical theater in college. I love going to see shows and lucky for me Des Moines has a really rich theater community. I also enjoy crocheting, having bonfires with friends, and drinking craft beers on a brewery patio.
Fun fact about yourself:
A fun fact people might not expect about me is that I have a black-belt in Taekwondo.