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Laura Pionek

UX Strategist, Deloitte Digital

Denver

Like many of my colleagues who have been doing UX for the past 20 years, I have had a circuitous and non-traditional path in this industry. I also feel crazy lucky and privileged to have gotten to witness and participate in the maturation of the UX industry over these years. During that time I have been called everything from a graphic designer to a multimedia designer to a web designer, in addition to the more recent UX terminology. I witnessed the obliteration of our industry during the dotcom bubble burst (thankfully that was only temporary) and had to seek other forms of employment... like being a paleontologist, because, why not? I have had crazy experiences like learning cold fusion and programming HTML in tables (before CSS was ever a thing) and making some of the very first apps and websites for some major organizations. And I even survived the dreaded transition from waterfall to agile/lean UX methodologies.

The most important lesson I have learned through all these years is that the fads, trends, personal esthetics, tool-of-the-moment, technology-of-the-moment and buzzword-approach... well, they all just sources of input for creating digital solutions, but a lot of that input is honestly just noise and a truly great designer must learn to cut all of that out and just get down to the real business of solving the problem so that users can do the jobs that need to be done in a way that is elegant and intuitive and meets the needs of the business. It isn't always easy, but the way I practice UX is to focus on problems first and try to steer clear of the other stuff.

On a day-to-day basis, I am a maker of smartphone and tablet apps with an occasional website sprinkled in. I have worked with the Cincinnati Zoo, Allstate Insurance, Ferrari, BMW, Aetna Insurance, FirstData, several start-ups and a gazillion other mid-sized companies and organizations. When I am not sitting in front of a computer or standing in front of a whiteboard, I can be found playing with my 10 month old Bernese Mountain Dog and 10 year old Jack Russell, out playing hockey, or combing the western desert for dinosaur tracks.

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