From Journalism to UX Design
How my journalism background prepared me for a UX career
Like many user experience professionals, I came to UX from a different field. I received my B.A. in Literary Journalism and started my career writing SEO-friendly content. Within a year, I advanced from writing content to developing content strategies that grew a blog from 580 to 11,000 new users per month. The jump from SEO to UX (acronyms—am I right?) occurred after the completion of a mobile responsive redesign, during which I fell in love with the design process.
Working as a UX/UI Designer now, I have come to realize how applicable journalism is to UX. Below are three ways my journalism background has prepared me for a UX career.
First and foremost, journalism taught me how to communicate effectively and succinctly. Journalism uses the inverted pyramid format, which presents the most important information first and additional details second.
Writing in this format has helped me produce content for outreach emails, notes for developers, and presentations. My ability to write only what’s absolutely necessary for users to achieve their goals has proved especially helpful for microcopy as well.
Journalism brought out the researcher in me. Growing up, I loved reading investigative crime books. I loved solving problems (and I still do). My journalism courses taught me how to find answers to my questions when given limited information. I would leverage both quantitative and qualitative data to support my stories. This skill has helped me design for startups and organizations that have little to no user data.
In journalism, I was taught to remain objective—using only facts to develop a story. During the research phase, I would sometimes receive conflicting information from multiple sources and it would be my job to uncover the truth to craft an unbiased story.
My ability to remain unbiased has helped me mature in my UX career. Similarly to journalism, I elicit feedback from multiple sources—from users to stakeholders to developers. Some feedback would be positive while others would not be. Instead of sticking to my design and not allowing any room for flexibility, I use their constructive criticism to inform the next version, which has helped advance my projects forward.
While my journalism background has made the transition to UX easier, there is always room for improvement and I will continue to further develop my skills.