Hi Wesley, tell us a little bit about yourself!
Hello Spill the Beans! My name is Wesley Hong and I am a UX designer based in Atlanta, GA, currently working at The Home Depot. In 2018, I decided to make a career transition into UX design through a UX bootcamp program. 3 years later, I still consider myself a UX newbie as I continue to learn and grow in this new fulfilling career.
Outside of my 9-5, I am passionate about dancing, as I compete/teach/perform as a hip-hop dancer. I also create YouTube content related to UX design, career, and life.
Can you tell us what you do as a UX Designer at The Home Depot for those who are unfamiliar?
Currently, I work on the enterprise side of The Home Depot, designing platforms and applications that are used internally by THD employees. Without getting into too much detail, I work on a product team that helps our THD store associates process products that need to be sent back to our vendors. One of the coolest things I get to do at my company is visit our THD stores, to gather user research. Through these store visits, we’re able to meet our users, build rapport with them, and understand their current process with the product and tech that they use on a daily basis. Building a strong rapport and relationship is very important for me as a UX designer. It helps when your users are authentic and honest about their experience, thoughts, and feedback.
How did you decide to pursue UX design?
After graduating from college back in 2015, I worked in marketing and project management for about 2 and half years. During that time, I went through my quarter-life crisis asking myself, "What am I doing with my life, and what is my purpose?" I realized I was really unhappy with my current life stage and career. It really felt like I was trading time for money, and doing work that felt meaningless to me and to others. During my deep soul search, I had a friend who was making a career transition into UX design, through a UX bootcamp. After speaking with him and others in the UX field, I found that UX design was the perfect career for me. I wanted to pursue UX design for 2 reasons...
1. I knew UX design was going to creatively fulfill me. I consider myself a creative that's dabbled in other creative outlets, such music, videography, and dance. I wanted to take the creative thinking and skills I've used all throughout my life and apply it to my career.
2. I'm a big extravert, so I love meeting and talking to new people. With UX design, I get to talk to different users from different backgrounds, locations, and cultures. There's definitely a psychological aspect to the career, especially when you're empathizing with people's thoughts and behaviors.
What programs & tools do you use everyday for work? What do you like/dislike about these programs?
When it comes to my design work, I use Figma to create wireframes and turn them into prototypes. What makes Figma great is its functionality to have multiple people on the same design file, so you can have design-pairing sessions. It also makes prototyping easier since it's done on the same platform. Before Figma, I previously used Sketch and Invision. I also use Miro a lot, which is an online whiteboard platform. Miro is great when you need to run collaborative brainstorm sessions with multiple people.
Any advice on how to stand out and get hired for those starting off?
I’ve noticed a lot of people are hesitant and afraid when it comes to networking, which is totally understandable. You’re talking to people you’ve never met before under professional settings.I want to let others know that networking can go a long way when you’re trying to make a career switch...whether you’re trying to learn more about the career, see what it's like to work at a certain company, get feedback on your resume/portfolio, or if you’re seeking mentorship. Because the UX design industry is currently oversaturated and competitive, you can’t afford not to network. There’s a lot of UX bootcamp graduates and not enough entry-level positions. It’s even more difficult and near impossible if you didn’t graduate with an HCI degree. Good networking can lead to other networking connections, events, workshops, and even job referrals. So be prepared to step out of your comfort zone, be bold, be hungry, and NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK!
What are some must-have resources (books, tools, podcasts, etc.) you would recommend for your industry?
I’ll be honest, and say that I’m not the biggest book reader haha. I do look at Medium and UX Planet a lot, to read online articles on UX design and tech. I also watch a lot of videos on Youtube. Here are some of my favorite Youtubers I watch for contents related to UX design, tech, and career.
Mayuko: coding/tech/introspection content from a software engineer perspective
Chunbuns: UX content from a UX designer/bootcamp graduate perspective
Gyasi Linje: Tech content from a software engineers perspective
made by mira: UX/college content from a college student/UX intern perspective
AonaTalks: UX content from a UX researcher perspective.
What are 3 character traits that would make someone excel in your field?
Empathy, Out-Of-The-Box thinking, Curiosity
Most satisfying & difficult thing about your job?
The most satisfying thing about my job is working on a project for a long period of time, releasing your design/product, and then seeing and hearing that my designs improved the lives of others. There's no greater feeling than having your users give you feedback on how you've made their lives easier. You’ll hear things like,“This product is amazing, you guys are going to save me so much time and labor!” “Thank you for actually listening to our feedback and improving the tech and products we use!” To work on projects where you get to see direct improvement and results is a fulfilling and gratifying experience.
One of the difficult things about being a UX designer is you’re consistently proving to others the importance and values of UX design, especially to your stakeholder and business partners. Since UX design is still a fairly new term and position for most companies, there’s a high possibility that you’re going to work with people who doesn’t understand what UX design is. There will be others that will try to undervalue a user’s experience/perspective, nitpick your designs, and argue with the design decisions you make. It’s impossible to move forward with your projects when you don’t have the support of your stakeholder and business partner. As a UX designer, I’m always trying to work on my communication and storytelling skills, so that I can be a more confident, effective designer. You always have to be ready to answer the question “why” and be able to defend your designs.
What would you like to say to your younger self?
As you grow up, don’t forget your personal happiness. Society tells us as an adult we have to behave and do things in a certain way. We put our personal happiness aside, in order to conform to whatever everybody else says & does, to their definition of happiness, and what an adult should be. As you get older and you understand who you are, you’ll wonder why you even cared in the first place, about what other people do and their opinions about you. Don’t abandon your passions and what you love to do. Don’t forget to take care of your inner child, because thats what keeps us curious, bold, and creative.
Best advice you've received/heard?
“Don’t make stuff because you want to make money — it will never make you enough money. And don’t make stuff because you want to get famous — because you will never feel famous enough. Make gifts for people — and work hard on making those gifts in the hope that those people will notice and like the gifts.Maybe they will notice how hard you worked, and maybe they won’t — and if they don’t notice, I know it’s frustrating. But, ultimately, that doesn't change anything — because your responsibility is not to the people you’re making the gift for, but to the gift itself.”- John Green