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I can't count the number of times I've been asked, 'How did you get into UX?' I've been asked this question hundreds, if not thousands, of times by recruiters, managers, jr. UX designers, coworkers, friends and family, people I meet at social gatherings, even people that see my car's license plate, 'UX-UI.' So, I've decided it's time to tell my story in writing. Here's how I got into UX.

My first 'real' job was bank teller. That set the wheels in motion for me to spend the next several years in accounting. I did everything from accounts payable/receivable, to cost accounting, then, a bookkeeper for a partnership of private foundations. In 1996, as I reconciled bank statements, handled payroll, etc., I discovered web sites. I'd always been creative and fascinated by anything new, so the Internet was something I wanted to investigate. Where do these web sites come from? Is this something I can learn to do?

I did my own little research project and discovered I needed to learn HTML. For the next couple of years, I spent all my free time learning HTML and using Dreamweaver. I also discovered I needed to learn how to create and edit images. Hello Photoshop!

Fast forward to 1999. At this point, I've created a couple of halfway-decent looking web sites on my local drive and decided I definitely wanted to be a web developer. Back then, the web developer was the web designer and UX was unheard of.

OK, now what? I'm a bookkeeper. I have no formal education or training as a web developer. I don't have a degree in computer science. How am I going to get a job as a web developer? Time to put on my thinking cap and come up with a plan.

Step 1, get my foot in the door of a company where developers work. I got a job as the office manager for a small software company. Yes! I'm in. The company had 2 products, one was consumer-facing, the other was not. The consumer-facing product was awesome from a functionality standpoint. Unfortunately, the product's look and feel was poor. So poor that sales were suffering. As the office manager, part of my job was invoicing. I knew the company couldn't survive much longer if the sales team continued to scare potential customers with their ugly product demo. Uh oh.

Step 2, ask the owner for a chance to help with the look and feel of the product demo. The owner went for it. One of the devs gave me a copy of the front-end code and I used my skills to improve the look and feel. The sales team took the updated product demo to their next presentation. We landed a huge client. Coincidence? Maybe. Then, it happened again. And again. One of our clients was so excited about the product that he hired my company to create a presentation for him to use to introduce the new product to his company. I created the presentation using Flash. Gasp! Remember Flash?

Step 3, ask the owner to create a position for me as a designer to work with the dev team. The owner agreed. In 2003, the small software company was acquired by a giant competitor. I joined the web design team in 2006 and designed/developed over 50 consumer-facing sites. I continued to work for the company until 2009, when the St. Louis office was closed. And for the last 10 years, I've been helping some of the biggest companies in St. Louis improve user experience for both internal and external users.

From accounting to UX design. That's my story. Thanks for reading!

If you think good design is expensive, you should look at the cost of bad design.

~ Dr. Ralf Speth, Chief Executive Officer, Jaguar Land Rover