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What got you into UX, Pamela Pavliscak?

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Pamela collects stories about how people engage with technology. Her work is part ethnography, part data science, part behavioral psychology – focussing on how to create better experiences using data of all shapes and sizes. And on April 21 she's a speaker at From Business to Buttons!

Hello Pamela, founder of Change Sciences, a design research firm for Fortune 500s, startups, and other smart companies, we are delighted to have you at From Business to Buttons. Tell me, how did you get into UX, how did it all start?
– Like a lot of people in this field, I didn't take a direct path. I studied Russian literature in college (Я плохо говорю по-русски!) then technology started to become really interesting so I changed direction. At first, I did a bit of everything, including design and coding. But what really fascinated me was our relationship with technology – both how we make it a part of our lives and how we are constantly adapting and explaining technologies to ourselves. Research is my core focus, and lately data of all shapes and sizes has become a key part of learning about what people really do and how to design for it.

Your session on FB2B has the title “The science of happy design”. What will you be talking about?
– So much attention is focused on how technology makes us sad, lonely, addicted, and maybe a little stupid. Yet I would see in my research that technology is actually making people feel smart, whole, and connected. This disconnect was the starting point. What follows is a story about people, design, big data, little things, experiments, conversations, and ultimately happiness. It turns out that leaving an experience with a happy feeling has a big impact on future behavior. And there are ways we can foster happiness in design. 

– As UXers, we have devoted our careers to making the experience people have with technology better. And the people who use our sites and apps are now keenly aware of their own digital happiness. Focusing on happiness gets at the core of what we all are looking to accomplish. 

And on that note: What is happy design for you? What makes you happy?
– Happy design, for me, is not just about problem solving. It is possibility-driven. It broadens our options and it makes our world seem bigger. Sometimes that means little details like the photos from real fashionistas putting together awesome outfits on Modcloth or sometimes it's bigger, like micro-volunteering for a program like Be My Eyes.

Thank you Pamela.

Pamela will be speaking at From Business to Buttons and hosting a workshop titled Choosing the right metrics for UX the day before the conference. Be sure to check it out.