Civic UX?

Things have changed in the last few weeks. I recently landed a not-UX job that promises to be interesting but not overwhelming, and I’m looking forward to it.

On one hand, this leaves me feeling like I trained for nothing – the interviews I’ve had have been interesting but nothing’s come from them. I had had visions of moving into this brand-new shiny career and translating all my old skills easily.

On the other, there’s a real opportunity here:

  • This job pays well enough to support us and (theoretically) won’t have regular crunch/overtime, so it leaves room for breathing.
  • I’ll be on a campus with a LOT of resources & people who Know Stuff.
  • The rejections I’ve gotten for UX positions have all pointed to my lack of experience.

But most of all, when I started looking hard at UX, I was excited by the idea of making people’s lives better – fixing the places and sites that were most maddening. Those sites aren’t Apple or Google or e-commerce; those sites are places like the RMV, or student loan websites, or permit application sites. In other words, civic sites, not commercial sites.

And civic institutions rarely have cash to afford UX.

So if I had a job that could pay my bills, leaving some time on the side both for my sanity and for side projects…I could start doing UX research for places that need it most and can pay the least.

It’d boost my portfolio, give me experience – and it wouldn’t be experience toward the end of “someday I can put this to work making civic UX good” – it’d be doing the Someday work Now.

I’m getting a little  too old to keep saying Someday, after all. Time to do Now.

…Well, maybe after a month on the new job. But the principle’s the same.