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Success in UX: Employee Participates in UX Guild Design Contest


Hey guys! I’m Jennifer, an Associate Consultant at Appian. I have been at Appian since September of last year and I could not be more excited to be working here! Before Appian, I was studying Cognitive Science at UPenn with minors in Consumer Psychology and Design. Day to day, as an Appian developer, our team breaks down business needs into actionable items and we implement those tasks with Appian’s low-code platform. I mostly work with SAIL, process models, and SQL. I love how every single day looks different and we learn to take on new challenges as our client’s needs expand. 

Outside of work you can find me dancing to music (house, techno, jazz, RnB), baking a sourdough boule, painting with acrylics, going on a run on rock creek trail, or doing yoga. I am always looking for an adventure to go on or ideas to discuss over wine and hors d’oeuvres. 

I have always had an affinity for the arts and design. I also possess a thriving curiosity for the psychology behind human decision-making and how we experience things, particularly in the digital world. Growing up in an artistic family and studying the intricacies of the brain in university, I have discovered that UX lies at the intersection of my eclectic range of interests.

The UX Guild Contest

In May, the UX Guild at Appian (a group within the Customer Success department that aims to eliminate errors in user experience) hosted a UX contest that was open to all employees. As a young professional, I instantly became interested in participating as I knew this challenge would allow me to grow and whet my appetite for this area of expertise. So, with great enthusiasm, I signed up.

With no preparation time, participants had to choose between 3 topics for the contest and we each had to design an interface within a 1-hour time limit. The prompt I chose was to “build a summary view of the record UXC Shows, feel free to use images, charts to make your UI look fun or professional and beautiful.”

During the UX contest, I ran into some challenges. Luckily, here at Appian, we embrace a challenge so I was able to keep a good mindset and continue to tackle the project head on. Initially, my interface did not pull data or create value for the end-user, the functionality wasn’t what I had imagined, and my summary was overall lacking knowledge of the new synced records structure. 

With only an hour to implement, my unfamiliarity with the brand new features threw me (and many of my fellow colleagues, too). The first half of the challenge consisted of me mostly staring at the red interface error message, sifting through the synced records documentation. I decided to switch gears in the last 20 minutes, giving me little time to do everything I wanted to do but I trusted my artistic ability and finished the contest just in time.

Screenshot of the summary page of the Grey’s Anatomy Season 5 Record

Working for a Company that Encourages Growth

It’s important to note that Appian employees thrive in a challenging setting like this and my colleagues and I, although stumped at times, enjoyed this complicated task. With the close of the contest, I recognized instantly where I needed to grow, which is essential to moving forward in the right direction. I was honored to be announced as the third place winner of the contest! 

Despite the challenges, I overcame the task and received great feedback on my project as well. Our Senior Vice President of Customer Success, Pavel Zamudio-Ramriez, was one of the UX Contest judges and responded with his observations. He stated that my “design had that spark; that makes a user want to just look at the page.” When he said that, it clicked in my head--UX is equally about both function and form; function is the first aspect and enables the user experience to be seamless. If you do it right, they shouldn’t even really “notice” it; but it is the form that quenches that human desire for novelty and aesthetics. When it’s done well, it is the “thing” that the end-user will usually notice and comment on. This realization brought me to remember that all my interest in design and art at a young age and my education is what truly benefited me in this competition. I am eager to integrate both form and function into my work, moving forward. 

Overall, this UX design challenge was a fun way to explore the 21.2 new features on our platform as well as push myself to think out of the box. I believe that showing the art of the possible is essential in our ever-changing technological world and the value Appian offers to users. I hope to continue to grow as an Appian developer, gaining the skills required to expand the realm of “the possible” and what our clients are able to experience on our platform.

Are you interested in a UX design role that you can learn, grow and thrive in? If so, Appian is the place for you. Check out our open UX roles here.