Chrissy Spilchuk

Where do you work, and what’s your current role?

I work at Ratehub.ca as a product designer. I’ve been here for over three years now, but I recently transitioned into the product side, where I’m working on user-experience design, user testing, trying to optimize conversions and make it an overall better experience.

What got you interested in this role and the subject area you decided to study to get there?

I felt like I wasn’t challenged enough with graphic design. I wanted to develop my skills to do something that was more impactful. Luckily, I’d had an opportunity to get a taste of what it would be like to do UX and web design while working on a side project. That’s kind of where I got an interest. I read a lot of articles and then decided I wanted to start taking courses while continuing to work.

What was your next step to pursue that path?

Originally my university degree was from OCAD, where I got a Bachelor of Design. Ratehub paid for me to attend courses, so I did Intro & Advanced Web Development at HackerYou. Then I did the User Experience Design course at Bitmaker. Now I’m doing an online User Research course with the Interaction Design Foundation — I can go at my own pace, and they have modules released every week.

What was it like to take those courses — how did you find the right balance of managing your time?

HackerYou was twice a week for three hours, with homework on top of that. It was structured, but if I’m honest, I preferred that. You started right at 6:30, so you could follow along with documented notes, which was really helpful. They took a set break and you didn’t leave a minute before 9:30. I learned very well in that type of environment, where they go along with you and if you have any questions, they had teaching assistants who would come over and help you right away, which was awesome.

What’s the most fulfilling part of the work you’re doing now? What keeps you driven?

Learning on the job – like what is a good user experience? When you’re designing something, you want to make it look nice and functional, but when you put it in front of users they’ll give you something you’d never thought of, whether it’s “This doesn’t work for me,” or “I don’t really need this.” You’re simplifying information and processes and actually helping people.

What advice do you have for those who might want to upgrade their skills or follow in a similar path to your own?

Definitely do your research. Talk to other students and think about what you’ll be getting out of the program. Look for what matches your learning style, because one style might make you feel more engaged compared with another program. Also, you get out  what you put into it — it may be a lot of time and effort, but it’s definitely worth it.

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