In our ongoing eGathering profile series, we go one-on-one with each of our speakers to gain more insights into their professional background, areas of expertise, and presentation topic through short 5 question interviews.
Michael Schofield is an academic librarian, UX expert, and podcaster. In his joint presentation with Amanda L. Goodman, Designing for User Experience, the pair provide a holistic introduction to the fundamentals of user experience design, how to evaluate your library with no-budget usability heuristics, and convince decision makers to focus on the users’ needs first.
Register for the eGathering today to hear more from Michael and our other speakers.
How did you wind up working in and with libraries?
As an undergrad I began working at the Western Michigan University Archives on a grant-project to digitize then transcribe Civil War diaries. I stayed on afterward for a couple of years as the Archives Assistant, working along side other students I’m still friends with today. I then graduated at the event horizon of the Great Recession with a BA in English in Michigan, so I fled to Florida. I wrangled a Teacher’s Certificate, worked briefly with horrible middle-schoolers, applied for and took respite in a job at the Public Library. By this time I had already two or three years of nominally library experience, had a brief epiphany, then went after my MLIS.
I had started designing embarrassing websites in High School, dabbled throughout college, jumped at a chance to develop the Public Library website, made sure that I specialized so much in the Web Services track at my iSchool that I would be virtually unemployable as any other type of librarian – and here we are.
How do you stay motivated when working on a project?
There are a couple important aspects for me, because I honestly tend to flirt with burnout, so any misstep could sink my motivation. The main thing is that I take motivation out of the equation: every project is chunked-out into its most modular features. I sort those by complexity and dependencies, and then when I start working I just pick whichever feature I feel like doing. This ensures that every day I tick three-to-five big things off my to-do list. In most cases, the order doesn’t matter, so I might finish the last part first, the first part somewhere in the middle, and so on. At the end, all the puzzle pieces nevertheless come together to form a picture.
The other part is that I honestly just make sure I have a ton to do. It’s not true for everyone, but looming deadlines bring out the best in me. I am a procrastinator by nature, so it’s necessary that the stakes are high enough that procrastinating just won’t do.
What do you view as the primary objective your work?
I aspire to push the #libweb forward.
I quote this on everything. I just want to make it better.
Why are you excited to speak at the LYRASIS eGathering?
I am really excited about how well this year’s eGathering has been curated. We are all coming from different angles to some common theme about optimism for library technology and the web, that it can make libraries into something more.
What is your best piece of advice for getting started in UX?
I think the key thing is that you first learn how to talk about it. Setting out to “improve the user experience!” is kind of meaningless and wayward. Rather, if you understand that when we say “user experience” we’re not really talking about good vibes, but about a measurement. The user experience is something that can be plotted, and we want the line to climb up and to the right.