Meet Heather Moore, a UX designer and digital accessibility specialist. Before finding her true passion for user experience, she started in the print industry where she first saw the importance of accessible design while working with the Alzheimer Society of Brant. In addition to designing accessible digital products, Heather is also experienced in conducting usability testing for accessibility and performing accessibility audits.
Read on to find out more about Heather!
What area of design or sector do you specialize in or enjoy working in the most?
I enjoy focussing on accessibility when it comes to design. It’s impossible to “turn off” thinking about differing needs once you’ve started to, and I find myself using accessible design techniques even when the project or client hasn’t asked for it. I’m constantly auditing websites and printed design sub-consciously for accessibility in my day-to-day life. It’s a real eye opener how little accessibility is thought of in user experience and visual design, and I feel it’s a personal mission to bridge that gap even if just a little bit at a time. Good user experience doesn’t exist without inclusivity.
What has been your biggest learning curve as a designer or your most notable learning experience?
The great thing about being a designer of any kind is there’s never a point where you’ve learned everything. Technology advances, techniques change, and there’s always room for improvement. My most notable learning experience was the first time I sat in on a usability test. It’s remarkable how much you can learn, not just about design but user behaviours in general. It has completely altered my design and thought process. I can’t imagine being a designer now and not being regularly involved in usability testing. How do you know if your design is working if you never put it in front of anyone?
How important is taking a break from working on a computer to you? How do you do this (ie. Brainstorming with post it notes, sketching etc)?
Incredibly important, but sometimes easier said than done. I sketch designs and note any ideas or concepts before even touching a computer, and I like to gather inspiration from non-digital avenues like signage, architecture and printed material and packaging (which I have a particular admiration for). Sometimes, however, you just want to get your hands dirty and see how a specific idea plays out.
What sets you apart from other designers in your field?
I’d like to think that my passion and knowledge in accessible design sets me apart. I still constantly come in contact with designers who have never even thought of accessibility when designing, and it shows on almost every website out there. With AODA, and other legislation like Section 508, I think that’s about to change and that makes me excited for the future of design.
What is unique about working at UM as a designer?
There’s much more of a focus on users and user needs at UM that I’ve never quite experienced anywhere else. You can really tell that the team here is incredibly knowledgeable in UX and has extensive experience with usability testing that has helped shape their views and methods. They’re willing to stand up for users at any point; it’s refreshing to work somewhere that doesn’t just value profit.