Ashleigh Swanson’s passion for art, design and finding out what makes people tick is apparent in her off-the-job interests, including puzzles, mysteries and crafting, painting, sewing to make new things from old.
And, as she has discovered, technology is a great way to turn these interests into a fulfilling career.
“Technology goes hand in hand with my passions of art, design and solving puzzles,” Ashleigh says. “In my job as a UX (user experience) Designer, I get to work with many different people and tools to learn as much as possible about users, what makes them tick and what they need and don't need to get their tasks done. To me this process is like uncovering clues to a really good mystery. In addition to UX, I love coding a website design, reading code and seeing my creations come to fruition in the web browser.”
Ashleigh taught herself HTML when she was just in middle school.
“I loved art classes and computer classes growing up and I thought it was so cool that I could learn and write this foreign language and make a creation show up on the internet,” she says. “When I went to college I knew I wanted to combine my loves of art/design and computer technology so I studied interactive digital media and web design.”
She worked as a freelance front-end web developer and after graduating with a degree in Interactive Digital Media from Webster University, she took a position in the digital creative department for Build-A-Bear Workshop.
“I moved to Kansas City in 2013 and have been working with Lockton Affinity as a UX designer ever since.”
Ashleigh knows some confusion swirls around exactly what a UX designer is.
“I think people misunderstand UX as a graphic designer or a web developer. Although I share both of those skills, UX is an all encompassing field that really helps a company or product get a fuller picture of who their users are and what they want and how to reach them,” she says. “So many times there are large gaps in an experience where users get lost and can't continue. Finding those gaps, cleaning up the whole experience and filling gaps is a big part of UX.”
Outside of work, Ashleigh loves roller derby and has played for five years on leagues in St. Louis and Kansas City. She’s on a hiatus to raise her baby daughter but has plans to roll again.
Ashleigh is passionate about encouraging girls to explore opportunities in tech and knows what it’s like to be one of the only females on the team. She has some advice for girls considering the field:
“Never silence your creativity or your curiosity. Computer science and technology fields are dynamic and challenging; being a girl in this field is fun and empowering,” Ashleigh says. “Women contribute so much in these fields because we bring our own life insights and experiences into our work, helping our companies and users tell a more complete story. Not to mention, women are brilliant, capable and creative.”