Beth Shannon on her career at PA Consulting

  • Sync NI caught up with Beth Shannon to chart her career in PA Consulting’s expanding Belfast Office from apprentice to Consultant Analyst Designer.

    Beth Shannon told us she was an UX/UI designer and to be honest the first word that came to mind was ‘ambidextrous’. There are still some who believe that UX and UI are two separate disciplines and people tend to be one or the other and never the twain shall meet. With this in mind I consulted a dictionary to find it defined as ‘able to use both hands equally well’ a further definition extended to ‘The ambidextrous design means the mouse is great for lefties or righties’ and finally a further explanation of the meaning offered ‘working in today's media calls for ambidextrous multitasking. They suggest that, in order to successfully innovate while maintaining the performance of the core business, organisations need to be "ambidextrous".

    That last description resonates with the team at Sync NI actually working in the media domain and while Beth is obviously employed in technology her work seems to transcend all fields in today’s digital economy. I am tempted to say that Beth was ‘designed’ to be ambidextrous as she explains her Degree in Digital Interactive Design at Dundee was ‘composed of a blend of creative and technical modules, a blend of art and technology.’

    Currently studying a masters degree at QUB in Software Development there is no doubt that Beth spoils any stereotypes around being Artistic OR Technical. We asked Beth for brief definitions of UX and UI from her perspective and how they play important roles in the design process for building functional apps for PA Consulting’s clients.

    ‘Fundamentally User Experience (UX) is about how we make products that better serve end users and meet end users’ needs on their journey. This naturally incorporates an understanding of certain psychology laws and biases as the foundation of good UX. User Interface (UI) on the other hand focuses more on the visual design and hierarchy of information and how you present that information. It’s about understanding primary and secondary functions and conveying information most effectively while being sensitive to overall usability. Colours and font sizes are important considerations for colour blind and visually impaired users of your product. UI is thus more about graphic design using appropriate pixels and grids to achieve this. UI is like architecture insomuch its about measurements and placement.’

    There is a reason why a large number of the apps individuals download will be discarded over a relatively short period of time while popular apps have more durability due to superior UI and UX. Next time you are using one of your regular apps take time to appreciate the free-flowing transfer of information and ease of use with the minimum amount of swipes to achieve your goals and you will appreciate the amount of user testing research for visuals and insights to achieve an exceptional and seamless user experience. The stakes are high and poor design can be extremely costly in terms of corporate reputation and the direct impact on the bottom line. Large corporate clients in today’s economy competing for new customers and retaining existing ones fully understand the absolute necessity of delivering excellence for users of their services. Beth is currently working on a mobile banking app for a multinational banking and financial services organisation and from our conversations with Beth we left feeling that their app development is certainly in good hands. 


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