Anne Pike’s life is, in a word, busy. A UX manager at Avionte, she loves UX and UI so much that she freelances outside her 9-to-5. She works on children’s book illustrations on the side, as well. And she has three teenage children and four dogs at home. As if that weren’t enough, Anne also is a Springboard mentor.

Somehow, Anne found the time to sit down with us to discuss her pre-UX professional life, what drew her to the field, and what it takes to excel as a UX designer.

What first attracted you to UX design?

I originally graduated in computer animation way back before computer animation was a thing. I actually did forensic animation for crime scenes. There was something about being able to take a case, dive into all the pieces, and recreate it—there was so much use of both sides of your brain.

I did graphic design for quite some time. Very fun, but it wasn’t as complex as I liked.

I started when UX and UI wasn’t really defined and I loved that aspect where you’re taking a problem and you’re trying to find solutions and you’re trying to ask the questions. Like, is it a problem? Why is it a problem? You know, what do people want to have as a better experience? 

Anne Pike

What did you do at work last week?

We had a CONNECT conference with our software company, so we had about 500 users of the software and I got an opportunity to show a new design prototype. Being able to kind of dive into questions, get some feedback, and move forward with my UX design team.

How would you describe someone who would excel in UX design?

Someone that is willing to push for questions and answers, to not just be like, this is what’s been handed to you. Ask the question: why is this a problem? Are you sure it’s a problem? 

The biggest thing is to think of yourself as a bridge between the users and the company. You want to definitely accomplish what the company wants to achieve, but you want to be that advocate for the users to make sure that they have a really good experience. So the biggest thing is just making sure to keep that in mind—and don’t be afraid to push back at your company.

Why did you decide to become a Springboard mentor?

One of the things that’s always impressed me about the UX design community is that they’re always out helping one another. They’re always saying: here are new processes, here are new things that are happening with different apps. Everybody is sharing information.

I remember making that transition from graphic design and print and web design over to UX and UI right when it started and I had the opportunity at UnitedHealth Group and Optum to learn and slowly go from UI to UX to UX research. It was such a great process and I had a lot of great directors and VPs that became great mentors to me. The thought of being able to do that for someone else that might be like, I don’t know if I could fit into this industry, and be able to tell them, I’ve done it and it’s not as scary as it might sound.

What does a mentor call look like?

When we first start off, I love getting to know their background and let them know my background. I like to know what their goals are. But most of the time it’s really kind of diving into where they’re at in the program, any questions that they have with a section that they’re working on, whether it’s user flows or personas.

The one thing that’s really nice about the curriculum is everything that needs to happen for their capstone project I do on almost a daily basis. So anytime they have had questions—like, I don’t understand what a persona is, why do we use it? Well, just yesterday at my job we were working on personas and this is how we went about it. And this is why we were doing it. I could show them real-life experiences pretty much with everything that they do throughout the capstone project.

How do you motivate your mentees when they’re stuck?

When my mentees are down or stuck, the best thing that I try and do is understand where their frustrations are, understand what a lot of their concerns are, and then I try and give, as much as I can, real-life examples of when I may have been stuck in that exact same way, how I’ve overcome it. I definitely show them different articles or different blogs. Maybe it’s something like, I really don’t know how to design out this app. Well, take a break. Step away from it. Go onto Pinterest or Dribble and look up apps and things that have really cool designs. You know, let it kind of spark something into your brain.

What’s a cool capstone project you’ve worked on with a mentee?

With one student, he was going into design and developing at the same time at school and he had this really cool idea for an app that was called Allpaca. It was trying to understand anybody who wanted to go hiking and wanted to put the right stuff into their backpack for hiking and they just didn’t know exactly what they should put in there. It actually gives them suggestions, like, you’re going to this park and you’re going to this area at this time, so this is what we suggest. He really thought it out and it sounds like it’s actually taking off, which I think is awesome. He was just so passionate about it. And he really threw everything into it. It was one of the coolest capstone projects that always stuck with me.

What’s your favorite part of the Springboard experience?

I love that I still hear from a lot of my past mentees. They’ve reached out, saying, I have a job interview and I just want to know, what type of questions have you had in the past? What should I expect? I love to hear where it’s going for them.

This Q&A has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

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