Katey Deeny talks with Masters of Science Candidate Alena Benson

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Show time: 32 minutes 22 seconds

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In this conversation, Senior User Experience Architect at Ascentium, Katey Deeny talks with Master’s of Science candidate and Research Assistant in the Human Centered Design & Engineering department at the University of Washington Alena Benson.

Alena discusses her initial attraction to the field and why she thinks junior-level professionals are strong contributors in both the academic and professional settings.


When I was exposed to actually designing systems from the ground up, starting with a blank slate, that’s when I realized how important it was to do user-based research…that’s when I realized that this is the field I’d like to permanently go into.

The idea [of social translucence] is that there is certain information that can be exposed about interactions online, that can help people make judgments about those interactions. Sometimes you also want to hide information…to protect people’s identity or encourage them to speak freely, so social translucence is really about the constraints that are put on virtual communities that both enable and restrict certain interactions to foster trust.

Younger UX professionals may specifically have a strength to offer…they recognize the ‘gold standards’ but they also are very good at adapting…they’ve been through this change in how products and services are offered over the internet, the social media revolution…you have to change fast and learn new techniques, apply new methods, or adapt methods.

Aid organizations and non profits could really benefit from adopting user experience or design thinking processes to try to find new ways of doing things and helping people. I think there is a really big potential out there for it…designers and user experience professionals have a really great potential to contribute to society on that level.


Alena discusses her initial attraction to the field and why she thinks junior-level professionals are strong contributors. She outlines experiences doing lab-based research and contextual inquiry in both professional and academic settings.

Alena also discusses the merits of user research in creating incremental innovations, and how user-centered systems thinking can inform radical innovations that could improve society.

Show Notes

* Alena Benson’s professional profile on Linkedin
* Follow Katey Deeny on Twitter @followsprocess
* Learn more about the department of Human Centered Design and Engineering at the University of Washington
* Design Research and Innovation – An Interview with Don Norman
Learn more about the UW student mobile ultrasound project


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Katey Deeny

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