Empire State of UX

Guess what? I’m starting a new job with the state of New York!

Starting this week, I’ll be joining New York State’s Office of Information Technology Services, tasked with building out a user research team. The team will be focused on improving the usability and accessibility of NYS’s digital services and applications.

The governor mentioned this new initiative in this year’s State of the State:

“The State employs only a small number of designers who specialize in the experience of users, and it lacks a set of universal design standards that would ensure that each of these transactions is easy to use, accessible, and adequately serving the public. Without a modern and innovative approach to digital service delivery — and dedicated resources — New York State will continue to struggle to provide equitable, accessible, and easy-to-use services for its residents.

Governor Hochul will expand New York State’s capacity to design digital services that New Yorkers deserve by investing in experienced and qualified staff. Governor Hochul proposes growing the team of user experience researchers and designers within the Office of Information Technology Services (ITS) and the Digital Team in the Office of General Services.

The mission of these teams will be to support and deliver quality digital services and user experiences to all New Yorkers. These first-rate experts will be deployed to redesign and improve the State’s most common points of resident interaction, creating a consistent and improved digital customer experience and ensuring measurable, positive impacts.”

Gov. Kathy Hochul, 2023 State of the State, p.247-248

I’m so excited about this job. I’m stoked to be getting involved in civic tech. I’m even excited I get to work at the Empire State Plaza.

But I’m especially excited that I get to focus on user research after such a heavy focus on engineering at Fox. My engineering expertise isn’t going to go to waste, though. With over 1000 services and applications, interviewing users and figuring out what needs to change is only a part of work. Solving those problems consistently and efficiently across so many platforms and applications is an entirely different challenge, one that requires some real engineering chops. If you’ve been following my design systems consulting, you know this is the kind of challenge I think and write about a lot.

In laymen’s terms, user research will help us figure out what needs change in order to make it easier for New York State residents to use the state’s services and applications. That’s an important goal and our team’s core mandate. But I’m also hoping to bring some additional technical solutions to the various agencies that will help engineers better deliver those solutions at scale.

Now let’s just hope I can figure out parking! 🤞