UX Maturity feat. Claire Hamlet

Claire Hamlet took the time to chat with us as part of our content series ‘UX Maturity’. Claire is a Health Psychologist and a User Researcher working in the field of digital health, she is currently leading User Researcher at ORCHA.

Through this series, we hope to shine a light on all things UX Maturity. We hear about the UX Maturity of organisations, of the industry and of careers. We talk to people on all sides of the conversation, those on the beginning of the journey and those well on their way with the aim of sharing knowledge, stories and insight that others might find useful on their own path.

Chris @ ADLIB: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your current role?

Claire: I’m Claire, a Health Psychologist and a User Researcher working in the field of digital health. I am currently leading user experience research at ORCHA (Organisation for the Review of Care and Health Applications), helping to ensure digital health solutions are safely adopted by the NHS and other healthcare organisations. 

Chris @ ADLIB: What has your career journey been like so far?

Claire: My career journey has been diverse, but all my roles have reflected my passion for research, health, and psychology. After completing my undergraduate degree, I primarily worked as an Assistant Psychologist in the NHS. Later, following an MSc in Health Psychology, I worked as a researcher for dementia clinical trials. I then spent seven years in academia working at the Centre for Appearance Research, where I focused on research into body image and the psychological impact of living with disfigurement. 

During this time, I also trained to become a Health Psychologist, focusing on the psychology of eating and weight loss surgery. Health Psychologists use psychological theory and research to understand how people’s thoughts, behaviours, and emotions impact their health and well-being in various clinical and research settings. As the field of digital health continues to grow, we are becoming more involved in designing and evaluating digital health products, which is super exciting.  

I left academia in 2021 and moved to industry to work as a User Researcher in digital health. I have worked at two exciting scale-ups now, firstly at Doctor Care Anywhere, and now at ORCHA. I have never looked back.

Chris @ ADLIB: When did you first discover your interest in UX and user research?

Claire: Once I had qualified as a Health Psychologist, I started keeping an eye out for roles outside of academia where I could apply both my research and health psychology skills. When the pandemic hit, I noticed the rapid growth of digital health and began exploring roles within this field. This is when I came across UX and user research, I realised that I had been conducting user research all along, it was just in a different context, at a slower pace, and using different terminology! 

I thought my skills could translate well, and I was right. I brought with me my knowledge of the complex healthcare system, and therefore the unique challenges that need to be addressed when designing digital health products and services that provide a great user experience. I also brought empathy for both healthcare professionals and patients, which is difficult to teach without personal experience. This is why user researchers are so important, particularly in digital health, as the insights we uncover help companies build empathy with the patients and healthcare professionals we want to use our products.    

Chris @ ADLIB: What have been the top 3 lessons you’ve learned along this journey?

  1. The importance of explaining UX and user research to stakeholders. In academia, the value of research is often clear, but in the corporate world, stakeholders may not understand the value of user research or how it fits into the design process. I have found it essential to educate stakeholders on the value of user research and how it can improve the user experience and ultimately benefit the business.
  1. To be comfortable with uncertainty. In the world of tech and business, priorities can change quickly, and it is essential to be adaptable and flexible. As a User Researcher, I need to be able to shift focus and adjust my research methods as needed to respond to changing priorities or new developments in the field.
  2. That you can conduct stimulating research projects outside of academia. I feel my findings have been able to improve patient and health professionals’ experiences more than when I was in academia – they have even influenced business decisions.

Chris @ ADLIB: What would be your advice to others looking to make this transition?

Claire: It is important to have a strong foundation in research. If your research is not conducted properly, the data may not be reliable, leading to inaccurate or flawed design decisions and potentially negative consequences for end-users and the business. Having a degree in a field that can help you learn about human behaviour and provide you with research training (e.g. psychology) can help massively. 

Following that, it’s all about obtaining practical research experience. Universities, the NHS, government, and charitable organisations employ several researchers, but you could also consider private sector roles such as market research. It’s important to learn as much as you can about the field by conducting your own research. I recommend attending conferences, webinars, and workshops (many are free), as well as reading as much as you can. I found networking with other user researchers to learn more about being a user researcher helpful, as well as familiarising myself with tech lingo.

Once you are confident in planning, conducting, and reporting research and have a good understanding of the field, then the transition rests on your applications and interview skills. It’s key that you demonstrate your passion for UX and explain why you are transitioning.

Finally, you must be willing to take a risk.  Making a career transition can be challenging, but rewarding if you are willing to step out of your comfort zone.  

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User Experience & Design

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Chris Nasrawi