Women In Design feat. Hannah Kirkbride

Introducing Hannah Kirkbride, a Bristol-based Freelance User Researcher and Coach. With a background that includes roles at Dyson and Elvie, Hannah transitioned from being a design engineer to specializing in human-centered design. In this blog post, Hannah shares her thoughts on the importance of diversity in design teams, the unique challenges women face in the industry, and her journey to building confidence in her career. Discover how Hannah’s experiences and insights can inspire and empower the next generation of talent in the design sector.

Could you please introduce yourself as well as your Background?

Hey, I’m Hannah a Bristol-based Freelance User Researcher and Coach. I help people to develop products and services in a human-centred way. I run interviews, surveys, workshops and usability tests to create products people genuinely love to use and tell their friends about.

I worked for places like Dyson and Elvie before going self-employed. I started my career as a design engineer but realised I was so much more interested in the human element of design, so I specialised in that.

I love what I do because I get to meet and interview people from all walks of life and understand their worldviews, it’s fascinating! This same fascination with people and how they think has recently led me to train and start working as a coach.

In your opinion, what unique perspectives or contributions do you think women bring to the design industry?

Women are more than 50% of the population so I wouldn’t say that their perspectives are unique, and I wouldn’t want to generalise by saying all women are like this, so that’s what they bring. But to me, it’s all about having more diversity in design teams.

Designers and engineers are the people creating our futures. So it’s ludicrous to me that those teams often represent such a small bracket of society. We need as much diversity in those teams as possible, so that the products and services of the future work well for everyone.

Of course, I’m a user researcher so you could argue it doesn’t matter if your design team is diverse, so long as you test your designs with a diverse set of people. But I firmly believe in creating amazing products, both are very important.

In an attempt to capture some of the Wisdom you’ve gained as a woman in the design sector so far, what is the 1 thing that you’d like to pass on to your peers as well as the future generation of talent within your sector?

I’d like to pass on the gift of greater confidence. Honestly, I struggled so much with confidence in my early career, and although it’s something everyone battles with, I do think women can struggle with it more, especially when working in traditionally male-dominated fields.

A lack of confidence has stopped me from sharing my ideas, asking for pay rises, leaving jobs that I hated, and applying for roles that I should have.

Over the years I’ve taken courses, had coaching, and read books and now I understand confidence so much more! It’s changed things a lot for me. Of course, you can’t “complete” confidence, it’s massive and something you always have to work on. And it can feel overwhelming to know where to start. I’d recommend the book ‘Playing Big’ by Tara Mohr. I think I highlighted every page.

If you’re inspired by the stories and wisdom shared in our ‘Women In Design’ series and would like to contribute your own experiences, we’d love to hear from you. Creatives at all levels, please email us and your story could be the next we feature.

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Head of Design Recruitment

User Experience & Design Recruitment

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Sam Firth