Designing the Future
Degree: Master's in Human-Computer Interaction Design
Year Graduated: 2014
Key to Success: "Try to think outside the box in day-to-day work."
Emma Fagergren knows about compromise. She better. She’s trying to make 45 million people happy every month.
Pulling off that trick is nearly impossible, which is why compromise is so important when it comes to user experience in human-computer interaction design. Fagergren developed that trait during her time at the School of Informatics and Computing, and it has served her well in her job as a user experience designer for Move Inc., a leading provider of online real estate services.
“Our users come from such different backgrounds,” Fagergren says. “How do you accommodate the needs of 45 million people? It’s impossible to please everyone, so you have to know how to trade off.” – and do so in an informed way.
When it comes to UX, the key for Fagergren is trying to understand what users want while also thinking outside the box when it comes to design. Stepping inside other’s heads is a natural move for someone whose undergraduate work was all about the human mind.
“I studied cognitive science at Linköping University in Sweden,” says the Stockholm native. “I’ve always been interested in the human mind, and the way people process information and perceive the world. In my day to day work, I have to understand what “home” means to people, on a practical as well as on an emotional level”. Together with my team, I design to make the biggest purchase of our users life into an enjoyable experience.”
Fagergren’s journey to IU began when she visited for what was supposed to be one semester as an exchange student. She liked Bloomington so much that she extended her trip to pursue a Master’s in HCI/d from SoIC. Her undergrad work had been influenced by artificial intelligence and computer languages, so she made a smooth transition.
“First and foremost, I love design,” Fagergren says. “I’m a visual person and like technology. It’s really a field of the future. Once I came to IU, the classes, the staff and the teachers were just amazing. I would not have stayed if that weren’t the case. It was the main draw for me.”
Fagergren loved the community she found at SoIC, one that allowed students to bond while also learning about more than what was covered in textbooks. Students learned from one another, and the collaborative feel of the classes helped prepare Fagergren for the future.
“It definitely set the foundation in place for success and where I want to go,” Fagergren says.
Her classes kept her engaged, as well.
“In our courses, we had a good mix between hands-on design work and more philosophical design discussions,” Fagergren says. “We looked at the history of design and where we’re going in the future. What does it mean on a larger scale? It definitely ranges from the smallest to the biggest topics. I also felt I was in a very good environment where you could try out new stuff, and it was OK to fail. You would just get up and try again.”
She landed her job at Move Inc. in San Jose, California after graduation in 2014, and it felt familiar to her experience at IU.
“Everyone works together, and it’s a good environment to grow in as a new graduate because there are lots of things to keep learning and stay on track,” Fagergren says.
Fagergren wants to continue learning from everyone she works with and is driven to be an innovative designer who pushes herself to stay on the cutting edge. She also says others thinking of going into the UX field or HCI/d in general shouldn’t hesitate because it’s a field with a bright future.
“The good thing is there is so much energy in the field,” Fagergren says. “There is a lot of great thinking and creativity going around. Here in Silicon Valley, It feels like I’m at the center of it all.”