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UXR Spotlight: Melissa Schmitz

Melissa Schmitz
Melissa Schmitz

This spotlight was part of USERWEEKLY - a weekly email to understand what is happening in user research. It's the best way to keep up on trends, methodologies, insights across the industry, and meet new researchers. Each week, the newsletter captures the pulse of our community and answers a simple question: What mattered in User Research this week?

Hey Melissa Schmitz, tell us a little about yourself.
I'm Melissa Schmitz, and am currently an UX/HF researcher for emerging technologies at a mid-size industrial manufacturing company where my work is at the intersection of vehicle automation, data science, and XR. My current research focus is in solving problems related to VR simulator sickness in driving simulators using a combination of methods including questionnaires, biosensor measurements, and field studies.

What’s one thing you wish you realized earlier in your research career?
That being multidisciplinary is ok, and in some cases, incredibly important! Human factors and UX work can end up drawing from any number of disciplines, especially in a field like XR that requires UX solutions for both software and hardware alike. I explored a lot of classes, majors, and research topics in college, thinking I was a failure for not being able to choose any particular specialty. But being able to draw inspiration from research and methodology in a variety of different disciplines can lead to unique and innovative solutions!.

Can you share a funny or unexpected user insight you gained and how you incorporated it into the product?
Some of the products I’ve worked on have been targeted at less tech-savvy audiences that don’t understand technology with the same depth as us in the industry. Terms we take for granted such as “user interface” or even “profile icon” can be completely foreign to these populations. Having to adapt my communication to help people understand technology products (such as referring to a 2D menu in VR as “the big TV screen”) has given me some fun challenges and allowed me to connect with these people in a much stronger way!.

How can people learn more about you and your work?
My main platform is Medium, where I post articles in topics including UXR processes, literature reviews, tutorials, and occasionally more broad tech industry and career guidance content. I also post short videos on Instagram, [TikTok], and YouTube primarily related to tech and XR. People are welcome to connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter or request mentorship from me through ADPList!

Thank you, Melissa Schmitz!