UX Designer at Boeing
Chyna
Smith

Chyna is currently designing digital products and leading design efforts within software engineering at Boeing. She is passionate about exploring ways to improve how we interact with technology. 

Saint Louis, United States • January 2, 2023

What led you into design?

I had a very non-linear journey into design. Fresh after graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Logistics Operations Management and another in International Business, I immediately started working at Boeing in the IT organization. I worked in a variety of roles – Programmer Analyst, Project Manager, Site Integration Specialist, and Technical Consultant – none of which excited me.

I worked almost 6 years post-college in my ‘big girl job’ and the only thing I felt I had learned about myself was what I did NOT want to do with my life. (Sidenote: Now looking back, I realize I learned a lot of valuable lessons during that time, so never discount the learning & growing seasons)

However, in late 2018, I had enough. I was convinced that there was more out there for me. I recharged my faith and spent several weeks praying, searching, and talking to mentors when finally I came across a Jr. UX Designer job req within the company. I had no clue what UX was at the time, but as I read the job description and duties, I became instantly intrigued by the role.

I immediately hopped on YouTube and watched countless videos of all things UX. After a few days, I was 110% sold that there was a reason this job requirements caught my attention more than others, and I decided to shoot my shot and apply for the job. Although I didn’t have experience with user-centered design methods and tools, and had only learned about UX days before, I knew that I did have tons of creativity, a passion for helping people and problem-solving, and a personality built for this type of industry.

I was selected for an interview and gave all I had while stepping out on #CrazyFaith. Well, a couple of weeks later, I became a Jr. UX Designer and never looked back!

What does a typical day look like?

My days definitely vary depending on what product or team I’m on. But a high-level glance:

What's your workstation setup?

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Where do you go to get inspired?

So honestly, I end up going a bit of everywhere for inspiration. I’d say most of my ‘inspiration journeys’ start with a Google search, then I let that lead the way.

Then other times, I’ll come across various articles or sites posted by my network on LinkedIn, from my newsfeeds on the Google homepage app, or even TV shows or commercials. So really nothing is off limits for me in terms of getting inspired.

What product have you recently seen that made you think this is great design?

There are 2 products that I recently became an instant fan of their designs – a parking garage and a resort wristband.

When we arrived to park in the parking garage at the Cherry Creek Shopping Center in Denver, CO, there were signs at the entrance stating the number of parking spots available on each level. Then after entering the garage, there were coloured lights above the parking spaces – red (occupied), green (available), and blue (handicap). I usually hate parking garages, but this was the first one I had been in with this technology, and it made parking so much easier and quicker.

The other product I recently came across was the RFID wristband at the Great Wolf Lodge Water Park in LaGrange, GA. We took a family trip this past summer and upon checking in, we were all provided wristbands that were not only waterproof but were also our room keys and payment method for various purchases around the resort. No app, separate room keys, or credit cards to worry about. One word – clutch.

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What pieces of work are you most proud of?

Besides my 2 favourite masterpieces (aka my sons), I’m pretty proud of the very first article I wrote while on maternity leave, during the pandemic lockdown. I had previously been a little nervous about writing anything that the world would see because I didn’t know if it would be ‘good enough’ or if anybody even cared about what I had to say.

It was a pretty stressful time for me personally with a newborn, a 2-year-old, and a world crisis unfolding, so I started writing and journaling a little to help decompress. So one day, I put fear aside and wrote the article. Shortly after posting it to Medium and sharing it on my LinkedIn profile, a publisher from UX Magazine reached out and asked if they could publish it to their online magazine & share it with their community. You can view it here!

Also during the pandemic, I ventured out and started my own UX Design & Consulting company called TrueUX Design. I consider this my 3rd baby. I’ve been incredibly blessed to partner with some major companies to do freelance and contract work in addition to my full-time job. It's truly a joy to help businesses of all sizes provide their users with the best digital experiences. 💙

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What design challenges do you face at your company?

I’d say one of the biggest design challenges we face is our UX footprint. We are a huge, international company with a wide variety of roles, but the UX community within our company is remarkably small. With that, many teams and organizations are unfamiliar with the field and its value and/or have never worked with a designer.

What music do you listen to whilst designing?

Any advice for ambitious designers?

A key piece of advice that I'd share is to keep pushing & persevering. I know many times the industry is not particularly easy to break into for Jr. UX Designers and those transitioning into the field. But I know for a fact that if God called you to do it, nothing can stop you from it – unless YOU let it.

Anything you want to promote or plug?

Sure – I'd like to shout out Where Are The Black Designers? and Femmecubator. Both of these organizations were created to support, promote, and amplify 2 distinct areas within design – the black community (3% of the design industry) and women of colour (12% of the STEAM field).

Being a member and mentor in these groups has been invaluable for connecting with other designers within the same community, building lasting relationships, and opening doors for amazing opportunities.

interview