May 8, 2019
Meet Laurel Walker-Natale: Our Newest UX Strategist
I had the pleasure of welcoming Laurel Walker-Natale, Push10’s newest UX strategist, to our team. We caught up for a few minutes to talk about her background and love of UX.Laurel brings a wealth of knowledge & experience to our team, has an affinity for quality brunches (she let me in on a few of her top secret eateries, but my lips are sealed), and has quickly become Kody’s favorite person – a cherished title in the office.
Where are you from?
Originally from the suburbs of New Jersey and now I live in South Philly. I love my area and walk to work every morning – can’t beat that, right?
What got you interested in UX in the first place?
I love creating something, teaching people about it, leading them through it, and watching them react to it with delight.
You have a pretty unique career path, can you share how you ended up in the UX field?
Absolutely. My family actually started one of the first internet service provider companies so naturally, I began my career selling the internet – which was no easy task explaining what the internet was to people who still used pen & paper to manage inventory. After the internet bubble burst in 2000, I shifted gears completely and enrolled in pastry school, eventually working as a classically trained French pastry chef for some of Philadelphia’s premiere restaurants. After a few years, I wound up opening my own cheese store in New Jersey – Carriage Trade Cheese Shoppe.
Despite my business’s success, the day to day operations were sucking the life out of me and I finally made the decision to return to my roots: the internet. Obviously, my old job of selling the internet was rendered obsolete, but it had morphed into what we refer to today as “user experience”. I enrolled in a mini masters course at Rutgers, ultimately receiving my masters from Jefferson University a couple years later. You’ll find that a lot of UX professionals follow a similar path – maybe not owning their own cheese store – but it’s just as zig zagged. The common denominator? We’re all journey chasers.
What do you foresee as the future of UX?
UX is liquid, meaning that the role of the UX professional has to mold and change with the organization that they belong to. I believe further specialization, whether that be as a designer, strategist or programmer, will ultimately allow businesses to take full advantage of all that UX has to offer.
Why did you transition from UX designer to UX strategist?
I believe that knowing a bit about programming helps me communicate with the programmers, knowing a bit about design helps me communicate with the designers and so on. When you have an amazing team of designers and programmers like we do here, my guidance and expertise is rarely focused internally, rather, externally with our clients. Showing our clients how the experience of the user will lead to accomplishing their business goals is where I excel.
What are a few of your favorite things to do in Philadelphia?
I love going to street festivals. The city has such an amazing, eclectic mix of festivals where you get to experience new foods, people, traditions and ceremonies you would never know to seek out on your own. I love being an eternal tourist. This city lets you spend the day by water, see historic sites, architecture, tours and visit all the newest (or oldest) places in a day, by foot. I hold memberships to museums, social clubs, places like the zoo. I love supporting this city.
Most importantly….who is going to sit on the Iron Throne?
Sansa. [we’ll see next week]