If you were to ask my friends to use a single term to describe who I am, the most common one to come to mind would be “uber-nerd.” From a young age, I’ve loved all things pop culture—from the galaxy far, far away in Star Wars to the multiverse of Marvel to the spells and adventures of Dungeons & Dragons. When the worlds in books and movies were no longer satisfying, I came up with stories of my own, a passion that eventually found other ways to express itself through music and design.
As a teenager, I practiced playing the viola with the soundtracks to my favorite movies, built structures from my imagination with LEGOs, and spent much of my free time devouring whatever lore I could find. Eventually, I realized I could do more than just play the music—I could write it. During my time in college at CU-Boulder, I was encouraged to write “nerd pieces” by my professors, which led to me composing bigger and bolder works. I began to consider how the music was being played and became more conscious of how difficult it might be and what I could change to achieve the same result without earning the ire of the performers.
As I started to account for the experience of my performers, I found another way to manipulate audio: sound design. So not only could I write music, but I could also set the environment and build an entire audience experience. I had a new palette to work with—voices, sound effects, ambiance, volume—and it didn’t take me very long to understand that I enjoyed creating experiences with depth.
While I wasn’t able to find many opportunities to use my degrees and skills after college, I still strove to create experiences for people—such as designing a wiki for a roleplay guild and helping build their lore. I developed an affinity for programming and web design through projects like that and my job, which helped keep me going as I tried to figure out my next steps.
When I lost my job during the 2020 pandemic, I began delving deeper into the world of programming. I took courses in frontend development—which I enjoyed—but I felt as though I was still missing something. As I searched for new ways to expand my skills, I came across something I had never considered: user experience and user interface design. I was stunned. The applications and motivations behind UX and UI just clicked for me, and the old dreams I had of working in the entertainment or video game industries seemed suddenly possible.
Before learning about UX, utilizing empathy in design didn’t occur to me. I was far more focused on taking the sounds or images in my head and making them a reality, regardless of what that meant for the performer or listener. However, by adding empathy to the equation, I found I could deliver works that had meaning for others - not just myself. Furthermore, by putting myself in the shoes of my target audience, I was able to uncover ideas and thought processes that I wouldn’t have considered.
I love that UX/UI design is more than just visual—it’s telling a story with content, interactions, and even sound. Similar to composing or sound engineering for a film, you’re designing for people. The possibilities for design are limitless, a puzzle to be solved—and I, for one, am eager to learn more.
I’m Kayla—be it through websites or audio, I design limitlessly for people.
Let’s see what we can do together.