By Ellen Meltzer, Manager, Information Services; Photo Craig Thompson, Web Producer
Rachael Hu is CDL’s User Experience Design Manager, a member of the Assessment, Design and Production Group. This team also includes Felicia Poe, Robin Davis-White, Jane Lee, Eric Satzman, and Craig Thompson. Rachael has the weighty responsibility of ensuring that CDL’s outward facing interfaces work well for users. Interfaces are not designed at CDL without following a process of talking to end users with their behavior patterns, needs, and priorities in mind. (When you see some of the CDL websites from now on, think: Rachael!) Rachael has put her stamp on the OAC redesign and the CDL website redesign project, as well as consulting on the UC-eLinks direct linking design, the new eScholarship interface, and the Web Archiving Service (WAS). Having been at CDL a year and a half already, Rachael falls into the old-new category. (Or is it new-old?)
Rachael’s road to the CDL began in the internet industry, where she worked for 10 years, beginning on the content side attending to writers and illustrators on a commercial web site. She then learned the design and development process for web interfaces that served both commercial and non-profit companies. Rachael was drawn to library school so that she could formalize the training she was learning on the job. Her degree from the School of Information at the University of Michigan provided her with a framework to understand information from all angles, from the historical and social aspects to the technical. She also pursued her interests in archives, conservation, and human computer interaction (HCI). After completing her master’s degree, she moved on to work for JSTOR and Portico.
At JSTOR, Rachael was surprised to find herself enjoying interacting with an institution with an academic mission and very interesting projects—she could take part in understanding not just the interfaces of websites, but the technical underpinnings and changes and shifts in the field of information as well. “I’m glad I had experience in both the commercial and academic worlds. I gained business-oriented grounding in the commercial sector; and it’s been interesting to adapt what I learned there to an academic setting. It’s also been a real challenge to understand a different kind of culture. It’s been good!” says Rachael.
And coming to the CDL has provided a further melding of Rachael’s skills, education and interests. The OAC project, for example, brings together the world of archives and her HCI experience, and these are combined with her innate skills in observing and listening. Something she hones on BART rides. “I especially like watching people use their mobile devices during their morning commute.”
Rachael’s been impressed about how much everyone cares about their jobs and what they do at UC—they’re passionate about their work. “On the one hand it’s a challenge to design for so many different, sometimes conflicting, passionate voices; on the other hand, it’s very refreshing to find that people are really invested in their work, not only at CDL, but in the constituencies we serve.”
“CDL was a great place to extend my journey,” enthuses Rachael, “not to mention gaining a great public transportation system, and leaving behind Michigan winters.”