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Lauren McMullen is a graduate student in the College of Arts, Media and Design’s Experience Design program. She decided to join the Northeastern community because of its imaginative and creative approach to Experience Design, as well as the opportunity to find ways to integrate the field with her undergraduate degree in English Literature. In CAMD, through her classwork and readings, she has been able to find a satisfying symbiosis between the two fields and she looks forward to growing her understanding of how they relate, as well as exploring Experience Design’s applications in the digital product space.

In her quest to grow her experience and understanding of the Experience Design landscape, Lauren recently started a co-op position as User Experience Researcher Intern at Latch, a New York-based company that allows users to open and manage every door in an apartment building from a smartphone. We had the opportunity to learn more about it, below!

Tell us about your co-op position so far!

Latch is a company that is aimed at creating an experience around the concept of “smart access.” The company is a service offered to property managers and an amenity provided to tenants of apartment buildings. My role is centered around creating empathy within the company, and testing the interface of our products to ensure understandability and usability. Recently, I tested a feature designed to disable doorcodes for communal spaces. Questions we addressed were: Do users understand why the doorcode isn’t visible for certain doors (like gym, patio, or certain elevators)? What does the user do when confronted with a doorcode that isn’t opening a door? Where in the app do they look for solutions? The findings from this brief study resulted in copy changes to induce more clarity.

I have conducted interviews with property managers, one of the primary users of our web interface, and built a service map around the daily tasks executed by property managers. This communication tool will be used to give the entire company an idea of where our product fits into the lives of our primary (and very busy) users. One of the company’s tag-lines is “built with property managers in mind,” and I am essentially one of those minds.

Some upcoming tasks include an audit of all research conducted to-date, a proposal for bringing UX design problems into the Product Management queue for ‘quick fixes’, and ongoing usability studies for our numerous interfaces.

What drew you to the position, or more broadly, to Latch as a company?

I really love that Latch is an IoT (internet of things) company that engenders action in a physical space. The anticipation and expectations of users are quite different in this sphere, versus in an environment that is solely contained in the digital world. Our users are entering and exiting buildings, gaining access to their apartments for the first time, and letting friends and service providers in and out of their space with the facilitation of our service. Many of my Experience Design (XD) professors had architecture backgrounds, and the program focused on service design, and on designing technology that explored new frontiers. To me, Latch is a perfect complement – reimagining an experience as ancient as the lock and key.

How does it relate to past positions you’ve held?

Prior to my XD program, I worked for a digital advertising company that installed devices in residential and commercial properties, so I was already quite familiar with the larger real estate management companies, and with the layout of a company that possessed both digital and physical components aimed to be installed in large, metropolitan properties. The services are very different, but the space they exist in is the same.

Anything else?

I’m still establishing myself in the field, and learning the nuances of the various roles: UI design, UX design, UX research, and product management. It is a fast-paced environment, but I am really enjoying my time so far and excited for all of the projects that await me.