Getting to know Kelly Delahanty

The Women in Technology Member Profile this month is of Kelly Delahanty. While you might know her best as the host of our monthly roundtables, we think you’ll love getting to know more about what led her to become a User Experience Designer as well as her outside-of-work activities.

What do you do?

I’m a User Experience Designer with Administrative Information Technology Services (AITS), where I help create enterprise applications used across the university system. In addition to doing UX work, I also take on a lot of the UI and front end development work for these projects. Outside of AITS, I am part of the WIT leadership team and the IT Caffeine Break planning committee.

What led you to this career?

I first became interested in web design in high school because I was a big webcomic nerd. I wanted to share my own comics and art online, and at the time the best way to do that was to create your own site. I never did get my site off the ground because I was cheap and didn’t want to pay for hosting, but I did start learning HTML and CSS. Between that and some coding classes I was able to take, I decided I really wanted to do something that combined computers and art, like web design, video game design, or animation. I ended up getting my undergraduate degree in New Media from UIUC, where I got very interested in interactive stories and design, specifically with how the actual interface through which people interacted with something could influence their experience of the information or story itself.

During and after school I worked at various jobs doing design, communications, and marketing work. I found that I really preferred designing things like websites, infographics, and even guidebooks over things like posters and marketing graphics, because I cared way more about the usability of the design than the aesthetics. I discovered the field of UX Design while trying to find ways to improve the websites I was managing for work. I joined a local UX meetup group and I started taking classes online for both UX and front end development. I started applying what I learned in my current role as well as through volunteer opportunities I found through sites like Taproot Foundation and Catchafire as a way to build up my portfolio. After that I was hired as a UX Designer at AITS, where I’ve been ever since!

What is something interesting that you enjoy doing outside of work that may surprise your colleagues?

I still do a lot of art-related activities in my free time, although lately I’ve been doing more DIY projects than drawing. I’m currently in the process of building a console table and some custom doors for an IKEA wardrobe. I also enjoy doing aerial arts (my favorite is the lyra or aerial hoop, but I’ve also done trapeze and aerial silks) as well as ice skating. Finally, I spend a fair amount of time trying to schedule Dungeon and Dragon sessions with a bunch of other busy adults.

What behavior or personality trait do you most attribute your success to, and why? 

If I had to pick a singular trait, I’d say curiosity. Curiosity has lead me to learning the skills and information initially required to do my job and continues to guide my professional development. When working on any given project, I try to approach it with curiosity – I want to learn about the processes already in place, how the people who will be using the application think and operate, and what their goals are. When I test my designs with users and they uncover issues, I look at it as an opportunity to learn and improve.

What’s a song or type of music you listen to puts you in the best mood and why?

I think I have pretty eclectic taste in music and it really depends on what I’m feeling at the time. To get put in a good mood my go-tos are folk, pop, hip hop, and musicals. Recently Spotify has been recommending me “goblincore” playlists (which I’ve seen described as “cottagecore, but feral”) with a lots of semi-angry folk music that I’ve really been enjoying.