Niamh Harman is a very passionate about designing for social positive impact. She does some volunteering and loves being able to combine design and technology to better peoples lives, particularly in the area of wellbeing. Her background is in branding and packaging design, but she went on to study UX Design and fell in love with it!
Niamh currently works from home as a Creative Director of Ireland’s largest Employee Health and Wellbeing company.
Putting design aside — she is a Cat-Mom and lives in a small house in Dublin, Ireland. She is an active Dublin Simon Community Souprun volunteer helping the homeless community of Dublin, is an ADPList mentor and her favourite food is PIZZA!
How are you planning to celebrate Women’s Day this year?
Call my mother of course! 😉
Would you say there is an under-representation of women in UI/UX design?
My mentees are probably about a 50/50 split between men and women so I don’t necessarily see an under-representation of women in the field. I do however really encourage the women I mentor, its about really pushing them and giving them the boost and confidence they need.
What are some personality traits of women that make them better (or worse) UX designers?
Empathy empathy empathy! If you think something might annoy a user, chances are it will! Its always important to put yourself in the user’s shoes. Take a step back from your work. Look at it as if you didn’t design it. Send it to others, seek criticism. We can always improve. Be ok with redesigning, redesigning again and again until its right. Every iteration brings new learnings.
Who are some design leaders (male or female) you look up to?
I really look up to my previous boss Aileen Cox Blundell, she’s so incredibly entrepreneurial and innovative and she thought me a lot about self-confidence. She has been a huge role model for me throughout my career.
As a woman, what’s the greatest challenge you’ve had to face as a designer?
I’ve worked as part of a predominantly male dev-team for 5 years, I don’t have a dev background so a lot of that stuff goes over my head, which initially caused me to suffer from terrible imposter syndrome. I have to remind myself that I have other skills and its ok to not know everything. I’ve also been incredibly lucky that I’ve worked with amazing men in this field, so they have never made me feel like I don’t belong or shouldn’t be there. Its just in your head sometimes. I recommend The Imposter Cure by Dr Jessamy Hibberd, this really helped me.
What, in your opinion, could we UI/UX designers do, as a relatively young and collaborative fraternity, to solve the problem of gender inequality?
Help other women to succeed, mentor other women and showcase other women! Be proud of the success and achievements of women. Look at Whitney Wolfe Herd!
Research shows that that women are more likely to achieve professional success when surrounded by other women, so surround yourself!
Your message to young women looking to make their careers in UI/UX?
Go for it!!! Read Mark Manson’s, The subtle art of not giving a fuck and don’t be afraid to fail. Failing comes with learning and it will only make you a better designer!
This article was last updated on November 26, 2023; Originally published on March 4, 2021