Valeria’s passion for User Experience (UX) led her to found UX Cork, a community that focuses on providing professional growth opportunities for UX designers and enthusiasts in Cork, Ireland. In an interview with DesignWhine, she shared her journey from studying fine arts and marketing to discovering her love for UX and how she came to establish the UX Cork community.
Originally from Spain, Valeria moved to Ireland in 2014 for an internship and ended up staying there after getting hired for a marketing role. With degrees in fine arts and international trade, she honed her design and marketing skills while working with various companies. Her interest in UX grew when she started working for manufacturers of electronic products, where she was able to provide input on both the product and website design.
In 2016, Valeria moved to Dublin to find bigger opportunities and enrolled in a postgraduate UX course. She then started attending UX meetups in Dublin and found a vibrant community. However, the busy city was not for her, so she returned to Cork, her preferred relaxed environment. To her surprise, there were no UX meetups in Cork, so she did some research and found out that a few people had tried to start one back in 2009-10 but were not successful.
Undeterred, Valeria contacted the people who had tried to start the UX Cork meetup and learned about their experience. Just as she was about to start the meetup, someone else beat her to it. Valeria reached out to the organizer and offered to collaborate. They agreed, and together, they organized events and worked to build the UX Cork community.
Over time, Valeria became the sole organizer of UX Cork and focused on providing consistency and growth opportunities for its members. She ensured that there was at least one speaker per month and lined up speakers from all over the world. Despite having a busy life, she made time to build the community, believing that it was necessary for the Cork community to grow professionally.
Today, David Hall, a member who had collaborated with Valeria before, helps her organize the meetups as a co-organizer. Valeria is now on maternity leave and has more time to focus on getting speakers for the community.
The founding members of UX Cork were Valeria and another member who has since left. David Hall has joined as a co-organizer and collaborates with Valeria to keep the community running smoothly. They are passionate about providing opportunities for UX designers and enthusiasts in Cork to learn, grow and connect.
Valeria also talked about the challenges of running a community. She mentioned that finding the right speakers can be difficult, especially those who are willing to travel to Cork. Valeria and David have to work hard to ensure that the speakers they invite can offer valuable insights to their members. Valeria also highlighted the importance of providing a safe and inclusive space for their members. She believes that diversity and inclusion are crucial for the growth of the community and ensures that everyone feels welcome at their events.
UX Cork has grown over the years, and Valeria and David have organized various events, including talks, workshops, and networking events. They have had speakers from companies like Google, Microsoft, and Shopify, who have shared their expertise with the community. The events have attracted members from different backgrounds, including designers, developers, product managers, and business owners.
The community has also organized hackathons and design challenges, where members work in teams to solve real-world problems. The challenges provide opportunities for members to work together, learn from each other, and showcase their skills.
Valeria and David have also collaborated with other UX communities in Ireland to organize joint events, which have provided members with even more opportunities to learn and network.
Despite several challenges, UX Cork has continued to grow and evolve. In 2020, the community faced a new challenge: the COVID-19 pandemic. Like many other communities, UX Cork had to shift to virtual events to comply with safety regulations. However, this did not dampen the enthusiasm of its members. In fact, the virtual events allowed members from all over the world to attend and share their experiences.
Looking to the future, Valeria and David are optimistic about the growth of the community. They hope to expand their reach and provide more opportunities for their members, including mentorship programs and UX design competitions. They also want to continue building relationships with other UX communities in Ireland and around the world.
Despite the challenges, Valeria and David remain committed to providing a safe, inclusive, and welcoming environment for all members.
This article was last updated on December 11, 2023; Originally published on June 29, 2023