Being a freelancer allows the ultimate flexibility when it comes to creating and defining your own role and with lead UX experience coupled with project strategy, it’s definitely fair to say Pav Chahal has merged her strong skillsets to create a unique career path. Having worked in user-experience design for over 20 years, Pav stepping into a lead UX role in 2015.
Recognising early on that strategy also played a huge part in her user-led design, Pav has used it to her advantage, taking on a real variety of projects throughout her career so far. We spoke to Pav about what it meant to be such a multi-faceted freelancer, what her advice would be to anyone considering strategy or even merging skillsets and how best to handle vague briefs!
Having worked on so many projects over the years, we first asked Pav how she handles client expectations at the start, ensuring to manage them throughout too;
I can't say that I worry about handling client expectations, as I tend to let my work show what I can do. The expectations - given to me - are to provide solutions to the problem statement, and to date, I have always provided solutions.
With more focus on UX design than ever before, more companies are working with freelance professionals, so we wanted to know what, in Pav’s own view, what can clients do to prepare working with UX strategists;
From my point of view this comes down to Business requirements, and those should have been captured to some degree before a UX professional can carry out their job. The requirements from business and technology set out the awareness for a UX professional in terms of what can or can’t be done by the system behind the potential solution. A UX professional can also set out the best possible solution, and highlight how or whether business and technology need to improve to allow the best experience to be possible.
So when it comes to handling some of the biggest challenges to date on projects, Pav shares;
I’ve worked at places where the project doesn't have one main stakeholder, but several. That can make 'sign-off' more difficult, but I take any challenge as a learning curve, and you have to proceed step by step.
And applying her own unique strategy to overcome this using what Pav refers to as;
What I call the 3C's (Communication, Collaboration and Creativity). It's important to not assume anything and always share ideas and discuss with various teams and stakeholders. Creating wireframes or user flows is a great way to get stakeholders on board regarding a solution.
Having also handled a lot of briefs over the years, we asked Pav about handling the more vague;
You can't prevent receiving vague briefs, as that's a process I am not usually involved in, but as I mentioned- as long as channels of communication and collaboration are there, that's the way forward to define a more suitable brief.
When asked about the best advice she’d received so far, Pav shared;
I was once told that as a freelancer or contractor you are only as good as your last piece of work, and I have always kept that awareness. This ensures that I am kept on my toes, and every project gets the same dedication from me. The past work doesn't exist, and hence my next project will be based on how well I do on my current project/task.
And finally, when asked how she felt being a finalist in the Freelancer Awards 2021, Pav said
It felt great, especially as the last couple of years have been difficult being a contractor in the world of UX. I felt valued and appreciated by my peers and being acknowledged as one of the finalists continues to give me the belief to continue growing in this field
If you’re looking for a super-organised strategist and lead UX designer, book Pav today.