AMA: Alex Wykoff, User Research at Brave — Nov. 28, 2018

Hello, I’m Alex!

Just like Sampson, I was born and raised in a quiet little town, however, my dad was totally into electronics and all things Radioshack so my first computer was a TRS-80 CoCo2. I learned my ABCs from Cookie Monster Letter Cruncher and basic electronics from Rocky’s Boots. While I learned a few simple commands (‘LOADM’ ring any bells?) it wasn’t until much later that I started getting into programming.

My first experience on the Internet was using a terminal and telnet to connect to the University of Michigan and download freeware/shareware games for the ‘family computer’ a Mac SE/30.

Later, I bought a book from BDalton(RIP) which had a list of websites, MUDs, MUSHs, & MOOs (those distinctions mattered!) and using the NCSA Mosaic browser. I even remember stumbling onto Yahoo and making a few submissions to their directory.

My career path is hardly straightforward. After graduating with a CS degree, I taught English in South Korea and studied at Yonsei University’s Korean Language Program. Afterward, I came back to the US, found a job in QA and tinkered with Python and JavaScript for fun. I then felt a need to push into design, so I moved to Austin, Texas and went to the Austin Center for Design. I graduated from their program with a certificate in Interaction Design and Social Entrepreneurship. A few jobs later, I found an opening for Brave as a QA Lead. I took the shot and got in as employee #21. After building out a few important things like the test run generator script, community.brave.com, and bringing on some excellent QA Engineers, I took another shot and landed in User Research which I have been doing for the past year and a half.

In User Research, I traverse time to observe and make sense of user behaviors, feedback, and larger trends. My time is pretty well split between experiments, prototyping, secondary readings (Research) and sensemaking (Synthesis). I also like to pitch in when help is needed spinning up a webpage, testing a new build, or being the Deckard Cain of documents, policies, and internal decisions.

That’s mostly it; I look forward to chatting with you!

See the full AMA here