Office Hours: I am a UX researcher at Facebook and founder of Wealthly, a financial literacy platform. I'm LaToya Westbrooks.Featured

Hi everyone! I’m LaToya Joy Westbrooks, a UX Researcher at Facebook and the Founder of Wealthly, a financial literacy and coaching platform that helps millennials reach their personal finance goals through strategy, support and technology. I initially got my start on the trading floor on Wall Street but soon realized I was more passionate about personal finance and helping people on their financial journey. This led to friends, family, and colleagues who often sought my advice in order to gain a greater understanding on how to eliminate debt, build wealth and invest in the stock market. Prior to Facebook, I was a Senior UX researcher at Oscar Health, Spring and Betterment. I have built the discipline of User Research at several start-ups in NYC from the ground up, demonstrating its value company-wide. Prior to my career in tech, I spent 7 ½ years in the financial services industry. I was a Business Banker at JPMorgan Chase & Co. and an Operations Associate at Citigroup. I also serve as an Industry Advisory Board Member for CUNY TechWorks. The mission of the program is to connect underrepresented and low-income New Yorkers to the growing number of opportunities in New York City’s thriving tech sector. This initiative was inspired by President Obama’s America’s College Promise plan to make two years of community college free for responsible students. Today you can find me coaching, leading workshops, speaking on panels and at conferences centered around financial literacy because I am determined to eliminate the wealth gap one household at a time. You can also find me advocating for more diversity in the tech space. Please feel free to ask me anything about UX Research, the FinTech ecosystem, personal finance, how to break into tech, entrepreneurship or how I balance a full-time job and a growing business on the side!
Thanks so much for joining us @LaToyaJoy!Elphas – please ask @LaToyaJoy your questions before Friday, August 21st. @LaToyaJoy may not have time to answer every questions, so emoji upvote your favorites 🔥👍🏾➕
Hi, LaToya! Thanks for answering all of our questions! What do you think are the most important skills for a UX researcher? And how do you find opportunities to pursue UX research if you don't have any prior experiences in it?
Hi @wrenlee! I think the most important skill for a UX Researcher is being able to understand when and why research is needed. As a UX Researcher, you will work with many different partners such as Designers, Product Managers, Data Scientists, Product Analysts, Copy Strategists/UX Writers and other Researchers. It's a very cross functional role and you want to ensure that you are conducting research because there's an underlying problem that needs to be uncovered and not because a partner just wants to validate their own assumptions. If you don't have prior experience I recommend volunteering for small businesses or startups that need UX Research support.
hi @LaToyaJoy! what are your tips on splitting signal from noise when conducting user research, and distilling insights? additionally, how do you strategically use user research to understand gaps and needs without building exactly what users say they want (the famous henry ford and apple quotes come to mind here). what are your tips to see through their feedback to the bigger picture to inform product strategy?
Hi @rachelbell, Thanks for your questions! The first thing that I like to uncover before conducting research is:1) what is the business problem?2) what is the people problem?When I'm conducting qualitative research my goal is the understand and listen to our users'. I want to understand their thoughts, opinions, how they truly feel and the reason why. This is what you're really looking to uncover and what to share with your partners to inform product strategy. Then if needed, I may pair my qualitative research study with quantitative research to compliment my findings. My advice to splitting signal from noise is to look for themes that continues to come up during the study and to avoid asking users yes/no questions. I also avoid asking users for direct design feedback and instead observe if they're able to complete an action or not during usability testing. This eliminates the possibility of building "exactly" what the user wants.
Hi LaToya! Curious how you made the switch from finance to UX? How did you know what course you wanted to take? Also, was it easy to get a role? Did you face pushback?
Hi @madhupunjabi, Thanks for your question! I actually participated in a virtual lunch series earlier this summer where I shared my strategy of switching from finance to UX Research. You can watch a recording of the video here: I didn't take a course, I learned through real world experience (I talk about this in the interview above)- I took a UX Research + Design workshop for (1 day) at General Assembly but not a bootcamp- Yes, I faced a lot of pushback and challenges but it never stopped me from reaching my goals- No it was not easy landing my first role in UX Research but nothing worth having in life is ever easyYou got this! =)
Thanks @LaToyaJoy! I would love to learn more about the last point - how do you balance a full-time job and growing a business? I know I get computer/brain fatigue working on side projects after work.
Hi @KellyNeuner, Thanks for your question! Over the years I've learned to time block my tasks really well. Full-time Job:When I'm working for my full-time job that's my focus and nothing else. I answer work emails in the mornings and afternoons (and not all day long). I decline meetings that I don't need to be in (even if I'm invited) to avoid meeting fatigue and I only respond to work chat groups/slack channels when it's important (they can become very distracting). With My Own Business:- I have designated days for every task (specific days that I work "on" the business and specific days that I work "in" the business. - I've stopped trying to do everything by myself in order to avoid burnout and I've learned to outsource certain tasks. I hired a virtual assistant and will hire independent contractors when needed. - I've learned to automate my workflows, created automations for my client onboarding flow and schedule my emails in the evenings. If you're too fatigue to work in the evenings after a workday, then I recommended waking up earlier in the morning before your work day gets started.
@LaToyaJoy Thank you for answering our questions! For someone how is interested in UX in the healthcare niche, what groups, associations, and/or online forums do you recommend for the community with other healthcare UX professionals?
Hi @AmeliaR, Thanks for your question! In this case, LinkedIn will be your best bet to build a network for such a niche space. When I worked at Oscar Health, I was apart of our ERG and was able to meet many other healthcare tech professionals because we would often partner with other ERGs like Flatiron Health, Maven Clinic and others. I'm apart of many different UX Research groups on Slack and LinkedIn however, they are not all healthcare tech professionals groups. I either had to engage with the UX professionals or healthcare tech professionals separately, if that makes sense?
@LaToyaJoy Thank you!
Hi @latoyajoy thank you so much for sharing your perspective! We at MyWellbeing are about to embark on a number of UX improvements and that's a large focus of our next two quarters. I would love to chat in more depth with you if you're available to share feedback or explore advisor roles!
Hi @alyssapetersel! Thank you for your question and congratulations on launching MyWellbeing! UX is so important to the user journey and so I'm happy to hear that it's a part of your roadmap. I saw your message on LinkedIn and I will respond to you there ☺️.
Thank you so much @latoyajoy! Looking forward to continuing the conversation :)
I'm looking to pivot into a role where I judge the UX usability and present my findings in an audit to companies.How do you normally present the findings of your research? Does the presenting vary from company to company, or is it generally similar? Thank you so much for being here!
Hi @MorganLucas! Thanks for your question! I usually present my findings through a research report or a presentation deck. I've done so at startups and large tech companies, so I would say presenting insights is generally the same from company to company.
As someone who comes from UX Research (and now an investor in women-led tech companies), I’d be really interested to know how your expertise in UXR guides how you are building your company! Any differences you note from looking around at other startups/founders?
Greetnings LaToya! Thanks for taking time with us Elphas! As a UX Designer, I find the insight and accountability that my research partners bring to be invaluable to my own process. Often, though, it feels like our business partners can be tempted to rush through the research process.How can I be a better advocate and help to amplify the UX Research voice and impact in shaping a product roadmap and decision making processes?
Thanks for sharing, LaToya!2 questions for you related to your inspiring financial coaching side hustle:1) What does your employer think of your side-hustle? Do they know? 2) Do you need certifications or credentials to take on financial literacy / coaching clients? Do you have plans on getting any or think they are worthwhile?Thanks in advance!
Hi LaToya! I am SUPER curious about how you're balancing a startup with a FT job, and also how you have been perceived as a founder whose other title is UX Researcher.
Hi! How do you track progress for your users on Wealthly / what metrics do you look at to measure their success and how do you help them 'course correct' if they are not meeting their goals?
Thanks for your post. I’ll have an interview for a researcher on one of Facebook’s product team next week. I’m a seasoned researcher but don’t have much explicit UX research experience. Any advice? I’d love to chat. Thanks in advance. Devin
@EniolaAbioye 👆🏽