The next time you sign on to Expedia to check out a hotel room, rest assured that Rebecca Shore (DC'06) has walked through the experience before you, working to make everything as easy and intuitive as possible.
Shore, who worked at Boeing after graduation, has pivoted to build a career around user experience (UX). UX is responsible for keeping customers engaged, meeting their needs, and ensuring they'll come back to a website.
"I had some exposure to the usability team at Boeing and was very interested in the work they did and the impact that the field had for end users," Shore said.
As she looked into graduate programs through Boeing's tuition reimbursement program, she called on one of her Carnegie Mellon University mentors, Information Systems (IS) Teaching Professor Larry Heimann, for advice.
"She could have been highly successful in whatever she did. When I give advice, I'll give students two topics, and ask them which one they'd rather talk about for an hour. It helps them recognize where their passions are," Heimann said.
Shore followed her passion to study Human Centered Design & Engineering at the University of Washington. She then began work at Dezudio, an interaction and information design consultancy whose founder Shore had met during her time at CMU.
Last year Shore landed her current job as a usability researcher at Expedia, where there are two other CMU alumni on her UX team, William Long (DC'01, CS'02), another IS graduate, and Benjamin Nimmons (CS'12).
"I like the field of user experience because as a researcher I feel like I am the eyes and ears of the user. If there is something that is not working for people on the site, or the users' needs are not properly being met, it is my responsibility to figure out what the problem is, why it is a problem and make sure it gets fixed in a way that can benefit the user," Shore said.
Shore's research focuses on usage of the homepage, itinerary, hotels and rental cars pages of Expedia. She works with the product teams to identify topics then designs studies and conducts research to address user behavior and attitudes. She uses a variety of methods including surveys and usability studies conducted in Expedia's state-of-the-art usability lab where users are asked to try the current and future versions of the site.
Her work in CMU's IS program helped build these skills; Heimann describes the IS curriculum as a blend of user design, computer science and business administration. During one course, Shore designed an application for a nonprofit client, Camp Kesem, which supports children whose parents have cancer, and helped them with their customer relationship management system to track donors, events and campers.
Beyond her experience through her coursework, Shore — who was also on the women's basketball team — said CMU continues to have a broad impact on her life and work.
"CMU has helped me build a strong educational foundation for my career. The contacts and network I have met through CMU and continue to meet in CMU alumni have been a huge part of my life, both for my career and my personal life. I don't go through a day where I don't talk with at least one fellow Tartan," Shore said.