User-Centered Designer Erin Cowan

Abbie Howell
4 min readSep 24, 2018

Introduce the designer selected and the reason for selection

For this assignment I chose to interview my neighbor in my hometown, Erin Cowan. She moved in next to my family about a year ago so I thought it would be good to make a connection, and ask her a little bit about her job now. Erin grew up in Columbus Ohio and Portland Oregon, and finally back to Cincinnati where she attended Mason High School. After high school she went to Miami University for college and started out as a graphic design major, but later changed it to social work. During her time in college she did an internship with FRCH Design in Cincinnati Ohio. After she graduated she did graphic and sales work and eventually went back to Sinclair get the classes she needed for her graphic design degree. After working in sales and graphics for five years she decided to do freelance graphic design so she could be at home more with her kids. After awhile she started picking up clients and working more and more. In 2013, she moved to Indianapolis to work at Traders Point Creamery in Graphics and Marketing for a year. She moved back to Cincinnati in 2017 and has been working as a contractor for Premier Health in Dayton, Ohio for a year. She has been married for twelve years and has three kids. She also loves art, dance, baking, and shopping.

Describe a project in which they practiced user-centered design

Erin told me about a project she just finished up for Dayton’s Premier Health “Well Being Center.” Her and her team just completed a quarterly newsletter/class program guide for the Well Being Center, which offers classes to the residents and employees. She told me she helped the marketing department with the class descriptions, and also finds the images to go with the classes. She said they design the classes, images and content specifically for what they think the community will want to take. The classes range from yoga, pilates, dance, and meditating, but they do change the classes every year, and try to accommodate to men and women of all ages.

What user-centered design principles and methods did the designer utilize?

Erin told me that in her experience, “when working in a corporate graphic environment there is little room for design methods.” She said you are given very specific guidelines, fonts, images etc. She said she had to create a document that fits both a design catered toward the user, but also images that are within their corporate look.

Whom are the designers target audience? What was their gender, generation, culture, and profession?

The target audience would be anyone would is sixteen years of age or older who can sign up for the classes at Dayton’s Premier Health Well Being Center. All professions and genders are welcome at their Well Being Center.

How did practicing user-centered design add value to the project as a whole?

The project was centered around providing the community workout classes, and being a better/healthier person overall. The marketing and content is very much user driven for the community to provide them classes that they would want to take. So as a designer, Erin says that part is easy. She provides images to go along with the new classes offered, that shows they are open to people of all ages, race, and gender. Her main objective is to make the designs feel welcoming so more people sign up for the classes.

What are the key takeaways from this assignment?

By interviewing Erin I was able to make a connection in the graphic design world, and learn a little bit about her current and past jobs as a graphic designer. The cool thing about design is that you can get into any field with design, thus Erin working in the health field as a graphic designer currently. I think it is also interesting that she said she has a lot less freedom that I thought, at least at her job she is working at now. I’m sure it is different depending on what job you work at, but at her job now she has little creative freedom.


Interview with Erin Cowan