Director, Code for Princeton
Hema Waghray is the Director and a User Experience Researcher at Code for Princeton (CfP), in Princeton New Jersey. At Code for Princeton, the teams work on making government services simple to use and accessible to residents in Princeton. In this process CfP makes apps and websites for residents to solve civic problems and provide solutions by using public data and open source technologies. Working with volunteers is a way of creating community engagement where technologists, developers, designers and community member-enthusiasts form teams and help on projects. Hema is primarily a User Experience Researcher and she has been working in New Jersey for the past several years, which she says has given her a certain breadth of understanding and engagement with people that adds a critical diversity to her bracket of “users”. Users, to her, are consumers, customers, clients, and people in reverse order of value. She values connecting with people at a level that is in the moment and about them. Her work she believes, is possible due to an immediate empathy she is able to advance to a context by putting herself in people’s shoes and then calculating and assessing what their story looks like in terms of technology, time, need and usage. She then finds what’s lacking in the context of an interface and a design and takes it from there. According to her, the volunteers, clients/users are people first, always!