If you really want to know a little more about me, here goes…
I currently work at PointSource in Raleigh where I’m a Director of UX. But over the past 15 years, I’ve worked as a visual and user experience designer. I have also worked as a developer and strategist. In that time, some themes have emerged that are important to me.
To me, it’s about the work. My worst days are spent doing email and talking about working. My best days are when I come home with my hands black from dry erase markers used in furious, collaborative work sessions dedicated to designing something- days spent working with the designers, developers, and clients – days spent building something.
I also enjoy building departments. Instead of building by mandate, I prefer to build organically by creating constant value for an organization. I’m always looking for ways to integrate new team members into the larger organization and establishing protocols to ensure success.
It’s taken me a long time to learn what I suck at and what I’m good at. I’m not a project manager or a sales person (as much as I respect and need those people). I’m a builder. I’m valuable when things need to get done.
Developing new talent is critical to all organizations. I work to not only train new UX talent, but I also work to help people in other departments learn more about user experience and development. Cross-functional training helps draw people together and helps build empathy for colleagues.
I’ve also worked as an instructor in the past and have volunteered my time with College of Design to help promote the UX field and educate young talent. I also serve on the board of TriUXPA, and help to guide the organization on it’s mission to promote the UX field.
Mobile and Web work has become more complex and sophisticated which has resulted in increased specialization in the field. One challenge this creates is a tendency for specialists to become siloed. My work experiences in development, design, and UX, help me integrate often disparate practices. Better collaboration on interactive projects fuses individual work together and improves quality, effectiveness, profitability, and creativity.
I’m a huge proponent of a modified user-centered design process. UCD methodologies clearly help organizations focus on what is most valuable to their users. What’s seemingly obvious, is that it’s also important that organizations clearly define what they need. I say “seemingly” because I am shocked at how often I get blank stares or thoughtless answers when I ask my clients the most important question: “what are your goals?” Because the best design satisfies the user’s needs and the company’s goals in a beautiful, elegant, and simple way.
Iterative, evolutionary design
While we all strive to make a perfect product on the first try, it’s obvious that the most successful ideas are the ones that are improved, iteratively, over time. Unfortunately, this is not what clients like to hear. Clients want to to think that you’ll “knock it outta the park!” They don’t want to hear, “we’ll launch the product and roadmap in important features over the next year.” Clients want to think you know everything. They don’t want to hear “we’re not sure about this idea. Let’s test it with users and watch the analytics and make critical decisions based on the feedback.”
But there is no getting around the fact that design is a process. The sooner you can get a client or company to embrace this reality, the sooner they’ll start succeeding.