Pretty Pictures + Pithy Problems

Hi. It me.

I was talking with a friend yesterday about this whole design journey I’ve been on. To wit, we’ve applied internally for a Community Manager role which will hopefully include heavy user research along with signing up for an online class from Matt Smith.

We talked about a lot of things here, but among them came the most holy of topics:

But like, why do you even want to do this?

Over the time I’ve worked at Paradiselandia, I’ve spent that time in multiple roles. I was the second US-based resource they hired and they had a single desk. Since then, I have both literally and figuratively built dozens more and as I look over that time, one thing stands out that informs where I am now: education and emotion.

I went from pre-sales to training to support and in all of those roles the activities for me where similar if not exactly the same:

  • Listen to people speak about a problem
  • Understand their perspective
  • Ask questions along the way for clarification
  • Document responses
  • Iterate through possible solutions
  • Reward myself with a beverage

I’ve also had a fondness – and an eye – for typography, color, and just design in general. Front-end design in particular. The years of working in talking people through solutions and iterating shaped a bit of that natural affinity. I wasn’t just hearing what people wanted, I could see it and more important: I could see why.

Seeing all of those moments where I get the client to the point of, “This works! Sweet. Let’s celebrate” are the moments I came to love. It made the challenges along the way worth it. However, for every yes I got, there were several no’s as well. After asking in so many ways where these no’s were coming from, I started trying to learn about UX myself; that is to say I went from, “I can see this working but I don’t know what that means” to “I could make this if I learned how. I have time. I will learn how.”

So here I am trying to determine whether to go straight into user research or straight into UX. There are so many interrelated disciplines that design requires that it is easy to get lost without a lot of talking. The path to competency in these areas is never linear. I don’t know what success looks like when it is finished or if it ever really is, but what I know is that I am passionate about workflows that make sense and make it easy for admins or users to do something once or several times without feeling tedious.

I want things to be easy for people to understand. Readable errors. Clear indications of what to do or what to do next. I want clients to feel they are being heard and seen when they express a need and to feel like we are partners in solving things. I want translate all of that into tangible things.

More so with every passing day.

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