2016 — My UX Year in Review

Andy Vitale
Dec 31, 2016 · 5 min read

Just mentioning 2016 evokes all sorts of emotions depending on the individual. While for many, it is a year they are happy to put behind them, for me 2016 was a year of growth and accomplishment. A lot has happened this year and it is important to take a step back and look at what you have accomplished and where you may have missed the mark.

2016 was my second full year living in Minnesota and working at 3M. Most of my goals were related to my design career, such as creating more content, speaking at conferences and events, mentoring others and increasing my responsibilities at work. Personally, I wanted to teach again. It is something I missed doing. I also had the crazy idea to somehow try all of the amazing food in the Twin Cities AND get back in shape. To no surprise, I wasn’t able to accomplish either, there’s just too much awesome food here. While I didn’t accomplish everything I wanted to, I did accomplish quite a few things.

Completed My Master’s Degree

Sure it may have taken me three attempts, with three separate majors (Business Administration, Human-Computer Interaction, User Experience Design) at three separate schools over the course of seven years, but in May I graduated with an M.S. in User Experience Design from the Information Architecture and Knowledge Management program of the School of Library and Information Sciences at Kent State University. I know, it’s a lot of words. This was a personal goal of mine from back when I was the Design Department Chair at Keiser University (2003–2008).

Working at 3M Health Care

I really enjoy working at 3M, and it’s even more satisfying working in the healthcare space because of the impact of my work. I started 2016 as a Senior Interaction Designer before taking on the role of Lead Interaction Designer in April. With the new role, came new responsibilities such as leading projects across all six divisions within the Health Care Business Group.

This year our team moved into our new 3M Design Center, and I had the opportunity to be part of the video introducing the space.

My role continued to change throughout the year with my primary focus turning towards the enterprise solutions we offer through our Health Information Systems division, where I have had the opportunity to be a part of many interesting projects including this one.

Creating Content/Speaking

Coming out of 2015, I really wanted to put myself out there and share my experiences and knowledge. While I didn’t get to do as much as I wanted to, I did get to be a part of some really cool things:

  • I had to opportunity to speak at 4 conferences/events including GIANT.
Sketchnote courtesy of Ty Hatch


After finishing my Master’s degree, I was able to achieve my goal of teaching. This time as an adjunct instructor in the UX Design graduate program at Kent State in the fall semester.

I also had the pleasure of mentoring several interns during the summer at 3M. One of which will tbe joining my team in January. It really is humbling to be able to provide guidance and have the trust of those who are early in their career, and equally rewarding to see them mature in their abilities.


While I didn’t end 2016 in the physical shape I wanted to be in, largely due to my goal of diving deep into the food scene here in the Twin Cities, I did eat at a lot of great places. This is evident by my Instagram account, which gave me the chance to do a foodie takeover on another popular local foodie account.

2017 Goals

Some of my accomplishments in 2016 really inspired me to do more in 2017. Always do more, never be satisfied. For me 2017 is all about more.

  • Write more often. I want to put out more blog posts and be a part of more articles than ever before. I’m going to set a goal of one article a month and I’ve got my sights set on several specific outlets.

I’d also like to write a book next year, and I’m looking to find a publisher.

  • Speak more often. I already have more dates locked in for speaking engagements than I did in 2016, but I really want to get out there and talk about what it’s like to build a culture of experience in such a large organization as 3M among other topics.
  • Teach more often. As of now, I will be teaching an Information Architecture course in the spring at Kent State University but I am also interested in picking up additonal courses at other schools. I am capable of teaching pretty much any design course and have several years of experience in doing so.
  • Self-focus. Getting back in shape is really a top priority in 2017. I’d like to lose about 40 lbs. I don’t want to go into the benefits of exercise but I feel I could take advantage of them in 2o17
  • Side Projects. I have a few ideas that have been on the back burner for quite some time, some longer than others. I don’t want to see another idea I have in an Evernote document become someone else’s reality. Sure some of the ideas I have may not be successful, but I owe it to myself to at least try to make them come to fruition.

I’m entering 2017 with another new role at 3M. Not only will I be leading projects for our enterprise solutions in healthcare, I’ll also be leading the team that will be working towards improving the experience for patients, payers and providers. With this new responsibility and the additional travel required, it should spark a lot of ideas around content to share.

Sure 2016 had it’s share of lows. We lost a lot of insanely talented people — but that happens every year. 2016 inspired us all, in one way or another, to do more. As we approach 2017, don’t let the negativity of others affect your outlook on the year. Be positive and kind to one another, and lead by example.

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