2017 Year in Review

Andy Vitale
Dec 31, 2017 · 8 min read

Someone once explained to me that in order to see all that you have accomplished, you have to pause for a second, take a step back, and reflect on the things you have done. This is especially true for designers as we seemingly move from project to project without ever taking a foot off the gas pedal. Last year was the first year that I wrote a retrospective. This year I wanted to do the same and share some of my goals for 2018.

I spent a lot of time on the road in 2017 — traveling for work, speaking, and even managed to get in a few personal trips. The only goals from 2016 that I didn’t get a chance to work on were writing a book and starting a side project. While I didn’t accomplish everything I wanted to do, looking back, 2017 was pretty rad.

As far as personal goals, I finally even carved out some time for myself and started to get back in the gym, waking up somewhere between 3:30–4:30AM to do it. This past year saw a lot of professional growth — writing more, speaking more and mentoring more. It was about putting myself out there and building professional relationships within the design community.

Creating Content/Speaking

I appeared on 4 podcasts:

Each of the podcasts I appeared on were conversations I enjoyed having with hosts who were great interviewers . I’d also like to give a shout out to the editors for the finished product.

Design Driven
Schmidt List
Creative South
User Defenders

The User Defenders episode was about designing in life or death situations.

Each guest on the show gets to choose a UX superhero moniker. Little did I know that this wouldn’t be the only time I was referred to as a superhero, which I found quite amusing.

I contributed to 14 articles/blog posts. Some that stand out:

  • The end of the year saw a
    mash-up of two of my favorite things, UX and Christmas, as I had the opportunity to share my thoughts about loving users to UX Mastery’s UXmas series. I’ve been a fan and reader of this series every holiday season since the very first year.

I spoke at 12 events, highlights include:

  • AIGA National ConferenceMinneapolis, MN
    At this year’s AIGA Conference, I facilitated a workshop, with Briana Como, on Designing A Culture of Experience. This was the first time my talk was presented as a workshop.
  • Product HiveSalt Lake City, UT
    I presented my talk on Designing A Culture of Experience to cross-disciplinary members of multiple product teams in the heart of Utah’s Silicon Slopes community.
  • Morsekode 15 Year RockiversaryMinneapolis, MN
    I spoke to design and marketing professionals about Creating Valuable Experiences at an outdoor event celebrating the 15th Anniversary of a pretty rad design agency. This event was a mix of speakers and musicians and I had the privilege of speaking right after Grammy Artist of Tomorrow, Bailey Bryan, performed.
  • World Usability DayCleveland, OH
    I presented my talk on Designing A Culture of Experience to UXPA members, students and other passionate problem solvers at this 12th annual, globally celebrated event.

Some other notable sessions included being on a panel about design inspiring design for AIGA’s In-house Design series, speaking to students about designing experiences at Prime Digital Academy, and presenting our team’s processes as well as sharing some future concepts we created to hundreds of 3M’s top healthcare enterprise software customers at their Client Experience Summit in Salt Lake City.

Giving Back

Building Relationships

I am extremely proud of the relationship I have with Adobe, particularly the Adobe XD team. I was fortunate to be part of the Adobe XD pre-release program, which allowed me the change to get to know the team responsible for what became my primary design tool in 2017. I had to opportunity to provide content, quotes, and share stories for multiple articles on the Adobe Creative Cloud Blog. I was also selected to be an Adobe MAX Insider, which resulted in attending Adobe MAX and sharing my experience at the keynotes, sneaks, parties and events. While at Adobe MAX, I filmed several videos for their Ask A UXpert series.

A new role, in a new organization

My new role allows me to grow the UX competency and design maturity within the organization alongside a very talented cross-functional team. We have some of the most passionate riders, customers and employees that I have ever had the opportunity to work with. I’ve only been in my role for two months but there is a certain energy — a buzz, the desire to put greater emphasis on the experience. I really appreciate having the opportunity to build something and enjoy all of the challenges and struggles that come along with it. I believe we’re headed in the right direction and look forward to sharing a lot of my thought process around what we’re doing, and why, in 2018.

2018 Goals

  • Speak internationally. Last year I had to back out of speaking at a few international conferences due to my work schedule, travel and other business realities. I welcome the opportunity to commit to some international dates in 2018.
  • Write a book. I wanted to start writing a book in 2017. I had what I believed to have been a decent topic. Now my perspective on things has changed and based on demand I see in the industry. My old topic will make a solid chapter in a much larger story. I have started organizing my thoughts and compiling notes to make this a reality. If anyone has a good relationship with a publisher, feel free to make an introduction.
  • Focus on health. One of my 2017 goals was to start to get back into shape. I began a regular gym routine and quickly reached my short-term goal of dropping 40lbs. These Minnesota winters are brutal, and when you add the holidays, a new schedule and lengthy commute, it results in a lot of excuses and 15lbs gained. It’s time to embrace the winter and train like Rocky Balboa in Rocky IV.
  • Grow the design competency at Polaris. There is a lot of opportunity to gain influence by leveraging behavorial insights, evidence-based design, and evangelizing and educating others on the competencies of the UX team. I’m focused on building a solid foundation of processes, executing on them, showing results, thus demonstrating the value of my team.
  • Create and share new content in multiple formats. I want to continue to create content but explore different ways to distribute it so that I can reach a larger audience. I don’t know if the answer is long-form or short-form content, or a combination of both. I want to experiment with regularly scheduled blog posts around a specific topic, podcasts and even a newsletter. Maybe I’ll make myself more uncomfortable and start a vlog.

I know there are exciting things on the horizon in 2018. I’m going to continue teaching and exploring new avenues to engage with learners and mentor designers at different stages of their career. I’m also outlining a new talk which will prove to be my most engaging and valuable topic yet.

If you have or know of a blog, podcast, or event that you would like me to be a part of, or if you just want to get in touch to talk about design, I look forward to connecting with you. I’m inspired by the people I collaborate with and look forward to creating more impactful content.

There are many people who played an intrical part in my 2017 story. I’d like to thank some of them (and hope you follow them on Twitter). Ben Hedrington, Briana Como, Craig Agranoff, Dan Klyn, Denise Jacobs, Elaine Chao, Fred Beecher, Heather Olson, Holly Spaeth, Jason Ogle, Jay Wyche, Karl Fast, Kevin Hoffman, Kristen Sewell, Kristina Halvorson, Lindsay Munro, Melissa Chapman, Nick Finck, Patrick Faller, Poeuth Pann, Samantha Ryan, Steve Portigal, Timothy Hykes, Tom Greever, Willie Morris, Zack Naylor

Andy Vitale

Written by

Designer, Speaker, Educator. UX Design Director, SunTrust Bank. Director of Design Impact, AIGA Minnesota. Previously 3M Health Care, Office Depot.