And why mental health shouldn’t only be “past tense”.

An iPad and Cup of Coffee sit on a desk, beside a plant.
An iPad and Cup of Coffee sit on a desk, beside a plant.
Photo by Leone Venter on Unsplash

I’ve found it’s usually much easier to talk about things that happened in the past; especially mental health. As time goes on, the stigma around mental health is reducing — even in the last 5 years alone, it’s been amazing to see the transformation.

But there’s something I’ve never been comfortable with, and that’s talking about it in the present tense.

I’m open about my experience, although, I always seem to asterisk it with “but I’m okay now” — satisfying the need to reassure people that I’m not crazy, that I am both capable and worthy of my job. …

Close Sketch. Stop Browsing Dribbble. Forget Color For a Second.

Person holding colourful artwork
Person holding colourful artwork
Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

I was recently speaking with a friend and colleague about the things that have had an impact on our careers and helped us excel as designers. Among the top contenders were diversifying our skill sets, spending time in new or diverse industries, and our past experiences in life.

We realised that, ultimately, the things that had helped us most all involved stepping outside of our comfort zone and trying something completely new.

And why you should take more time to switch off.

Photo by Anete Lūsiņa on Unsplash

I’ve always been terrible at work/life balance. It’s something I’ll rave about and advise to others, but as is often the case, I don’t tend to listen to my own advice. This isn’t because I think it’s bad, but because the thought of not working fills me with anxiety — a fear of falling behind, of not achieving my goals, as if ten days without work would ruin the next ten years.

Around a week ago, I returned from the first real vacation I’ve taken in almost six years. When I say “real vacation”, of course, I’ve taken time off…

Why we need to consider the 1 in 4 people who suffer from mental illness when making design decisions.

With 1 in 4 people living with a diagnosed mental illness, it’s somewhat surprising that these are people that rarely discussed around the design table. Over the last few years we have become better at designing for colour blindness, contrast, and general accessibility, but we’re still forgetting a huge portion of the people using our product.

The design decisions we make can accumulate over time and have a big impact on the lives of the people we try to help, so it’s vital that we bring mental health into our minds and give it a real seat at the table.

Photo by Autumn Goodman on Unsplash

Mental health is something we’re incredibly passionate about at Caus, and it’s a subject that sits very close to the hearts of all of us here. Not by chance, over the last year we’ve been fortunate enough to have worked with several teams building products that tackle issues such as substance abuse, depression, and suicide.

Since our initial encounter, we have continued to refine our process and approach, resulting in the culmination of several design principles that we turn to when approaching a project in this space.

1. Make no assumptions.

This statement feels counter-intuitive in today’s world of “move fast and break things”…

Why learning to write is the best thing you can do to grow as a designer — and a person.

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Writing is a designer’s real “unicorn” skill — and one that is often overlooked by many, myself included. Over the last few years I’ve dipped my toes in and out of Medium, my newsletter, and even journalling; because I love to write. I admittedly am not the best (as my team know only too well) but it’s something that I have come to realise goes hand in hand with design.

As a product designer (or whichever title we’re using this week), it might not seem as if writing is all that essential; however not only does knowing how to write…

And other questions I get asked fairly often.

The outfit in question. I’m far less serious in real life, I promise.

For the last 3 years, I’ve worn the same outfit every single day. That’s maybe a little bit of an exaggeration — I’ve been to funerals and weddings that require a suit, but, I can count the occasions I’ve deviated from my go-to on one hand.

I wake up every morning, jump in the shower, and open my wardrobe. 12 black t-shirts, 7 pairs of black jeans, and a black jacket. I realise this is pretty cliche for a designer, and that I’m not helping the stereotype, but hey, what did you expect me to wear while sipping pour-over coffee?

How did it start?

Are we, as designers, personally responsible for the products that we put out into the world? Recently, more than ever before, there has been a lot of focus on companies profiting from the sale and collection of their consumers’ data.

Something which is common knowledge to those in the tech-world “if you’re not paying for it with money, you’re paying for it with information” was suddenly exposed to the mass public. The overall reaction for me was, in a way, surprising — I suppose I’d always assumed people understood the business model, and chose to engage anyway.

That got me…

Some time ago, executives at a Houston airport faced a troubling customer-relations issue. Passengers were lodging an inordinate number of complaints about the long waits at baggage claim.

Photo by Jay Wen on Unsplash

In response, the executives increased the number of baggage handlers working that shift. The plan worked: the average wait fell to eight minutes, well within industry benchmarks. But the complaints persisted.

Confused, the airport executives undertook a thorough on-site analysis of the journey from leaving the plane, to collecting baggage. They discovered that it took passengers only one minute to walk from their gate to baggage claim, but seven more to collect their bags. In other words, an overwhelming majority of their journey was spent simply standing and waiting.

After discovering this, they decided on a new approach. They moved…

Since starting at New Lion and building a fully remote design team we’ve had to work hard at building out our remote work flow, and I wanted to share some of the biggest epiphanies I ran into during these first six months.

Photo by Blake Connally on Unsplash

Location, location, location

In 2017, and particularly in the tech world, location is becoming less and less of a factor in employment — driven largely by the advance in tools available, as well as the overwhelming desire to not be strapped to one’s desk day in and day out, the world seems to be turning towards remote working. This is, in my (albeit very biased) opinion a great thing, and can definitely allow a much greater quality of life to employees — as well as a greater level of productivity in many cases. …

Bradley Gabr-Ryn

Digital Product Designer specialising in mental health design. Writing about whatever springs to mind.

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