My 2015 in Review — The Year Of Challenges

What a year. Here’s some of my personal highlights of the past 12 months and the lessons learned with them.

❄️ Living with Snow

Growing up in Brazil, snow is still a novelty for me — so it was certainly amusing to be in Boston from January and February of this year to experience one of the snowiest winters ever. I definitely learned the value of wearing gloves and scarfs, (which I previously thought were not really necessary — or simply a fashion statement) walking carefully around certain types of snow (after falling a couple of times) and how snow can easily go from being a nice mood setter to a terrible catastrophe-inducing element.

Huge piles of snow were accumulated around the streets of Boston, making getting around a challenge of itself. The huge pile of snow around the MIT campus in Feb 2015. It was massive.

📱 Shipping Products

After nearly a year in development — from apprentice project to Apple Watch experiment — Qup was released to the App Store (Android version coming soon!). It was great to help designing this app from day one (along with Maple Kuo and the team at Intrepid) and I'm very happy with the results.

🏠 Working Remotely

I know a lot of people that believe that working remotely is the best thing ever and — given the opportunity — would opt in for it without a hitch. The truth is that working remotely has some considerable bad aspects and surely is not for everyone. It took me a while to figure out how to make the most of it and while it saves some time (not dealing with transportation issues) it is a constant effort of diligence and adaptation.
In traditional non-remote work there’s the establishment of a physical distinct work and relaxation environments. Working remotely, they are intertwined and takes some time to get used to this notion. If you’re not mindful about your schedule, it’s easy to get burned out just by the fact that the work environment is always present even when the allocated working time is up. It’s also quite lonely sometimes (Slack and Hangouts help a lot though).

Design works best as a team effort — going through iterations and feedback is set back by not having everyone in the same room. On the other hand, working remotely can be great for focusing at specific tasks without any sort of external distractions. It’s also quite nice (and budget friendly) to cook your own lunch everyday — though is also very lonely to not have lunch with other coworkers. I guess what I learned working remotely is that there are some big tradeoffs in this remote lifestyle, and I’ll attempt to do a better job balancing them positively in 2016.

My room / workplace.

🗣 Lecturing

I had the opportunity to give three lectures / public presentations about design throughout 2015. While lecturing was terrifying for me at first, it was absolutely worth it. Getting over my initial fear of public speaking — supported by my naturally shy nature — was one the biggest challenges of this year though.

No amount of training and preparation can simulate the actual experience of being in a room where people expect to learn something from you and get their time / money investment worth. In the same way, nothing can replace the excitement of feeling that you motivated someone to try something new, to see things differently or to look at the design discipline in a better way.

As designers, we should pass our knowledge along and give back to the community. I would never pursue this career if people hadn’t shared their .PSDs online back in the day, or wrote blog posts about their design process. Hopefully, there will be new lecturing opportunities in the future.

AnDevCon 2015 — Mastering Material Design Lecture

🕒 Quarter-Life Realizations

People inevitably change. There’s not a lot that you can do. As we reach proper adult life, relationships are bound to be affected by a plethora of factors that are beyond our control. Let it be.
I’m not going to be young for long. This year I’ve actually maintained some of the most traditional new-year resolutions, including: — Exercise regularly. Drink more water. Be conscious about your diet. Drink more responsibly. 
It feels great.

🎓 Finishing School

I pictured this period in my mind every since I first started my visual design major in 2009. And while I understand how some people might advocate against the pursuit of a design college education, the lessons and experiences enabled by college are irreplaceable.

This year, a lot of effort was put in my final thesis (in Portuguese) — the project of a desktop app that helps designers to access mobile design patterns. Thankfully, the project was well received, getting me some nice grades to finish the school era on a high note.

I wound't be the same person that I am today without it. And while it ended in 2015, I will cherish this incredible journey for decades to come.

After 6 long years… the journey is over.

Goals for 2016

📝 Write more

I’ve started my personal design blog in 2015 — but had only a small number of posts (the final school thesis consumed most of my free time). For the next year I plan to write more often and in a broader variety of subjects.

🔇 Filter the Noise

There’s a great episode of the Developer Tea podcast that talks about the increasingly relevant notion of starting an “Media Consumption Diet”. That includes not only avoiding content that doesn’t provide any meaningful value (like listicles) but establishing a system to revisit the main point of previously read articles. The goal for the next year — to be more selective and reflective about media consumption.

🦄 Road to the Unicorn Designer

I’m fascinated by technology — it’s what lead me to the design field in the first place. For 2016, I want to (finally) learn more about the technical implementation of designs in actual code. The introduction of Swift as a new coding language makes this the perfect time to do so.

Have a happy 2016!