A Conference Like None Other, in a Time Like None Other

Musings on UXPA International 2021, Traveling Again After 17 Months, and Presenting an In-person Keynote in the Midst of a Pandemic

Home office whiteboard, tracking speaking engagements

And here…we…go.

(pic 1) The grand ballroom where I had the opportunity to present // (pic 2) The gorgeous view of the harbor from my hotel room
A couple shots from sound check
Taking Q&A post-presentation // photo: Alain Robillard-Bastien

What fulfills you, inclusive of both sides of your personal and professional journey? Research? Questioning? Advocating? Connection? Communicating? Elements such as these are common to both spheres of existence. Understanding this, in tandem with a clear value system, is essential to defining your legacy as a designer.

The designer’s legacy isn’t built upon tools. The designer’s legacy is built upon the choices they make — as macro and micro as that implies. There is a privilege and responsibility that are inherent in the craft. In communicating. In connecting with people through design.

Privilege and responsibility. Those notions are so vital (and evergreen) to our craft, and how we connect with other human beings. Formative, yet intrinsic to what we do. Every decision carries weight, and is bigger than us. We simply cannot foresee under what conditions people will be engaging with what we create. They need to be understood, advocated for, and included along the way.

We create to connect. We create to advance. Leveraging our system of values as a North Star — and aligning to a role, team, and business whose own values compliment ours — ensures we’re ever-mindful of the results of our actions through the choices we make. We’re inserting meaning through action, our work a product of focused intent.

For designers, disconnection can yield breakpoints in visual communication (connection) between designer and user that inhibit quality at potentially imperative interaction points. Design, UX, and all its permutations are not disciplines where we can “phone it in,” so to speak, as we can never assume people are going to be engaging with what we create under idyllic circumstances.

With Tremendous Appreciation

A multi-faceted, multi-pierced, multi-tattooed designer, author, & speaker. Writer of @the_culturebook. Principal Consultant @ostgr.