Tell us who you are in one sentence.
I am a product strategist and human-centered designer hovering at the intersection of design, technology and business, hellbent to develop new products and business models that create amazing value and make the lives of people happier and healthier.
If you weren’t a designer, what would you do?
If I was not a designer I’m not sure what I would be doing…it’s hard to say. Part of my personality, as a designer, is to dream and so I feel like there are an endless amount of things that I would love to do and could fully see myself doing. Some of those include: Motorcycle Builder, Carpenter, Diamond Thief, National Geographic Photographer, Farmer, Writer, Time Traveler and the list goes on. Honestly I believe that no matter what I would be doing, a design mentality would play a role, it’s just who I am and not so much who I’ve chosen to be. I’ve chosen to be a UX designer as my current role and I’ve developed specific hard skills over the years, but my soft skills as a designer were born and bred into me…Thanks mom and dad!
“If I was not a designer…Motorcycle Builder, Carpenter, Diamond Thief, National Geographic Photographer, Farmer, Writer, Time Traveler, and the list goes on. Honestly I believe that no matter what I would be doing, a design mentality would play a role, it’s just who I am and not so much who I’ve chosen to be.”
What is something you wished you designed, either because you love it, or because you feel you could have done it better?
I get excited about great design. For instance, I love Rdio. I think that as far as streaming music services go they are above and beyond doing it right. However, I’ve never wished I could have designed something that I love (out of envy), nor do I wish to design something better than someone else. To me design, in its most simple form, is an approach to problem solving. This said, even if I were to approach a problem that someone else already has, in an attempt to design their product/service better, my solution would ultimately be different than theirs. The reason for this is that my understanding of the problem being solved would be different and so the result would be different and any number of other factors could be different. This is where innovation comes from, not trying to have a “better design”, but a better understanding of the ultimate underlying problem (better design will follow).
What was your biggest design mistake?
As a professional designer I feel as though I have to constantly walk a line between allowing myself to be vulnerable and empathetic –while also– maintaining an air of confidence through the display of “expert opinion” or “best practices” in regard to design problems. The caviat there is that as a designer it is my opinion that we are not experts in any sort of specific problem (all problems are different), but people look to us to be those experts. I believe designers are experts in process and approach, the ingredients to finding the solutions. This said, designers are often forced into professional situations, whether it be for gaining an account or calming a client, that require us to “act” as experts when we are not. The mistakes come when you find yourself being pulled off the invisible line that separates vulnerability and confidence, but it does happen and it has happened to me. The important part is to recognize when it is happening and have the ability to react appropriately.
What advice would you give someone entering the design field?
My advice would be to just concentrate on doing great work that ultimately makes the people you are designing for happy (usually that’s not the client). In addition, always track your assumptions, aggressively test against them as if you are in fact wrong, and always be willing to change (letting go of a bad idea is the only thing that will allow you to move on to a good idea).