You don’t need a faster horse, you need a better design.

This article was first published on the User Defenders podcast Bi-Weekly Bugle.

Life’s pretty interesting. Sometimes things happen that just don’t make sense. Then there’s things that happen that do makes sense, but are hard to understand or accept anyway.

Last week I was doing some yard work dismantling and burning a meadow muffin of a chicken coop we bought online from these scam artists.

After a couple hours of repetitive bending down, I felt a pop in my back.

Down for the count like McGregor. I’ve thrown my back out before (numerous times actually), so typically I just suffer the pain a few days, and then unlike John Waters, I’m back to normal.

Not this time.

The excruciating pain stretched on for an entire week, progressively getting worse. In fact on Friday when I went to a team lunch, it actually took me eight minutes to get out of my truck!

This sudden lack of mobility has been almost as excruciating as the pain I’ve been experiencing.

I’ve always just had the ability to get up at the drop of a hat and tend to matters at hand.

Not last Wednesday.

I work from home in my garage on Wednesday’s. This past Wednesday, sometime mid-afternoon, I hear a banging sound on the other side of my wall. Our (new, actually well-built) chicken coop happens to be right on the other side where I heard the loud banging. I also immediately heard my hens WTC (what the clucking?!) in the same disturbed way I heard them the morning a bobcat murdered three of them.

I live in the woods, so I just knew this time, it had to be a bear trying to get my girls.

Instinctively, I attempt to spring up to try and rescue them. But my back wasn’t having any of it! I actually had to struggle out of my couch like a convalescent community member.

By the time I got out there (shovel in hand), I was able to chase it off. But I thought to myself, dang if that bear happened to have one of my kids cornered, chances of me getting out there in time to rescue them would’ve decreased significantly in my disabled condition.

Oh, those of us with mobility, how often we take our mobility for granted!

On Saturday (a week after my injury), I woke up feeling a little bit better. It still hurt to get out of bed, but not as bad.

We were out of milk, so I hopped (truth be told I delicately slid into) my truck and made my way to the grocery store.

After finding the closest parking place I could find to the front entrance, I instinctively got out of my truck…and, hey…wait a second.

It only took a few seconds this time.

And…no pain.

My back was back to “normal”!

My accelerator pedal foot had a new spring in it after that. I don’t think it was just my fresh-roasted coffee releasing dopamine and serotonin into my stream either. I felt a new appreciation and gratitude for this little (big) win in my mobility.

I know it may seem like a small thing, but for me, it was like someone threw me a lifeline. I also don’t think it was a coincidence that I was at a worship team gathering last night where my wife and a complete stranger I just met had laid hands on and prayed for me.

What this whole ordeal showed me was that we cannot know what it means to truly feel good, unless we’ve felt major pain.

In the same way we cannot know what bad coffee tastes like until we’ve tasted a really good cup.

This also got me thinking about our work.

We also can’t know how much better our existing design can be until we actually take the time to redesign.

I’ve been wanting to simplify the User Defenders website and open an online shop for close to a year now.

About six months ago (a month for each of my kids), I started down that road to make this happen. Last week (on bad news bear day) I did a stealth relaunch of the site and achieved both goals (at least I think I did). You tell me…please! :) is now open for business.

You can buy quality T-shirts and coffee mugs with the UD logo on it currently, but this is only the beginning. Now that the store is open, I intend to continue adding products that will help you stay inspired and growing on your design and personal growth journey. Also, I finally made a way for you dear Defender, to tangibly support User Defenders.

I love what recent superguest Laura Klein says in her inspiring episode:

“User Experience happens whether you design it intentionally or not.”

The new design is not done (is any design ever?), and I’ll be adding/refining things along the way–here’s just a few highlights of what improved on the website:

  • I added a shop
  • I chose a commerce platform that makes the purchasing experience as smooth as possible
  • I also removed that 1000px high hero graphic and brought the content up higher and let it really breathe in this new layout
  • Thanks to Typekit was able to incorporate better typography using the typeface of User Defenders in the headers.

What I really want to bring home in this article is to encourage you to make something new, and/or refresh something old.

In the same way I didn’t know how good I could feel having walked through excruciating pain for a week in my back, you just don’t know how much better you can make something, until you take the time to make it happen.

My back’s back, the new website’s live, I had Laura Klein on the show…and damn, it sure feels good.

We’re designers because we believe we can make things better.

Check out the newly refreshed and commerce-ready site. If you feel inspired to buy some merch, I’d greatly appreciate your support and feel honored to have you reppin’ UD! :)



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Jason Ogle

Jason Ogle

Host of @UserDefenders podcast. Human. Designer. Story-Catcher. Deep-Diver. Husband + Father x 7. Has a personal relationship with the Creator of the Universe.