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My Year in Design-2015

At the beginning of every year, everyone likes to make goals, be it in terms of health and well being, in terms of traveling, culture and so on. Personally, I always like to create a series of goals in terms of how I want my design projects and design tasks to go. For 2015 I set out to establish goals that were tied to the redesign effort I was involved in while at TST, but also set out my personal design goals, ones that related closely to either creation of app ideas or developing conceptual digital art pieces I could place on my portfolio or sell on Society6. In order to be more concrete about this, I always place my goals in my notebooks, where I map out what I intend to do in an overall scheme of things. I’ll itemize the goals as I wrote them early on.

  1. TSTContinue the redesign process for the applications, build out the design team and establish a design system which provides consistency to the company and all the development teams. Was it achieved? It was achieved. This process was an interesting one, in the sense that it implied communicating with all the development teams, exposing the concepts and ambitions for the design group and also for the company. I’ve always been a firm believer of absolute transparency when it comes to showcasing what a group (or myself) are doing. Therefore being a part of a group where we can communicate freely and democratically is of the utmost importance. I managed to hire some really talented designers and contributors to the group, we standardized the process of creating user stories and there was finally a unique Design System put in place. The introduction of the user testing component was met with some reticence, but it eventually started producing results and the advantages of having these studies started to give further consistency into the redesign effort in place.
  2. Monthly Design Challenges and Idea Development. Was it achieved? It was moderately achieved. This is a goal that I set out on a larger scale, and the problem with setting out goals that are less specific, is the fact that they are harder to pin down and track (lesson to learn: create goals that are more tangible and immediately quantifiable). That being said, I produced a series of illustrations that I managed to showcase on Society6 to be sold in a variety of different platforms and products, as well as more illustrations to be submitted to digital magazines such as Smashing Magazine. In terms of idea development: a few months of the year were spent taking notes, sketching and devising applications that were of interest to me. I then tested them against a series of parameters, namely: are they already being produced, what need do they fulfill, what benefits do they bring to the user, how can they add value to someone’s life. These are all questions I asked myself in terms of understanding the process of moving forward with ideas. The process in itself of generating ideas and continuously looking and researching, was in itself a good reward though.
  3. Leaving Room for the Unexpected. Was it achieved? It was. I was fortunate enough to be able to work with a former co-worker in two native apps that stretched both my creativity and the way I visualize and map out the interaction of an application. This is always a good way to further refine metaphors, figure out new product needs, test prototypes and gather feedback. Personally, I’ve always cherished the discussion of ideas, and collecting and understand the feedback from using a product that I (and my team) have been working on. The feedback from users is always fantastic: it allows for issues to be surfaced that when you’re ingrained in the design process, sometimes can be elusive. Part of the unexpected of 2015 also included starting a new collaborative project in a different industry with a very different approach and set of rules. Healthcare is a specific universe, as is every type of industry in existence. They all have a vocabulary and language that one must familiarize with in order to understand what is being produced, discussed and finally provide something that is innovative and relevant. This new experience has given me the opportunity to be more flexible, to truly utilize a Lean UX Practice, and further expand how I communicate ideas and substantiate them across multiple teams and audiences. It has also allowed me to continue to expand my utilization of different tools (such as Invision, Pixate, Omnigraffle, Flinto to name but a few), that allow me to communicate my intentions and concepts with teams located all over the globe.
  4. Continuous Growth, Inspiration and Study. Was it achieved? It was and continues to be. This is a goal that I’ve set out for every year. Continue to look at the work of designers, artists and thinkers from all over the world. Appreciate, dissect, analyze, read, discuss, and always be humble to understand that there’s always a new idea, a new application, a new tool, that can shift perceptions and ideas very quickly. Being able to be flexible, to learn and have the thirst to persevere is adamant as a designer, and I would say, as a professional in general.

As I map out my goals for 2016, I realize how much I’ve learnt from the past year. I’m fortunate to work in a field that I love and that challenges me every single day. Being a design professional can take on a variety of different facets, particularly as you evolve in your career. As seniority and mentorship have become an integral part of the activities I do, I’ve also looked into my past as an educator, and remember a truth from my early days of starting my career: everything starts with listening and understanding what people want to communicate.

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