What is the best thing about being a UX designer?
The best thing about being a UX designer is that our jobs put us at the frontlines of problem-solving for our end-users and our contribution is known. Since my background is in fine arts, I’ve always appreciated the feeling of creating physical things. Though UX is digital and not physically tangible, its impact on bottom-line value and improving user experiences are still very measurable and the profession is finally receiving the recognition and market-demand it deserves. I think it’s a great time to be a UX designer.
What are some of the challenges of being a UX designer?
Communicating effectively and respectfully with your product team & users when there might be disagreements about the design, whether it’s an aesthetics concern, usability issue or simply a preference thing. I’ve found that it’s not only about “what’s right”, “what’s best”, “what I like”, or “what’s easiest”… in a team-culture focused company like Target, you still need to foster collaboration, transparency and shared wins.
I’ve worked in small teams, big teams, remote teams and co-located teams and every single environment poses different challenges and advantages when it comes to influencing and efficiency.
Currently, Target’s dedication to an agile development process and co-located scrum team pods is definitely my favorite but I am still working through the nuances of trying to make the product great and also keep everyone on the team happy in the process.
What is your favorite thing about working at Target?
I love the culture. There’s a lot of energy and contagious enthusiasm. Everyone seems to exhibit optimism and genuine desire to do good work. As an introvert and systematic communication style guy, I feel encouraged and challenged to focus on people, relationships and team-building over simply producing deliverables or being all-business.
What’s your greatest accomplishment in your career at Target so far?
Though I’ve only been with Target for 8 months, I’m most proud of how many different growth opportunities I’ve been able to take part in. I created visuals for Demo Day and helped a cross-functional redesign workshop for another team. Months later, I pitched a product idea that was selected to go through Techstar’s Pitch Bootcamp and eventually presented in front of a larger audience and panel. I also got to attend a PowerTalk training session in between and later this month I’ll attend a design conference in Chicago, recruiting for Target.
What was the most exciting thing that happened recently?
I visited the Upper Peninsula (Houghton, Michigan) this past weekend where they get a ton of lake effect snow. A foot of fresh snow had fallen the day before and so we were surrounded by 4-5 feet of snow in many areas. While we were driving by Lake Superior, I noticed there were huge ice slabs scattered throughout the shoreline. From a distance, it didn’t look like much but upon closer inspection, we discovered an incredible sight: rare blue ice formations across the coast line.
Apparently, ice only appears blue when it is sufficiently consolidated so that air bubbles do not interfere with the passage of light. We stopped by the road to walk onto the frozen lake and got to climb/slide around the wonderful blue ice formations. Explore the details because they might lead to huge discoveries and #optoutside.
What should every designer be following right now?
Tesla / Elon Musk. I think their forward-thinking culture should be emulated and their early-adopter mindset is pushing the envelope on what can be accomplished.
Though reading news & browsing inspiration is nice… I think designers should be eagerly and BUSILY trying out new websites, web-applications, mobile apps, services, etc. Being an early adopter is no longer a geek thing—it’s an investment into your future and one of the best ways to keep the creative juices going.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a Catholic priest, live with my mom, and make art (sculptures) on the side. My devotion to my faith, love of my mom and creative side have not diminished by any means but I think I’ve managed to find other equally awesome ways to do those things as I’ve “grown up”… (I’m getting married in June, recently purchased a house with plenty of room for my mom to visit/live in and I feel like design is a “practical application” of art!)
Best career advice that you’ve received?
I learned a very important lesson in my first internship during my junior year of college: Before I had to present some deliverables to a super high-up internal client, one of the senior designers sat me down and coached me to be direct and clear about expectations and if necessary, to refuse committing to any deliverables or timelines that were not realistic. Though the internal client was a VP and I desperately wanted to impress, I took his advice to heart and have always stuck by it—whether it’s with freelance clients, my fiancé, past bosses, or even in my current role working with various stakeholders and leaders.
I believe this was a practical application of the “always under-promise and over-deliver” advice and I’ve found it to be the key to maintaining a healthy work-life balance while building up a reputation of reliability.
Dogs or cats?
DOGS. I have a French Bulldog named Luna and she has her own Instagram with more followers than me @Luna_LaFrenchie
What is your superpower?
I think I have a unique superpower in organization/cleaning.