I love what I do

My love for design was cemented during my senior year of high school as the editor-in-chief of our school newspaper.

The writing part was fine, but I lived to design the homepage spread in InDesign. I found myself able to meticulously kern letters (before I knew what kerning was) for hours on end.

I don’t think anyone appreciated all of the TLC I gave all those little letter spaces when the paper was released each month, and somehow that didn’t make me love the process any less.

Like many people, I took the scenic route on the way to my career. I studied science in college and it wasn’t until I was browsing Tumblr regularly back in 2010 that I realized design was a viable career option. I finished up my degree, got my EMT license (we can talk about that another time), packed up my bags and headed to Chicago to study design at SAIC.

Now many years in, I still get a kick out of kerning (and all of the other things that I get to do!) Design embraces a philosophy that I believe at my core: that we can make things better; that we can create our own reality.

my design approach

Over the last six years, I have built and continued to refine my design approach. Here’s where it stands today – great design decisions:

Begin and end with collaboration

Successful collaboration is a verb, not a theory. It’s a continual practice of shedding ego and staying curious. An important part of my job as a designer is driving collaboration with engineers, product management, and business stakeholders. Whether it’s whiteboarding ideas with the CMO or discussing CSS animations with a developer – collaboration is essential.

Start with a problem

It’s easy to get overwhelmed and fatigued by distracting details, tech stack constraints, and muddy business practices. The hard work is in distilling problems down to their essential truths. This is my job as a designer. Screens are secondary. The most powerful design deliverables I’ve ever created have been Google sheets and Expo marker diagrams.

ensure value is much greater than effort

Design decisions should always deliver maximum bang for the buck. Consulting with engineers early and often to understand development costs is an important part of my process. It’s my job to understand user value, business value, and development costs and then make design decisions accordingly. Let’s not spend 4 weeks building out animations for a widget that 5% of customers will use, right? I believe in investing energy where it counts.

Fail fast, fail smart

I’m going to let Jeff Bezos take this one: “...most decisions should probably be made with somewhere around 70% of the information you wish you had. If you wait for 90%, in most cases, you're probably being slow. Plus, either way, you need to be good at quickly recognizing and correcting bad decisions. If you're good at course correcting, being wrong may be less costly than you think, whereas being slow is going to be expensive for sure."