Designer Downtime (Part 1)
As much as we love design, we just can’t do it all the time. So this week, our UX designers and the Director of Design talk about their hobbies and what they like to do in their downtime. There also happen to be some surprising parallels between our interests outside of work and our roles as designers here at Prolific. Guess we can never quite escape our design work completely…
Bettina E. Bergendahl, Associate UX Designer
On the one hand, jewelry is art. However to, some extent, it must also exhibit practicality. When designing jewelry, you always have to have the user in mind — are there any sharp edges that could poke them? Are there any gaps or crevices that will make it hard to clean? Is it light enough and comfortable enough to wear for an extended period of time? Before I even became a UX designer, I was already designing for the user — just in an entirely different industry.
Scott Harris, Associate UX Designer
What I love about science is that it forces you to be humble. You can’t claim to know something for sure, because our understanding of everything around us changes on a daily basis. I take that same philosophy into design work — getting the most out of my research requires me to ask as many questions as possible, and teaches me that my objective isn’t to reach the perfect answer but to faithfully identify the best decision with the evidence that I have.
Nick Kroetz, Senior UX Designer
I love carpentry and working with physical objects because, like working in technology, sometimes the constraints aren’t readily apparent until you actually start building. You’re constantly forced to make decisions along the way to get things to look good, fit flush, and line up just perfectly. In a lot of ways, that’s pretty similar to the design process. You might have a vision or a gut instinct about how a thing is supposed to be, but the fun part is figuring it out along the way.
Fashion Design & Sewing
Nandhita Kumar, UX Designer
I’m a completely self-taught fashion designer and I’ve never used a sewing pattern in my life. My clothes are usually inspired by the fabrics that speak to me at the store. The design depends on how fabric falls on my dress form. It’s all about logic to me, and I love it. It’s a great outlet to explore my creative and problem-solving side, and I often find it bleeding into my interaction design projects.
Christine Lee, UX Designer
Flow is defined as the mental state where one is fully absorbed and focused on a particular activity. There aren’t many things in life that can give me this uniquely enjoyable sensation. One of them is designing an interface, tinkering away in Sketch or Photoshop or Pixate late through the night and possibly into morning. The other is singing. When you find something you can truly immerse yourself in, and you derive joy from the activity itself, not just some distant end goal, you should hold onto it. As with design, I love the process, not just the output, and that’s what keeps me going.
Anna Malone, UX Design Apprentice
Poetry is the most visual form of writing. In poetry, line breaks, spacing, and punctuation are just as important as word choice. A good poem shapes the page. As a once English major and hobbyist poet, it’s not surprising to me that the definitive text on typography, The Elements of Typographic Style, was written by a poet (Robert Bringhurst). Writing poetry helps me think about visual hierarchy, progressive disclosure, and white space, which is also useful when creating wireframes or app copy.
Pamela Jane Mendoza, UX Designer
Not only is camping the best way to get a break from the city and your responsibilities, it’s also all strategy. Every decision, from packing, cooking, cleaning, and hiking, has to be the most efficient, minimal, and secure way of execution. Everything you accomplish feels so rewarding and empowering. The first time I camped, I was nervous, unprepared, and uncomfortable. Now, after years of being rained out, forgetting a tool, and refining my method for doing things, I can truly enjoy each outdoor challenge.
Learning New Languages
Mike Rembach, Associate UX Designer
“Fail fast, fail often” is a concept I have embraced as a UX designer. In order to succeed, you have to test different alternatives, learn from your mistakes, and iterate at a rapid pace. Learning a new language is no different. Initially, it can be a bit frightening. It’s easy to worry about being judged. However, much like in UX design, it’s okay to not always have all the answers and just learn along the way. I once spent a summer in a French town in rural Québec. Upon arriving, I realized that I could barely communicate with the locals. After a few days of keeping quiet, I realized I had to give it a shot if I wanted to make any progress. My grammar was terrible for the first few weeks, but as I practiced (and embarrassed myself), I kept learning and improving. By the end of the summer I could actually hold a perfect conversation. People even tell me that I have a French Canadian accent now.
Playing Live Music
Dan Sullivan, Director of Design
Working with a group of musicians to create fun music is incredibly similar to working in a product team to create an app. We collaborate as a group of specialists, feed off of each other’s creative energy, manage logistics, and grow together, all with the goal of making our audience happy.
Hear from the product designers in part 2.
Now it’s your turn. What do you do outside of work? Does it seem to relate back somehow? Let us know!