A design team and UX round table discussing the latest in Internet design trends. Icons vs text, most popular frameworks, localization and personalization, mobile trends — and more!
This week's panel:
- Charlie Weston - Product Design Lead @ Northern Trust Corp.
- Ade-Lee Adebiyi - UX/UI Designer @ Turnitin
- Bhu Kandola - Head of Design @ Werlabs
Welcome everyone to the fourth episode of Cloudflare TV. I am your host, Dan Hollinger, and I want to welcome you if you're joining us live, if you're catching us via a recording.
Today we're going to continue our thread around careers in design.
I'm very fortunate to be joined by three mentors of designed.org. This is a nonprofit corporation trying to help connect the design students and design professionals with mentors globally.
So with me today are Charlie Weston, Adelie Adabia, and Boo Candola from various companies, but they're all mentors at designed.org.
And so with that, I'd love to hand it off to you, Charlie, and give me a sense of who you are and for everyone watching.
Yeah, my name is Charlie Weston. I live in Chicago, Illinois.
I am a product design lead at Northern Trust. It's a financial institution.
My background has been primarily in the B2B space for the last six, seven years.
And I've been with designed.org for the last two months.
Awesome. And Adelie, how about yourself? Yeah, I'm Adelie Adabia. I'm a UX, UI designer at Turnitin.
I'm based in the UK, so I live in Newcastle.
And yeah, I've been with designed.org for a couple of years now.
It's a really good, awesome place. All right.
And Boo, how about yourself? Hey, I'm Boo Candola. I'm a head of design at Wear Labs.
We're based in Stockholm, so that's where I am now. Nice and sunny Stockholm.
And I've been here for the last, I've been here, lived in Sweden for the last four years, and I've been with designed.org for about, I think about six to eight months, something like that.
Time goes fast when you're mentoring. And during lockdown.
And during lockdown. So I guess to kick things off, what inspired each of you to become a mentor and to join an organization like designed.org?
I think for me, it's just, I mean, I'll probably get back.
I remember starting, UX is a unique position where you think even 10 years ago, there wasn't a formalized program for this, or there was, but it was very small in terms of where you could access.
Those learnings. So the option or the opportunity to kind of give back and help people understand what is the field, and that's ever-changing fields, right?
And how they actually climb those ladders and make connections and understand what does the world mean?
And then more importantly, what does it not mean? And how do you kind of understand what those differences are?
It kind of led me to that position, I feel like.
Yeah, I'll pick back off what Charlie just said. I wanted to just give back to the community.
I graduated during the UK recession, so it was hard for me to really get into the industry.
And I pivoted careers.
I went into teaching for a few years. I taught in China. And when I came back to the UK again, it was a bit hard for me to jump right into the industry.
So it would have been good to have a mentor to say, okay, this is how your portfolio should look like.
These are what your career is looking for. And Forward Design .org was a great platform to enable and foster people to really grow and learn.
And I just wanted to really give back.
So again, piggybacking off what Charlie said, really.
These guys are stealing every idea that I had to join. It's more or less the same.
I'm going to try and think of something unique. I think the same, really.
I think particularly now, I've joined a few others. But I think it's so important to give back to the community.
It's such a big issue in the design industry right now.
As a senior in Leeds, even experienced, it's great to give back and just help those that are trying to get on the ladder.
As Ali said, I came out in the recession too.
It was sucky to find a job. And I would love someone to tell me, maybe you should do this.
And I can see, or just someone to talk to. And I think at this point in time, specifically, being a mentor means you can be more than just someone to guide.
You can actually be someone that you can actually help them truly be a better designer as well.
All these juniors coming out now are better designers than I am.
I'm pretty much confident of that. It's just helping them try to get to where they want to be.
It's just getting the first step on the ladder. I graduated in 2008 during the global recession.
So I know full well, wishing I had a mentor.
Someone just be like, okay, well, the waters are a little bit choppy right now.
Here's how to navigate them. Along those lines, are you guys all the mentor you wish you had back when you started?
Or what was your approach? A bit Dun and Kruger, really.
When I came in, I was like, I'm going to be the best mentor. Pokemon, the very best.
And the mentor buster. I instantly realized, like Boo just said, the standard of the students now and the juniors are super high.
So I found myself doing a bit of learning myself.
I've just tried to be as, I use this word a lot, empathetic.
Just really trying to understand what their needs and wants are.
How they can get into the industry. What experiences maybe in a corporate field that I could offer.
This is how you navigate the corporate minefield.
And stuff like that. Yeah, I'll let someone else answer. I mean, I think for me, I try to, I feel like I try to mentor.
But also look at people and say, if you want to do something that maybe isn't in my frame of reference.
Try to pull back and say, instead of me trying to take all this extra time and explain something to you.
I'd rather connect you with somebody else. I know within a network to say, hey, here's some ideas for stuff.
I've dabbled in this. This person has actually really excelled in somebody I look up to and I've taken advice from.
Please talk to this person.
I'm happy to talk to you about X, Y, and Z. But if you want to do anything outside of that, here's five other people we should look at.
And here's three other things you should read. So I try to be the mentor. I didn't have necessarily, I think part of that is you try to go to one person.
And you think that one person is going to have all the answers.
And in fields that are growing as much as this is, it's, I think, so important to try to get other people involved too.
Because it's not, UX is a inclusive process. It's a team environment of building something collaborative.
And I think the same way you do that is the same way you should kind of get and get advice.
Is collect it from five, six different people, try and see what works.
And then expand out from there. Instead of trying to gatekeep it.
Yeah, 100%. I mean, I don't even think I'm the best designer I can be.
Like every year I look back at where I've been, I'm like, yeah, I'm a better designer than I was before.
I think we're all learning. And like as a mentor, if I'm honest, if I'm very, I'll try and be as straight talking as I can.
I'm like, I try to tell people how not to make the same mistakes I made.
Because, I mean, I saw this article with Tana Christensen, Head of Design at GEM.
About like, as designers, what do we do wrong?
And why it's good for us to learn to do things wrong, right?
And that took me many years to learn. Like, oh, yeah, I'm going to be wrong a hell of a lot.
I'm not going to be right that often. But if I can help, like, my mentor style is more like, I can tell you what I've experienced.
This is what I know.
It's not necessarily going to always be the same for everyone, right? But at least this is what I've seen.
And like Charlie said, push them towards the right person.
Because we're not always going to have the right answers. And it's actually the mix of knowledge, right?
That's the great thing about now. I don't want to say it's great.
But it's a good thing about now with so many groups being available is that you can actually get connected to these other mentors that can help you get into these areas.
And get a broader idea of what it takes to be a designer and how to actually push your skill set there.
I think that's all of what we're trying to do is give you a portion of that knowledge, right?
We can't give you the whole nugget.
And out of curiosity, I'd like to double click on this idea that the juniors that are graduating today are actually better designers than you were when you guys were coming out of school.
Any ideas around that? Is it they've been practicing for longer?
There's additional empathy coming in from the Internet generation and just being exposed to more?
What are your thoughts? I think you hit the nail on the head with the empathy comment.
Yeah, when I graduated, YouTube was around.
But it wasn't like every single person was releasing content and tutorials on how to do something.
We weren't as connected as we are now. We were connected, but not the way where it was.
There was a huge effort on teaching and giving back knowledge.
So a lot of the knowledge and the way I learned how to do things was either trying it myself or reading books.
So books were a big deal, like learning how to code and even Photoshop, which is really not really imaginable now.
I think now there's a lot of people out there just willing to help communicate the culture in with just Twitter.
So people can share work and get reviews and show and tell and dribble, I think plays a massive part.
And it's been a bit more, I think it's become a lot more focused for individual subjects.
So when I graduated in 2010, I had a Design for Digital Media degree.
But I don't think that digital media was that big of a deal then.
So I think now institutions and universities are a lot more focused on what would make their students more eligible for a professional job once they graduate.
So they base their curriculums around that.
They're a lot more better prepared, right, I think. And I always feel like the quality of work, I don't want to say that I was a sucky designer, but the quality of work is a lot higher.
Like it's a lot higher. And there's so many tools right now.
And, you know, it's easy to learn a tool. It is actually. But when you see a designer who comes in and you're like, OK, yeah, you can do visual works, great brand work.
You already get it. You're doing great product work. I can see you doing user experience, doing actual research.
Great. OK, that's more than I used to do, quite frankly.
And then you're producing a Swift UI prototype. I'm like, well, OK, why am I here?
Kind of like that person's going to replace me sooner or later.
It's the fact that they can tie everything together. I think they just have.
I think they've been more exposed to apps and the way of products, how they are now.
I think when I graduated 2008, we're going back to graduation now. I did industrial design, right.
I was designing physical products. So I always felt I'm not going to say I was a seer, but I kind of thought digital products were the way.
I was also better at digital work. That's why I went that way. But I think design is so much more laid out.
So, you know, like you can pick a sort of area and you're more likely to know where to go.
And you're much better prepared when you're going into work.
So, yeah, it's no longer the wild, wild west as it was a few decades ago.
There are now, you know, tools, there's plans, there's curriculum. Yeah.
So many good courses on Twitter. I mean, so many good guys just like freestyling stuff out.
And you're like, oh, wow. OK. As soon as after that, I can't say the whole name.
The latest Apple show, that was like last week, right. It's like I've seen like three or four people just posting like messaging apps on Swifty, right.
So my mind is just going like this. Well, I mean, the interesting thing with this group is, I mean, it's not to date all of us, right.
But everyone that we're looking at portfolios now or is going to design school in any degree.
I mean, they're, you know, they were born in 2000, right.
They grew up with technology. They grew up like we had to learn what applications were.
We had to learn how this stuff, you know, was evolving over, you know, Windows 95.
We're still listening to the modem crackle, right?
Right. Right. Absolutely. I mean, these guys, I mean, you have three year olds that have, you know, smartphones.
Imagine how that must if your life is growing up with these new digital experiences.
I would imagine you just have a more intimate knowledge, understanding for how this stuff works.
And even if it's not, you know, it doesn't give you a deep design skill, at least helps you understand how these basic flows and tenants of UX kind of evolved.
But absolutely harp on what you guys have said too.
Even the climate we're in, like if we, you know, scale, think back, we're in the middle of a global pandemic and we're all scattered across the globe.
And we're talking right now about, you know, mentorship and, you know, our best practices.
It shows how connected we are as a society now with technology. You know, in comparison to the 2000s when, yeah, you couldn't use the phone at the same time as the Internet.
And I wanted to circle back to what we were saying about Twitter courses, because there's one I've been a massive fan of, which is like the refactoring UI.
A guy called Steve Schroger. I don't know how to say his name.
But it's been a massive help for me even to really level up my UI. You know, this is a paid advertisement, of course.
And I just, you know, I found that information out there is still readily available.
I'm always still learning. And, yeah, the Internet's been such a great catalyst for that as well.
Yeah, no, for sure.
I mean, I'm going to plug Joey Banks at Figma. I mean, like learning a new app, like that kid is just throwing out stuff all the time.
OK, and then Erasmus Anderson, his designer at Figma, just like I was having an exchange with them, like I think on Monday or Sunday, and he just told me like a couple of hacks.
And I was like, oh, this has changed my workflow.
So thanks. Thanks, buddy. They're so accessible.
They're just right there. You can just message them and say, what do you think about this?
How do you do this? And it just helps you get on board, get on. Get mentored.
Yeah, well, that's we need it too, right? Exactly. I think if we get to like I always feel like continuous improvement, continuous learning is important.
I'm a big supporter of the Kaizen methodology, which is more continuous improvements.
And I feel like if you do not always seek to learn, you'll probably reach a sense of like personal innovation, like where you kind of get too complacent in where you are, which could be a massive problem.
So even though I'm a mentor, I still try to learn for my students.
Yeah, yeah, I get that. Or mentees.
Probably not students. Yeah, mentees. It's late over here. And I think that's almost more apparent kind of in this day and age that there's so much change going on in the world constantly that if you're not constantly sharpening your skill set or learning about a tangential skill or a complementary skill, you are, you know, in some ways stagnating.
And especially here in the Bay Area, you know, change is a constant.
You know, we're inventing the future and future bankruptcies, you know, in this area.
So to, you know, constantly adapt or try to stay constantly adaptable takes that Kaizen or continuous learning approach.
I mean, it's I feel like I mean, how many new technologies come out? How many new different ways of building design system prototypes?
Right. Any kind of opportunity that we're not having to better inform ourself.
We're potentially setting ourself up for failure or, you know, potentially giving somebody bad advice.
Like that's I don't want to make that as like the worst thing you can do. But that's I mean, Debbie, a very crappy experience in my mind is if I talk to somebody and say, hey, I've not looked into something for three, four years.
I want to tell you exactly how it's going to work.
And then they go off, you know, very excited.
And then you read something three hours later that says five things you shouldn't do.
And all five are those things you just say, right? Yeah. Have you done that before?
It's not happening to me. It's three of them. Just half the list.
It wasn't the entire list. It was just like someone's opinion, you know? Right.
Yeah. Yeah. BuzzFeed or, you know. Yeah. Right. This occasional thing. But I mean, it's I mean, that's the way you're going to learn new technologies and that's the way you're going to learn new skills.
And just, I mean, continuous learning. I don't know.
There's definitely some fields I feel like where you can, you know, plateau, maybe like there's not as much change or innovation day in, day out.
But I mean, it's it's a technology industry.
It's a learning how to build systems for people.
People are always changing ways of habits, ways of processes. It's not none of this is ever standard, which is kind of the beauty of it.
But there were always it's like, you know, we're all I know if I asked all of you, we're all still learning now.
Not perfect now. Like I'm still like reading up stuff. And like, I mean, I've only had a dovetail like over the last month or so.
And I'm like, oh, user research, you're just writing stuff in notion.
Like maybe this might be better. I got suggested like a design program today.
I don't even remember what it's called, but it looks really cool.
And then we were looking at like a prototyping program for our next hackathon.
But just to see how it worked, we had Origami, Swift, which I said like four times now, and Framer.
And then this other program came up and like, should we learn that one too?
Should we see which one's better for us? It's like there's no real answer.
There's always so many things. And for us, it's the best thing we can say is try, try it, see what works for you.
That's the great thing about all these apps is that they're not actually necessarily like some people love Adobe XD.
Cool. You can do loads of stuff in XD. Some people love Sketch. Sure. Some people love Figma.
I didn't say anything else. Some people love Figma. Some people love actually just working in Framer.
I get that too. It's whatever works for you. At the end of the day, I think if you go to any coming to Bay Area and say, I can use this, they'll be like, cool, it might work.
Why do you use it? There's no specific reason.
The key is you've got to try these things and keep your mind open because you never stop.
There's always going to be the next Figma is going to come up in like three years time.
Whatever that does, I have no idea if I will do something awesome.
I think that's the key for us is that we've got to help our mentees push themselves in that respect.
Not to burn out, but push themselves to look at new technologies and be open to it.
That's how the world is at the moment as well.
Open-mindedness to be flexible. Yeah. With that in mind, I'll do a quick reminder to those watching that if you do have any questions for our design.org mentors here, feel free to email them at livestudio at Cloudflare.tv.
Clicking in on that thought, how does it work as a mentee?
How does it work from the design.org perspective in reaching out to one of you or getting in contact?
What's that relationship look like?
For me, I think that the general thing is when you're looking for a mentor, we obviously have loads on design.org.
The key is you've got to sign up, put down your interests, what kind of areas you want to actually go into.
And from there, the team kind of looks at who you are and tries to align, find you like the right mentor.
And then the thing is, is that it's not just one usually, it's a few.
And then that uses them able to just move into talking and having a conversation with those mentors.
And then trying to have these one -to-one conversations where you can learn.
And then that relationship is supposed to be built over time.
So you're talking over a continuous period of time where our job is to try to help those mentees just get better.
That's all we can do, right? And try to guide them in their career and their choices.
And the key word is empower them, right?
We want to give them that sort of platform to feel like they're actually getting help and that they can go forwards in their career.
Whether it's they have a job and they're trying to move up or whether they're just moving into a different career.
For us, the key is to give them those tools to actually go and get ahead.
And that's a good way to kind of frame and look at it. Because it's how do you kind of give them the tools and ability to go and have those next steps.
Have those next conversations and kind of advance their agenda.
I think the community within UX and design is very deep.
I think there's a lot of commonalities.
We can probably find a couple people that we even know in common between the four of us here.
It doesn't have to be a long-standing relationship, but it's something that you can have a goal, understand how to achieve that goal, and then put people in the position so they can go off and achieve it the way they want.
Because we're not going to be in the position, unfortunately, to kind of handhold somebody as they go through the steps.
But if we can show them a couple different paths, and I think to Boo's point, why it's going to connect with a couple different people potentially.
How do you kind of take those different ideas and try it, see what works?
See, is this the right approach? Is that the right approach?
And then how can you kind of scale and go as you need to? Yeah, there's no right answer.
That's the thing. Every situation is different. And for each person, I can tell from my own career, I've had a few mentors, but they've been like seniors to me, really.
That's really what they've been. And I take their advice, because everything is advice.
It's not gold. I always say gold. It's not like the key to success, right?
We don't have the key to success. We've just all somehow ended up where we are through fortune and hard work.
So all we can do is pass off our wisdom in that respect and help those that are looking for us or turning to us for guidance, to just help them understand where they could go and where they can find the key that they're looking for.
That's the thing, right? Yeah, just having an open conversation.
So I recently had a person that wanted to be mentored that was just curious about, you know, becoming a designer.
So they'll just ask me, what do I need to learn?
What languages do I need to know? So really have an open conversation with them, seeing what they need, what their objectives are.
I know that you can't say, like, in three years, you're going to be this person.
It's so unpredictable.
But, you know, just helping them, guide them on the right path. And, you know, knowing where to look and being open to give advice and look at their work and give them an honest amount of feedback.
And do you guys think you're already working with, you know, the top 10 % most ambitious young designers since they're the ones that are seeking out, you know, mentorship, design field and or are you not?
Are people finding this in a more kind of abstract way or organic way? They're like, oh, that's a good idea.
Let's let's see if this will help. I can't answer that one.
Yeah, I would say it's a mix, right? There's no 10%. Everyone's everyone.
Right. But especially now, mentorship is so important because we mentioned this at the start.
Mentorship is so important because of the fact that people need that sort of guidance, almost like a pep talk.
Right. If you're sitting there, especially I've had conversations with senior designers and juniors and interns and people at school who were just like studying to go into design.
Right. It's like being quite a broad range.
But I think where mentors throughout the time now who are working in this field is kind of like or helping this person rework.
It's fun, I think.
But our job is kind of like to be there as like friends almost as well.
We're there to support you, to champion you and help you just find find your voice.
So I always I'm very cheesy. I always think every designer has their like has the has the gift.
They have it. They just need to dust it off. And it's there. Yeah.
I'm cheese, man. But I am. But I do believe that. I think every designer has that skill.
They just need to realize it. Confidence. The confidence. I would say I think the top 10 percent.
I mean, that's an interesting way to look at it. I mean, the way the way I would frame it is the top 10 percent, the top any percentile you're looking at are the people that are looking to get better.
It doesn't matter. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter if you have the best chops, if you know anything from the sonic all the way to Webflow.
If you can design all those. Great.
But if you're not looking to kind of improve and kind of get back into the circle like that, to me, that is the top 10 percent.
I'd rather work for somebody or hire somebody on my team that has a passion for learning.
And I've seen that in interviews.
I've seen that in just initial conversations with people trying to understand the industry.
Like, if you care enough about putting in the time, dusting off.
Great. I love it. But you got to put in the work. You got to find the time to understand what is what does it mean?
What's the right path for you? Like, that's the people I want to work with.
And that's the people I want to try to mentor with and kind of give that feedback with.
And I think that's a lot of what design kind of brings with it, with just the plethora of things you can do.
Mentoring, the idea of building in courses and actually having other features built into the system itself.
Like, that's the people we're looking to attract, in my opinion. That's who I would rather kind of engage with in these kind of conversations.
I think consistency and adaptability play a huge role as well.
Consistency, in a sense, like your quality of work, regardless of what standard you think you're at.
And adaptability, so willingness to learn. Like Boo just said, different languages and different types of software.
So I use XD for my day to day. I know.
I didn't say anything. I didn't say you did, but I'm just saying I know that it's not probably the most popular one.
But that's what I use. And that doesn't mean that I don't know how to use Figma or Sketch.
I can if I had to. It's not a problem.
So being adaptable, if I've got a Figma file, I know what to do and go into it and use it to a high standard.
So I think especially in industry, when you join a company, yeah, you've got your skill set and your skills that get you to the door and make you shine.
But really learning how to work as a team and learning how to work with people, having the creative confidence to go in and be innovative, I think plays a huge role.
So I kind of try and teach people that when I'm mentoring them to an extent.
But in terms of the top 10%, I wouldn't want to put a number on that.
I'll just be like, you can tell if someone's not really that into it.
And they'll fizzle themselves out. I mean, they'll just go. It's a lot of soft skills, right?
Yeah. And in last week's conversation, it came up, as you're developing and maturing as a designer, be it product, brand, UX, that one skill you kind of have to learn is the ability to either kill off your babies or just not take criticism too personally and just realize, yep, there'll be another project.
This isn't the end of the world.
Have you seen that or given that advice to some of your mentees?
Or have you lived that? Have you lived those experiences? That's a tough lesson to learn.
So, I mean, letting go of your ideas is like World 101, I think.
I think it's very easy. I don't know for anyone else, but when I was learning design or when I was at university, you always come up with one idea.
And your project is you have to design something. And then you come up with the best idea almost immediately.
And then you have to then think, how am I going to construct a project out of this?
I've got to come up with 7 out of 10 other ideas.
But you can't do that in the real world because you learn quickly that the actual solution is the best solution for the project.
It's not what you think is the best.
I think that's the realization that I think every junior who goes into work has to learn quickly just for their own sanity more than anything.
Just let it go.
Just let it go. Let it go. I was waiting for that. Yeah, I agree completely.
I think a lot of creatives, and I'm going to put myself in that. When you start off, the whole Dunning-Kruger where you start off with no experience, but you're confident it's sky high.
The more experience you get, you realize how much more talented other people in the industry are.
So your confidence falls. By the time you consider yourself an expert, your confidence isn't going to be as high as it was when you started out.
So I'm a real big believer of Dunning-Kruger. I think that having a user-first approach, what works for the user, definitely helps.
When I started, one bit of a tangent, I was definitely one of those people that was like, yeah, you're not going to let me get rid of this idea.
It rocks. It didn't rock.
Yeah, just knowing to let it go is very important. I wanted to sing it as well, but I'm not doing that.
That's a different TV show on Cloudflare TV. I don't do the musical ones.
Invite me for the X-Factor, Cloudflare TV. I mean, I would just echo everything you said.
You have to learn how to get rid of those ideas that you love.
You have the affirmation that this is the best idea, this is the one to go into.
And until you understand why it's not going to work, you'll never understand anything else about it.
I appreciate, at least from my background, coming in through an art and design university, having that ability.
I was a horrible graphic designer.
I thought I wanted to do that initially and found that was not the track.
I had no skill doing that, and I just needed to pivot to something else.
You have to understand how to take ideas that are not good that you fully believe in sometimes and pivot and understand how to make something that's actually going to scale to the solution or that's executable in the way.
I always frame it as, you do something awesome, look at it in a year's time.
Do you still think it's awesome?
I can look at my portfolio and I'm half ashamed of the stuff I did six years ago.
At the time, I was holding the flag, like, this is the best thing ever.
And I know it's not. And you know someone else has come up with a better idea.
Probably before. Yeah, I definitely think that exists across industries.
Because engineers, looking back at code they wrote a year ago, and they're like, what was I thinking?
Going to refactor the crap out of that. Yeah, there were 20 other ways I could have done this more efficiently or better or cleaner or easier to read.
And similar probably on the legal profession or any profession where you're putting down any part of yourself, you can look at it a year later and be like, this is crap.
I've learned and grown so much since then. They're always like, what are you thinking?
What do you see? How did you research this? Did you do research? It is one of the things that can be quite tough though, I will say.
When I've had juniors and they present their idea, the first presentation of the project, worked really hard, polished the screens, presented to the sales guy.
And the sales guy just looks at it and goes, what the hell is this?
This is crap. And most times the person gets upset.
There's different reactions actually.
Upset can be several facets. It can be throwing stuff away.
But sometimes it's pointing fingers at me. But usually the key thing is, you have to kind of go through it.
Because then once you go through it, and you've seen how your idea has been trashed.
It's kind of like, yeah, okay, I shouldn't own this.
Why was it trashed? Understand why. And then you'll be a better designer from then on.
Because it's understanding why your idea was bad. Then it's like, okay, I have to let it go.
And just working on a project. And that project is going to be great, whatever it is.
Because it's for the user. Because that's the end goal, right?
It's kind of like not designing for yourself, designing for someone else.
And whoever that may be, it could be anyone. It doesn't always mean it's going to be the best design that you've ever done in your life.
But it will probably be the best design for the user.
Once you get that happiness metric from the other person.
And when you see that, like, say you design something for growth. And you actually see growth.
You're like, yeah, that was actually worth it. Cool, whatever.
I don't care what I did. It was awesome. The why is interesting with that, right?
Why did an idea not work? That's something I've tried to talk with juniors about.
When you're building a book or putting together a project, it's important to show, okay, here's the research I did.
Here is the design I did. But through every decision, why did you do something?
It's not, I didn't do A, B, C, D. And then I finished.
It's, okay, I went to A to B to C. Okay, well, why did you do each step?
What in the process told you to do that? Why did you make that decision? Was it good?
Was it bad? Would you, if you had to go back and do it again, would you do it the same way?
So, you know, in any facet, I think that's like a huge thing to try to impress upon people is how to communicate that.
Because you understand why you did something if you had to explain why you did something.
And then as you're presenting and talking about it, you can generally put in better examples for here's how you have done it better.
If you're talking about a project you did, you know, two years ago, it's like, well, we did this.
We did this because of a bad reason, we understand now.
But here's why we did it initially. We thought we were really smart.
But just, I mean, and those conversations are a lot more, I think, of humanizing of the experience of the design process and just kind of how you understand what are the challenges and successes you can have.
You build empathy. If you have that red thread.
This is all connecting. This is crazy. You guys are following on script.
This is perfect. We'll talk about the payment afterwards. And like along those threads, I know kind of speaking to the whys are almost more important than the solution itself for the design itself.
In many ways, I've always seen that as, you know, it's great that you were able to come up with an excellent design.
But really, how are you helping those around you come up with that same design or save themselves from doing the work you've done, you know, either research wise or experiment wise?
Do you think that's a big part of maturing as a student of design or as a design professional?
Yeah, definitely. I think that needs to be a willingness to share and a willingness to grow as well.
I've worked at places where the team were good individually, but as a team, they weren't functioning because they all kind of siloed themselves and ran off into their own direction.
So I think that really having a mindset to share your ideas, share your knowledge and expertise so people can learn and grow with each other has helped me.
And I think it helps teams when they adopt that approach. There's more processes, I think.
Design is more process driven than it ever has been. And I think one key thing that's come out of it is critiquing.
We critique our work a lot more.
I mean, like how you were saying, you can just sit in a silo and go, yeah, my work is awesome.
But it comes to release and then the other designers look and go, why have you done that?
And then why have you done that? And you shouldn't have done that.
We did research that said you shouldn't have done that. It is now better and more accepted to do these critiques where you sit down and you like you can.
It's almost like it's OK to criticise other people's work. And it should be right because it's not actually I hate the word criticise.
It's more like you're just giving feedback.
You're just talking through the designs. And like Charlie said, have a reason for your designs.
That's such a simple thing. But sometimes like saying it looks nice is not the best reason.
And I'm remembering that there should be a good reason.
Even accessibility would be a nice way to throw that in there.
Just a reason. Please give me a reason. I don't think like half of the Dribbble designs would even work if you mentioned accessibility.
Don't show it to the front end developer.
Mine would just explode. What is this? Grey or white? I don't want to get into it.
I love Dribbble for inspiration. The challenge I have with stuff like that is solutions over pixels.
First off, what is the problem? Who is the person trying to solve that problem that we're addressing it for?
And then what is the solution they need? Is it a pixel?
Is it something on their phone they can use? Or is it an external process that doesn't even involve them picking up their phone at all?
Dribbble, all that stuff is great.
But I feel like sometimes it can cloud the idea that the solution is, hey, just build pixels.
Build sites. Build things that look amazing. 100%.
It's fantastic to look at. But without that why underpinning it, why would I care?
For clarity for the non -designers on the phone call show, myself, what is Dribbble?
Dribbble is a creative show and tell. You can show off your work and you need to get an invitation to be a member.
And to get an invitation, you need to be drafted.
Plug, I have five invitations. So DM me in your spare time and I'll give you one.
But with Dribbble, what has happened is you've got phenomenal designers and teams on there.
Let's not get it twisted. But then to get, let's say, people noticing your work, I think some people focus too heavily on the vibrance and the light aspect of it and forget to consider the meaning.
So you'll see things that look amazing and then you'll take off your tinted glasses for a second.
And that makes no sense. There's no way this is actually viable for a product or a service.
And I think a lot of young people, I've definitely done this by myself, could lean on Dribbble for inspiration too much and be like, well, I'm going to take some of these ideas that you really can't put into the real world.
I'm not meaning to poo on Dribbble or anything, but I think it is awesome.
And I've got so much inspiration from that.
But yes, white on gray. So in some ways, it's overemphasizing form with disregarding function completely.
It's concept UI.
Yeah. It's concept UI. That's what it is, right? Imagine someone doing all these skills on a basketball but missing the net.
I like that. I like that. That's a nice one.
Yeah. It's like when Cristiano Ronaldo, for all the other kids out there, when he was like 18, yeah, when you're on YouTube, they watch that.
They're watching then and they're watching now.
Tom Brady missing the touchdown every time, but like weaves everyone, but like misses.
He goes to the wrong side of the field.
This is where our knowledge kind of dissipates, right? When we start against American football.
I try to be inclusive. He's too good. Apparently, he's one of the best.
I don't know who he is, but. Connor McDavid in HR. Hey, we're losing the audience.
We're not here to talk about sports. I know. No, but I think looping back to Dribbble, I think the key is even going past Dribbble, actually.
It's very common for designers to do a redesign of an app.
And then it will be based on like their own reasons why it's not good.
But then sometimes those redesigns are, in my opinion, worse than the actual app.
And I don't expect it to be better. And I always think it's a kind of a misnomer to do like a redesign of an existing app because it's already been kind of made so efficient that it works for those user base.
So because it doesn't work for you doesn't mean it doesn't work for the other 99 percent.
And so I always think it's better to do like a project or one of those challenges that you get.
But yeah, Dribbble is fantastic for inspiration. Wonderful.
Pinterest, all of that stuff. Fantastic. But then I'm always, I do on LinkedIn.
If you see me on LinkedIn, it will usually be with a comment that says, have you thought about accessibility to pretty much every single design?
Because it's always the same.
It's like grey on white. Buttons are impossible to see. And it's always like, have you thought about accessibility?
And I always get poo-pooed for this, but it's like, come on.
It's like one of the most important things. The thing I think is missed too sometimes.
I mean, accessibility, 100 percent, we need to make sure that users can actually access it.
But another side of it, I think that people are maybe more newer to when they come into the design field is the technology.
And that's, most people do not get a strong technology and design background ahead of starting these junior roles.
So you come into a situation and you're like, hey, here's some awesome ideas.
Even if it's baked into the research that you've done, if you don't understand fundamentally, even just the tech stack, the consideration of being made on the back end to actually do stuff and what the team is working with, it can kind of be a lost point in some degrees.
But Will, we're not telling you to actually learn code, though, right? No, no.
I don't think you need to learn it, but I think you need to understand how things work.
The concept of code, right? And how it works. If you have a button, is that hitting a back end server?
Is that just taking you to a different page? What are the dependencies of drag and drop?
How does maps work? API integrations. I have no idea how to build an API.
I understand, or I have a decent understanding for how things kind of work and connected and how that process works, right?
Yeah. Yeah. As an entrepreneur by trade, I wouldn't necessarily encourage everyone to learn how to write code, but that level of understanding does just help you connect as many dots as possible.
So if you can go into a meeting room, understand the problems that are really on top of mind for the engineers and UX team, that you can be a better designer because of that.
100%. Yeah, I agree. And I guess nearing the back half of our chat, what's maybe the one professional lesson that took you each the longest to learn that you would potentially share with one of your mentees?
I don't want to go first.
You can go first. No, I'm not saying I don't want to. I'll get out the therapy couch.
What about you? Let's flip it. What's the lesson for you?
That's not the way this works. Yes. So as an example, I think one of the lessons that took me the longest is simply asking for help.
So as a young engineer, you're really put in a position where like, yep, here's the problem.
You and a computer in an hour will be able to solve it or put the code together.
And in many ways, Stack Overflow and other sources to be able to discreetly ask for help were probably extremely helpful to many engineers.
But I think learning that earlier, learning that sooner would have saved me so much time and just being able to discover the solution I was after by asking people that knew more than me, knew design better than me, accessing the network around me.
That's a very good lesson to learn. I would say 100%. I think the only one I can say, I think I read this in the group, actually, when someone put like, what's the 10 best things you learned?
I was searching for it. It was, it's okay to say no.
I don't have time. I can't do this. Like, it's okay. It's so common, especially when I was younger, was you get a project, you're so eager to impress, you just do everything that you get, every project.
But then eventually at one point, you just can't.
You've got to learn to stop. Otherwise, you're just working 24-7.
You've got to know when to stop. You've got to give yourself boundaries.
And when you do that, actually, people respect you saying no. They're like, okay, yeah, I know what you can do.
I know what your capacity is as a human being, right?
I think that was a hard thing for me to learn, for sure. But in the long run, it's probably been the most important lesson, I think.
Still learning, though.
I'd say navigating the environment. Understanding how to communicate where you're working because, you know, learning the acronyms, the unlimited acronyms.
You know, how to, so I don't like making jokes at all. So learn to not, you know, to be a bit more open and also, you know, dare I say professionalism in some aspects when, you know, showing your work.
How do you show your work?
Do you just show them the source files? You know, I'm now heavily into doing presentations when showing works from how I break down my research.
So really perception from work and attitude as well, really.
I think for me, it's probably around asking why and assuming that whatever you think probably isn't the case.
I think it's really easy to get, and I still find myself sometimes, getting in a rut where, you know, you work with a team before in the past and you kind of assume that five things are in place maybe.
Or you have an assumption about, okay, here's the why or the business case or something about the user.
The more times you can ask, and there's definitely a line between asking too many questions and kind of being a nuisance maybe in that area.
But the more things you can kind of nail down and to kind of map out what you're doing before you started getting into it and understanding where to maybe dive a little bit deeper into, pivot maybe in certain areas, will save you time and just make you a smarter, more efficient designer, strategist, researcher, whichever bucket you're kind of fitting in my case.
You see this almost as the five whys kind of framework. This is a consulting framework where you literally, like, why does someone have to press this button?
Why are they doing this? Yeah, and just guessing the process, making sure.
And it's the five whys, then you're diving into those five more times to just really understand what's happening because I think that's a challenging thing for product people sometimes wrap their head around.
What is the technical and design reason why they're asking something?
And the more you can unpack that before you start working, the better decisions you can make.
Yeah. It's all about making sure you have the right insights, right, before you even start.
And that leads into saying no, and that leads into showing here's how we got to the work and showing here how we got to the process of it.
So I think those are all kind of encapsulating of each other.
You create the circle. It just keeps happening.
It's unbelievable. Yeah, that's why I like talking with designers. You guys are just so collaborative.
It's just perfect. Love it.
So with that in mind, I guess, how would you advise, you know, people graduating or entering the market, you know, the way it is, you know, going remote first or remote, you know, friendly, any advice you'd give to them to starting their careers off, you know, with that in mind or that, you know, headwind?
Also listen to the community.
The community is very loud. It's here to help and listen to what programs everyone's using, what languages they should learn, what influences they should lean on just to get insight from.
And yeah, that's what I would recommend. Just have an understanding.
What I believe recruiters would want is for you to hit the ground running, you know, so when they hire you, they want you to really to get the job done and be willing to learn.
So I think by doing those things, it would help that.
I think like you said, design is a community, especially in the Bay Area.
Yes, there are many Twitter accounts to follow, which is really good to give you some information.
I always suggest, and it's actually something that took me many years to learn.
It's not the hardest thing, but it's one. It's network, especially if you're an introvert.
I'm not an introvert, as you can clearly tell. But yeah, network.
It's so good for you in your career because, I mean, I think it was, I don't know who it was.
It was someone, someone who said that now is the time.
If you're looking for a job at Google, then contact someone at Google. They will probably contact you back.
You'll get hurt. You'll get a mentor there probably as well.
Now is the time just to find out what they're looking for, how they find out about their journey, find out about what they're doing, get some advice, lean on them for help.
Now is the time to just kind of just get in to the community because in the end, it's good for you just to know what's happening, like Addy says, what's new, what tech is there, what people are going to give you good advice, what inspiration is there.
But I think in another way, they will help you find work as well.
There will be leads in the future because the thing is, it's very easy to sit here and go, when am I going to get my next design role?
But you've got to think ahead as well.
You will get your design role. I believe in you, right?
But you'll get that design role. And then where do you want to go afterwards?
With that in mind, we did have a question from the audience. What are some red flags you've seen from mentees during the interview process or you'd advise mentees to be aware of during the interview process for UI or UX roles?
Yes. I mean, yeah. There was somebody that I was interviewing for a role who during the phone screening asked when his next interview was with us and when he would be starting the role.
I think this is in a community organization where it's so interconnected.
Everyone's learning. And at the same time, everyone's trying to find jobs.
A lot of people are displaced. The more humble you can be, the more patient you can be, the more you can listen to people and just iterate on your stuff based on feedback you hear.
That's the best way to look at it. But you can't come off brash.
You can't come off like you don't want to work with somebody. Everyone has enough of that.
Everyone can think of experiences. Yeah. You hit the nail on the head for me.
I think that likeability is very important. I don't think that everyone I'm going to work with is going to be my best friend or anything.
But I can respect them enough to work with them and have that mutual respect.
When someone like I've interviewed a few people in previous roles and you just get those red flags straight away, you know with your gut feeling that this person is going to be difficult.
Maybe they're not answering the question you expect them to. A simple yes or no, and they give you a five-minute response.
You're like, why are you waffling?
What is this? One guy had whipped out his keys and then started giving me a story about keys.
And I had to sit there with a straight face. What's this man doing?
I'm not going to implant you back. Show me the keys. Yeah, I think gut feeling.
I can't say anything else. Arrogance is a turn-off, I think, for women and men worldwide.
I don't think it helps anyone think, yeah, I'm going to hire you because I love the fact that you're arrogant.
It's like a 1980s stock trade.
Yeah, it's just like, come on, man. But confidence, there's a difference. There's a fine line.
I appreciate it between confidence and arrogance, but it's very easy to be arrogant.
You can see the difference between someone being confident and arrogant.
It's very easy to see the difference because confidence comes from what you're talking about.
Arrogance comes from how you talk about it. And with that in mind, one last question from the crowd.
Do you have a particularly memorable mentee experience that you've had thus far?
I had one.
They're all memorable. They're all memorable. One is really good. They were all memorable.
Actually, I'm going to stop there. To be fair, the most memorable ones are always the ones that message me and say they found a job.
That makes me happy, especially now. I've had a couple come back to me and go, dude, I found a job.
I'm like, freaking awesome. Great job. It's all you.
That sort of stuff. Every single one where they're looking for a job right now is memorable to me, quite frankly, because it means I helped in some way, obviously.
High five to myself. But for them, amazing, because they were the ones that did all the work, quite frankly.
I think people that listen to feedback, so you give them advice and you tell them what they should be doing and how they should be doing it, and they come back with results.
I had one girl recently that had a ridiculous amount of UX research that she didn't show on her portfolio site.
I mean, ridiculous. I was like, why are you not showing this? She just showed a thumbnail and then had two or three paragraphs.
I was like, go back. Show the different exercises you've done.
Show people your entire process, how you go from A to B, and people will lap you up.
She did, and I was like, awesome. But then there's other people I say the same thing to, and they'll just message you a few weeks later and say, I'm looking for a job again.
Well, with that, I want to thank you all for coming on and speaking about your experiences at design.org and as mentors.
Hopefully for everyone watching, that was a useful hour, and you got to learn not only about mentorship, but some best practices for being in the design field.
Thank you, everyone, and see you next week. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for having us.