UX Help! Advice For Switching Careers into User Experience Design

Over the past two years, I've gotten a lot of emails from people that go something like this: Hey John, I stumbled on your site from [source]. I appreciate what you've done and how you share your process. I am looking at starting a career in UX and I was wondering whether you might be able to give some advice. Here's my background: [Background Story] Cheers, [Kind Career Switcher] I've written similar responses to such kind career switchers that I thought it would be useful to publish one as a blog post so that other people might benefit. Here it

How To Run A Product Design Playback: A User-Centered Perspective

Last week I had the great pleasure of launching the MVP of a product whose design I've been leading at Peak Democracy. Peak Democracy is a 10-year-old Bay Area company on a mission to build trust between local governments and their residents. Every week, I’ve been meeting with James Box, my mentor and good friend who is the Director of UX Design at Clearleft. In this week’s session, we critiqued the MVP and also touched a bit on running successful playbacks. Playbacks James suggested that playbacks should: Frame the problem we as a team are trying to solve

Fluffy Edges & The Black Box: A Mentorship Session With James Box

Over the past two weeks I've had the pleasure of reigniting my mentorship with James Box, Clearleft's User Experience Director and all-time awesome guy to work with. I've decided to write a blog post every week as a reflection from my week's sessions with James to help me internalize the concepts we discussed but also to share what I've learned. In my current contract, I'm leading product design for a Bay Area company called Peak Democracy. This role has surfaced a myriad of complex challenges that range from a tactical level (interaction design, front-end development, project management, etc.) to a

Venturing Into The World of Multiple Sclerosis

Backstory The parallel timeline of my life has been the progression of my mother's disease Multiple Sclerosis ("MS"). My mother taught me how to walk, play soccer and ski. By the time I was twelve or thirteen she became increasingly dependent on walking aids and eventually a wheelchair. Enduring excruciating physical pain, my mother has maintainted a persistent brilliance that radiates to all those who meet her—exuding positivity where others would form bitterness. My mom and I outside Norwich Cathedral in 2013 My Wife Sophie's Journey with Chronic Illness While working in India together in 2012, my wife

Redesigning My Approach to Music

I have loved music for as long as I can remember, but for most of my life I've never considered myself a musician. Every time I've tried to learn how to play an instrument it would only last a short amount of time and I never really got over the hump of playing something fluently. My experience with music was always a mixture of pleasure and frustration. After moving to Norfolk this summer I decided to redesign my relationship with music and learn how to play the guitar from scratch, going back to basics and revamping every aspect of my

Reflecting on 'What Matters' by Wendell Berry

Backstory After deciding to migrate away from my digital lifestyle, I pulled What Matters by Wendell Berry off my bookshelf to help prepare for whats next. In an effort to absorb the wisdom of Mr. Berry and also to share its fruits, I've decided to write a little reflection on this collection of essays subtitled "Economics for a Renewed Commonwealth". As the introduction suggests, this book should be required reading for all economists and policy makers, but it also has life changing perspectives for the common man and household. It has made a profound impact on the direction of my

My Migration From Digital Life

The substance of my decision churned in my stomach. I forced myself to rationalize the thoughts flooding into my mind, "I've just thrown away my digital career—turned down two dream opportunities with fantastic companies. What have I done?" I decided to write this post as a reflection for myself but also as a milestone for anyone else who might be struggling to find a fulfilling vocation and lifestyle amidst all the possibilities of this beautiful and broken world. Backstory About six months ago, I left a top UX Design agency in order to explore how I could help

Refugee Crisis: We Need to Respond

Our Choice We have a choice. To love or to fear. If we choose love, we must do everything in our power to help these people who are suffering across Europe. If we choose fear, we will become like those who persecute them—hating everyone that doesn't fit into their mould of humanity. If we choose love, we must be peacemakers. If we decide to make peace, we must first start with making peace in ourselves. We must embody the very peace we aim to spread. We must love our neighbors as ourselves, and we must love our enemies

Imagine The Story of a Syrian

If you can, suspend your disbelief and imagine for a moment. What it would feel like to have someone knock at your door? You open it. There is an Ak-47 pointed in your face. The person holding the gun gives you very clear orders: Join the IS, leave, or die. The headless bodies lying in the street behind the man speak louder than his words. You have three choices. Make it fast. Your life depends on it. Now imagine fleeing for your life. You're forced to embark on a treacherous journey without much preparation at all. Across sea and desert,

My Dream Beneath The Sea

The Dream I had a dream last night. I was a young boy running away from war. I jumped into the water to escape the army. There were helicopters searching for me overhead. I swam along the shore to keep from drowning. The land's edge was my only safety. There were guards along the fence who looked for me in the water. I had to duck my head beneath the surface. Sometimes I held my breath for only a few seconds, but other times I had to hold it so long that I wondered whether I should surface at all.