The blog I've always dreamed of writing, written.

Qualities and Process

Second in the series of answers to some great interview screening questions I received.

5. What's your dream/ideal job?

Part product manager, part experience designer, part technologist.  Anytime I can work with people smarter or more talented than myself, or folks that left their ego in "lost baggage" a long time ago.  We'd experiment and figure out what the future should be by building and tweaking our way to success on the leading edge of new technologies.

6. What do you think are the most important qualities in a designer?

Curiosity.  Openness & transparency.  A drive to learn and improve, to build great stuff and solve messy problems with creativity and insight.  Having values and principles, a point of view, but being willing to change them with new feedback.  

7. Can you tell me about your design process?

The most visible part is scribbled-out diagrams and UI concepts in notebooks in various levels of fidelity. I'll start drawing as soon as we have enough ideas that can be translated into boxes and text.  It's essential to uncover expectations and assumptions at the "stuff on paper" stage of a design.

Before that, you're going to see me absorbing and questioning things, trying to structure and synthesize whatever there is to learn.  For most specific design tasks, I prefer to think in terms of goals, outcomes and those who are involved in the experience on both the user and the business side of the equation – fundamentally asking "what problem are we solving and for whom?" I'm usually trying out new tools and analysis frameworks to keep my approach fresh.

8. You are told to create a design without any instructions. What do you do?

Sit down with the person doing the telling and get them to talk to me.  While there's a risk of becoming paralyzed by the directive to start without context, it's common enough that I study and practice interviewing techniques specifically for getting over this hurdle.  If that fails, you can do just enough research to declare your assumptions and then dig in.

The risk is that the design will miss the mark, but putting the assumptions on paper at the start is a little like declaring "these are the inputs I used to achieve this result. You want different results, help me change the inputs."