Where do you work and what is your current title?
I am currently the chief UX/UI designer at a small company called Duet Health in Columbus, OH.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself & your background.
I grew up in a suburb of Columbus, OH and went to college at Kent State University in Northeast OH where I double majored in journalism and graphic design and minored in art history. My passion is in non-profit work. Starting out, I was determined to work in the non-profit sector for companies like Rule 29, based in Illinois, who design marketing campaigns for companies like Wheels4Water, American Cancer Society, American Red Cross, etc., but working in the app space geared toward healthcare is a space I never knew I’d love as much as I do. Outside of that, I am a technology enthusiast and music aficionado who is mildly obsessed with art in all its forms.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a designer?
I was always considered artistic. I drew, painted and wrote stories religiously as a child and that expanded into my teenage years leading me to become the design editor for my senior year book. I always saw myself as more of a writer, but the itch to be visually creative lingered into college so I took a couple design courses, realized that this could be a viable career course and I went with it. I can’t recall a specific “ah-ha!” moment, it all just kind of happened naturally.
Don’t be afraid to take a job that doesn’t scream ‘design’. It can open doors that you couldn’t have imagine
What was your first design job? Any interesting stories about how you broke into the field?
My first design gig was helping make posters for the RA’s in the honors dorm that I worked in during college. I was paid handsomely in food swipes. From there it was designing for multiple school publications and then doing web graphics for the Akron Beacon Journal in Akron, OH once I graduated. I left NE Ohio to work at Justice, the girls’ clothing store, corporate office just outside of Columbus. I started there doing marketing cadences and went from that to front end coding to assisting in graphics.
Please describe a normal day at your current job. What’s the workflow like? What are your primary responsibilities?
Duet isn’t technically considered a startup, we’ve been around for 6 years and are acquired by a larger corporation out of Cleveland, but we still operate as one which has its pros and cons when it comes to workflow. We are a lean team of about 20 people, a majority of that being development and business. I am an one-woman show. I’ve been running the UX/UI along with some light in-house branding work for two years now. Our products are in a niche market of health IT. We never have solid requirements except to create an app that works well, feels good and works in the high pressure situations of a hospital with ease. Health IT is complicated and has real life implications that requires me to storyboard for every type of user and situation. From there I do the typical wire framing, prototypes, mocks and add them to sprints for development.
Are there any memorable war stories, client interactions or close calls that have taught you something important about how things work?
One of our clients is Nationwide Children’s. We’ve created a patient app for them and have been refining and adding to it overtime. A couple months ago after the third release, NCH sent us an email from this woman in Florida who said that her son’s insulin pump stopped working and she used our app to help her quickly administer the correct dosage. The user experience was my brain child. This work is intense, difficult, demanding and fast pace, but when I received that email I realized that it’s also insanely rewarding and exactly the kind of work I want to be doing.
What’s a common mistake you often see entry level designers make? What are some tips to avoid or overcome it?
A mistake I see is in their confidence level. Either they feel like know too much and don’t take constructive criticism or that they lack the confidence so they don’t fight for a design that they believe in. I think that can be rectified or avoided by being thoughtful and articulate in meetings and to not be afraid to present ideas when the opportunity presents itself.
Any industry sites or blogs you read on a regular basis, or anything else you read for inspiration?
I’m a big podcast fan. Andy J. Pizza of Creative Pep Talk is my go to for insight and inspiration. My other go-to podcasts include Call Your Girlfriend, Strangers and Slate’s Double X podcast. I think it’s important for designers to seek inspiration in things outside of design.
There’s something new and amazing coming out every day. What’s something awesome you’ve seen recently that you’re dying to share, or something you’re excited about?
I’m an avid biker and use it as my main source of transportation. The Netherlands they are testing a kiosk that communicates traffic patterns and the best route to avoid red lights, which every biker hates. It will decrease and prevent the amount of accidents on the road. It’s still in the prototype phase, but it seems promising and immensely beneficial.
What advice would you give to someone trying to break into the industry?
Don’t be afraid to take a job that doesn’t scream “design”. It can open doors that you couldn’t have imagine.
What do you think is the future of your industry?
Everyone is super jazzed about the direction AI and anticipatory design is heading, but I still believe in the power and beauty in simplicity.