Steal more

Posted on Nov 26, 2015 in Thoughts

 

Good artists copy, great artists steal.

When I first heard of this from my partner (who’s also a designer), I didn’t understand what he meant. After a bit of a conversation I started to come around to the idea that designers copy designs to a T all of the time. And while they produced something that may be good, they didn’t produce anything that the world didn’t already have. A great designer goes out into the world and cherry picks all of the good design they see and they adapt it to fit their needs. They tweak it, change it and make it better for their application.

I’m currently designing a conference site and noticing a trend that conferences are playing up the city they’re being held in. I could find something that looks nice and swap out our city and our text for theirs and call it a day. Or I can figure out how that trend works to our advantage and then devise a design that leverages advertising the city.

Mix work and play. Attend the conference by day and explore the city by night. Or book the hotel a couple of extra days so you can take your time. Always wanted to see that sports team play live? Here’s your chance. Saw that greasy diner on your favourite reality TV show? Now’s your chance to check it out.

While I don’t think anybody would book a conference primarily for the added benefits, they may be swayed to book mine over someone else’s because of them. I may not have realized that without looking at the trends in other sites. Sometimes trends are just trends. Other times it’s a glimpse into what users want and a way to market to their needs.

The moral of the story: steal from others so you can cut back on the research that you need to do. But don’t copy them, because really, that’s not why we became designers.

labels

Posted on Jul 15, 2015 in Thoughts, UX

I’m not into labels. People are people. I’m a people too. People do things and I like to make it easier for them to do the things they do.

I like to solve problems. You can call me a problem solver. Some people call me a UX designer. Some interaction designer, web designer, project manager, front-end magic creator, graphic designer, artist or jack of all trades.

My friends and family call me Amanda.

I’ll probably call you a user if you use my products, but that’s just for ease of conversation. Sometimes you just need to categorize people into groups and generalizations so you can build better stuff for them, you know?

Losing to gain

Posted on Jun 21, 2015 in Thoughts

Sometimes you need to make space for something new.

My original intention during highschool was to be a fashion designer. I backed out before classes started only losing my deposit on residence.

My next move was to take a fast pace 2 year computer programming course because that was the way of the future. I dropped out after a semester and lost a four year scholarship.

I finally settled on a graphic design program the following year which I successfully completed and worked in the industry for four years. Nothing lost here other than my patience for passionless people tied up in internal politics.

I headed back to school at VFS because I wanted to be a motion designer. I lost that idea half way through the program and decided I liked flash programming better. Yeah, I kinda lost my mind at this point.

I was hired at Microsoft for a game design job after sincerely trying to convince them I was an entry level programmer. I had a kick ass time here, but lost my health as a result of pushing myself too hard.

I learned how to heal myself while working as an interaction designer at ICBC. Now that I’m feeling better, I’ve lost that need for a safe place to work and I’m currently exploring new opportunities. (I’m looking in Victoria, BC if you know of anything, hook a sister up)

While I’ve been perfectly happy the bulk of my life, the point is that sometimes you have to give yourself 100% to an idea, only to lose it later so that there’s room for the next to take hold. Kinda makes the failure rate on startups seem a little more palatable.

I can’t wait to see what I lose next.

 

Work/work balance

Posted on May 15, 2015 in Thoughts

I ran across this interesting blog post a while back. It’s short, sweet, and exactly to my point. It’s written much more concisely than I could have written it, so go ahead and take a look yourself.

Connection

Posted on May 11, 2015 in Thoughts

I’m always trying to define what this word means to my friends. Outside of dancing, I really like the way Brené puts it.

“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”

― Brené Brown

Taking the time to do it right

Posted on May 1, 2015 in Thoughts

I fully realize i don’t have all of the time in the world to do everything and anything my heart desires. I try not to spend too much time worrying about where I’ve been or where I’m going. Instead, I try to use that time to create more value and increase the quality of the time I have.

I found an article on medium about building out a lifestyle business in your own little corner of the market that shares the same sentiments that I’d like to share.

Real-world skills from a game

Posted on Mar 22, 2015 in Thoughts

I’ll be the first to admit I belong to the generation that wants it all and wants it right now. Ok, I’m willing to work hard for a little while, but I like to see results as I go. I don’t want to spend 5 years of my life making something that barely makes a ripple when released into the marketplace. Fortunately that works for me in my line of work – continual feedback, as much from the user as possible through all stages of development is what keeps me employed and produces a better end product no matter what I’m creating.

The great thing about the last few years (few being relative to the many that have come before) is that we don’t need to spend so much of our time surviving, and we have so much more free time to do the things we want, and options to choose from. The best part for me in having so many interests is the permutations of potential career directions and specialties that I could and have found myself in.

At the moment I’m keeping the doors wide open, exploring what’s out there and where I could fit next. In a regular skim through of friends and liked page’s posts, I came across an article detailing the surprising effects of the game Minecraft.

The idea isn’t so new to me, but it may be to you, that games aren’t always a waste of time for non-social young adults in their parent’s basement. The can also be used as a safe ground for exploration and educational exercises, beyond math quizzes and match games. Minecraft’s open ‘sandbox’ allows youth and adults alike to explore a world with no instructions, and make the game their own as they spend more time in that world.

I love how the the article blends some of my experience and current interests together in a way that no highschool guidance counsellor could have ever forecasted.

Children, education, games, design, unstructured play, function over form, creating tools for others to learn from… it’s all in there. It’s more than motivating me to dig a little more around the interwebs to find a passionate team building something entirely different but wholely similar in their values, and luckily some place that has decent weather where I’d want to live 😉

Checkout the article to learn more, and as always, if you’d like to discuss, feel free to leave a comment below or contact me via email

Law of attraction or SEO?

Posted on Jan 17, 2015 in Thoughts

There’s some people that believe if you put an idea out into the universe, you’ll attract things back to you that reinforce that idea you put out. I believe that if I put an idea on my blog, some people, some day, might search some things, and some might even then reach out to me and want to collaborate. But I think that’s the power of the internet and not necessarily the law of attraction. :)

I’ve quietly been looking at the job ads lately, trying to find my dream job. I didn’t really suspect I’d find it here in Vancouver or else the opportunity would have already presented itself, so I decided to keep my search broad and inclusive of the major tech areas in the US.

I kept my search broad to make it easier to find what I’m looking for: I want to work on something that does better for the world and that I’m passionate about. And I want to work on it with passionate people. As long as it’s a digital interactive product I’d be interested in pursuing it. The problem is – a broad search delivers broad results without the clear focus I was looking for. Duh.

A good friend had some words of advice last night when he suggested getting more specific about what I wanted and others who were interested in the same would be easier to find.  I’m sure he’s not as big on the Danielle Laporte train as I am, but it fits right in with her mentality and methodology for how to exist in the world. Basically stop waiting for things to happen and go make them happen yourself. Also very much in line with a newsletter from Tara Gentile that I received in my inbox yesterday morning.

So here’s my first crack at getting more specific about what I’m after. If the SEO gods deliver you to my site and you’re reading this and interested in the same, please do reach out to me at hello at amandahealey dot ca so we can chat more.

  •  my role primarily as a UX/UI designer, with interest also in the visual design, project management, and business focus
  • doesn’t matter where I am – but does it matter if my team is local or remote?
  • with interactive technology
  • an augmented reality solution would be super cool
  • in something that I’m passionate about
  • help people directly
    • always thought this was in kids/old people/education/health kind of area
    • I’d like to focus on psychological growth – for young people or old people
    • I don’t want to be corny, I’d rather be real
  • whatever it is, it needs to integrate with the rest of the user’s life as seamlessly as possible

 

I’m still not being really specific here, but I think if I can answer some of the following questions and dig a little deeper into opportunities within this space I may find something that tweaks my interest.

  • what psychological problems do people have that need to be solved? or better yet, what can they prevent in adulthood if they learnt while still a child?
    • web research
    • talk to friends and family about their own experiences
    • speak to counsellors/psychiatrists and see what’s trending through their offices
    • reach out to Danielle Laporte to see if she has any insights from her angle of the situation
  • how to inspire people to want to change/grow/learn? – because people don’t know what they don’t know
  • who exactly is my target and how do I reach them?

 

Something that matters deeply

Posted on Sep 23, 2014 in Thoughts

I signed up for How to Start a Startup from Y Combinator a few weeks back. The course starts today and I was sent a couple of links to recommended readings before watching the first video. From one link to another I found a two year old (but still relevant) article on TechCrunch on doing great things.

I don’t like to get too involved with collecting quotes to live my life by. (although if we’re linked on Pinterest you’ll see that I do collect some that are typographically inspiring) Life is too short to be gazing about for direction and not actually living it. At the end of the article this sentence particularly stood out for me. I could have filed it away to do something typographically with it, and risk never publishing it at all, but instead I’ll leave it with you simply below:

If you’re going to devote the best years of your life to your work, have enough love for yourself and the world around you to work on something that matters to you deeply.

For the sake of me

Posted on Sep 6, 2014 in Thoughts

This goes against everything I’ve been doing for the last two years, and most of what I was doing for the three years before that.

Everything I do with design has a reason behind it and I try to use user data whenever I can. Branding is a calculated marketing effort towards users, and the experience that they have with a product or service should be planned just as much.

I’ve never been able to come up with a label for my visual design style, or a completely focused reason for having a website. That in itself is a paradox to how I work.

I’ve thought about targetting prospective web clients, companies I’d like to work for, and customers for my own apps. I’ve never focused my design skills in any one area to become a master of anything. In the process I’ve had a hell of a great time creating solutions in so many mediums for so many people.

I’ve come to realize that this isn’t a lack of focus in a design medium so much as it is an ability to translate design solutions to different mediums. I’m not a website designer, an independent app developer, or a generalist trying to sell my skills to an agency. I’m a solutioneer. I solve problems with design of all kinds. Fabric, motion, photography, wood or whatever else is available.

I don’t know where future opportunities will lead me, but I do know that the current opportunity is my heart pulling at my head to redesign my site and make it more me. I suspect there will still be plenty of design reasons behind my design, and it will still be perfectly usable. The main point is that the site will be an extension of myself.

I can’t wait to explore the visual side of myself and create for myself instead of users. It feels like west coast swing did when I first threw myself head first into it two years ago. This is me. For the sake of me.