365 Days of Random

Random musings about nothing at all

Professional Idols

Professional Idols! We all have them, those people you hear about but never really think you’ll get to meet or interact with. The ones that are ‘legend’ in your professional world. The men and women that you read books by, or seek ideas/advice from.

As I’ve mentioned a couple of times before, I work in UX. What is UX you ask? UX = User Experience. It’s a ‘young’ (still maturing) component of the software and web development industry. There are lots of roles that can fall under the umbrella of user experience – I am what you might call an “Interaction Designer”. There are many, many names for this role but basically my job is to understand what someone is trying to do (outside of a software system) and translate that to the interaction within the software or on the web. Interaction Designers design how a user gets from point a to point b. The ‘user experience’ part comes in when you understand that every interaction should be simple, efficient and FUN to use. If people struggle to use something they won’t really want to use it again.

As a UX professional there are lots and lots of fantastic people that I consider to be among my idols. These are people I am constantly learning from. They are people I want to emulate in my professional life. Anyway, that’s not the point, the point is that while I have lots of these idols, I recently had the chance to MEET and interact with one such idol. As I am sure you can imagine, that was a great experience. What was even more mind boggling was the fact that said idol was incredibly impressed with work being done in UX at my company. So much so that he’s mentoring us on how to present about it in the industry. How did this all come about you ask? Well I’ll tell you….

A few weeks ago some colleagues of mine and I gave a presentation at a local UX ‘Bar Camp’ (google that if you don’t know what it is) about some work that we’ve been doing over the last year. We expected a VERY small turn out. Turns out that our provocative title did it’s job and coerced a solid 30 some people into the room. One of which was this idol of ours. He sat in the front row, pulled out his notebook and pen and settled in to listen. Of course this made us all just a tad nervous but we pressed on. Throughout the presentation he was taking copious notes and asking all kinds of questions. He seems sincerely interested and engaged in what we’d done, how we’d done it, what we’d learned from it and how it was impacting our work overall. When the session ended he continued with the questions and was expressing honest to god excitement about what we’d accomplished. I have to admit it was a huge highlight for me (and I think for my colleagues too). This idol wanted us to speak about it to a broader audience in the UX world and set about helping us get a presentation slot at the upcoming IA (Information Architecture) Summit in Colorado. In addition to that, he’s decided to help us shape the material and our presentation of the material to ensure a ‘home run’ of a session at the conference.

Right about now a few of us are floating around on both personal and professional highs. When you hear comments like ‘incredibly smart and talented people’ and ‘you could have huge success teaching others to do this’ and ‘you are doing some incredibly cool and innovative things over there’ from your professional idol – well it kinda leaves you speechless. But the coolest part by far – he added me to his ‘network’ on Linked In.


January 27, 2011 - Posted by | Design, Inspiration | , , , , ,

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