2011: The sandwich year

by boon

About three years ago, I embarked upon a silly idea to change my career away from engineering towards design, and 2011 was the first full year where I wasn’t paid to write any code. It’s been highly enjoyable and I feel there’s so much to learn, it’s overwhelming.

The first half of 2011 was filled with conferences, and it has really paid off. So much of what we do as designers is social. Being part of a community makes you more keenly aware of the little things in design, especially when you’ve already spent a lot of time in the literature. The field of UX is still evolving a lot, and so is the language. Being exposed to other people’s practices has helped me learn and validate my own work.

After I joined SapientNitro in March, I continued to absorb new things. I spent a lot of time thinking about interaction, experience, context and aesthetics. Working with concepts and ideas has been fun but challenging as well – communicating effectively is not easily taught. I also learned a lot about working collaboratively in a design team, with real commercial pressures.

If that was not enough, I volunteered to organize UXCampLondon 2011, which was a real challenge. One’s experience of organizing events can vary greatly depending on the team, venue, sponsors, weather, marketing, networks… the list goes on. While the event went okay, I wasn’t satisfied with the outcome. Still, I’ve grown more respect for people who put on events, and a better appreciation of the value of events as a whole.

I’m excited for 2012, because I’m looking forward to the challenges ahead. I want to devour that pile of UX books I’ve bought over the months, and concentrate on certain areas in my work – notably prototyping and adopting a more iterative and inclusive way of designing. Finally, I feel I should use 2012 to get a bit of rest after the hectic times in 2010 and 2011.