Where to start.
My mother was a programmer back in the 80’s and I remember she wrote a program on the commodore 64 where by using ASCII characters + colours I was able to make “Flag” designs with a keyboard. At the time, I found this moment to be magical, as this was for me the first time a designer and developer collaborated - especially given my mum was the developer. Side note she used to make punch cards and I once stole some to draw on so in a way, even back then as a designer I broke developer(s) builds/workflows!
From there i’ve always been a dual designer / developer, someone who could never find a right category to fit into with my career and design. For the past 20 years, I’ve been switching between the two roles to find a way to retain control over my body of work but at the same time explore my abilities beyond just being one.
In 2006 I switched from being hands on to being more of a teacher / evangelist by working for Microsoft Australia as a what I can only explain “devigner” evangelist. It was extremely hard to do, which as you can imagine left me seeing how both sides of the isle co-exist without killing one another. It’s from here that I moved in a different direction to take over Product Management for Microsoft’s entire Rich Platform technical strategies in Redmond (moved family over). I then learnt what it was like to be the “owner” of products and understand what it takes to position products to the market for adoption. I also left knowing that the designer and developer behavior management was still an ongoing experiment.
In the middle of my career, I eventually became a dad to a son who has an extremely rare genetic condition called Trisomy 8. This condition has little to no actual research on its impacts to kids, so being the resourceful dad I’ve made it my ongoing life mission to better understand it. I’ve spent the last 7 years researching, collating and communicating with a lot of people who have lots of Phd’s in cognitive science, in search for answers to problems we face daily - I have a 11 year old boy with the thinking capacity of a 18+ year old adult but has a very noisy working memory index. I rely on User Experience to help my son understand and navigate the world by constantly taking my learnings from his successes and re-applying them back into product design - specifically how behavior science actually impacts our ability to navigate.
Combining all of my experiences to date has made me a better student of User Experience as for me - User Experience is Behaviour.
The last 5years in parallel to my career, I have branched out into 3D because one year I was obsessed with finding a way to render WALL-E character “eve” exactly as the movie had. Having a complex problem like this teaches you a lot, it gives you focus and because at the time my wife’s netball team in Seattle happened to have a players husband who worked at Pixar, I was also able to have an expert walk me through the back story of how she was rendered (which opened my eyes to how photons + colour + design truly work). Combining 3D and Motion I then explored FUI (Fantasy User Interface) design and stumbled upon a man called Mark Coleran with whom I befriended and began to pick his brain further on his experiences in doing FUI for movies (Minority Report etc). The idea that in a FUI designer has 30sec or less to convince the audience that something is happening through pure raw UX is enough to remind everyone that the humans mind to cope with complex or simplistic software is still open for business as that in it’s puriest form embodies Ux - especially how it continues to inspire design today.
Today, I work as a User Experience Architect for a very conservative (slowly evolving however) company called Schneider Electric where Ux is fast becoming our main source of differentiation and through all the years of being a Product Manager, Developer, Designer and Dad on a research mission I’ve some how pooled this together to offer ways to build a Ux culture in a company that fears change (we still use Lotus Notes).
Eventually, just like I did with my wall-e obsession, I’ll figure out why humans and patterns connect together, I’ll eventually better understand what pathways the mind actively makes to connect patterns with design and moreover how eventually I can relax knowing that User Experience in the future will be a gift to my sons ability to navigate society - let technology become an extension of his limitations to unlock that hidden talent he has within.
This year I am hoping to study Psychology to finally put a degree next to my name but with the hope that it will extend or round out my knowledge further. Plus it will probably give me a bit more of a “confidence” need because every time I think i’ve got a good foothold on “Ux”, I go to a conference / meetup / dinner with others in this field and I always walk away feeling “damn…i still have more to learn” (which I guess is a good thing).