I am, and probably always be a graphic designer in my heart.

Design has always come pretty naturally to me, other than a few basic design principles I was able to just feel my way through to make some reasonably successful designs. The dark side to this was that I often felt frustrated in designing, and redesigning and not really understanding why something does or doesn’t work, or is or isn’t successful and found. While my clients were happy with what I produced, I still felt some unease about the final product. Could it have been better somehow? More importantly, why did it take me so long and need so many revisions? I started hunting for a process of design, I researched about brand strategy, creative strategy, and it helped, but it felt so brand focused, because it was, but me, and my design process didn’t quite fit.

I was unsuccessful in searching for a design process that worked with the way my brain did.

At the same time, I had started woodworking. It was a solution to a problem. I was already interested in woodworking so when I needed a desk and home studio space all of the furniture I found was either very expensive or didn’t fit the criteria. So I started drawing. I designed and redesigned this desk, on paper, again and again. I had a list of affordable and available materials I would reference. I must have measured and catalogued almost everything I owned, and then I designed around those constraints.

One of the few images I have of the desk drawings

I haven't done any woodworking project since a block puzzle in high school.

I built it. Of course there are a few things I would have done differently, it was my very first cabinet and drawers afterall.

The desk!

 

Fast forward a few years, I’ve moved to Sweden and am looking for graphic design jobs, and there frankly, weren’t any. Everyone is looking for UX design, so I caved and started looking into exactly what it was. It was right at the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic too, so I started with the introductory course to UX design by Pluralsight, pausing often to excitedly note down every detail.

I was energized and inspired by the process that UX designers use

Notes on Pluralsight course User Experience: The Big Picture

To say I got hooked is an understatement. For years I was looking for a process, a way of designing that fit me. It sounds ridiculous but my heart started racing, I dove so deep into the theory, finding every affordable resource available, but I couldn’t quite figure out how to put it into practice. How can I start using UX principles in my design work? Then I remembered when I built that desk

I was the user, I had measured almost all of my belongings and categorised exactly how I would want to use the desk, even down to the movements I’d need to make to start or tidy up after a usage case, making sure the most used items would be closest, and measured them to make sure they would fit in drawers. In my mind, I built a user profile and several use cases. I measured the area of the room I would use, or viewport size. I had an assets list, affordable and available materials, what size, and where the item was located. A laid out the hierarchy of where everything should go based on most used, or what needed to be the easiest to access.

Then over the years, I would rearrange where things were in the drawers and cabinet of course, to suit changing needs or changed contents, almost like usability testing.

It may seem like an unusual choice of story to tell you. This realisation solidified for me that UX design could be the process I’d been searching for.