Lucas Roe

UX Designer at Fastspot

Lucas Roe

UX Designer at Fastspot Episode 30

Episode Notes

Episode Transcript

Gary:
Hello, and welcome to Episode Thirty of Design Edu Today, the podcast series discussing topics concerning the state of interactive design education at institutions of higher learning. I am your host, Gary Rozanc, Assistant Professor of Graphic Design at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

In this episode we will be discussing what the hiring process looks like for web and user experience designers, what should be in a student’s portfolio, and how User Experience Design is different from Graphic and Interactive Design.

Today’s guest is Lucas Roe. Lucas is the newly hired UX Designer at the Baltimore area agency Fastspot. Lucas can be described as a general tech wizzbang with a graphic design and front end development background. Lucas is hyper focused on user needs and expectations. He’s an expert in interactive prototyping with Axure, experienced with HTML, CSS and jQuery and Lucas is comfortable working in a terminal. On a personal note, Lucas spends a lot of time cooking, pianoing, practicing calligraphy, reading the whole internet, and forming strong opinions, all the while maintaining a Minecraft server for his nephew.

Welcome, Lucas

Lucas:
Thank you.
Gary:
All right. Thank you for joining me today.
Lucas:
And thank you so much for having me on.
Gary:
My pleasure. So, the first thing I wanted to get into is, you received a BS, a Bachelor in Science in Art & Design with a Graphic Design Concentration, but your first job while you were in school was as a Web Producer. So, what exactly is a web producer?
Lucas:
You know, I’m still actually trying to figure that out myself! So, a web producer basically just meant that anything that belonged on the internet, it was my job to make sure that it worked correctly, so I was working in a marketing department at the time and we didn’t’ really have a lot of resources, so somebody like me who is just generally nerdy and has a broad range of skills that touches on a lot of different elements of the final experience was just right at home and doing everything from add words to the front end development part and even consulting with some of our clients to help them figure out strategy for how they would make their websites.
Gary:
All right, so then that name does make kind of sense because you’re doing more than just the visual design and you’re doing more than just the back end design or…
Lucas:
Oh yeah.
Gary:
OK, so that makes sense then. The reason I ask is there’s so many terms out there for what we do!
Lucas:
Oh yes!
Gary:
It’s hard to parse through them all.
Lucas:
And amusingly, I’ve never seen anybody else with that job title. So, when I tell people about that position I just say, I was doing front end development, because while I was doing all of these other things that were related to marketing, really the core of what I was doing was just writing landing pages and trying to make something that would go up on the web, usually for WordPress sites.
Gary:
OK, and I’ve actually seen it before. I’ve seen the word…I’ve seen it before: I’m trying to remember where but I’ve seen it before. So, what did you learn from school that was really helpful for that first job as a Web Producer?
Lucas:
Hmm….well…go ahead…
Gary:
And if it’s nothing, you can say that too, but I’m sure there was something!
Lucas:
There are some things. I mean, a lot of it had to do with the process of design thinking. The actual work that I was doing at the time had very little to do with the degree that I was studying. Frankly, I didn’t do any print design and that’s a lot of what I learned in school, so, really what was much more valuable as part of that process was just learning the sort of applied pragmaticism that comes from a design education, so, the idea of, instead of just saying, OK, we’re going to do this and here’s the different elements that make that up, instead trying to ask how these things fit together in the bigger picture. So, instead of just saying, OK, we have this web page and here are the things that are on it, instead, I spent a lot more time trying to figure out why people would care about any of this stuff in the first place and I think that a lot of what I was learning in school at that time, especially in regard to things like package design or branding, that core of what are we trying to do here was always my first question and I think that even though I wasn’t learning directly applicable skills, I think a lot of the soft skills that come from a design education are hugely valuable in that sort of environment.
Gary:
I’m trying to gather my thoughts here, so I love the fact that you’ve identified that while it’s not directly applicable, this design education I received was helpful.
Lucas:
Yeah.
Gary:
So, knowing that, from the base that even a print design education is helpful, but it’s not teaching everything, what I guess could we do better, what did you wish that you could have…that you had to learn on the job that you could have easily had been done in your design education?
Lucas:
As a Web Producer, or more broadly?
Gary:
As a Web Producer: we’ll start there. We’ll get to that bigger stuff later.
Lucas:
I think that, at least in the earlier stages of design education, there isn’t a big enough focus on talking about your work in a written medium, so we do a lot of presentations; I think there needs to be more of them, to be honest, because so much of your work is just being able to talk about it, being able to show it to other people, but it’s also hugely important to be able to write about your work and especially because in our modern workflow, it’s not always that we actually have the ability to sit down with somebody and show it to them: sometimes you have to send it through an email or it’s through a JIRA ticket or it’s through something that’s a not a face to face interaction, and frankly I can’t think of a single time in my design education that I was told OK, sit down and write something about your work here and justify it with typing instead of just with presenting, because you can kind of get past a lot of things in person when you’re kind of going through question and answer that if you just had to write about it and then send it off to somebody, the idea would just kind of fall down on its face.
Gary:
You know, that’s funny…I stumbled across this when I was teaching a motion graphics class that instead of having them storyboard I said, let’s just write our stories. And when I was…the stories I was getting back, some of them were stories, but a lot of them were describing visually what it was going to look like. I was like, well, the client’s going to know what it looks like: you need to describe the justification for the looks and it’s a really…you would think that’s a simple skill, but apparently it’s a lot harder than you would think.
Lucas:
Well, it’s something that we definitely take for granted. We don’t realize the different between conveying intent and just describing and I think that there’s a very different set of skills of trying to capture the essence of something in a paragraph or two that really will let somebody else see your thought process and it’s a lot harder to do that and it takes a lot of practice and it’s a soft skill that just is not really present right now in design education.
Gary:
Yeah, and this is a follow-up, but this is a techie one: what is a JIRA? And I know it’s J-I-R-A, correct?
Lucas:
Yes.
Gary:
What is a JIRA ticket?
Lucas:
So, JIRA is one of many what’s called a ticketing system. So, typically when you were working with engineers, they don’t really enjoy just receiving an email from you and that is a huge understatement. Most of them would probably try to rip your head off if you tried to just send them emails requesting for work. So, instead what you do is you have what’s called a ticket, and it basically is…let’s call it like a work-log where it’s a place that lives in a product that you can tag all of your work to, so it consolidates a bunch of written feedback and usually screen-shots and it has a work-flow associated with it that the engineer can say what they’ve done on it and how much time they’ve logged to it. So, for instance, I had a job about a year ago and I spent about two months and the only real design work that I did was writing comments on JIRA tickets and I would occasionally attach a wireframe to them but almost everything that I was doing at that time was just offering guidance to engineers and trying to show them how to produce better work than they were producing at that time and the main vehicle that I had to do that was writing and just kind of text comments on a thread in my browser.
Gary:
I think as an educator, I think a lot of us are familiar with Slack now at least. But we’re not…but I don’t think we’re familiar with JIRA. Can Slack serve the same purpose or are they totally different kind of tools? I think they’re different from what you just described.
Lucas:
Yes. Slack is much more of the chat-room experience. It is similar in the sense that you can group things based around ideas but what’s different is that JIRA is largely used to hold people accountable. It really is a census of everything that has happened with a specific task, so it’s important that everything that ends up happening is logged into the ticket in some way when it is used in this sort of environment. So, you could have the sort of chatting on Slack and that casual conversation, but when it comes down to it, nothing’s going to happen unless it’s actually documented in the ticket and explained through that, because that’s what people use as kind of the master record of what is supposed to happen or what did happen with a specific task or a specific feature.
Gary:
So, would it be beneficial then for me as an educator to mimic a ticketing system, because we want to do keep it simple, because we do want to be teaching to visual design but when they…as an educator I’m like, OK, does this serve this purpose? Maybe you should think about making this change, maybe you should be thinking about making that change when I propose that to the student, but then make it a requirement like, OK, now when you go make that change, whatever it is, you also document that change.
Lucas:
Certainly, and I don’t think that you need to try to mimic a ticketing system because really what it comes down to is it’s just a text box in your browser. Especially students nowadays, they use this for everything! Any time they interact with people over the internet, they’re using the text box in the browser, so it really is much more about being able to convey ideas concisely because if you type up a novel, nobody’s going to read it, and so it’s conveying those ideas concisely and it’s getting your point across in a way that respects the other person and argues for your ideas well and also does it in a short enough period of time that people will actually pay attention to it.
Gary:
OK. So, once you graduated, you got a job as a junior UX Designer. So, I have the same set of questions: what is a UX Designer, and how is it different from a Graphic Designer?
Lucas:
Well, I hope you’re prepared because the answer to this question might end up getting a crowd of pitchforks outside both yours and my homes, because there is a lot of debate over what UX design is. So, here’s what my definition is: a UX Designer is a person who is concerned with everything that goes into making a product of some variety. In this specific case, I work largely on digital products, so as a UX Designer, what I’m doing is I am trying to make the needs of the users, the people who will use it, reflected in the final product. So, it’s extraordinarily different from a Graphic Designer, because a Graphic Designer is really interested in making information visible, so it’s taking some type of information and it’s setting it up in such a way that it is a visual artifact that you end up with at the end of it. But a UX Designer, it’s much more in the middle work. As a UX Designer, the things that I produce aren’t the things that are usually handed off to people; they’re used by the people who are making the final thing, so I hand my work off to Graphic Designers and to Engineers in order to try to make the final product a better thing for people to use.
Gary:
OK, I don’t think there’s going to be pitchforks out there: maybe from other UX Designers but educationally speaking, I think we’re still coming at terms like, what is it? So I think we just want to hear as many voices as we can and then we can triangulate for ourselves what it is and what it isn’t.
Lucas:
That’s the thing about UX design is that an experience is a broad, poorly defined thing. Designing an experience is going to be broad and poorly defined. It really is an umbrella term and there’s a lot of ability for people to focus on specific things inside of that umbrella term, so, a lot of people would actually put graphic design as a discipline underneath UX design but then I as a UX designer literally never do graphic design: it’s something that I have not touched in years.
Gary:
OK, to then let me ask you this one then. Does UX need to be a separate program from Graphic Design, or can a Graphic Design program incorporate enough UX principle to be applicable?
Lucas:
Well, since UX is such a broad thing in general, you are in some ways learning UX principles when you are learning Graphic Design principles, but I think to say that a Graphic Design degree is sufficient to be a UX Designer is really under-selling what it is, and it’s over-stating the things that you learn in a Graphic Design degree. Now, that doesn’t mean that I think that Graphic Designers can’t become UX Designers: obviously I’m a testament to that!
Gary:
They do!
Lucas:
I went to school for Graphic Design and became a UX designer, but there’s a lot more things that UX Design needs to be concerned with that just doesn’t need to cross a Graphic Designer’s mind when they’re doing things. Now, that being said, I think that everyone should be learning user-centered principals, so let’s be honest, there are not a ton of print design positions that are available for people. Most of the time, if you end up with a Graphic Design degree, you are going to be designing websites at some point. You’re going to be designing emails; you’re going to be designing these things that people are going to be consuming and so if you have literally zero background in understanding something about user psychology, or understanding something about user needs, then you really have hampered yourself in the long run, so I do think though, and this is really important for me to point out as my own drum to beat that I do think that a world that’s full of UX designers is a smaller world than a world that has UX Designers and Graphic Designers. Part of the reason that I moved away from Graphic Design is because I’m not actually that good at it! I was good enough to get a degree in it but I’m a solid Graphic Designers on a good day. I’m never an amazing Graphic Designer. And so, as a UX Designer there are few things that are more fulfilling for me than working with a fantastic visual designer who can take the research that I’ve done and take the ideas that I hand them and go render it into something that is just beautiful, because I can’t make it beautiful. But at the same time, having that Graphic Designer understand the user principles that I’m putting forward means that we kind of have less that we have to talk about before we reach an accord, so I think that there needs to be more user-centered design and UX principles that are taught in Graphic Design programs in order to accurately meet up with what Graphic Designers are expected to do, but it certainly is not enough to just say, OK, I’m a UX Designer now that I have this Graphic Design degree.
Gary:
No, and I think that’s what all of the programs out there kind of have to find their own place in that spectrum: do they want to be user experience heavy with awareness of design, graphic design, or do they want to be visual design heavy with awareness of UX and where they fall on that spectrum is kind of up to everybody. So, I guess for my own selfish needs, that where I’m coming from, we want to shoot for a strong visual designer who understands the principles of UX.
Lucas:
Yes, I agree with that.
Gary:
So, from that lens, what are some of the things that you think are, oh, this would have been…I learned this in the field but I could have…this could have been so easily learned in the classroom if somebody just thought about it a little bit differently.
Lucas:
There’s one thing about design education that I’ve kind of felt for a long time and in many ways I feel like the current set-up of designers doesn’t really lend itself well to a degree. In some ways I feel like it should be more an apprenticeship or kind of a tradesman thing and I understand I’m saying this to a college Professor: I’m so sorry! But part of the thing that I think a design education could do to be more aligned with that is to be more pragmatic about the things that designers are working on when they are in college. So, one thing that you’ll notice in a lot of the sort of intensive programs that have popped up for professionals is that everything that they’re working on is deeply rooted in reality; they still are not…they might not necessarily be something for a local company but the scenarios that they’re working on are real-life scenarios and the reason that that’s so important is that so much of design in the professional space is compromise, and there’s very little of that that currently happens in school. Now, some people argue that this is the best part of school because it lets you flex your artistic muscle but what ends up happening is that when you’re assessing portfolios, most of the time the first thing that a student has to do is figure out how to churn their portfolio fast enough to get all of their student work out of it because it just doesn’t have that much applicability to the real world because I, as a person who’s interviewing you or evaluating your portfolio, I can’t say, OK, what we have here is something that they not only made but they then argued well for and it reflected the initial intent well enough that it saw the light of day. But as opposed to a school assignment where really, you just have to check a couple of boxes and as long as you’ve done a good enough job and fulfilled the principles well enough, then it gets a check from your teacher and you get a passing grade on it.
Gary:
Yes, you could do it as a trade but…and it’s good to hear because as educators, there’s actually things we could do to fix that; for example, I simply at one point I would just hand a student an assignment to design a website. There is absolute…I mean, I’ve told them the solution. End of story, we are now just decorating a solution that was already supplied, whereas I send them…hey, let’s go out into the city and let’s observe for an hour and journal our observations photographically and writing it down and let’s come back and talk about it and then we come back and talk about it: inevitably there’s problems that always pop up like, OK, let’s solve those problems and now it creates a more real-life process of identifying the problem, solving the problem as opposed to just, here is a solution to a problem that I want you to decorate. So, it’s something we can do in the classroom but we just need to I guess hear it more, that what we’re doing, the assignments, are just not as applicable.
Lucas:
Right, and the job that I had while I was in college was a Web Producer, as we said, and I had very little time to actually make anything look good, so the stuff that I produced from that honestly was just ugly: utilitarian but ugly. But that stuff stayed in my portfolio for much longer than my student work did, despite the fact that my student work was much prettier because I felt like it more accurately reflected the work that I was going to be doing and it more accurately reflected me as a professional as opposed to me as a student.
Gary:
All right, so, I have a question about Information Architecture and specifically, where does it fit into the whole UX process and the reason I’m asking this is wireframing. I firmly believe that when we assign wireframes they end up being visualizations of what it’s going to look like, not create hierarchy for information! So I just want to hear a little bit more about from a practitioner, how Information Architecture fits into that whole process?
Lucas:
Well, I would argue that Information Architecture and wireframing are different things.
Gary:
OK.
Lucas:
One kind of reflects the other but they aren’t necessarily the same thing. Information Architecture is normally much more concerned with the grouping and labeling and sorting of information. So, let’s use a website as an example. The Information Architecture would not just be the hierarchy of the information itself; it would also be, what do you call these things? How closely are they grouped together? How do you find the ideas that gel as a single thing, so that a user can explore through it and find the things they’re looking for? Whereas a wireframe is concerned with something slightly different and it’s more looking at, what is the hierarchy of elements? So, instead of just saying, what are things called, what are they labeled, how are they grouped together? Instead a wireframe is saying, what is needed and how do we display that in order of importance? And a lot of times people end up getting really limited by wireframes because they think it’s supposed to set a visual direction when really all it’s supposed to do is say a blueprint for, what’s the most important thing? Do we have all the things that we need here? Some of the best visual designers that I’ve ever worked with do very difficult work in interpreting the wireframe and then taking it and changing it into something that’s truly lovely because when I’m drawing a wireframe, I truly don’t care what it looks like: that’s not my job at that point. So, having somebody who does care what it looks like and going back over it with a critical eye and asking hard questions is hugely more valuable then somebody just saying, oh, OK, well we have this nice wireframe here so let’s just add some colors and pictures and type to it and call it a day.
Gary:
All right, that’s good to know because it’s something that I want to introduce students to the idea of Information Architecture: I don’t want them to be Information Architects, I want them to be Visual Designers, but I feel like they’re going to…and I’m assuming, let me ask this, I’m assuming that the Information Architect, depending on the set-up of where they’re working, is going to hand that off as a deliverable to a visual designer.
Lucas:
Generally. Usually the output of an Information Architect’s work of an Information Architecture process is usually a combination of a site-map and a taxonomy, so at that point, unless you have a visual designer who really skews towards the UX side and understanding UI design and understanding user psychology, normally there would be another step in between Information Architecture and going into visual design, and that’s usually where you have the wireframing or interactive design or prototyping phase.
Gary:
So, from looking over your resume, I see that you list a lot of user research.
Lucas:
I love user research!
Gary:
So, could you go into details about what kind of research is it that you do?
Lucas:
So, the answer’s pretty broad. Usually, when I’m doing user research, my goal is to figure out what it is that the user needs and so that’s a very big thing, that could mean a lot of things at any given time. The position that I just came from, when I was doing user research, it was very, very targeted; the idea was that we had a new version of our software and we wanted to make sure that it was going to work for people, that our users who had been with us for years would be able to figure it out and that our users who had never seen the software before would also be able to figure it out, so in that case it’s very, very targeted at just trying to see, is this useable? But there have also been times that the user research has been significantly broader than that. I can think of a project where I was just sitting and talking with a teacher and just trying to figure out in this specific space and the problem that we were trying to solve, what were the different things that he needed a solution to do? So, the different types of user research have really different forms to them. A lot of times the user interview is sort of that earlier discovery phase where you’re really just having a conversation, similar to a conversation that you and I are having right now, where I will go in knowing a couple of things that I want to ask, but really the goal is just to ask leading questions and to listen and to not give them the ability to just say yes or no at any given time but ask them to expound on their thoughts and opinions and desires and what it is that they need something to do for them and it kind of goes across the spectrum to when you have the other type of testing that I was talking about where it’s much more targeted, where it’s saying: we know that we have something, we produced it, we are now showing it to you and I’m asking you to do specific tasks and watching to see if you can do that. And it does end up by getting kind of blunted because in those very targeted tests, I still would ask for some things from that first bucket, if you will. So, I’d still say to them, OK, talk to me about your process: what do you need this to do, let’s talk about the greater ramifications of whatever the specific problem is, but generally it was much more focused on seeing, does this solution work and user research is, and it’s another example of something that’s an entirely separate field that’s been rolled up inside of User Experience design and there are people who literally just spend all of their time doing user research. I’m certain that they have far more knowledge in that space than I do and it’s one of those things that if I had the ability to work with a dedicated user researcher, it’d be fantastic because they would have an expertise that I just wouldn’t be able to bring to the table.
Gary:
Is there a resource that you think would be good for design educators when it comes to conducting user research to kinda like check out? For visual designers.
Lucas:
So, there is a specific book that I can think of. It’s called Just Enough Research and it’s by Erika Hall. Basically, what it comes down to is, it’s really difficult to not ask yes or no questions. It’s really difficult to not lead the person that you’re talking to down a specific road and really, it just takes practice and it just takes repeatedly re-phrasing your first thought in such a way that you’re not handing users the answers that you want to get back from them. So it’s one of those things that I think that you could spend forever reading about it but until you start doing it, you’re not going to realize the own problems that you’re bringing to the table, because it’s so inter-personal and it’s so dynamic and it’s something that just takes practice.
Gary:
Yeah, I know, and I’m familiar with the process enough that nine times out of ten, the amateur who’s going at it will influence the study, despite their best intentions. But anyway, I want students to be aware of it. There’s only so much I can do and so many credits and so I think my job is to give them a solid foundation in something and then exposure to everything else that they can go branch out, like, no, I want to focus more heavily on user research; I want to focus more heavily on XYZ, front end development, whatever it is.
Lucas:
Well I think one of the most helpful things in regard to user research is if you can interview someone and take a video of it and then watch how your questions affect them because when you’re in the moment, you’re focused on who you are and how you’re relating to this person and you’re much more interested in keeping everyone comfortable and when you’re watching that video after the fact you can see how the way that you phrase things will change people’s body language towards you and you can see how adding something in after you asked the question will suddenly change the frame of the entire situation and I think that having that knowledge is really the only way to improve on it yourself because otherwise it’s just a conversation and without that sort of intentional practice of trying to figure out, oh, here’s where I started influencing that because I asked this question in a specific way, I don’t think you’ll be able to improve as quickly because you’ll just have to fail a lot more frequently in order to get that level of feedback.
Gary:
Wow, that’s really…I never would have thought of that; I never would have thought about it at all, so thank you for that.
Lucas:
Well, I recorded the first set of user tests that I ever did and I went back and watched that fairly recently and was basically crawling out of my skin the entire time because I was just realizing how many different ways I influenced the results by trying to get them to see what I was looking for and even in a couple of years, just seeing how far I’ve come just by listening to myself. Just beware: it is painful!
Gary:
But I think design educators are actually adept at that. When we look at student work and we’re going through critiques we immediately, at least I do, I immediately think of all the things that they could do with it but I can’t influence that, so I’ve literally sat there for like a half hour dancing around, just…how do I organically lead them into think about this in a different way and it’s tough because otherwise you’re influencing it. All right, so one last line of questioning before I let you go, I just noticed what the time was. You just recently started working at Fastspot. Can you describe what your job search was like in general?
Lucas:
Oh, amusingly, I wasn’t looking for a job!
Gary:
OK, that’s why…so then we can skip that part and we can talk about…
Lucas:
No, actually I think that there’s a really important nugget in that though. I’ve had a decent amount of jobs in this area and every single job that I have received that has been kind of a successful, long-term engagement came from a person that I knew in some variety.
Gary:
Of course!
Lucas:
And what was really interesting about starting working at Fastspot was that it actually came about because of a Slack group. One of our senior strategists posted in a Slack group that I’m a part of, saying Fastspot is hiring, and I basically just started complaining to her that Fastspot was only hiring when I wasn’t looking for a new job and from that just initial connection was how I got started in this interview process in the first place, so I just think it’s so interesting to see how it kind of breaks down the expectations of how it is that you go about getting a job where even in this case, it was just me talking and being a human with someone that got me a job as opposed to me submitted seven thousand forms and beating down every door with my resume.
Gary:
This is super-important and it’s enough for me to stop and talk about it because this isn’t for design educators; this is something I’m going to have to play this clip back for students is that, I don’t know if you can say it or not, but what…what Slack channel? What community were you engaging in that this opportunity happened?
Lucas:
It’s a community that I’m actually a huge member of; it’s the User Experience Design Slack.
Gary:
There you go.
Lucas:
You can find it at designerhangout.co; they’ve got about six thousand members, maybe seven thousand now, and it’s just people from all over the world who are sharing resources and jobs and just talking about the things that are relevant in the industry and I know that in the early days of Twitter, that’s really much more of what Twitter was before all the trolls rolled in and ruined it and so a lot of those communities have now moved to these kind of more private, safer spaces, because we can talk more candidly because we know that we’re talking to other UX designers and I would never have been comfortable saying in a public forum like Twitter, oh my gosh, I super want to go work at this company, but in a slightly more private community, I was totally comfortable saying, Fastspot is my favorite company in Baltimore: how have we not worked together yet?
Gary:
Yeah, and so this is, again, this is totally for students. As educators, we tell them all the time they need to be, I do anyway, I was like, you need, if you want to be an interaction designer, you need to be involved in the interaction design community because you’re not going to find the jobs on whatever the job search boards they think there are; you’re not going to find them on craigslist. They don’t exist there because of…I mean, like you said, the early days, and it’s still heavily, it’s who you’re following on Twitter, you’re watching the discussions, it’s always announced there and I knew about the…I haven’t jumped on any of the Slack channels but I know those Slack communities…well, we’ll just call them communities, those communities are out there and the students, if they’re not involved in those communities, they’re not going to be hearing about these opportunities; it’s as simple as that.
Lucas:
Well and the other thing is that design in general is such a sharing community as a whole and there’s so much just free information just out on the internet because designers are really good at supporting their own and so I for a very long time was not involved in these communities because I just felt like I didn’t have the time to be, but I’ve just found the more that you engage, the more that you get from it and the more that you give to it, the more that you get from it and I’ve become so much…so much of a better practitioner since starting, because I’ve learned so much and I’ve been able to talk about my ideas and strengthen them and I’ve made connections that I would never have expected to otherwise.
Gary:
We have time for just one more question because I don’t want to take up any more time for you. Looking over your work, I came to the personal realization, how hard it would be to distinguish what’s Graphic Design, Design from what’s UX Design. For example, the Bunn project that you did while at r2i; looking at the work it looks like a visual design exercise, so it’s really hard to see how it’s UX. Do you have any kind of strategies that students, or Faculty in general, how we can help prepare students to make that distinction of this was not just a visual exercise; this was a thoughtful process of understanding the user’s needs and this is how we arrived at this end product?
Lucas:
Right, well…consider what the difference is between your typical UX portfolio and your typical Graphic Design portfolio. The Graphic Design portfolio is largely about the final artifact; it’s about showing that you have the esthetic knowledge that you can make beautiful and functional things, but a UX portfolio is focused on a much broader range of things than that and it’s much more focused on all of the ugly stuff that happens before that final artifact. So, a Graphic Designer would definitely have the ability to just put up ten jpegs of the work that they did and call it a day, but a UX Designer doesn’t have the ability to do that. They really need to wrap that in an explanation of what their role was and how they contributed to the project and what sort of things they did on the project and package all of that in a way that people will actually read, and I think that Graphic Designers can actually benefit from that, for all the same reasons that we talked about earlier. Talking about your work is difficult, but I think that a UX Designer has an onus on them to be able to speak to all of the non-visual elements of their work, while a Graphic Designer’s work is much more focused on that visual aspect.
Gary:
OK. Makes perfect sense. All right, so Lucas, before I let you go, is there anything that you are working on personally that you would like to share or is there something that you want to promote?
Lucas:
The only thing that I would like to promote is that Slack community I was talking about earlier, designerhangout.co. It’s a great community of people and we’re super-welcoming of people who are interested in getting into the community or getting started in UX design in generally.
Gary:
All right, perfect. That’s all we have time for today on episode Thirty of Design Edu Today. I want to thank today’s guest, Lucas Roe for being so generous with his time. I want to thank the audience for listening and I want to thank the Design Edu Today hosting sponsor DigitalOcean and CDN sponsor Fastly for making the hosting and distribution of these podcasts possible. Finally, I want to thank the AIGA and the AIGA Design Educators’ Community for their generous support of my research that lead to this podcast series.

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