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Do you need to know Visual Design to be a UX Designer?

This week I spoke on a panel at General Assembly titled But I’m not a Designer: The Many Paths to UX. It was an informal Q&A for people who are interested in a UX career. I’ll save the suspense and give you the short answer – no, you don’t need a background in visual design. In fact, the three panelists illustrated just that – my background is in music, and my fellow panelists came from banking and neuroscience before they made the career switch and became UX designers.

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Work/Life Balance

I’m not an avid subscriber, but I always find the January issue of “Real Simple” to be a must-read for getting the new year off to a good start. This January, the issue included short blurbs from various people on what work/life balance means to them. The fact that everyone has a slightly different interpretation is a clue to how conceptual it really is. It’s a theory, which really means nothing until it’s been put into practice, and everyone’s practice is different. So I thought I’d write my own little blurb about what work/life balance means to me.

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Women as Multitaskers

To really get things done requires a state of flow – uninterrupted time and an environment that promotes focus. This is when we reach goals, identify and rectify mistakes, see the progress we’re making, and generally feel satisfied about ourselves and our work. I’ve read lots of articles and books on the subject. I’ve experienced the difference that flow can make in my work, not just as a designer, but formerly as a musician, and even as a home cook. But I’ve never heard anyone say that men require a state of flow while women don’t.

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Semantics and Salaries

This came across my twitter stream today, right on the heals of a conversation I had with a recruiter who was desperately trying to decode a job description for a “web designer” that a client had recently sent him. Ok, so let’s lay aside for a moment the fact that recruiters really shouldn’t be doing recruiting for positions that they don’t understand, and just focus on what this data is telling us about the industry and the role that semantics play in describing what we do. To me “web designer” and even “interactive designer” are both incredibly vague terms. Sure, I will use the term “web designer” if I’m describing…

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The Passion Myth

I’ve been waiting for someone in the tech/startup world to write something like this for a very long time, and finally, one of the 37Signals guys has said it. “Startup mythology demands that to create something great, you need superhuman sacrifices. You need to work for no pay, you need to put in 120 hours/week, you need to preferably sleep under the desk and live off pizza as a sole form of nutrient. As a result, you need to abandon your family and risk life without insurance.” From It doesn’t have to be all or nothing with a startup Before I get into my big, tangential gripe (something which I…

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Is “Caring About Product” Enough?

A startup that doesn’t care about its product is a bit like a restaurant that doesn’t care about its food. That may seem hard to imagine at first, but if you think about it for a minute I’ll bet you know of at least one restaurant you’ve eaten at where this appears to be the case. It’s very easy to see the signs – poorly curated menus, classic dishes gone awry, food sloppily executed. These are the kind of places that leave you wondering, what are the people who work here so busy doing that they can’t ever bother to sit down and taste their own food? Or worse yet…

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