I come from a family made up of drafting engineers and artists. I grew up around oil canvases, drafting tables, wooden sculptures and the various types of wires. That shaped how I approach Design; a balance between aesthetics and functionality. But my own personal journey as a designer started in high school.
The year was 2005 and I was taking a Photoshop class for my senior year. I was hooked. Within months of messing around, I started to put my new skills to work by designing various artifacts for my youth group. Within a year of that class, a local business owner in town saw some of my work and offered me a job as a graphic designer. At that company, I worked under an incredible designer who showed me the ropes. I designed marketing ads, illustrations, landing pages and websites.
After that, I went on to work as a freelancer for the next couple of years. That time helped me grown tremendously in marketing, branding, graphic design, web design, time management and client communication. I worked with dozens of clients, many of them repeat.
In late 2009, I got married (to the most amazing woman) and decided I needed something more stable than freelancing. I went to go work for a jewelry company as their lead graphic and web designer. In the 3 years I spent there, a lot happened. First, I helped start a sister company; a design firm. We had about 15 clients, some of which were owned my the same person who owned the design firm I worked for (talk about conflict of interest). Our clients ranged from cleaning companies, to bakeries, jewelers, a custom motorcycle shop and a direct sales company. My role changed from Graphic Designer for the jeweler to Creative Director for the design firm. I had a team of developers, designers and a videographer. It’s at this point that my attention began shifting towards the field of User Experience and Business Strategy. I started running usability tests and split tests. I began interviewing users to understand how they interacted with touch points. On the business side, I had to adapt to understand how to actually make money, not just a nice looking product. It was a huge period for growth.
I enjoyed UX so much that I began seeking to move into the field of UX from whatever hybrid role I was in at that time. In 2012, I joined the team at Covenant Eyes as a UX Practitioner and began growing more from there. Over the years I’ve worked on countless projects and teams while utilizing various disciplines. My role varies mostly from Project Manager and Stakeholder. But I still get down into the trenches of hands-on design work too. Information Architecture, Interaction Design, Visual Design, Design Research, User Interface, and Strategy have been the disciplines employed most often through on all these projects. I’ve designed apps from the ground up, redesigned web properties and helped define the strategy for our products and services for years to come.
Today I am a User Experience Strategy Manager. I manage a small team of highly qualified individuals whose sole focus is to understand our customers and then find product innovations that fit with the needs of our users. We work within Product along with another team of designers. I also run multiple cross-discipline projects and teams while helping to oversee the Product Roadmap. In the end, my team is tasked with setting the direction of our products and services in partnership with the executives at Covenant Eyes.
A professional’s capabilities can be measured by the level of competency. Competency is defined on a continuum marked by novice, then capable, then strong, and ending with mastery. Though a person can never truly master any capability, I found that years devoted towards a specific item such as a discipline or tool will generally move a person through the continuum at a consistent pace.
The progress bars below follow a pattern where every year spent consistently in that area is equal to 10%. If an item is at 100%, it means I have at least a decade devoted to that area. That doesn’t mean I have stopped growing or learning in that area. However, it does mean by capabilities are closer to mastery and my growth is nearly negligible at this point. Areas of Strategy and Behavior Change are relatively recent as a focus for me, so though I am active in those areas these days, none of them are over 60% (6 years).
In short; 10% is equal to 1 year of experience. 100% is equal to 10+ years.
User Interface Design (UI)
Interaction Design (IxD)
Information Architecture (IA)
Visual Design (Graphic Design)
Responsive Web Design
Web Application Design
Mobile App Design
Leadership & Vision
Behavior Change Design