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2013: Making

What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?

In 2010, I made xmas photo. In 2011, I made metaphorical things—that were intentionally symbolic of relationships and history. In 2012, I made ice cream.

Most recently (and the past few weeks), I have been making design. Or rather, designing for a great user experience in email and scheduling. The reason that I started down the journey of understanding ice cream makers was more because I wanted to understand the experience from another side. Rather, I wanted a break from the repetitive work of my professional career. A career that for some seems like magic, fun, and impactful. Yet, at times, I found it arduous, political, and pointless.

I was designing for the man.

But I took a short-term project recently. The team has let me do what I wanted to do—with my specific process and my particular demands. (And also too, I needed something to keep myself afloat.) What was so empowering was that I was creating again. I imagined an experience where email and scheduling would work seamlessly on mobile. Then I designed it, coming up with various screens to address primary use cases.

Like my writing, it’s a story of the process. A story of making each message come in with ease and understanding. With great empathy for the user’s context and needs. I think about what happens when a button is pressed. What displays on the screen next? What information needs to be accessible? What interface controls can help a user achieve the interaction needed? Is there enough hint? Is there an understanding of what will happen next? Does it all make sense?

Unlike a story, it’s partially about problem-solving. There’s no protagonist. There’s no beginning or end. It repeats. And for my job, for this making, I needed to make sense of all the moving parts within minutes.

So for 8 hours today and a few hours late yesterday, I created intensely one small component that very few people will notice. It’s the few people that drove me to want to write and create something substantial. But maybe, it’s the fact that this experience will be so valued by those few people that I keep coming back to this career over and over again.