Category Archives: Fun

2018 New Year’s Goals

Jen Blatz UX designer 2018 goals

First thing I did to think about 2018, is to review the goals I set for myself in 2017. Man, I did knock a few of those off of the list, but I was not nearly as successful as I should have been.

Here are my lame excuses for not accomplishing last year’s goals:

  • I changed jobs 3 times in one year. I had a huge learning curve to  every new job, and I am still trying to understand the new industries I was working in.
  • I was a bit stressed having landed in positions that were empty promises and not career-growth opportunities. Thus, the change in positions so many times.
  • With all of the new jobs, I was devoting any extra free time I had to getting up to speed, and not focusing on networking or getting involved in the local UX community.

OK, OK enough with the pity party. Now let’s focus on what I really want to accomplish in 2018.

Read
  • “Design of Everyday Things” (started in 2017, need to finish)
  • “Checklist Manifesto” (charted for 2017, pushing to this year)
  • “Sprint”
Write blog posts
  • In 2017, I was shooting to post 25 original blog posts.
  • I want to shoot for 12, long-format blog posts with valuable content.
  • Plus I would like to continue my series of “UX Tidbits” and “UX Quotes” sprinkled throughout he year. I enjoy researching, gathering and creating these fun short snippets of info. I will shoot for 18 “UX Tidbits in 2018
Social Media

I have felt so lucky to have the followers on twitter that I have accumulated this far. I would like to continue to grow my Twitter following.

Networking
  • Continue to participate in local Meetups to expand my network and to get to know others in the UX community and other related fields.
  • Have the opportunity to participate in one panel at a Meetup, meeting or class as a person who has some sort of UX knowledge to bring to the table.
  • Give a presentation to one Meetup group. Group and topic to be determined.
  • Attend Creative Mornings events to meet more designers and artists in the local community.
Professional Development
  • Continue to learn Sketch well enough to mock up several designs to expand portfolio and skill set.
  • Understand the industry I work for, cloud computing, better.
  • Learn about managing teams. It might be something I am interested in, so I would like to learn more.
  • Create UX assets and deliverables to sharpen my skills and enhance my portfolio.
  • Wrap up the “UX Process” project I have been working on at work and develop a strong case study on the process of creating it. Continue to visit the project through the year to see how it is going and iterate as needed.
  • Determine what topic I need to know more about when it comes to UX. Perhaps Customer Experience or Service Design? See how these tracks can be explored further in my current work space.
  • Revisit these goals in the mid year to not only track my progress, but to add to it. I feel like I need more concrete goals than just listed here. Stronger possibilities tbd.
Personal development
  • Have better work/life balance. Right now I am spending any extra time I have in the evenings working on “Could Computing” or “Leading the UX Team” related tasks and not having any rest or personal development time.
  • 2017 was not a great year for travel for me. This is especially true for international travel. I would like to explore the world a bit more, even if it is in my home state.
  • Read more outside of UX. I would like to learn more about another discipline. Be that fine art, history or social sciences. I would like to increase my knowledge about a field that could be complementary to UX, but is not strictly UX.

Summary of 2017, from UX Researcher back to UX Designer

Jennifer Blatz UX Designer

I’ll do a quick “Christmas Card” summary of how my 2017 year went.

  • Still living in Texas and really enjoy it overall compared to Los Angeles. Sure I miss the food, the scenery, my friends and the road trips to wine country. But living is Texas is a much easier way of life.
  • I left my contract position with a major financial institution as a UX Researcher in April. It was a tough decision, since I liked with job and my co-workers. But the (previous) manager made working there unbearable and I needed to find a healthy environment for myself personally and professionally.
  • I moved on to a security company, which sounded like a golden opportunity. But as the saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. And in this case it was. I was promised opportunities that did not come to fruition. The company (and some superiors) were not ready for a UX Designer and wanted me to perform duties that were not in my job description (like front-end development). Though the work was challenging, and my co-workers were great and eager to have a new product designed, my superiors did not see the value of UX and properly designing a product. I could tell it was time to move on, so I did. I was there for five months.
  • Now I am working from home, and adjusting to remote life has been a challenge. I work for a major managed cloud company as a UX designer. Though we have dedicated UX researchers on our staff, I can see how my professional experience in that field is helping me immensely in my new role. First thing about working remotely is that I work way more hours than your standard 9-5 job. I think that this has a lot to do with my newness on the job and often feeling lost. I am devoting a lot of extra time to learn about my industry and products we work on. But I am hopeful in the new year that things will settle down for me and I will work more appropriate hours.
  • My vacations were on the small side this year with all of the job changes. Of course we took the usual trips to Indiana and Vegas.  We even managed to go to New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Paso Robles and New Orleans. No international trip this year so I am hoping that can come about in 2018.
  • Overall, I was a happy year and I am pleased with my professional accomplishments. I’ll be coming out with a new 2018 goals write up soon. Until then, keep on, keeping’ on.

Reflecting on 2107: Good, Bad and Ugly

Jennifer Blatz UX Designer and Researcher

Seems like everyone has a “Year in Review,” or “2017 Wrap Up.” I am going to join the cliché train and talk about my trials and tribulations in 2017.

The Good

  • I still have my health. ha ha. Actually things were not that bad.
  • I have made several new friends in the new career paths and journeys I have joined.
  • I actually accomplished some of my 2017 Goals this year. Maybe not everything, but it’s a start.
  • I learned Sketch and feel pretty confident with it. But I want to practice it more and get stronger at using the program.
  • Continue to grow online presence in Twitter. Do you want to follow me too? I would be honored.
  • I did grow my UX network in Dallas. I’ve done a pretty good job, but I want to be more embedded in the UX community here.

The Bad

  • Imposter syndrome will never leave me. No matter where I work, how much I learn, how successful or accomplished I might seem to be. I always feel like I am looking over my shoulder trying to fake everyone out.
  • This could be good, but this is also bad. I started, but did not finish, “Design of Everyday Things.” So that has to be bumped to the 2018 to-do list.
  • My new job has taken up a lot of my personal time where I should be devoting that time to advancing my career and learning more about UX, Service Design and Customer Experience.

The Ugly

  • Working for a company who did not understand UX
  • Having a narcissistic boss who thought it was appropriate to try to sabotage your career rather than helping me succeed.
  • Changing 3 jobs in a year. Ouch! That can look really bad professionally, and I am stung by that potential perception. But the job changes were all for very good reasons, and I hope that things will settle down in 2018.

Blog is back

Are you wondering where I have been hiding? Me too!

I had some technical difficulties because my website got hacked. And because the main website was hacked, I lost access to my blog.

The good news is that I am up and running again… for now! The bad news is I lost all of the images that accompanied my blog posts. I am slowly trying to restore most of them. But some may never be replaced.

Never the less I learned a few valuable lessons from this experience:

  • Back up your files. Sure I tend to think I save often. But backing up your files is just as important. And I really neglected to back things up.
  • Know a great developer. My good friend Anita Cheng cleaned up my files an got me up and running again. I would not have a website again if not for her.
  • Did I mention to back up your files?

Thanks for your patience. I will post more UX-related stuff soon.

Global Service Jam 2016

Global Service Jam Los Angeles logo

I am happy to report surviving another Global Service Jam. So what is global service jam? Is it some sort of cook off? Are you making jam? What does service have to do with it?

The Global Service Jam is a non-profit volunteer activity organized by an informal network of service design afficinados, who all share a common passion for growing the field of service design and customer experience.

Jennifer Blatz, UX Designer, attended Global Service Jam in Los Angeles.

The website goes on the say

As a participant in the Global service jam, you will work through a whole design process in one weekend. Whether you are experienced or completely new to the field, you won’t just be talking about service design, you will be working with others on developing concrete ideas and designs which could become real.

Furthermore:

  • You will learn more about a design-based approach to problems, and about sustainability.
  • You will pick up a load of new ideas and work practices.
  • You will meet a lot of cool people at all levels of experience.
  • Your work and ideas will be reviewed by your peers, and presented to the world, where they can be seen by potential customers or employers, or people who could make them real.
  • You will design something that may become a real business.
  • You might get rich and famous.
  • You will certainly have a blast.
Working on a storyboard with team members, Jennifer Blatz, UX Designer, attended Global Service Jam in Los Angeles.
Working on a storyboard with team members, Jennifer Blatz, UX Designer, attended Global Service Jam in Los Angeles.

And have a blast I did! It is exhilarating, exhausting, energizing and exciting. I get to participate in activities I don’t normally get to at work. I get to collaborate with complete strangers, who become friends through a weekend of intense team work. I get to flex some UX muscle, and keep skills sharp. I get to explore new ideas and learn about new skills like Service Design Blueprint and Business Modal Canvas. I know it might seem crazy to give up an entire weekend for an activity like this. But I think it is fun and I am always up for a challenge.

Don’t waste a moment. Take advantage and learn.

Jennifer Blatz UX design always learning
Even on casual encounters, like an Uber right home, take advantage of meeting a new person and learn something.

When riding home one evening in the back of an Uber car, I took advantage of a situation. Sure, I could have sit back quietly and enjoyed the ride in silence. The driver did not have the radio on, so it could have been a peaceful ride.

Instead, I decide to make the ride a bit more interesting. Don’t worry, I was not going to engage in anything illegal. I decided to engage the driver in a conversation. Gasp! Talk to a stranger in Los Angeles? What? Who does that??? Well, I do.

You see, I am a gal from the Midwest. People from that part of the world are not afraid to engage in a conversation. In fact, this art form was eloquently taught to me by my father. I can recall on several instances the following circumstance: I am in a long line for an amusement park ride. My dad is waiting for me outside the ride on a bench until I am finished. By the time I get back from the ride, my dad has had a long chat with the person sitting next to him on that bench. I didn’t even notice the person when I started to get on the ride.

So what was happening here? My dad was a very smart man, and knew that having a conversation would help pass the waiting time. He didn’t want to read a book because he liked to people watch. These were the days before smart phones. So he wold strike up a chat with a complete stranger.

Not only did a conversation like this pass the time, he also learned something. And that is what I am trying to promote here. Instead of looking down and checking your smart phone, strike up a conversation with a stranger. What was so magical about the conversations my dad would have with strangers is what he learned about the other person. He would say things like, “That guy lived just a couple of blocks down from where I grew up in New York. And our parents when to the same social hall for dances and parties.” Or he would say, “The lady I sent next to on my flight is the inventor of body glitter.”

What do you do to learn more? Just start a conversation. I know this is not easy for some people. Striking up a conversation with a complete stranger can be terrifying. But if you want to be a UX designer, you have to break out of your shell and learn how to be comfortable in a conversation with others. It’s ok, the (probably) won’t bite.

  • Start the conversation small, maybe make a comment about the weather or the current surroundings.
  • Or ask a generic question about something you “seem like” you need assistance with like the time the the store is closing or do they if know….
  • Maybe you can make a comment out the phone they are looking at. Ask, “Oh is that the new iPhone? Do you like it?” People love to talk about their gadgets.
  • Gage the person’s reaction, if they give you a short answer, they might not want to chat. See how negative they seem.
  • If they ask you a question back, it’s a good sign they might want to have a conversation.
  • If a person is reading a book or has earphones on, this is a sign  they might not want to talk to you. But if they are just gazing at their phone, they are probably just killing time.
  • Don’t get too personal. But it’s ok to ask what they do for a living and what they do in that type of job.
  • Just remember that people love talking about themselves, and the point of this exercise is to learn, so let the person do a majority of the talking.
  • Be brave, learn to read others and be safe.
  • But most importantly have fun and embrace the opportunity to learn from every experience.

 

Mission accomplished: 100 days of learning stuff

100 days of learning UX design notebook Jennifer BlatzI have learned a lot in the past 100 days

  • First, I learned that it is very difficult to write one entry on exactly every single day. So yes I did cheat a bit and write more than one entry a day to play catch-up on days that I missed. Don’t kill me.
  • Second, though many of the principles I was already familiar with, it was good for me to write them down and work harder at committing them to memory and learning.
  • Third, its rather nice to have all of these little lessons, from lists, the definitions to UX quotes all in one small UX journal.
  • Finally, now that my experimental deadline has been successfully met, I plan on continuing to full out my UX journal of learning. My notebook is less than half full, so there are plenty of other pages I can fill with valuable UX lessons and content.

Let the learning continue!

 

Geek out with color on Cymbolism

What is Cymbolism?

Yes that is a good question. Cymbolism is a tool that attempts to quantify the association between colors and words, making it simple for designers to choose the best colors for the desired emotional effect.

Jennifer Blatz UX design plays with color voting website

Go to http://cymbolism.com and start to cast your vote. It is interesting to see how your interpretation of a term compares to what others think. For some I was in the majority, voting like most others. And for other words, I was completely off. No right or wrong answers here. Just have fun.

100 days of learning stuff

Jennifer Blatz UX design 100 days of learning

I have taken on a new task. I am challenging myself to keep a little notebook of items I learn for 100 days. The toughest thing will be remembering to enter an item every day. I sure hope I don’t miss a day. But if I do, then I will force myself to carry one until I get all 100 days — or until my notebook gets full. Whichever happens first.  I encourage you to take the same challenge. Maybe it’s a notebook of doodles, or a notebook of learning a new word every day. Encourage yourself to take a moment every day to learn.

Personal milestone on Twitter: 300 followers

I am honored and humbled to say that I have reached a milestone for myself. I have earned the following of over 300 people. Now, I know that could fall back below 300 at any time. You know how it goes…. But I am going to enjoy the moment even if it doesn’t last forever.

Do you want to follow me too? I would be ever so delighted. You can join the fun at https://twitter.com/jnblatz. Come over and say “Hi.” Let’s have a conversation and maybe learn a bit from each other.

Jennifer Blatz has reached 300 followers on twitter @jnblatz
Sometimes small accomplishments can bring big joy to a person. Be proud of your accomplishments and keep on going.

300 Followers! Yay!! Thank you!!!