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For the love of UX

This was first used as a personal learning material for a mentorship program created by IDF and RookieUp. I am one of the UX mentors. I wrote this for my mentees. Recently, I’ve also shared this with our UXD students at General Assembly. I hope you learn from this as much as we did.

Some basic principles I’ve learned over the years:

Focus on the Narrative

Every product, every experience is part of a bigger story. From conceptualizing problem statements to testing the prototypes, it’s a big part of it. As a designer, you are the orchestrator. The maker. …

What am I doing? Who am I doing this for? What do I want out of this? Is there a version of the future worth investing your mind, your brain and your whole work for?

Process need not be complicated. In fact, the best ones are probably the simplest and most straightforward. It has to be to leave room for surprises, for the edge cases you need to constantly be aware of. I always assume the unexpected could happen at any time.

In the book, The Black Swan, author Nassim Nicholas Taleb explores the idea of probability based on the history of the world, particularly on the patterns of human behavior. …

Storytelling and narrative design are core to what we do as designers. It is especially powerful when done right. I once explained to a mentee why this is a critical skill to continuously hone:

“From how you present yourself, your career pivots to your body of work, it matters a lot that you can tell a story. It’s what makes people different. I also think it’s what no one else can take from you.” — Myself

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Pair designing and storytelling remotely

2 ways to teach remote storytelling in UX

  1. Introduce goal-oriented pair designing

Taken directly from the method famously pioneered by Cooper Design, pair designing is a collaboration between two types of role: the generator and the synthesizer. The former is tasked to think of ideas, lots of ideas while the latter challenges it by asking all the important questions. The whole point of it is to come up with the best solution possible for a specific problem with a specific type of user in mind. …

We should ALL be designers.

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We should ALL be designers. Illustration by yours truly

This was first published on my newsletter, working title.

The truth is…

It’s a lot like investing…. with your brains.

In this case, you start out small in the hopes that it’ll grow exponentially. You risk big when the moment calls for it (you would know it when you see it). Sleepless nights polishing a part of the user interface, endless video interviews with customers, overwhelming sets of data to find answers from… there’s nothing mundane about what we do, why we do it and how. It’s messy, and methodical at the same time.

Your time is your currency and in UX, the primary expectation is to invest it where it matters the most: Learning. …

It’s not always easy to think about the things that I want especially when, for the most part, I really feel like I already have most of what I would need in order to be happy. Now, retaining that happiness, and building a life of continuous value and substance in a world that is constantly becoming more and more unpredictable? That is the real challenge for me.

Which is why, in the middle of August, I wrote this first draft of the things I do not want for my future. There’s a lot of things I couldn’t control and I have no plan to. …

This was first published on my public newsletter. Edited for Medium format.

I was tagged on a post about adult teaching from a forum I frequent, and I thought I’d publish my answers here to make it available to you. Although this was primarily for product design and user experience courses, I tried to make it as flexible to most subjects popular with remote teaching.

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Have your notes ready

Tips on landing a job/gig as a TA/Co-instructor without past experience:

- Get in touch with those schools you are interested in teaching part-time for. Aside from the managers, instructors and the school itself, ask students themselves. People in schools like GA are generally approachable, dynamic and incredibly well-rounded. …

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Human interest, above all.

Here’s the thing: I typically don’t like telling people what to do. It is not in my nature, I was never great at it. When I think about it, that probably is rooted deeply into my introverted nature as a person. Most people are at their best when they are independent, and free. I am no different.

You can imagine how this trait brings this strange, almost contrarian environment for me professionally because as a designer working in tech, rarely is it that I ever work alone and I do think that this a good thing, in this case and so me being me, I’ve decided to publish these compiled tips that have worked for me, and have made an impact in the past/present works I’ve been most proud of. …

I wrote a manifesto about work yesterday. This was first published on my Instagram Stories:

Get out of the mob, stop drinking the kool-aid, carve your own, ridiculously diverse creative path. Take pride on your brain, it’s the best thing you’ve got going. Listen to only a few. Choose smaller communities. Be in a position to help, often. Study the greats, they were loners at one point too. Go for skills that count. Care about kids, and the elders for they have unique perspectives. Have fun. Don’t get caught up with the nonsense. Be useful, and respect hustle. Support fellow makers, bootstrappers, learners, anyone who’s willing to be in a vulnerable position of learning something completely brand new in spite of having “years of experience.”

Mindset is everything in a world where it’s shockingly easy to be reminded constantly of how small, insignificant and feeble you are compared to your peers (and robots). I would personally, would infinitely rather be on the side of the persevering. Even if, in the end, I fail, I certainly can say I tried. That is more than what I can say for those that didn’t.

In between yoghurt, and non-alcoholic juices from a corner somewhere, we briefly talked about the future of work, and our collective fears about the future itself. I took notes and here’s what I had to say about it:

“I’m not as concerned with what’s going to be around because there’s a million different possibilities in the future and I’m pretty positive about the pattern we’re seeing now. …

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Started with the palm pilot, ended up with the iPhone at the palm of my hands

This is not a book review —

My earliest memories of the Palm Pilot was when I was in high school in a small, coastal province in the Philippines and I remembered it being a device that’s incredibly fascinating, only the rich kids/adults gets to have it. I remembered that disconnecting & at the same time, suppressed longing I’ve felt towards it (and Sony’s Playstation 1), about how socially exclusive it was, and much like everything else back then, clearly and undeniably out of my league. This is relevant to my reflections on a book about a company famously is called Apple for it felt like a full circle moment for me, a decade and a half after, designing for MacOS (Apple Operating System) platforms (among others). It felt like I caught the tail of this deceiving, teenage-clique-born idol. …


nikki espartinez

On the intersection of life and work. No in-betweens.

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