Tell us about your career journey so far…
Professionally, I started out as someone that fell in love with graphic design and its promise of making the world better than how we found it. I went on to work at a handful of nonprofits, where I made their forms, posters, and social media graphics; and I believed that my work, confined to visual art, was helping to shed a light on why people had problems—wherever they were—and how they might correct course.
One day, I was told that my department was downsizing. I found myself without a job and the benefits it provided. Because of that, I did an inventory of the work I had done until that point. I realized that I made several mistakes. First, I was putting design first and the underlying why, making the world better than how I found it, afterwards. And two, design wasn’t just about the visual medium, but about how everything—and everyone—worked together within a system.
With this in mind, I decided to get educated on alternatives. I ultimately pivoted towards user experience (UX) design, and spent many months hunkering down, absorbing what I could. Through work that I did at UX design hack-a-thons, small startups, seminars, and a design certificate program at the Pratt Institute, I now possess an ocean of knowledge on designing mobile applications and how to make them humane—with due regard for human attention and dignity.
What does UX mean for you?
As a Product Designer that specializes in both visual design and user experience, I articulate what users want with due regard to both company goals and evidence-based best practices.
Do you have a process for capturing ideas around you? Any recommended tools?
I take photos with my iPhone, and then will attach them onto a note using the Bear App. I’ll give the idea a quick description and hashtag, like #ideas/fitness-app, and then the Bear App will give it its own designated file.
What’s your process for building out your case studies?
It depends on the client. If I can, I follow a traditional double-diamond approach with some minor alterations to maximize my workflow:
I meet with the client to discuss their goals, and clarify any organizational needs like deadlines and the file naming nomenclature for deliverables. I make sure to ask as many questions as possible, because you know none of the answers to 100% of the questions that you don’t ask. I use a combination of analog graph paper notepads and the Bear App for note taking.
I read over any existing briefs or research that the client has done, and conduct any additional research: such as interviewing prospective users, looking into what both competitors and analogous services are doing.
I compile my research, often using spreadsheets, and draw possible conclusions from that data—like user journeys, problem statements along that user journey, and key quotes from users.
Humane Design Evaluation
Depending on the client, I will occasionally provide a humane design evaluation, which indexes possible worst case scenarios along various lines of inquiry, and suggests alternatives and opportunities for product specifications based on that evaluation.
From there, I hunker down and get to work sketching and iterating on design artifacts. I avoid going straight to digital if it can be helped. I also always take care to remember what I call the UX Golden Flow: Main Pages lead to Detail Pages lead to Actions. That alone eliminates most ambiguity about a design’s scope.
One of my favorite go-to exercises is a design lab (aka, a design studio). I will create multiple design possibilities, quickly drawing from a whole vocabulary of design choices and best practices. Then, I’ll hone in on the best features from each and put those into a more final sketch, which I’ll then take to Sketch.
For the first round, I keep it as a low fidelity PDF, sticking to grayscale if I can, and apply comment directly to the PDF document. This way, the emphasis can be on forms and placement rather than colors.
Then, once the placement is mostly worked out, I take it to higher fidelity in Sketch. I work extensively with symbols in Sketch, as it is undeniably efficient. This higher fidelity image is also, usually, a PDF with annotated comments.
After that, I’ll create any custom animations in Adobe After Effects or Principle, which I’ll export as a .mov and place into Photoshop so that I can turn it into a GIF. All of that then, usually, goes into InVision, or whichever format the client prefers.
What are some passion projects of yours right now?
I write articles over at Try Design Lab about humane design. I’m building up a body of evidence for humane tech in light of the techlash, and how we might create a social internet that anticipates trolls, shills, and other bad faith actors.
I also am involved with the community for the game deeeep.io, using marine biology as a segue to get kids excited about design.
Founder @ Center Centre & UIE
John is the humane tech guy!
DevOps Engineer, Splash
John is a talented designer, who brings skill and great attention to detail in every design task he approaches. Whether it's designing a UI, or creating a video game character, John puts his heart into his work and uses his great capacity for empathy to think about how the end user can have the best experience possible.
Senior UX Researcher, HelloFresh
While teaching John, I quickly learned that he is extremely hardworking and organized with a fond attention to detail. Throughout our class, he was constantly curious and analytical, searching for ways to test his ideas and concepts. He truly took the time to deeply understand a subject or concept and would follow-up by asking wonderfully thought-provoking and challenging questions. I see his passion, creativity and empathy come through in his design work. I'm confident John has the skills and potential to thrive in any environment and I highly recommend him as both a UX Designer and a great colleague.
Grants Associate, Quality Services for the Autism Community
John was a joy to work with. He quickly grasped QSAC's design needs and innovated new color schemes and branding elements to refresh QSAC's marketing materials. We are still using many of those color schemes and branding elements to this day. As the graphic design point person for the entire agency, John had a challenging job that he nevertheless brought a positive, can-do attitude to every day. Having worked on several projects, events, and marketing campaigns with him, I would be happy to recommend him to any organization in need of a dedicated graphic designer.
Frmr. Director of Residence Life, SUNY Purchase
John is a meticulous worker, who invests extensive time and energy to ensure that projects are completed in an exemplary manner. John is a highly effective communicator, especially electronically. Creative and innovative, he will examine an issue from multiple angles before seeking a comprehensive solution. He is also a person of great character. He cares for others and will assist as a team player whenever needed. It was a wonderful pleasure to work with John at Purchase College. I am certain that his accomplishments at Purchase are indications of the bright future he has. John offers broad vision, strong work ethic, and purposeful patience and humor for any position where he is being considered. He is a top-notch candidate.