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Digital Designer

How do you learn the history behind it?

There’s nothing worse than being the new person (especially when you’re new to an organization) that enthusiastically starts on a project, throws an idea out, and gets it smashed. You clearly triggered something but you don’t know what.

It’s not your fault- you don’t know enough background, history, and context. Other people around the table are sitting there with years of experience, subtle tips and tricks, and relationships that you don’t have.

If you want to contribute meaningfully, you can’t wait years to soak all that in, so how can you accelerate learning that knowledge?

I want to be clear–…


The intersection of design and change

We have a lot of fancy definitions for design– rendering of intent, thoughtfulness, making a detailed drawing, etc. and those definitions are great.

But if I’m really being honest, drawing boxes and arrows, arranging objects, etc— if what I make stops there, while I made a design, what I’ve also done is up just being a thought exercise.

Change

If what you’re making is becoming real, it’s important to understand that not only have you designed something, you are changing something. …


UX is a mindset and lifestyle, not a job title in a specific field.

Several years ago, I wrote an article about my observations about “being a UX designer”. I reflected on how I wasn’t really a UX Designer, I could be more accurately called a Content Designer. In some ways I was wrong, in other ways, I was right.

Where I went wrong

I was wrong because I didn’t consider what I was doing “big enough” — therefore I wasn’t a UX Designer.

Where I was right

I was right though in that other people without the title of “User Experience Designer” were making decisions that affected the user’s experience. …


Shifting from reactive help to proactive help

One principle I like to follow as a designer is, “Let humans do what humans do best, and let computers do what computers do best.” I’m typically suspicious of trying to hand too much to digital solutions, especially for soul care that I would have theorized need a human touch.

But it’s also hard to ignore that our little computers are always with us, for better or for worse. They’re there when no human is. So when Jason Mathew asked himself the question, “Could an app help me be proactive in my fight against digital temptation?” …


Creating a digital and analog experience

This is a project that has literally been a decade in the making with lots of stops and starts. Some of the hold-up was a lack of a student database. With the recent move to Salesforce, the door was finally open to create an app for student leaders that could enhance campus ministry.

Greek Ministry, a focused ministry of InterVarsity’s, had been spearheading these efforts to have a digital app alongside the “Greek Box”: a kit containing everything a student leader needs to lead a small group, including a spiral bound leader’s guide.

Exploratory Workshop

Previous efforts had included user research with…


In teaching UX, I start with diagrams, not personas.

In Summer 2020 I ran a bootcamp on user experience design with some colleagues who manage websites but are not experienced designers or developers.

As I thought about the curriculum and started piecing it together, the obvious first module was personas and user research, right? Understanding your users is #1 right?

But, a thought came to me. When I’ve given talks and seminars in the past at work, no one’s barrier was not believing that understanding your user was important. …


How InterVarsity made the leap

Setting the Scene

InterVarsity is not a tech savvy organization. After all, why should we be? We’re not a technology organization. Our mission is to disciple students and faculty and to create witnessing communities on campus.

InterVarsity campus work almost exclusively operates on word of mouth and physical proximity- discipleship meetings in coffee houses, flyers in the campus quad, people walking around with 1 foot of each other, worship in dorm rooms: all of them in-person, physical meetings.

You don’t need an app or website or anything digital for that. …


Because you’re a designer, not a writer

Spend more than a few months as designer, and one of the first things you will realize is that a far larger portion of your job turns out to be writing content.

I have learned over the years that when people say they want a website, or brochure, or infographic, whatever it is they’re asking for, what they mean is they want you to both design it and come up with the content, and it can be like pulling teeth to get what they want to say out.

“We need a website!”

“Awesome — happy to help”

“Can you just…


While you may not become Picasso, you can learn creativity

Honestly, I squirm a little bit when someone compliments me with, “You’re so creative!” I used to respond with, “I just follow instructions really well.”

This was not false modesty. The things I knit, paint, play music with, there are instructions. A knitting pattern, a reference picture, music notes on a page– I followed instructions with technical skills I’ve developed.

I’m the type that marvels in art museums because I couldn’t fathom my brain coming up with those things — even if I had the technical skill.

Now — many will say that it’s because I’ve lost my creativity; after…


A mildly controversial philosophy

I’ve read several articles about how to get great feedback out of people. One method is you give them a template “I am suggesting we do [x] because [y]. Another is to be very specific — most slightly seasoned designers know the framing:

“Hi everyone, we’re going to take a look at [this thing]. At this stage, the most helpful feedback is knowing if the functionality makes sense to you. We’re not looking for comments on style or exact wordsmithing.”

Right? In theory it makes sense — we don’t want to waste time with feedback coming at the wrong stage…

Ashley Ann

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