Exactly a year after I published the first article on my blog, I decided to look back and break it down and share my experiences from writing and managing my own blog.
The year was 2016. I had about two years of experience in the UX field, and I wanted to become better. I’ve been reading a lot of design blogs and wanted to give it a shot myself. The first question that I asked was:
Who the hell am I and why should people listen to what I have to say?
Since I’ve started writing my blog, I wanted to present myself in the most professional way I could. I knew the more professional I’d be, the more this blog would help me in the future. After I started working at Inkod Hypera Ltd., using the skills I earned and also the blog, I had another perspective about the blog. Working with talented UX & GUI designers makes me learn a lot every single day, but I noticed I can’t find a topic to write about, and I don’t have the same motivation I had before. Why is that happening?
I’ve just ended a long month of basically not doing anything, and not being committed to anything, but myself. It’s no wonder that I didn’t achieve much in this period of time and didn’t feel I was making any progress, although I wanted to. To be precise, I was mostly focused on immediate goals like having fun, meet friends, rest, but not on long-term goals like learning new things or writing about things I wanted to write about (there’s well-written coding crash-course for designers, just waiting to be written by me). Magically, as soon as I finished my long vacation and started working, my mind switched to FOCUS mode, and I started learning new things, as I was getting payed for this time. Oh wait, I am! So, is that why I was so focused? Because I had a boss and needed to prove myself?
After a long service at the MOD, it was finally my time to get my shit together and start looking for a new job. I have a diverse experience of both UX and programming, but I focused on UX because that’s where my heart is. After a couple of months of on and off job searches and interviews, I finally found my next job as a UX designer. Here’re the lessons I’ve learned during this time period:
As I’m trying to give more value to things I write, I got stuck when I stopped working and spent most of my time binge watching “Parks and Recreation” and reading “Predictably Irrational” by Dan Ariely, and not actively doing anything. I feel that I need to continue writing and stay in the loop of writing, so although they’re not all design related or professional in any way, I did had some interesting thoughts in this period of unemployment.
When I finished my Fine Arts studies in high school and told my teacher I’m going to be a programmer, I couldn’t miss the slight disappointment on her face. She thought working in front of a computer for 9 hours a day for six years will kill the artist inside of me.
Well, 6 years later, I can say this artist is pretty injured, but learned and changed a lot.
I thought I wouldn’t write this week, because I’m too busy studying for my last exam for my Computer Science degree, although I formally finished the school year about half a year ago. Somehow I felt a sudden muse and a blast of motivation, so I thought I’d write about the reason I’m having a late last exam.
The past couple of months were a rollercoaster of feelings for me. I’ve had my awesome weeks of full control and self satisfaction — I designed awesome things, learned a lot of stuff and went to the gym a lot. But, there were also periods of disappointment and low self confidence — I didn’t enjoy my job, I felt stuck, and the only thing I wanted to do was get in my bed and play video games for ever and ever. This feeling is connected to many things in my life — work, money, fitness, etc.
It appeared to me that the key for being satisfied, for me, is Control.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away
I switched to iOS lately and played with Health app — an app that learns almost every aspect of your health and habits — activities, eating habits and much more, depending on what permission you give it, of course. I know this is not a new and revolutionary idea, but an app that collects your data of a routine or a progress you’re going through is still satisfying and fun.
After playing a little bit with the app I was a bit frustrated with the structural way it works — You can measure and document your runs, but documenting gym workouts is a bit crooked. I mean, it’s possible, but it’s not as easy. Gym workouts aren’t as measurable as runs, so there aren’t so many apps that do it, although generally all it takes is a little tick that you’ve completed a workout.
The improvement diary
My father cycled and swam for most of his life, and in order to document his progress, back in the past millennium, he wrote down his activities in a little diary, with a little illustration that describes the activity.
I really liked looking at these illustrations and records, both in a visual way and in a ideological way. So, a couple of months ago, I bought a cheap diary and at the end of every day wrote what I did in order to get better — Worked out, played the guitar, learned how to code in ReactJS, etc. This was pretty awesome, but still not so satisfying.
The all-tracking app
I don’t need to do a lot of persuasion work in order to sell the concept of an app that helps you become better, but I had an idea for an app that will help me get better and feel in control. The concept is really simple — It trackseverything. No complicated algorithms and no privacy-invading permissions. The concept is letting you say what you did, that was worth documenting, on each day. The missing ingredient that makes this app better than a physical diary, in my opinion is the option to review your progress summary. A weekly report of your process would be so satisfying to watch. The app doesn’t have to know what you did, the whole thing can be super-generic. Just seeing you worked out 4 times this week, learned piano for 7 hours, read a whole book… That’s so satisfying!
It’s as generic as a piece of paper
I can’t predict what type of activities will be tracked on this app; Some people like to go to the gym, while others like to practice on harmonica and others like to practice self-hypnosis. These are all things that require time and investment, for the long run — and that’s the common ground of these activities, not the way they’re recorded. An instance of an activity should have no more than these parameters: Category — The activities should have categories in order to be summed up. “Gym” / “Tambourine” / “Drawing”. Description (optional) — “A workout with my brother” / “Late night tambourine jam” / “First try of drawing with my eyes folded”.
Being in control makes me feel safe and comfortable, so for me, an app that keeps me in control of everything I want (again, I have the control), is the ideal way of being calm and satisfied. It would be a nice project for me to develop it myself and see how it feels. What do you think about this idea? Would you use it? Do you feel it needs any other upgrades? Tell me about it in the comments.
LatelyI’ve been working on my portfolio. I haven’t programmed for a long time and I decided to code my portfolio from scratch, with no help of any automated site builders. I wanted to prove to myself I still got it, and also show I can code, as a crucial part of the portfolio. This got me wondering whether a designer should know how to code or not. Many designers have shared their thoughts about this topic and I wanted to share some of mine.
As I mentioned in the weekly newsletter (sign up!), lately I’ve been trying photographing with an old Nikon 35mm camera. I wanted to learn about the whole photography and development process and make the best out of it. So, after I shot about five films, ruined a whole film by not inserting it right, had high hopes and some disappointments, I learned some things about life.