An experience designer’s desk

I’m officially a member of the R/GA team this week, yay! I’ve spent my days this week reading lots of documentation and trying to get up to speed on complicated projects. I love seeing how other designers solve problems!

Starting a new job made me sit back and thinking about what essentials I’ll need in my new desk. The basics are all here: a notebook, pencils, sticky notes, mug for tea, a cute calendar, and a solid ruler. I’m so sad that this Rifle Paper Co. calendar doesn’t start until 2015 though! It would be perfect to add a little art to my space since I don’t have a wall to hang things on.

An experience designers desk: a solid notebook, pretty pencils, tons of stickies, a motivational mug, a cute calendar, and a stylish ruler.

1. Leuchtturm1917 notebook2. Letter C Design pencils / 3. Super sticky Post-It Notes pack4. Click and Blossom Stuff Done mug / 5. Rifle Paper Co. Monarch Flip Calendar6. Paper Source Mint Ruler

What essentials go in your desk?

Deep Triangles

Deep Triangles

I’m not sure how many manicures I’ve done recently in this style—a deep triangle over white—but it’s a lot. I love that it’s an easy shape to make with tape but always looks stunning, especially with a high contrast polishes.

This was the first time that I’ve cracked open Zoya’s Julieanne and have to admit I found it disappointing. The formula is much thinner than my other Zoya polishes and was tricky to apply evenly. Zoya describes the polish as “purple sparkles with gold, peach and yellow-green duochrome” which is technically true, but the duochrome effect is hard to spot unless you’re in direct sunlight. It’s still a lovely deep purple though! Just not as stunning as some of the other Zoya glitters.

Deep Triangles Polish

New season, new job, new goals.

New season, new job, new goals

photo via rodneykeeling

New job day! Hard to believe it’s here already. Starting a new job in September feels just like going back to school again. Even more so this time because of the unplanned sabbatical that the summer months have been. Summer vacation is over kids! Back to the desks we go.

New-school-year-jitters aside, I’m so excited to be joining R/GA! I’ve never worked for a company so large or so well-known within the design community. What I’ve gathered about their culture so far is that my new teammates value hard work, growth, and finding solid solutions to design problems. All things I value, so I think we’ll fit together well.

Any time I start a new job I like to take a moment to reflect on where I can grow during and after the transition into a new role. Here are a few of the things I’m going to strive for this time ’round:

1. Build that network. I’ve talked before about how my introverted nature can keep me from networking well before. While at R/GA, and surrounded by all the amazing talent gathered there, I want to push myself to make connections with as many people as I can.

2. Make new habits. One of the benefits of getting caught in the upheaval that happens when starting are new job is that normal habits get rocked and are more easily broken. I need to eat a real breakfast in the morning, cut back on my screen time before going to sleep, and make more time for taking care of my health this fall.

3. Practice what I preach. I’ve been spending a lot of time being concerned and upset about the state of design and tech culture, but not a lot of time doing anything beyond griping about it online. (Which, for the record, is fine! Sometimes you need to gripe.) I’d like to spend time this fall doing more doing here in my local communityOne way of achieving this goal is helping other women explore technology with confidence, which is why I’m so excited about the Girl Develop It class I’m teaching at the end of the month. I’m actively looking for other ways to give back and help others grow in the coming months.

Making lists and setting goals always helps me feel more grounded and prepared for whatever lies ahead, which is a great way to start a new adventure.

What are your fall goals?

Happy Monday

This coming week is all about returning to office life for me. I can’t wait to meet all my new R/GA teammates! Normally I would have some links to share today but to be honest this past week has been a blur of getting all our unpacking done and enjoying the free time before getting back to work. Not much time left for finding interesting things to learn online! So, instead of things to read, here are some pretty things to look at:

Alyssa Steiner / Clare Freeman / Dominique Byron / Kathy Zheng / Valerie Jar

Thank you, August

Thank you, August

Are you ready for fall? I’m ready for fall. Sorry summer lovers, but I love my layers and boots and sweaters and cozy warm drinks! Portland’s summer has been stubborn this year which I keep reminding myself I’ll miss in a few months. Ah well.

And what a summer it’s been! During the past few months I’ve moved, got a new job, and attended a few conferences. Also this month marked Miss Venn’s official launch, hooray!

I’m always curious about how my favorite blogs are doing so I’ve decided to share a few of Miss Venn’s stats at the end of the month. Since this little corner of the ‘net launched on the 19th, 300 wonderful people have stopped by to see what’s going on. Most of those visitors arrived via Twitter—a whopping 84% of them in fact! The most popular posts in these past few weeks have been the launch announcement, the Monday when I mentioned that I’m joining R/GA and teaching for Girl Develop It, when I wrote about Gibbon, and this post about running post up workshops.

Thanks so much for following along this month! I’m so grateful for all the visits and shares. You’re the best!

Is there anything you’d like to see more of on Miss Venn? Let me know in the comments.

(beautiful flower photograph via Folkert Gorter)

Moody ruffian

Moody Ruffian

Ruffians are a great way to add a bit of interest to an otherwise basic manicure. This one was inspired by the fall weather that I am so ready to be having. Bring on the deep purples, rich reds, and soft grays please!


  • OPI Nail Envy
  • Formula X Prime base coat
  • Essie Chinchilly
  • Essie Smokin’ Hot
  • Seche Vite top coat
Moddy Ruffian polishes: Essie's Chinchilly & Smokin' Hot


One way sticky notes help you build better products

One way sticky notes help you build better projects

Last month on my portfolio I wrote all about being a product designer at local startup Chirpify. One highlight of that case study is a post-up exercise that I held with the team just after I joined the company. That workshop has come up a few times since I posted the case study so I thought a more in depth look at how it worked would be fun. Enjoy!

Sticky notes are an experience designer’s best friends

My favorite part of being a user experience designer is facilitating between people with different roles. I love getting strategists, developers, designers, and managers together in a room, speaking the same language, and solving problems together. This post-up exercise is all about letting the team get their thoughts out and creating a safe space to discuss those thoughts.

So a post-up exercise is a design thinking workshop. A facilitator (you!) guides a group of participants through jotting ideas down on sticky notes and arranging the notes on a wall in ways that provide insight about a problem. There are a lot similar of exercises that UX-ers use in their work. Affinity mapping is one super common exercise that is the base of the post-up. In an affinity mapping exercise you focus on collecting similar ideas together into groups. We’ll also encounter bits of plus/deltas and general brainstorming techniques. I first experienced this exercise while working with the excellent team at XPLANE, a visual thinking consultancy here in Portland. They use plus/deltas as follow-up exercises to see how the team feels at the end of a project. I love to use this exercise as a way to realign a team around common goals and help focus everyone in the same direction.

Exercises like this have a lot of benefits for both your team and your project. Maybe my favorite feature of this post-up format is that it’s introvert friendly. Sometimes in open brainstorming sessions the most extroverted participants can take over (usually on accident!) because the conversation tends to move fast and free. Giving participants a chance to think before expressing to the rest of the team can help quieter teammates feel more comfortable speaking up. Another awesome benefit is you get pollination between teams that sometimes don’t otherwise talk to each other. Having developers hear what the sales team is thinking and worrying about—and vice-versa—is a great way to build empathy within your company. 

Okay, let’s get to it.

Keep reading →

Happy Monday

Leap and the net will appear

One week to go in August! September is looking especially exciting for me…next week I’m starting a new job! I’m joining R/GA here in Portland as an experience designer and I am so. excited!

More exciting news: near the end of next month I’m teaching a two-day Intro to HTML & CSS class for the brand new Portland chapter of Girl Develop It. I can’t wait to help some awesome women make their first websites!

Also I wanted to direct you to Learn to Code with Me, a fantastic blog by Laurence Bradford who happens to be one of the nicest people on the ‘net. She interviewed me recently for her Women in Tech feature. Check out the rest of the blog if you’re a new programmer (or are code-curious) and want help and motivation to keep pushing through the bugs.

Okay okay I think that’s all my news. (Whatta month!) Here are a few articles I’ve enjoyed over the past week—use ’em to kick your brain on this morning.

Have a great Monday!

(illustration via Motivational Monday)

Give your design decisions a solid foundation

"What kind of apps do people rely on daily?" and other good questions

Ever wonder how people use smartphones everyday? Or what impact social login options could have for a product? The product design experts at Zurb curate Design Quips, a collection of questions like these that are answered with data from real research from around the world. Quips come in the form of easily quotable factoids on topics ranging from how consumers react to different types of content to where emerging markets are growing quickest. I’ve used Quips myself to help backup gut feelings about an app or to help guide how a decision is made. Nothing beats research you can design yourself, but Quips definitely help to fill in gaps or provide support when doing your own research isn’t an option.