At a crossroads

27 Jun 2011 - 8:24pm
3 years ago
14 replies
1321 reads
aronoff
2010
I'm at a point in my life where I know I want to do ux design after doing web design for so long an then reading about usability testing etc 6 years ago. But my issue is I'm tired of working for orgs who say they care about their customer but don't do testing to even know what their customers want from them. So, do you guys know of places in Pittsburgh that focus on hcd and value it for themselves and their clients? I'm kind of fed up with working for people who don't get it.

Comments

27 Jun 2011 - 8:47pm
bjminihan
2010

If I worked for people who got it, I wouldn't have much work to do.

27 Jun 2011 - 10:05pm
tonyzeoli
2008

That's a good one! Ha ha. I second that. No convincing, less to do. Convincing, more to do. You get paid to actually drive the bus or at least to support the driver in some way. Maybe you're the mechanic or the accountant.
At the end of the day, we all work to convince people that they should do what we think is right. Isn't that the most rewarding part of work? When you convince a whole bunch of people to shift to your way of thinking? It's not easy, but no one ever said it would be. And, when you do...you feel such a sense of accomplishment. When you don't, it sucks BIG TIME. LOL.
On Mon, Jun 27, 2011 at 11:14 PM, bjminihan <bminihan@futuresinc.com> wrote:

If I worked for people who got it, I wouldn't have much work to do.

(
27 Jun 2011 - 8:57pm
aronoff
2010
You do have a point... What I mean is value ux as a discipline and need for the customer.
27 Jun 2011 - 9:57pm
Dave Malouf
2005

@bjminihan 

Can you explain what you mean? I have worked for a few organizations that "get it" and felt quite secure in my position. Getting it and being able to (or even wanting to) be the one to do it are 2 very different things. A design=centric organization is rare (sorry @aronoff) but it doesn't mean they don't need designers. It actually means you get to do your job well.

-- dave

 

27 Jun 2011 - 11:17pm
Jack L. Moffett
2005

Hi Josh,

Pittsburgh has a wealth of good design firms and design-friendly companies. Here’s a list of firms you could look into:

Actual Size Creative: http://www.thisisactualsize.com/

Bally Design: http://www.ballydesign.com/

Bearded: http://bearded.com/

Blattner Brunner: http://www.blattnerbrunner.com/

BodyMedia: http://www.bodymedia.com/

Brady Communications: http://www.bradycommunications.com/

Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh: http://www.carnegiemuseums.org/

ClearCount Medical Solutions: http://clearcount.com/

Daedalus: http://www.daed.com/

Etcetra Edutainment: http://www.etceteraedutainment.com/

Exibitgroup/Giltspur: http://www.e-g.com/

Evil Genius Designs: http://evilgeniusdesigns.com/

Fireman Creative: http://www.firemancreative.com/

Fit Associates: http://www.fitassociates.com/

Full Stop Interactive: http://www.fullstopinteractive.com/

General Dynamics Viz: http://www.gdviz.com/

Gist Design: http://www.gistdesign.com/

Impact Games: http://www.impactgames.com/

Landesberg Design: http://www.landesbergdesign.com/

Luma Institute: http://www.luma-institute.com/

MAYA Design Group: http://www.maya.com/

Philips Resperonics: http://www.respironics.com/

Rhiza Labs: http://www.rhizalabs.com/

Schell Games: http://www.schellgames.com/

Skill-Life: http://skill-life.com/

ThoughtForm (formerly Agnew Moyer Smith): http://www.thoughtformdesign.com

UPMC: http://www.upmc.com/

Wall-to-Wall Sudios: http://www.walltowall.com/

27 Jun 2011 - 11:36pm
bjminihan
2010

Dave...I was being somewhat flippant =]

On the other hand, I get what you mean, and agree, except that I've never worked for an organization with a mature design sense (in the context of this thread, I mean).

Most of my career, I've helped the team/group/company "get it" by teaching them through example and practice, how to translate business and customer/user wants and needs into tangible deliverables.  Sure, I've worked for directors and in groups that understand what they want, but they just weren't able to articulate it into practical business language that fit an SDLC.

Guess I'm in the same boat as @aranoff, but in my world, that's the norm, so I don't get too frustrated about it =]

Bryan

28 Jun 2011 - 4:46am
aronoff
2010
Hey Jack, Thank you for the list! That's exactly what I'm looking for. A lot of those I've heard of, but some I've not. And for the rest of you, essentially every job I've had, I've had to be the design evangelist. The lone design evangelist. I'm passionate about finding solutions and want to help the company's users but a lot of times, historically, the companies I've been at will say one thing and then do something completely different. I also am at a point where I need to learn more and be around like minded people. I'm in a wry staunch and corporate environment and i need to be around people who get me. Th really sad thing is that the org I work for, is on the precipice of some amazing things, but I've been there for three years in some way shape or form and I've been eagerly awaiting this time and I feel like I'm getting my hopes up just to eventually be let down. On top of this we rely on vendors a lot and I end up giving a lot of direction and dot really get the reward of "owning" the work. I don't know. I sound very whiny right now. Hahaha. I just want to work in an environment where I'll be around fellow creatives making big things, working my butt off and weeping with joy at the great things we make. Short of driving around with a bullhorn, shouting about hcd out my car window and getting arrested, I think this list is a great start. ;) I welcome any more advice, and if I need an attitude adjustment I'm willing to take my licks. :)
28 Jun 2011 - 6:51am
Dave Malouf
2005

@araonoff

I've been in your boat most of my career. It wasn't until my last job before going EDU where I was finally in a design organization w/ enough design-centricism where it was worth it. A) avoid technology firms. It's that simple. B) Design agencies (if you must be an outtie) will be your only recourse for sanity. C) In the innie world, you have to look for companies whose design you already appreciate or who after researching them you appreciate. There are a ton of organizations out there worth working for that "get it" to some degree.

On the flip side, I have never been in any design position where I didn't have to fight for my designs every day. Design is about confidence and conviction and the ability to sell your ideas through solid communication skills. There will always be people with strong opinions who disagree with you due to their point of view and so the life of a designer is the life of walking up hill more than down. The selling is something I've learned to enjoy and specialize in to some extent.

Oh! being the lone designer is hard. I will never work for an organization with less than 5 designers again. Design is a group activity when done best and so surrounding myself (even if I am the leader) with other designers is a requirement even more than "getting it".

Good luck!

-- dave

28 Jun 2011 - 7:06am
tonyzeoli
2008

Aronoff:

I'm sympathize with your plight. I can't speak for all, but I know I've felt the same way. The only time I don't, is when I'm running my own company. Even then, you can doubt yourself, but at least you're being hard on yourself and not having your value diminished by others.

What is challenging is when you are a visionary and no one else seems to care. Everyone has an agenda and they mostly don't align with your goals and philosophy.

What I find fascinating, is that you can set that agenda over and over again. Then, one of your colleagues walks into the office one day and says, "hey, look what I learned yesterday at this conference I went to." They begin to talk about how usability is important and that we must change the way we do things, while completely ignoring everything you've tried to add to the conversation for the last however many years you worked there. All of a sudden, people start waking up, but it seems like your contribution is completely ignored.

What do you do? You go out and become a consultant to other people who value your expertise. You begin to post anywhere and everywhere that you are the expert on IA and UxD. You post SlideShare decks. You put your resume on Scibd. You launch an online portfolio. You start a local meetup and find like minded people who share your values and beliefs.

Over time, people start recognizing your leadership in the space. You start getting phone calls...well...Skype calls or Google Voice messages, hoping you're available for a consultation. The person calling is drowning and needs your life raft. Then you can charge double for what you know.

It's all in the positioning of yourself in terms. It's the personal branding that you need to do to cement your expertise, so that others can't ignore it or take it away.

While I'm not an expert in this by any stretch of the imagination, I do practice what I preach. I have yet to reach the tipping point, but I'm getting there.

I flip flop between IA and UxD and Product Development, so I have dual competencies, but do not consider myself an expert in either one. That can be harder, because people can get confused about what you are really good at.

Tony Zeoli

On Tue, Jun 28, 2011 at 7:30 AM, aronoff <aronoff@gmail.com> wrote:

Hey Jack,
Thank you for the list! That's exactly what I'm looking for. A lot of those I've heard of, but some I've not. And for the rest of you, essentially every job I've had, I've had to be the design evangelist. The lone design evangelist. I'm passionate about finding solutions and want to help the company's users but a lot of times, historically, the companies I've been at will say one thing and then do something completely different. I also am at a point where I need to learn more and be around like minded people. I'm in a wry staunch and corporate environment and i need to be around people who get me.

Th really sad thing is that the org I work for, is on the precipice of some amazing things, but I've been there for three years in some way shape or form and I've been eagerly awaiting this time and I feel like I'm getting my hopes up just to eventually be let down. On top of this we rely on vendors a lot and I end up giving a lot of direction and dot really get the reward of "owning" the work.

I don't know. I sound very whiny right now. Hahaha. I just want to work in an environment where I'll be around fellow creatives making big things, working my butt off and weeping with joy at the great things we make.

Short of driving around with a bullhorn, shouting about hcd out my car window and getting arrested, I think this list is a great start. ;)

I welcome any more advice, and if I need an attitude adjustment I'm willing to take my licks. :)

28 Jun 2011 - 9:07am
Jack L. Moffett
2005

Josh,
A good place to start making some connections would be here: http://www.ixda.org/local/event/30193
Best,
Jack

28 Jun 2011 - 9:30am
aronoff
2010

You guys are awesome... I knew that I would get the encouragement and guidance that I needed from you guys. I really appreciate it. Jack, I'm taking you up on the coffee thing, will you be there?

28 Jun 2011 - 10:42am
Jack L. Moffett
2005

No, I'm afraid not. I have customers in the office first thing in the morning. But there will be other members of our local group present.

28 Jun 2011 - 11:05am
tonyzeoli
2008

We all need encouragement.

Funny, I got this video from a friend the other day: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cbk980jV7Ao

Do we all need validation?

Tony

On Tue, Jun 28, 2011 at 12:18 PM, aronoff <aronoff@gmail.com> wrote:

You guys are awesome... I knew that I would get the encouragement and guidance that I needed from you guys. I really appreciate it. Jack, I'm taking you up on the coffee thing, will you be there?

28 Jun 2011 - 11:10am
aronoff
2010

Personally at times I feel like i'm taking crazy pills <--- Zoolander reference, and yes, I need validation to know that i'm not literally losing my mind. Thank you all for your encouragement.

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