Hello! Who are you? Tell us about yourself. What are you passionate about? What do you enjoy doing?
I’m Q! A Design/Engineer from Toronto, Canada.
My jam is improving the lives of other designers and developers, and empowering them to become better at what they do. This often includes creating custom tools, automating things, improving processes, providing resources, and mentoring.
How did you get started in product design?
My first product design gig was in 2014, at a company called Customer.io. I had already done a bit of design and code, but this was my first official job doing product stuff. Prior to this, I didn’t even know what a “SaaS” was!
Since then, I’ve dabbled in illustration, product design, design systems and front-end development.
Where do you work today? What is your title?
How big is your company? How big is your design team?
About 1,165 strong, all over the world. I believe we have about 85 designers. They’re spread across the org in different teams.
What types of things are you responsible for day-to-day?
I work in the Open Source space. (At Automattic, we refer to it as “dot org”, referring to wordpress.org). For the past while, I’ve been responsible for spearheading a large initiative for the WordPress Gutenberg project. If I could summarize my daily responsibilities into a couple of words, it would be “communication” and “planning”.
I also build lots of projects on the side. You can see some of my side projects here.
What do you love most about your work?
I love that I’m able to experiment with new ideas within this space. I also love finding ways to help make other designers and engineers lives better.
What drains you at work?
I operate best when I understand how all the dots fit together. Something that drains me is when there’s a lack of “connections”, or when it’s difficult to form connections for reasons outside of my control.
Can you walk us through your typical work day?
|8:00am||Wake up. Check the news (aka. Reddit)|
|8:15am||Actually wake up, get ready, and start working|
|8:30am||Check emails. Almost entirely notifications (e.g. Github). Reply to notifications|
|9:00am||Start working on things. Most likely continue planning.|
|10:00am||Usually a meeting of some kind|
|11:00am||Usually an ad-hoc sync/collab/pairing session of some kind|
|12:00pm||Related to my project(s), will continue planning, organizing, coordinating through the rest of the day. Usually I may hop on calls/sync up with folks. It’s often related to my projects, but not always.|
Review pull requests/answer questions on Github for the open source WordPress Gutenberg repo.
When needed, I’ll explore code, which typically involves prototyping/experimenting.
I often provide a screencast/write up of my findings and updates, and share it with the team as well as the open source WordPress community.
Where do you turn for inspiration?
I’m a very curious person. Someone who’s obsessed with the design of design. I guess another word you would use would be “creative process”… perhaps “efficient creative process”. A couple of industries that I constantly research and draw a lot of inspiration from are Animation, Game Design, Culinary, and even military history. Video (YouTube) is my favourite research medium! There’s a ton of great content that explain or showcase creative process.
Here are a few of my favourite channels:
- Extra Credits – Gaming industry + History
- Game Maker’s Toolkit – Game design analysis
- New Frame Plus – Animation analysis
- Retro Ahoy – Video game/Firearm documentaries
- Kim Jung Gi – Artist
- GameHut – Retro game coding
- Walt Disney Imagineering – Creativity x Engineering
I then take ideas and techniques and try to apply it to my work.
What design or project are you most proud of? (It can be recent or older).
The project that I am most proud of is my work on Help Scout’s Design System.
There were many many challenges, which often involved out-of-the-box innovative solutions. However, the thing that I am most proud of is how it made the designers, engineers, product folks, etc… feel when they used it. A lot of process and overhead became invisible. This freed up crafters to focus and do what they do best. Making things.
Walk us through the design process you used for a recent project (you can pick any project).
The most recent project that I’m working involves creating a styling system for the new Gutenberg-based WordPress experience. My typical process involves…
- Understanding the problem deeply
- Understanding the mechanics deeply (almost always involves tech)
- Exploring contraints/solutions
- Connecting all the dots (This is probably the most important)
- Communicating the connections with others
One thing that I am always mindful of is… To consider the experiences of not just the end-user, but also the experiences of the people working on the project.
What career advice do you have for product designers just getting started?
Be curious. Relentlessly curious. Find out how and why your favourite products, designs, and interactions work. Go as deep as you need to. Go as deep as you can handle. Don’t be afraid to learn new skills. Don’t be afraid to learn about code, public speaking, marketing, or project management. All of these are tools. The more tools you have, the better equipped you will be to solve design challenges.
Where’s the best place for folks to learn more about you or follow you?
Folks can follow me on Twitter @itsjonq!