Complementing design principles with business operational practices will bring more empathy, connection, innovation, and financial returns to any team or company.
Journey to Design
I never thought of myself as a designer by any means (I have little to no artistic ability). I’m a scientist at heart and by trade; I observe, hypothesize, analyze, and experiment. When I graduated college, I didn’t know that a field of “design” existed, nor did I know what it actually was. I stumbled upon the world of design in my first role at Dropbox, accidentally. I was placed on the Design recruiting team, helping to hire world-class (and awesome) folks for our Product Design, Research, Content Design, Brand Studio, and Design Ops teams. As time passed, there was just something that kept piquing my interest, so I started to peek at portfolios, chat with designers during their interviews, and sit through some presentations—and let me tell you, it all blew my mind. I absolutely loved it.
I began to understand that, fundamentally, design is all about people. It isn’t about “making things look pretty” or about fashion (which I had previously thought). Design identifies what people need. It observes how people use a product and ultimately defines that experience. It uncovers and solves for why people do the things they do (fascinating, right?). And I learned more about the design process: how pure ideas during brainstorming turn into research studies, sketches, user journeys, wireframes, prototypes, testing, evaluating, and eventually, final products. These are products and experiences that touch my life every day. Ever booked an Airbnb and noticed how the process is seamless for the user? Or built IKEA furniture by yourself? Or called an Uber or Lyft and thought about the location of their UI buttons and how they lead to intentional, logical actions? I honestly was astonished (and slightly dumbfounded) that I hadn’t ever noticed any of this before (because good design is simple and intuitive, hence users shouldn’t notice). At its core, design helps businesses solve for people’s needs.
I also met design practitioners from so many different backgrounds and journeys. Each was quirky in their own way, incredibly sharp, and deeply empathetic—and I couldn’t help myself from wanting to be a part of this creative group.