A few months ago I was asked to assist leading some moderated qualitative usability testing sessions. I’ll be honest: I had little-to-no experience speaking with users, so at the start of the project I didn’t feel like I was fully equipped for the task. The idea of being in a room with someone I didn’t know for an hour and guiding them through a handful of scenarios to validate our design didn’t sound as good as one of my typical design days. However, I knew it would be a good learning experience and said I’d help out.
Go For It
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I should have an office pony. Something straight out of Thelwell, with a bushy mane as wide as its body, sparkly-painted hooves, and short enough to use as a portable laptop stand. I’m convinced that this should (and will) happen one day. Just ask my coworkers how often “little horses” come up in conversations with me.
I have a long list of “shoulds.” Most are pony-delightful, but not all of them; some like to sneak in and push my limits—the devious suckers. Those shoulds are the kind that adore instilling doubt, delaying decisions, and convincing us we need to incessantly reach and achieve and exhaust. It takes guts to tackle that kind of should. They play the long game, and they always seem to crop up during tests of our fortitude. They love to mess with our heads.
This is my last week at Happy Cog. I’ve coded a lot of websites in my six-plus years here, but I’ve also written and spoken a lot about coding websites. At Happy Cog, you are encouraged to put yourself out there and share what you know, which can be totally awesome, terrifying, and sometimes confusing. When I first started speaking, I, like many others, was in the “terrified” camp. I told this to my then-HC-co-worker, Dan Mall, and he said something along the lines of: “If you get nervous, stand on one foot.” Of course, I thought this was some kind of sure joke, but then he continued, “You’ll have to focus all of your efforts on not falling over that you’ll forget to be nervous.” Some of the best advice I’ve ever received.
At Happy Cog, we take pride in our work teaching others and sharing what we’ve learned. Whether by speaking at a conference, leading a class, or writing on this very blog, we’ve taught or shared our knowledge on best practices for web design and development, user experience design, business advice, and even the occasional informal primer on animated GIFs.
When someone at Happy Cog tells me that they’re teaching a class for Girl Develop It or a local university, or a workshop at a conference, my first response to them is one of encouragement. Then, I say: The best way to get better at what you do is to teach others how to do it, too.
This can be absolutely anything. Go ahead and think about it for a minute. I recently posed this question at my dConstruct talk (slides / audio) a couple of weeks ago and received a variety of answers. Learning a new language was a popular response. So was learning how to cook, garden, ski, and do “The Robot.”
What do they say about the cobbler’s son? The dude is always barefoot? Or the carpenter’s house has no roof? Stupid carpenter.
Yeah. That’s kind of us right now with happycog.com. Granted, we have shoes, and we have a roof. But the shoes have some holes in the soles and the roof leaks just enough to make your hair wet.
A recruiter emailed me recently. I was selected for a role because I had experience with the software “Adobe”… Recruiters. Such a disaster. AMIRITE?!?!?
Hold on there, let’s pump the brakes on the generalizations a bit. Recruiters, like designers or developers or content strategists, hail from a variety of backgrounds, have a wide range of capabilities, and deliver varying degrees of value and results. For many people, a relationship with a recruiter is the catalyst for opportunities that reshape a career.
When it comes to HTML5 elements, do you ever feel like you’re reaching for a carrot on a stick? The promise of those tasty elements, hanging right in front of you, taunting you, so close, yet just out of reach. What you wouldn’t give for just one bite of a
section, one taste of a succulent
aside, one thirst-quenching
datalist. I bet no one told that donkey it was going to have to wait ’til 2022 to eat that carrot.
A month ago, after drinking a few Sundowns in celebration of turning forty years of age, I bought myself a pair of Old Gringos. They are a worn-in light brown and are adorned with a fierce phoenix stitched in the front of each boot. For those who know me, they’re thinking that this purchase was completely influenced by a tequila fueled mid-life crisis, but they would be mostly wrong. For you see, I acquired this tall footwear after being advised that you can’t do business in Texas without a pair of cowboy boots.
“The last thing you need to do is see Jim Avery. He’s two doors down.”
That was the department chair’s way of saying that our meet-and-greet was finished and that I needed to go. She was polite about it, but my stomach was still churning from nerves and stress. Thirty minutes prior to this meeting, I had decided to abandon my long-ago-decided path of pursuing an art degree in favor of a degree in advertising because 1) Advertising was the only department that offered a few graphic design courses and 2) the Art department had just royally pissed me off.