Design Thoughts

27th July, 2020

It's actually pretty hard to believe, at least to me, that I'll be having 10 years in the same field of work as of next year. Maybe it's just a symptom of getting older, but when I was in my teens I never thought about this topic. All I knew back then was that my grandmother worked from her twenties to her retirement, while not doing the same exact job, but at the same exact company and I didn't want to do that. In fact, she was so bored in her retirement, she returned to work! That place was everything to her and I thought there's no way a single place of employment could ever become my center of existence.

I've had thoughts of giving up the mantle and trying something entirely else many times over the course of the past almost-decade, but that feeling has always gone away as soon as I've gotten a new exciting piece of technology to work on. I guess when you've done something your entire adult life, it becomes second nature. In my case it's to build (and break) things.

Now to the story at hand; about half a year ago I felt like, alright, let's do something different. But what? Well, I've always been an asshole about design details to the point of irritating my collegues sometimes (I'm sorry, but it's for a good cause!), so I figured design seems as good a thing as any to pursue.

I signed up for Interaction Design Foundation and started doing courses, some I have finished, some I still do. Throughout this period I also did some freelance work as a designer and to stroke my ego a bit, I'm happy to say they were all satisfied with my work! I realized that if I dedicated enough of my time at something, I'd be able to get pretty decent in it. But, that was the problem. At one point the glamour of starting something entirely anew faded away and I was left with the cold hard reality of what it's actually like to be a designer.

Navigating what I'd like to call a cesspool of corporate hierarchy trying to get your user research budget approved, all the while your peers only see you as a pixel pusher, your supervisors don't see your entire value, and so on. Now you might say; "But Asko! It's not like that everywhere!", and I agree, probably not. But it's like that in a LOT of places. Based on my own 3rd person view working at agencies and corporations and based on my research.

And it's not even that cesspool navigation that's the biggest nope for me, because I do that as a developer as well, all the time. It's that with those limitations given to me, as a designer, I wouldn't have much space to grow. To evolve. As a developer, I feel like it's much easier. It's much easier to change your team or place of work and be right back in the middle of I have no idea what I'm doing. And that's exactly the place where I grow and evolve.

So while I love design and I appreciate its enormous value, and I continue to push for better usability and experience on any product I work on, an engineer I will remain. Out of all the things I could do on this planet, this one seems to have so many faces, I'll never get bored of it.