A splash causing a ripple in water.
A splash causing a ripple in water.

The role of UX Designer has become really complicated in recent years. There are so many things you could be doing it’s hard to tell what you should be doing. As a UX Designer these are a few things I recommend you focus on in 2021 to help you do your most impactful work.

1. Written concepts

I think of written concepts as product or feature ideas that omit visuals in place of words. An example of a written concept would be:

“We are creating an application that will enable you to store a password and use it to sign in to other…


A splash causing a ripple in water.
A splash causing a ripple in water.

The role of UX Designer has become really complicated in recent years. There are so many things you could be doing it’s hard to tell what you should be doing. As a UX Designer these are a few things I recommend you focus on in 2021 to help you do your most impactful work.

1. Written concepts

I think of written concepts as product or feature ideas that omit visuals in place of words. An example of a written concept would be:

“We are creating an application that will enable you to store a password and use it to sign in to other…


I’m a member of a design team that works with 4 different Agile product teams. Each one of those product teams depends on us to conduct research, conceptualize products, design interfaces, and build interactive prototypes. Planning this amount of work would be hard enough if we were operating as a single, embedded product team—doing it as a resource that supports multiple product teams at the same time can feel daunting.

Dependency meetings

So how do we decide what to work on and when to work on it? We start by conducting dependency meetings with each of the product teams we work with…


I often see people sharing stories about how they are struggling to get their first design job. Know this, it’s not just you that’s having a hard time, everyone I’ve know has gone through this in one way or another. I want to share a story about particularly awful interview I had early on in my career that I thought I’d never get past.

Putting Myself Out There

In 2009 my wife and I moved from Massachusetts to North Carolina. I didn’t know anyone in NC and I didn’t have a job lined up. I had a few years of experience doing a wide…


There is a Slack team for designers in the Raleigh/Durham area that I participate in and last week one of the members asked a really interesting question to our general chat channel. This person asked:

“What do you know as an experienced designer that you really wish you could have told yourself when you were just starting out?”

I’m not sure I qualify as an experienced designer but this is how I responded to the question:

“I wish I learned earlier on in my career how to provided value to the people and organizations I worked with beyond visual design.”


A story about how I’ve been using the analogy of a shopping at a grocery store to demonstrate that a user’s experience is not entirely in our control, why it’s not a bad thing, and how expectations can help us design better products.

The idea of designing experiences has become so widely accepted in the digital product world that we like to think we have control over the way people interact with and experience the products we make. …


At our last Intent Meetup we held a panel discussion focused on what it takes to build user-centric organizations. The event took place at Full Frame theatre in Durham and was co-hosted with Ladies That UX Durham. I got the chance to participate in my first panel discussion alongside Julia Swenson of Willow Tree, Julie Grundy of Bronto, and Mark Ferencik of McKesson.

For those of you who couldn’t make it I wanted to share my thoughts on the discussion points. Spoiler alert, building a user-centric organization is a tough task and I’m still trying to figure out how to…


Giving design feedback is a tricky thing. When done properly it can serve as a valuable tool that fosters positive relationships and improves the design. When done poorly it can feel like a personal attack and make designers hesitant to share their work. I’ll share the guidelines and structure I’ve been using to help me give more successful design feedback.

Guidelines

There are a few guidelines to follow when giving feedback that will ensure your opinions are not only heard but also trusted while helping the person receiving the feedback feel respected.

Don’t Make Generalized Statements

It can be really hard to avoid generalized statements…


This is a pretty cool hack I’ve been using to make recording video easier on myself and less disruptive to our participants during user testing. To do this you will need a room with a table, a laptop, Quicktime, a phone with the app you are testing and sticky tack…that stringy stuff used to hold up paper.

📝 As always, make sure you get written consent from your test participants before you begin recording. Let’s get started.

Recording Video

1. Find a room with a table to conduct your test in. …

Brandon Houlihan

I lead in defining and implementing strategy for User Experience design teams.

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