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The Artist Date

When you’re five years old, trends come and go abruptly. Curiosity is abundant, and nerves are easily ignored. We were changing for gym class in the bathroom one day when a girl unexpectedly decided to climb on top of the toilet, latch her fingers around the bar above the stall, and swing from it like a wild and carefree chimpanzee. One by one, all of the others began to follow suit. I couldn’t do it. Days later, we were watching a movie during a slow afternoon. All I could think about was that bar and what it would feel like to sway back and forth, giggling like the others had. I oh-so-casually asked my teacher if I could excuse myself to go to the bathroom. No one would suspect a thing.

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All’s Fair In Love And Code

When I moved into my dorm room freshman year, our hall quickly became known for its brand new cafeteria The Gallery, boasting everything from pasta stands to sub stations, and a pub menu in case you needed a greasy philly cheese steak sandwich in between lunch and dinner… Gaining the freshman fifteen takes relentless commitment and with unlimited meal passes, I was ready to put in the time. I recall the day when Lindsay came and sat down beside me at my lunch table a few weeks into the semester. We instantly bonded over our obsession with all things food, and how much we loathed walking to classes. Although these traits may sound somewhat generic and silly, food creates an unbreakable bond. We lived together every year after that. 

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Goalie Goals

I don't remember what I was more pumped up about — the opportunity to hear about working at Spotify or the chance to see Tobias van Schneider's mustache in person. I'll admit I was also a little hesitant based on the title of his keynote, “Why side projects are dumb.” My coworker and I braced ourselves for cold warnings like “focus on your day job so you don’t get burnt out…” or “you won’t be able to put as much effort into your side projects so why waste your time?”  Instead, we were filled with 45ish minutes of delightful insight, as Tobias talked about his journey to New York and some of the many accomplishments he’s had in doing side projects.

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Good Old Fashioned Humans

“When you assume, you make an ass out of u and me.” You may have heard this phrase at some point. I want to say it was my grandpa who first told it to me, because frankly it just seems like some wicked grandpa wisdom. In UX, we strive not to make assumptions about our users. But what about when we don’t even realize we’re doing it? 

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Tackling The Empty State Graveyard

I do my bookkeeping in TextEdit. It’s color coated. I update it manually. I also write my grocery lists, reminders, and work to-dos in TextEdit. I know, it’s super efficient. But it’s routine, and I take comfort in the stability. About a year ago, my coworkers persuaded me to try Mint. Naturally the first thing you have to do is fill out all your card and bank information so that they have some stats to show you. I hesitantly set everything up, and then watched as the suggested budgets began to auto-populate. Immediately my eyes were drawn to the red, as Mint kindly hinted I was over budget in the bar and food category. While I am a rational human being that understands the value prop of Mint, I instantly and irrationally interpreted this suggestion as an all-too-quick judgment, visualizing a pretentious onlooker gasping as if to say, “you really spend that much on fried cheese balls and craft beer?” 

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Pretty Please With UX On Top

I’ll let you in on an embarrassing secret. Before any job interview, I belt out “I Feel Pretty” from West Side Story. I do this for a few reasons. First of all, it’s an incredible musical. Second of all, it loosens up my vocal chords. Third of all, it’s awkward and goofy as hell. It kills some of my nerves. But lastly, and most importantly, it inspires me to be confident and brave, and sure of myself.  

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If It's Too Loud, You're Too Old

My childhood house in Lansing was pretty fantastic. It was old, it was big, and I had the rad third floor largely to myself, which gave me endless opportunities for exploration. The wallpaper in the rooms was slathered with brown ships on a tan background. And the bathroom, wait for it, blue ships, on a pale blue background. Breathtaking. One of the overhead lights was a ship’s wheel. But what really complimented the overwhelming nautical theme was the poop brown (I’m telling you this because it’s honestly the best way to describe it, and trust me I tried) shag carpet. Aesthetics aside, the closets were massive and oddly shaped - ideal for clubhouses. I used my mom’s printer to make a super trendy clipart sign for the private entrance that read “if it’s too loud, you’re too old.” Ironically, I pretty much used it for the sole purpose of reading. What a rebel. ;)

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The Sims: UX Design 101

I want to take this opportunity to give a shout out to all you Sims lovers out there. I’m not talking about the ambitious entrepreneurs building empires over in Sim City. I’m talking about every scrappy rascal that spent eight hours typing cheat codes in by hand to pimp out a monstrosity of a house. I’m talking about the ones who learned the hard way that trapping a character in a room because they accidentally deleted all the doors was not a great contracting move. Blood, sweat, and tears went into each and every one of my little Sims families, as I watched them flip out over kitchen fires and awkwardly attempt to flirt. I learned a lot from that game, and today I still have the honor of creating fictitious characters that want to hang out with me. I call them user personas. 

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Oh, So You Code

Every now and then I attend a family function or social outing where I meet someone new. Typically after learning my name, the next question is always around jobs. Here’s how the conversation plays out 99% of the time:

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Eighteen And A Half Lamps

I have moved desks more times than I can count over the past few years at TechSmith. And with very open layout styles, you learn to appreciate the working condition preferences of those around you. Some like to mimic a feel of an underground cave, even going so far as to perch precariously on a chair to remove the fluorescent bulbs above their desk. Others aren’t happy until approximately 18 and a half lamps are on, blinding you as you try and chug your coffee to cope. 

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The Burnt Omelette

Lansing, Michigan is home to many things…one of which is a small breakfast diner, Golden Harvest. Known for its intense waiting lines, heavenly and colossal meals, and a wicked iconic logo (a skull with crossbones made of cutlery) this place doesn't mess around. As I perused my Instagram feeds Sunday night, I somehow stumbled across their account. Amidst the mountains of french toast and islands of eggs was a photo of a burnt omelette. 

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Don't Believe Me Just WATCH

I can't believe it has been three months since I’ve written a blog post. That is insane to me. My parents, and possibly only avid readers, have been threatening me to write something again, so here I am. Work has been crazy lately, and although lots of exciting things are happening…I wanted to focus on something I recently did for myself. A few weeks ago, I made the decision to impulsively (and unnecessarily) purchase an Apple Watch, and I thought a Bruno Mars pun was really the only way to explain my glee. 

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You're The CSS To My HTML

I love Valentines Day. I love the cheesiness, the cards, the candy, the flowers. I eat it up. Considering my dad had to spend years surrounded by four women, he made the safe call every mid-February to get his daughters small gifts in addition to spoiling his bride. For me, the most memorable of these presents had to be the Outkast Speakerboxx/The Love Below album. 

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The First Internship

I love designing resumes and business cards, but self promoting yourself isn’t always the most comfortable task. Something scarier than the jungles of the job hunt is perhaps the search that comes just before it, the search for your first internship. Whether paid or unpaid, it’s the first time you’re attempting to apply what you’ve been learning, to practice the adventures you’ve decided to pursue in life.

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The Journey Home

I used to love hiking. At least, my parents tell me that I used to love hiking. I vaguely remember trekking it with my invisible pal Kate, coincidentally my middle name. Not entirely original there young Sam. I would first find the ever essential walking stick, and after hours of exploring when my scraped up knees finally felt like they were going to give out, I’d devour the jerky and cheese sticks my dad had packed. Cheese cures everything.

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Post Mail Party

The first time I designed a postcard I was finishing up my final graphic design project in college. Our professor had asked us to design a promotional postcard for a place we loved in Michigan. A lot of my classmates chose the cities they had grown up in, or beautiful tourist attractions up north that featured stunning lakes or adorable deer. Not me though, I was all about the food.

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Only So Many Hours

“Why are you still in here? Come help move stuff into the garage!” My father clearly didn’t understand the importance of these promotional graphics… Why would anyone want to come to our garage sale if our signs weren’t eye-catching and compelling? Okay part of it may have been to avoid the grunt work, but once I got started on drawing type by hand I couldn’t just scribble words in Sharpie and slap the thing together. There were crucial design decisions to be made.

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The Flow Of Excellence

"I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious." - Albert Einstein. That man was brilliant alright. This is by far one of my favorite quotes and often how I like to refer to myself as a designer. It’s January and that means time for reviews and reflecting. I’m looking back on the last six months of my life as a UX designer, and I’m reading comments and advice from all sorts of employees that I’ve worked with that is truly touching my heart. 

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Wingardium Leviosa

One of the biggest learning curves with UX when coming from a print or graphic design background is that you can no longer rely on your designs being static. There are states, animations, and movement, and your poster flapping in the breeze just doesn’t count. When I first switched to UX, I was a young Ron Weasley. I could look at an object all day, but that didn’t mean my wand was capable of making it levitate.

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The Richter Scale

It was Christmas Eve, and I was sitting at a gorgeous grand piano, the lights dimmed in my childhood church. I had done nothing but practice my version of Jewel’s hauntingly beautiful rendition of “Oh Holy Night” for weeks now, but I couldn’t stop my fingers or body from shaking uncontrollably. This was probably the first time I consciously recognized that I was now petrified to sing in front of people. The confident child that had once belted out Christina Aguilera numbers and Disney songs for anyone that asked was now gone, and no matter how good I sounded playing at home, I wasn’t home anymore. 

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