2015 has been a fantastic year for me. I traveled a bunch, met tons of new people, shipped amazing projects that I’m super proud of, helped build an incredible design team at Shopify. That’s a lot for a year. If I had to summarize this year, I’d say that it was a year of voluntarily making myself uncomfortable. A year of making big bets that are only going to pay off in a few years. But that’s what made it exciting.
I got the MTL Dribbble meetup up and running again. I’m incredibly happy about this one. The Montreal design community is still fairly small and having the chance to make an event where likeminded people can get to know each other, exchange tips and create friendships is so great. It’s the event that I wanted to exist for a long time. It’s also a proof that if you want something to happen, don’t just wait around for someone to do it, you can do it yourself.
Last year we launched the first version of Responsive Checkout into the world. It was a huge improvement and allowed us to lay the foundation for a buying experience that we can easily build upon. Despite us being super proud of it, it was very much a 1.0. The act of putting it in the world allowed us to learn so much about people’s needs and desires in a way that our user testing could never have revealed. So we went back to work on what would be called internally Responsive Checkout V2. We’ve kept the same vision, but refined a lot of the core principles, so in a way, it’s more of a realign than a redesign. I love getting the chance to think deeply about a problem and taking the time to make something truly great with a team of incredibly talented people. There’s even more amazing things planned for checkout in the new year.
The second major project I got to work on this year is Order Status Page. At Shopify we always consider the full buying experience. From the store to the checkout to the post purchase experience. For this project, we wanted to help build trust between merchants and their customers by giving customers more insight about their order right from their website. So right after your purchase, you can see a map with the current location of your shipment and see the estimated deliver date of your package to plan accordingly. A nice benefit about exposing that information to the customer is that it reduces the number of emails and calls that the merchant receives about the status of their order. This way, merchants can spend more time focusing on their business and less time in email. Full write up on our process coming soon.
A big challenge this year was scaling the Shopify Montreal design team. That meant interviewing a lot of people and getting better at getting the right people that are going to push us to do ever better work in the future. That means putting a big focus on diversity and finding people have incredible untapped potential and give them what they need in order to grow. I found a new passion in mentoring people. There’s only so much you can do by yourself, so enabling other people to do great work let’s you cover more ground. Hoping to do even more mentoring in 2016.
I’m a huge podcast listener, so I’ve always secretly wanted to do my own podcast. When my friend Rafael asked me if I wanted to do a design podcast with him I immediately said yes. It’s been an incredibly challenging but rewarding experience. I still hate hearing my own voice and I say “like” and “hmm” too often, but I’m getting better at figuring out what works and what doesn’t. And it’s just so damn fun to do every week. I’m also super happy about the response we’ve had. If you tune in every week: thank you.
This year, Jessie Char put on her first design conference and it was the best conference I’ve ever been to. Being in San Francisco during WWDC was a lot of fun. I got to see the Apple keynote at the Twitter offices, see the Talk Show live, meet Phil Schiller and have what seemed like my whole Twitter timeline in one room. The talks were fantastic (I’m a huge Susan Kare fan), and I got to hang out with a bunch of people that I became friends with. Speaking of friends, the week wouldn’t have been the same without my friend Shelley that I got to know even more as we wandered through the streets of SF. Oh, and it was great to see the famous Golden Gate in person.
Going to Layers really gave me an itch to to some public speaking. I’ve been thinking about a talk idea for a really long time but it was just a matter of sitting down and writing everything down. Or at least that’s what I thought. What pushed me to finally do it was the UX Summit, a conference where I committed to do a talk. I quickly learned about the importance of pace, timing and flow. Writing a talk is a lot different from writing an essay. Oh and all the stress I put on myself before doing the talk for the first time. The reaction afterwards made it completely worth it. I’ve had so many great discussions with people after the talk and feedback that made me grow as a speaker and a designer. I even got to give it in LA where I had a blast. I want to do more of it next year.
While the Dribbble meetup keeps getting bigger and better, each event is pretty much organized one at a time. I’d like to set up a schedule and plan future events way in advance. It’ll give speakers a bit more leeway and will allow us to smoothen the organization.
I worked on a lot of side projects this year. Very few of them shipped. I need to be more thorough and push my side projects past the finish line. That might mean working on a smaller number of things, but I’m sure the benefits of putting things out in the world and getting feedback will more than make up for it.
At Shopify we have two tracks: lead and individual contributor. I’m still not sure which path is right for me. I hope I can figure this out in 2016.
I feel like I always have this resolution every year and never actually do it. This year, I’ll try to put a slightly different twist to it: figure out what incentive can I give myself that is going to push me to write more? Can I figure out a system that makes sure I write instead of just “trying harder”?
More and more, I’m starting to realize that almost all of my free time is spent looking at other people’s stuff: Twitter, RSS, Instapaper, podcasts, TV shows, movies, etc. And the thing is, consuming content takes as much effort as making stuff. I want to make stuff. That’ll mean choosing what inputs I allow in my life more carefully.
I love photography. I’ve spent more time using my DSLR this holiday and it totally gave me the itch to get back into proper photography. Documenting your life is super important, so I want to put more effort into it.
That seems silly, but I want to measure everything about my life to see what I can learn from it. I believe that data is a super powerful tool and I use it all the time in my work, why not use it in my life too? I want to track my sleep, my exercise, health, productivity, etc. Things like Apple Watch and Gyroscope make this easy. I’m sure the results are going to be insightful, but even if they’re not, it’ll at least be interesting to look at.