Leading to Design

I’ve started a new project. It’s called Leading to Design, a site where I share my learnings as a product designer, and the journey I’m taking to support and lead a design vision within my company.

Check it out! The first few posts are up, and you can subscribe to my something-weekly newsletter.

Write what you want to read

A few weeks ago I shared why I write. The heart of it is sometimes I write what I wish I could read.

So many of us have a thirst to learn, an undying curiosity. While you may find that starts to take the edge off of your curiosity, more often then not you can reach the bounds of what someone has to say on a topic, and still have questions.

Take movies for instance. I’ll watch a movie and be happily surprised when other people have the same thoughts and questions. But often I realize my thought hasn’t been shared publicly, leaving an opening to be the first to write on that topic.

So, I’d encourage you to write what you want to read. I’m trying to do more of that these days.

Oh, and if your curious I’m sharing more work related stuff on a new site. Personal things will still be here.

Eye replacement in FaceTime

Yesterday a story running around caught my attention.

In the beta version of iOS 13 FaceTime is doing something pretty unique for iPhone XS and iPhone XR users.

Normally, if you make a FaceTime call, and are looking at the screen to watch the person you’re calling, it looks like your eyes are looking down. That’s always been a challenge with any video calls.

It never feels like your actually talking directly to someone because their eyes are looking at the screen, and not into the camera.

I haven’t tried it yet, but if it works well enough this could make video calls feel more like a connection point. I’m excited to see what happens.

Technology is always an imperfect way to communicate. Nothing beats in person where you can see all of the body movements. However, this might make video calling a little bit better.

A thousand words

There’s a movie that came out a few years ago starring Eddie Murphy. In it he could only speak 1,000 words, and if he went over that amount something bad would happen. That’s all I know, I never saw the movie.

Some days I feel the same with writing, that I have a limited amount of words available to me each day. A few years back I read about the concept somewhere and it has stuck in my mind since.

I’m curious to install a tracker on my devices to check how much I write each day. I’m going to take a wild guess and pretend it’s 3,000 words.

So, imagine a day that starts with 3,000 words available for writing. Following this exercise, here’s what could happen in a given day, depending on what was done with the time available:

  • Texting: 250 words
  • Slack and internal blogging (P2s) for work: 1,500 words.
  • Email: 250 words
  • Social media posting, commenting, etc: 250 words.
  • Journaling and personal note taking: 500 words

This leaves me with 250 words left to write in other forms, such as on this site.

Again, this is only theoretical, I have no idea how much I actually write. As a designer much of my job comes down to my ability to convey ideas with images and words.

As with reading (worth another post on its own), we have a limited amount of attention available to us. Love Is the Killer App, by Tim Sanders, is an amazing book that touches on this. Reading social media or Reddit can be likened to snacking candy in between meals. Reading a newspaper or news websites might be like a healthy snack. You can take this metaphor quite a ways, but the main point being that most of your time should be spent eating health nutritious meals. In this example that’s reading books, non-fiction books dedicated to a specific topic where the author has spent years thinking through and explaining a concept.

So, to take this back to writing. I’d like to be conscious about dedicating more of my writing quota to concepts that are akin to a healthy meal. That’s where I wonder how much time should be dedicated to social media posts versus writing here. The other form I enjoy is personal communications (texting 1-1 with a friend, or answering an email with a personal or career related question).

Curious if others have thought about this. If you have anything to add feel free to reach out!

Product Design at Automattic

The above sketch is from my work on the product filter blocks for WooCommerce.

For the past three months I’ve been working at Automattic as a Product Designer with the WooCommerce team. The first few weeks were Support Rotation, followed by onboarding, and then jumping into some smaller projects and attending a few meetups.

Right now we’re working on converting existing widgets in WooCommerce to blocks for Gutenberg. This process has been a fun one where I’ve been able to look at ways to improve the blocks in a Gutenberg context, and also get a better understanding of how stores work.

Among many other things, one of the joys of my job is that I work on open source software. Because of that I intend to share a lot of what I’m working on, and the process I go through. We’ll call this my journey to a deeper understanding of what it means to be a Product Designer.

If you have any questions about my journey in this field, feel free to reach out to joshua@joshuawold.com. It may be the inspiration for a followup post.