Was Thomas Jefferson a prototypical UX designer? According to Paul Landon, a user experience principal here at FortyFour, the answer is yes. Read on to learn about his interesting theory–and what else he loves about UX, life at FortyFour, and Atlanta in general.
Where are you from?
What brought you to FortyFour?
Before becoming a user experience designer, I worked in architecture for several years. But I’d had a longtime interest in digital, so it seemed like the right trajectory to move out of architecture and into UX. I started working at an agency. One of FortyFour’s managing partners had worked at the same agency, and our networks overlapped. I could see that FortyFour had a great creative team, plus more structure and leadership, which was important to me. So I joined the team, and now I’ve been here two and a half years–Taylor and I started the same day, actually.
What’s been your favorite client project so far and why?
On my first day, we kicked off Exide’s website redesign project. It was a great opportunity to impact their brand globally and tackle a very complex set of website challenges. The architecture had to provide a more organized framework for very diverse business units, appease internal stakeholders, and speak across industries. We created a strong, scalable solution. It was the largest website I’d worked on at that point, too, so it was cool to work on every stage of the process. I learned a lot.
What’s one of your secret talents?
Playing music by ear. I play keyboard, guitar, drums, and other percussion instruments. I’ve never been in a band though! But I am going to record a score for my friend’s show.
If you could meet anyone (fictional, historical, alive, whatever…), who would it be?
Thomas Jefferson. I went to the University of Virginia. He embodies the Renaissance man: he tried his hand at architecture, started a winery (even if it wasn’t successful), rebuilt his house 3 or 4 times, traveled, he was educated and well-read. And obviously he had big mark on the history of US. I’d say he’s a protoypical UX professional!
Advice to young UX designers–what do you find most challenging about your job:
It’s a newer discipline, so not many people have studied this. To be a UX designer is to be a generalist. You have to know just enough development, content strategy, design, and psychology to be dangerous, and then ground your decisions in analytics. You’re accountable to the numbers and showing that usability has been improved. UX is a fickle thing, and you really have to advocate for users’ needs. Simultaneously, you’re designing against client needs. So… you have to be good at a lot of things.
On Fridays we have a Beer:30 tradition where we all kick off the weekend with a drink. What’s your cocktail of choice?
I’m a whiskey drinker like Taylor. I’ll have that over just about anything else. But I like local, hoppy beers.
What’s your favorite thing about Atlanta?
Atlanta maintains its sense of identity really well. There are incredible cultural opportunities, a great arts scene. I love getting out and trying new bars and restaurants, scoping out music venues. I also have season tickets for some of our great sports teams.