– Hi, I’m Joe Welinske and I’m the program manager for ConveyUX. That’s Seattle’s annual user experience conference, and we’re going into our eighth annual year. So we’re really excited about that, it’s gonna be March 3rd, 4th, and 5th in Seattle. It’s produced by Blink, which has it’s hometown Seattle headquarters, in Seattle on the Seattle waterfront. So we’re excited to have brought this through to eight years. We’re looking forward to a new group of speakers, of which I get the pleasure to speak with them for little interviews before we get to the event. Today I am talking with Mollie Cox and Adam Erickson. Hello Mollie, Adam.
– Hi, how are you?
– Yeah, it’s all good. I’m at Blink’s Seattle office, it’s a pretty nice day. Where are you talking to us from?
– We are from Lincoln, Nebraska. It is a cold rainy day. So it sounds like it should be Seattle weather here.
– Well we’re glad to have you visiting from Lincoln to come to Seattle. And probably a good place to start would be to talk a little bit about your background and nature of your work. So, Mollie would you, or Adam you were gonna start.
– Yeah, my names Adam Erickson and I am a developer. So I have been doing development in one form or another for 20 years or so. But mostly web development and that has been front end and back end. I have done some stints as a product manager and a project manager, and quickly decided those weren’t where I wanted to be going with my life. So I got back to the technical side of things. I actually lived out in Seattle for about 10 years. I’ve worked at big companies and small companies and everywhere between. And yeah, I’m just really passionate about development, and especially as it relates to design, and kind of the human side of things. So that’s where I land.
– Well I know that the two of you work together collaboratively. So Mollie, why don’t you talk to us a little bit about your own background and then a little bit about your work with Adam.
– Sure. So I have been in the design industry for probably a better part of, well just shy of 20 years. I’ve kind of worked in advertising agencies, I’ve worked on client sides, currently I’m at a software company doing the UX design. That is what I had felt over the years my passion has become. When I was initially, I’ve been in creative arts pretty much my whole life. And I was in an advertising agency, I was creative director there. And I really learned that, while I was there, I really started to love the digital side of things. But not just the design side of things, but how people interact, and how people use products and software. So I really started move into that. So I feel like I was kind of in user experience design before people really knew what to actually call it. We just kinda called it design. And then I actually went to a start-up, here in Lincoln, Nebraska, with Adam, and that’s how we met. I was the designer and he was the developer, so we have had a designer-developer relationship for quite some time. And we have moved on from one job to the next job together. So we continually work together.
– Well I’m sure your always keeping busy with a lot of different projects. Is there anything going on that you’re particularly excited, interested about?
– Yeah, so right now, I mean the place where we’re working, we have been working there together for at least–
– Three years?
– Yeah, three almost four years now. And that’s a huge project for us to transform the entire software from a Windows thick client over to a web-based thing. So she’s been leading the design and I’ve been leading the developing side of that. And then-
– And then any personal interests on your end, Adam?
– Yeah, so I lately have been really into neuroscience, and specifically neuroscience and design. So I’m about as big a nerd as they come, and so I started reading about decision making and that got me into how the brain works, and then that got me into how design and neuroscience really cross over, and what specifically is happening inside the brain when you feel like a design is intuitive or easy to use, versus something that’s difficult to use, and like what parts of your brain are activated and how they, sort of how the different processes flow. That’s what I’ve been focused on recently.
– So what about you Mollie?
– I am, as Adam said, where we are at work, we are taking our PC-based software into the web, so I am deep in it design system right now. So it’s hard for me to say what I’m personally passionate about outside of, because all of my reading, all of my work, everything, my whole scope is going to design systems. We are starting from ground up. The web is our impetus of our design system, so I’m just researching things daily, we’ve been working on customized type of design systems. Which is an interesting, interesting thing. So Adam’s brought kind of his psychology, neurology, spin to it. So we’re trying to think of some different things for the design system. So I’m super excited about that right now. I know it sounds like work, but I’m personally excited as well.
– Well let’s talk a little bit about your topic slated for the conference, which I think the title was, “Designers Are From Mars, Developers Are From Venus”. Or maybe I have the planets switched, but… Talk to us a little bit about how you came around to that topic and what we can expect from it.
– [Mollie] Sure.
– [Adam] Yeah.
– I personally have been to quite a bit of UX conferences, and you and I have actually talked about this early on in this process, that there’s been a lot of talks about communication between the designer and the developer. And I have been present for a lot of those talks, and I just constantly felt like there was kind of a lack of why we should get along, and why we have the problems that we have. I always heard solutions, but no background to the solution.
– Yeah, that was really cause the process focused, and then a lot of times the why that process works or doesn’t work wasn’t there, and to me when I see a process, if I can’t understand what’s happening underneath it, then I can’t adjust it for my own needs, right? So, I could take the process and try to apply it, but if I can’t understand what’s happening underneath, or why those two parties can’t seem to speak the same language then I can’t adapt that for myself. So that’s kind of where our talk came from, was being able to try to get down to the nitty gritty of specifically, we use different words for things, or how we speak differently, and specially what each other is thinking in different scenarios that we’ve run into, or we’ve seen in the places that, literal arguments that we’ve had or–
– Literal arguments.
– Or that we’ve you know, run into in other situations, and then really try to break those down so that someone, if they needed to could take those pieces and build it back up into their own process. But really understanding why they’re doing that.
– Right, so a lot of our talk will be, like Adam said, revolved around situations that we have had personally with one another and with other designers and or developers that we’ve worked with along the way. We really wanna put these out on display because they will resonate with almost everyone there. And then we wanna dissect that situation and then we wanna say okay, where did it go wrong? Why did it go wrong? What language was being used? And how can we prevent this? So like I said earlier, I feel like that’s one of those things that’s just really lacked when I’ve seen presentations. And the name actually legitimately comes from the book.
– Yeah, well we work together a lot and so you sort of have your work spouse or whatever, and so there’s this, we thought we should do some marriage counseling and then we thought what’s the, what is something everybody knows and it’s that book, right? So we started from that and it just becomes a good way to frame a talk.
– Yeah. As it turns out, each chapter literally went in line with everything we wanted to say, so if you just replace men and women with designer and developer, it works perfect. So I’m really excited for people to see this and see how that correlates with one another.
– Well it’s great to have you in the program and I appreciate you both taking the time to chat a little bit and let us meet you in a little bit more detail and we’ll look forward to seeing you on your journey from Lincoln over to Seattle in March.
– Excellent, we look forward to it.
– Yeah, we absolutely, thanks so much for letting us be apart of it and we look forward to it.
– [Joe] All right, thanks a lot. Bye-bye.
– Thank you.