Day in the Life: Joe Bond, Interactive UX Lead
Apr 12, 2017
“I’m really excited to be speaking at UXDC about how to start a mentorship relationship, and how to build a mentorship program. It’s something that’s really important to me, and really important to our community. Come hang out, hear us talk, and maybe grab a beer afterwards!” – Joe Bond, Interactive UX Lead
Trust us – when you’re invited to go get a beer with Joe Bond, you should go get a beer with Joe Bond. If you’re in DC this weekend, attending the UXDC conference, you’ll have an opportunity to do just that! Make sure to check out his session, “Impact Your Career, Workplace, and UX Community through Mentorship” with Michelle Chin of Citrix, on Saturday, April 15th.
Then, grab a beer.
Check out the following Day in the Life” of our resident-Mentor and all-around good dude Joe Bond, Interactive UX Lead, that was originally published in January. To hear more about the conference or to get in touch with Joe, hit him up on Twitter – he’s @byjoebond.
“What I think people do as user experience designers is challenging, but almost as challenging as doing the work was getting my start in the field—actually getting someone to believe in me. And really believe in me, in the sense of not just saying, ‘good work!’ but giving me a salary and you know, healthcare. That kind of believing. Because those are different things—your mom can say that she likes your work, but, in most cases, she isn’t going to pay you a salary.”
To say that Joe Bond is involved in the Triangle User Experience community would be the understatement of the century. He’s on the Executive Council of TriUXPA, and also serves on the Advisory Board of The Iron Yard. He runs a TriUXPA Book Club. But, as Bond said, it was a challenge getting started in the field.
“Where mentorship really came in, for me, was there’s so much to learn in any field, and it helps to have a guide, or someone you can lean on that will help you focus, help you get started,” said Bond. “I would say that I’ve had a number of mentors who have had a huge impact on my life, across fields, and those people were pivotal in helping me make the right decisions for me.
“You realize, in reflection, how mentors (in most cases) have no real incentive. There’s no real monetary incentive, there’s maybe a professional development incentive, maybe—but they usually give their time freely, out of the goodness of their hearts. That had such a big impact on me, and I just felt like I had a responsibility to do the same thing for someone else.”
We’re thankful that Bond took a position as a Junior UX Designer almost two years ago, and the experience he gained through his winding path to Centerline.
“So, I guess if we rewind back, I worked at this summer camp, Camp Albemarle, which was a really formative experience for me. I had a lot of really great mentors there, and was a camper, a staff member, and now I’m on the Board there,” said Bond. “The reason that’s important to who I am is because that’s where I met Daniel Sockwell, my first mentor, who got me into photography, which dove-tailed really nicely with my interest in music, and sort of got me interested in creative pursuits.”
Bond’s interested in creative arts continued throughout high school, where he continued with his interests in music and photography.
“I think I came along at just the right time for the intersection of technology and creative pursuits, you know? Music and photography was a really wonderful way for me to have a creative outlet and hone a technical craft,” said Bond.
“Towards the end of high school I started doing a lot of graphic design work, and I ended up applying to the College of Design at NC State, and, at the same time, I applied for the Park Scholarship. I ended up getting the Park Scholarship, which was another incredible, formative experience, and I ended up not getting into the College of Design, which was really, well it was kind of a bummer at the time, but I feel like it ended up for the best,” said Bond. “I didn’t end up studying any type of design at school, and instead majored in communications and writing and all that good stuff.”
It was through this study of communications that Bond realized his interested in human behavior, and how that could tie into design.
“I spent a lot of time in college learning how to write well, learning how to articulate ideas, and i had a number of really great professors. Dr. Michael Cobb, in particular, gave me an opportunity to do some research, which led to my interest in why people do the things they do. All these things, all the disparate sort of things led me to become interested in user experience,” said Bond.
So, Bond graduated, joined Centerline and it’s been happily ever after, right? Well, there’s more to the story.
“I met this guy, Andrew Wirtanen, and he was the first person to express the idea of UX to me. Basically, he was the one that told me this was a thing you could do. I ended up calling him a few months after meeting him, because it was my senior year of college and I needed to figure out what I was doing with my life, and asked him if he could help me figure out how I could do this UX thing,” said Bond. “He was super gracious with his time, and he’s an incredibly smart guy. Along the way I also met Keith Heustis, and he was also a mentor I met with on a monthly basis that reviewed my work and helped me parse through all that good stuff.”
Bond was offered a consulting job at Deloitte, but turned it down.
“I ended up turning down the chance to work there, because it just didn’t feel right, you know? I think my parents thought I was totally insane for turning down a job opportunity. So I just started applying all these places – I applied to so many places, and never heard back from any of them. At all,” said Bond. “I had been going to a lot of TriUXPA events, and in the end that led me to Centerline.”
Bond was connected to a Strategy Director at Centerline and was hired as a Junior UX Designer.
“There’s a quote I remember reading all the time when I was looking for a job, and it’s by Ira Glass, but basically the idea is that you just have to put yourself on a deadline and tell a lot of stories,” said Bond. “But replace ‘stories’ with whatever it is you do. Like, do lots of work. I think that’s key, when you’re starting out in UX design or anything—to do as much work as you possibly can. Because doing work means you’re going to be thinking a lot, you’re going to be practicing a lot of different skills in terms of your craft.
“So, I’d say to anyone that’s trying to get into UX. Number one: think of UX as a craft. You should learn to wireframe, prototype, all the basic stuff that they tell you that you need to know. Number two: You should think about how you present your work, because that’s equally – that’s almost as important as even doing the work. If you can’t explain why you did certain things or why you made certain design decisions, your design is usually going to fail, no matter how good it is.”
As a UX designer, Bond works closely with the Creative, Strategy and Accounts teams. Learning how to communicate with each team has been an important lesson to learn.
“Being good at your craft is important, but the thing that’s almost more important here, because we’re an agency, is being able to articulate your ideas efficiently. That’s much more difficult to teach or learn, but I think the ability to do that makes people more valuable,” said Bond. “I talk to Accounts all the time, and it’s so important to be able to communicate your ideas to people who don’t do what you do. I can talk about mental models and specific interactions to produce cognitive load—I can use all that crazy technical speak, and that’s good to know, but when push comes to shove you also have to be able to communicate simply and effectively to creative directors, accounts people, and especially the clients.”
So, what’s a day in the life of a user experience designer actually like? Well, that depends.
“I read every day. I read news about my craft – relevant blogs, articles, anything to learn new techniques. I do that every morning when I get coffee. I would say that every day, the only thing that’s a constant is you’re always trying to build something that users will enjoy, and that will be effective and all that good stuff for users,” said Bond. “But, I’m also always trying to build consensus with people internally. I’m trying to get everyone to believe in the idea that I’m crafting, or get them to give me good feedback so I can make something that makes the best result yielded from collaboration.”
We believe, Joe Bond. We believe.