Hey everyone, I’m Alexander and I am a User Experience Strategist. Which sounds cool, but what does that even mean? What that means to me is, I really enjoy solving problems and the problems I find most interesting involve how someone relates to and interacts with a product, app, or website. When you use something you find intuitive, something that just makes sense, I’m one of the people that did the thinking beforehand so you didn’t have to later.
The Path to Professional Problem Solver.
I have had one foot on the creative side of the fence, and one on the technical for my whole life. My education was focused on the creative side, but I am constantly thinking about what I can do with that creativity. Not in a “what can I design” way, but rather a “what can I do with design” way.
Serendipitously while I was in college studying graphic design, I learned about the Internet and immediately wanted to know how it worked and how I could design with it. At that time there wasn’t any formal education available for building websites, so I taught myself by pulling things apart, looking at source code and figuring out how to put it back together to achieve what I was trying to do.
Since that moment I have worn a multitude of hats from one end of a project workflow to the other, including defining strategic product requirements, competitive analysis, research, project management, team building and mentoring, UX and UI design, usability testing and front-end development. I’m not the guy you’ll catch saying he’s passionate about design, development, or any other specific part of the spectrum. I am passionate about solving problems and delivering experiences that improve someone’s day, even in some small way.
Solving All the Problems. A How to.
There are a multitude of ways to approach solving a problem and my approach changes based on the problem. Nevertheless, I maintain four beliefs.
I believe all things are design, not just visual things.
I believe design is an iterative process.
I believe forming collaborative relationships across teams is essential.
I believe testing your assumptions is not optional.
Understanding is More Fluid than Knowledge.
To this day there is a strange stigma around being a generalist. It has persisted for hundreds of years in dozens of languages. Being really good at connecting the dots, finding the relationships between things and working out how different people think and communicate, I have inevitably found myself in various roles throughout my career. Jack of All Trades. Polymath. Knowing just enough to be dangerous. Or as they warn in China, “equipped with knives all over, yet none is sharp”.
We live in a modern knowledge era where everything integrates with and talks to something else. As a specialist, you can gain a particular kind of knowledge and through that knowledge know how it applies to a specific problem. In contrast, a generalist with a T-shaped skill set means having the ability to draw on knowledge across a number of subject areas. Understanding enables you to have learned a particular kind of knowledge, but gives you the ability to see how it relates to everything else, including the nuances and contradictions. It provides a more textured lens for interacting with reality and connecting dots others may not see. If that’s how we define a dull knife, sign me up.