My name is Dan and I’m many things these days—a cyclist, an aspiring chef, a husband, a father of two amazing daughters, an adult fan of lego (AFOL)—but I haven’t always been a product designer, and my path was anything but straight.
My obsession with problem solving and design first manifested through the built environment. Studying urban design and landscape architecture, I was fascinated by how our surroundings could facilitate collaboration, art, and environmental sustainability. This path took me into the realm of technology as I explored the canvas of public spaces through social networks, sensors, and energy generation—designing accompanying digital experiences increasingly became an essential part of my process.
Somehow on the other end of this all—in very uncertain economic times—I was able to start earning a living designing and building websites instead of drafting plans inside an architectural firm. After spinning up an iPhone accessory business with some friends, returning to school for an MFA, and embarking on a freelance Creative Technologist journey that included helping design a spacesuit, I found that despite having little exposure to training in traditional User Experience that my process—one rooted in research, iterative design, and analysis—was a perfect fit for industries where UX was emerging as an essential function.
I quickly found working in UX and product design to be fulfilling, not just in championing the needs of users within a digital space but in making an impact in the businesses that increasingly blended the boundaries between our physical and digital lives. The roles that I took on deepened my knowledge of design practice across the full spectrum of the design process, from research and IA to interaction design and design operations. Feel free to read on to learn a bit more about my process and my strengths below.
I recently had the opportunity to take Gallup’s CliftonStrength assessment to better understand the characteristics that guide me at work and life more broadly—and while the characteristics feel familiar, I had never put a name to them. I found it incredibly insightful, especially in discovering them along side my product and design peers, and feel they’re an interesting glimpse into how I approach problems and some of the things I bring to any organization and team I work with.
TLDR: I’m an information sponge and I love to learn about new things and domains. I use this information to approach problems from unique angles, creating compelling visions that simplify the complex, formulating strategies grounded in analysis of evidence (qualitative and quantitative), building consensus through collaboration, and ideating on solutions that focus on simplicity, clarity, and reusability—ultimately delivering high impact outcomes.
A bit more detail coming soon...
Overall, the double diamond is a useful framework to articulate the anatomy of a project. I wish it were this simple in practice but nothing ever aligns perfectly with this process—the shape is never this symmetrical.
Stay tuned for my own nuanced version of things.
Another thing that guides my work is where a given project falls on the "know" and "do" spectrum. Designing for each often involves different heuristics—and I've never known a project to completely encapsulate them both. The know can be found externally and the do in-product—and vice versa, the product providing the know but a collection of external tools to provide the do. In each of these situations and the many in-between—it really is a spectrum—it's important to consider the overall journey, the jobs to be done, and where design can effectively intervene. It may sound intuitive but I've encountered platforms and products that suffer an identity crisis in their failure to understand their positioning.