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2023 Retrospective

Reading Time: 5 minutes

I’m in my third role this year, which is a personal record but looking back, once again, it was the right decision for me. This post is a little retro about the year.

photos of old and rusty cans and metal boxes of different size, colours and shapes
Photo by Clem Onojeghuo – to illustrate: Doesn’t do exactly as it says on the tin – further down the post

Work

Resigning

Twice this year, I left a place shortly after joining because even though it looked good from outside, once I was in, the reality was very different. I tried to contribute to changing things from within but like many times before, I felt the dynamics in place were too ingrained to move things in the right direction. I would have compromised my work ethic and values. With more experience, it’s getting easier to resign and find a new role. But there are a lot of really good people in these places who could not just leave as easily for various reasons. I realise resigning is a privilege not everyone has.

Contracting

I still can’t quick believe my luck so far.

It was not super easy to find the right contract but not that hard either despite the market being slow. Dealing with recruiters was a mixed bag: some were really nice, I had good conversations, and they gave regular updates, others, not so much. You need a thick skin because you’re going to get ghosted a lot, some opportunities disappear as quickly as they appear. I guess this is the rule of the game.

Contracting means you’re hired for a specific team and project, so if people are honest about it during the interview (not a given…) and if you ask the right questions, you should have a good feeling of what it will look like. The interviews felt more like they needed to sell the project to me instead of the other way around, but now that I’ve been in interviews to recruit more people in my project team I realise it’s not the same for others.

I mentioned ‘luck’ at the start because, yes, if you do the right things and have the right experience, you’re more likely to find a good contract, but really, it’s just your luck if you turn out to be available for the right piece of work, in a good team and getting the support higher up. A lot of factors need to line up and so far, it’s all good for me.

Conferences – events

In person

I attended and spoke at two in person conferences this year. It was a bit too much. There are things I enjoy in person that I would not get online but it’s not enough to make me want to do this again. They keep getting more expensive as well, especially if you need to pay for your accommodation. Some trainings and events have different prices if your work place is paying or if you are the one paying, but conferences don’t seem to do this. I get more value from smaller/shorter events these days.

I won’t go to any in person conferences or events in 2024, with the exception of Accessibility Scotland which I missed this year.

Online

I attended a few events and meet ups as well, spoke at a Brazilian conference which was a different experience.

The Magnify conference was back on, I really like the format, the people attending, and the conversations in the dedicated Slack space.

HmntyCntrd events have been really nice too.

Recently I attended Emma Parnell’s course on getting into freelance service design and enjoyed it. I’m happy in my contract at the moment, but still exploring other options for the future.

Slowing down

I’m finally slowing down, feeling a bit more settled in what I’m doing which is nice. I’ve been contributing/showing up a bit less to UX Glasgow events as an organiser this year, because many events were in person and I had too much on, but as we are now 5 organisers it’s ok, and I feel we had a really good year with lots of good events, great speakers and I’ve met lots of new people that way.

Doesn’t do exactly what it says on the tin

This could be a blog post in itself… this year more than before, I’ve seen that quite often, work places and people who make a really good pitch about how they champion accessibility, diversity and inclusion, or empower women and other minorities, deliver training about it or speak at conferences about it, can be … actually terrible at it behind the scene.

When I was new in design, it was easy to believe ‘leaders’ in this space, who are praised by many, but I’m more experienced now and speak with others in the field, I’m more aware of the double standard between how people present themselves to the world and how they actually act.

One example: like many starting in design, I was using a lot of resources from the NN/g (Nielsen Norman Group), but now I avoid pointing people to them.The videos with these young (and mostly white) women in dresses explaining UX concepts always felt weird to me, so when I read The “Tender Technicians” of Nielsen Norman Group Videos, I realised it wasn’t just me.

Worth reading The problem with Don Norman on Fast Company as well if you still feel like using NN/g resources or pointing people to them.

Social media

I left Twitter over a year ago which had been a good tool for me when I was still new to design. Doing so, there were a lot people I had forgotten about, so when I recently joined Bluesky, I was initially happy to follow some of them again. I quickly realised that I hadn’t miss much ahahahaha! Again, the double standard about how people present there and how they really act is more obvious to me now. I don’t think I’ll use it much in the long run. I did occasionally found some really good things like this advent calendar for the brain: I thought about that a lot.

LinkedIn... it’s a necessary evil to find job opportunities, and to keep in touch with many people, but unless I’m missing a trick, you cannot mute things there, so if people I follow repost content from other people I don’t want to see, it still ends up in my timeline. I’m using it much less now anyway.

Mastodon is nice, I really enjoy it. I’m not very active there, but enjoys reading others and learning from what they post.

I’ve subscribed to many newsletters, probably too many, but it’s a nice way to be signposted to good content.

Rating 2023

Hmmm…. I’d say it’s ending really well for me, I’ve learned a lot, I’ve met many interesting people, had really good conversations but I’d rather not do it again, thank you very much.

I might write a last blog post next week but otherwise: Thanks for reading, all the best for 2024!