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San Francisco, CA 94107
United States

Design the simple


What do you like to do?

Erik Will

I’m a designer. I’m exploring my next career move.

I had dinner with a good friend and career mentor. She’s one of those people whose career has been a fun, fast, meteoric blast to behold. She’s always in control. Sometimes she may seem amused that people will throw money at her to do certain things which she considers merely practical, and at others she has no problem admitting she’s easily the smartest person in the room and is being vastly underpaid for her mere utterances.

She casts off simple and mind blowing bits of wisdom without seeming to think about it. She is inspirational.

I told her I was looking for a job, and she asked me “What do you like to do?”

I didn’t have an easy answer. It took a few glasses of sake and some great sushi to come round to the fact that I’m really not interested in sexy stuff.

I’ve always felt a little uncomfortable, guilty, black sheep when other designers tell me they like to make “delightful” experiences that make people happy. I like that idea too, but thats not the kind of work that revs my engine.

I like to make stuff that doesn’t suck. When people use the stuff I work on, I want them to feel relief. I want them to have a distinct lack of anxiety when they sit down to use my software, because whatever they were using before was hard, confusing, frustrating, enraged them, made them hate their jobs which eventually made them misanthropic and hate everyone and everything around them… and now that burning ulcer is simply gone. They can get their stuff done, they don’t take their work home by way of bitching to their families at the dinner table about some atrocious piece of software causing such anguish they dread going to work the next day.

Would I like to delight users and make them smile? Sure. But what I really want is to get the shit out of their way so they can go be happy on their own. If the UI they use is invisible because they’re productive, they got what they need, they didn’t need to look at the help manual, or call customer support,then I am delighted.

So… I am looking for work. I have done product, intranet, consulting, startups, freelance, and design management. I didn’t have a solid elevator pitch on "What's next" for my friend, and that worried us both a bit. She challenged me to write 500 words a day to help me clarify.

I am a great designer, communicator, and storyteller, but I have never written about my work. So this is going to be what I do for at least the next several weeks. Try to talk about what it is I like to do for work, and see where it leads.

Thank you, Christina.