Featured In-House Designer:
User Experience Designer | Mutual of Omaha
Meet in-house designer, Tyson Reeder! Tyson is a user experience designer at the Mutual of Omaha.
“I can honestly say that the opportunities I have had in my career were directly related to the people I met at local events. Get out there and meet the other people in this great community. You never know who will be there to help you move to the next level in your career. Plus you will probably meet a bunch of new friends. I know I did.”
Tell me about yourself, where you work, and a description of what you do in your position:
I am a user experience designer at Mutual of Omaha. On our team we have two types of user experience designers; visual and interaction. Visual designers focus heavily on the visuals and the aesthetics. Interaction designers focus more on research and testing to make sure the thing we build solves a user’s problem. Both roles come together to create an enjoyable experience for the user.
I tend to practice both roles with more of an emphasis on the visual design. This means I learn what the problem is, talk to the users to verify whether this is really where our time should be spent, design a solution, create prototypes, test them, and then refine the product until we have something that could ship.
How did you get into design?
When I was younger I was into art and drawing. Then in college, my girlfriend introduced me to Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. At the time I was in a band so I started to make a lot of bad band merch and flyers. I continued to play with the programs and started to refine the skill and eventually decided to go to school for design. After I graduated I moved into the digital realm and learned about user experience. That’s pretty much how I got to where I am today.
What inspires you?
Seeing the work that others do really inspires me. I am always keeping my eyes out for something new and innovative. I think just paying attention to your surroundings can really help inspire new ideas and understand what has been done before in the industry.
What’s your design process?
Before I can begin anything I need to understand why I am doing the work. Next I need to understand how I can best serve the user with the work I am doing. From there it is sketching, wire framing, prototyping and building in the browser.
What do you do when you feel stuck creatively?
I have a few different ways I handle being stuck. Sometimes I jump on the internet and check out Dribbble, Designspiration.net and other sites that collect examples of good design. My other way is to bring someone over to look at my work. Getting a fresh set of eyes and ideas on a project always helps. That’s a big reason why I love working on a team. I know I can bring someone over at any time to provide insight.
As an in-house designer, are there parts of your job that you didn’t expect you’d be doing when you went into design?
A big part of my job, and probably any designer’s job, is education. Living in the Midwest and working at a company that has been around for 100 years means education is necessary. I find that selling my team’s process and why it is important to the company is a bigger part of my career than I ever thought it would be. Educating people about current trends and new ideas is a big part of being a designer and when I was coming out of college I know I wasn’t thinking I’d have to do so much of it. That said, I enjoy the challenge and it is really rewarding when I can teach someone something new.
Do you freelance? What kind of work do you do?
I tend to not pick up freelance work. If I really think something will be fun to work on then I will, but I prefer to use my free time for relaxation, learning new things or working on personal projects.
Any advice for new designers?
Sure. I have a few things…
Attend local design get togethers and meet people.
I can honestly say that the opportunities I have had in my career were directly related to the people I met at local events. Get out there and meet the other people in this great community. You never know who will be there to help you move to the next level in your career. Plus you will probably meet a bunch of new friends. I know I did.
Don’t be a hero designer
What I mean by this is don’t think your way is always the right way. Test it, ask fellow designers for feedback and be open to new ideas. Great ideas can come from anywhere and if you aren’t open enough to listen to them you will miss them. Plus no one wants to work with someone that isn’t a team player.
In order to solve people’s problems you need to put yourself in their shoes and try to understand why it is a problem. Empathy will also help you when someone you are working with is getting frustrated. If you can understand where they are coming from you can formulate a way of communicating and working with them better in the future.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I like to spend time with friends and family, surf the internet for inspiration, watch Netflix and Hulu, go to the gym, play video games and occasionally play my guitar.
If you could meet anyone, alive or dead, this era or eras past, who would you meet and why?
Ok so probably very cliché but I would have to say I’d like to meet Steve Jobs. Even though I am sure he would probably be a jerk I’d like to just talk with him to understand his thought process. The man helped create a company that holds true to all the ideals of design. I just find that so fascinating and powerful for us designers so anything I could learn from him would be great.
Thanks for sharing your story with us, Tyson!
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