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I Am (Not) A Designer
Accep%ng	
  the	
  “Designer”	
  Label	
  On	
  Your	
  Terms	
  
Morgan Burton | @morgan_kb
#nolabe...
Eckhart Tolle
Give up defining yourself - to yourself or
to others[…]You can only lose something
that you have, but you ca...
[Obligatory Introductions]
#nolabels#notdesign
Hi! I’m Morgan.
• Native Texan (Type:
Houstonian)
• Loves bacon, BBQ (esp.
beef brisket) and hot
sauces
• Slightly obsesse...
Before all this…
Pre-med/biology
+
Informatics
+
Social/bio-psychology
+
Marketing
User Experience [Researcher/Architect]
...
PRELUDE:	
  A	
  PURPOSEFUL	
  DILEMMA	
  
“WHAT do you do again?”
#nolabels#notdesign
“So,	
  what	
  do	
  you	
  do?”	
  
I work in user experience.
#nolabels#notdesign
“So,	
  what	
  do	
  you	
  do?”	
  
I work in user experience.
#nolabels#notdesign
“Oh, you’re a user experience ?”
Photo by Benson Kua (CC license via Flickr)
NO. WAY.
- graphic, arty people
- crazy creatives
- don’t you need an art school degree?
- I don’t make websites (that oft...
The truth is…
I am (NOT) a designer.
[And so are(n’t) you]
#nolabels#notdesign
1.	
  DENIAL	
  
“Know Your Labels”
What Is Design, Anyway?
Design is in everything we make,
but it’s also between those things.
Erik Adigard
#nolabels#notdesign
de•sign /də’zīn/
noun: purpose, planning, or intention that exists
or is thought to exist behind an action, fact, or
mater...
plan + make + purpose
[ Have a ]
[ something ]
[ on ]
#nolabels#notdesign
TL;DL (Too Long; Didn’t Listen)
design = plan + make + purpose
You can’t deny what you don’t know
We plan – make – purpose...
…I could possibly be a designer.
#nolabels#notdesign
2.	
  ANGER	
  
“Breaking The Mold”
I used to worry about the labels
others placed on me… until I
realized my limitations weren’t
coming from their labels, bu...
#nolabels#notdesign
Drawing!
CODING!
BUSINESS!
“@#%=*! I’m
not creative!”
plan + make + purpose
[ Have a ]
[ something ]
[ on ]
#nolabels#notdesign
Purpose: The Only To-Do That Matters
What do you WANT people to do?
- Inspire
- Inform
- Alert
#nolabels#notdesign
[Insert picture of car simulation for
car sim alert story]
#nolabels#notdesign
TL;DL
Know the purpose of your work (whatever it is)
Designers do things for a reason
#nolabels#notdesign
But…WHO said it has to be this way?
#nolabels#notdesign
3.	
  NEGOTIATION	
  
“Something Old + New”
#nolabels#notdesign
QUESTION EVERYTHING
Look for new perspectives
INNOVATION: see old things with new
eyes
CREATIVITY: discover new things wit...
plan + make + purpose
[ Have a ]
[ something ]
[ on ]
#nolabels#notdesign
The Tension Gap
What I Know
What I Want To
Accomplish
shift_me
SYNTHESIS!	
  
Design is the intermediary
between information and
understanding.
Richard Grefé
#nolabels#notdesign
[Insert	
  picture	
  for	
  choice	
  arch	
  
story	
  here]	
  
#nolabels
Design =/= (only) Visual Arts
- Planning comes from analysis, which means we must
fully understand the problem.
- Need som...
TL;DL
Use what you know already to accomplish
what you want to do
shift_ thinking = shift_you
#nolabels
Checklist:
ü Understand design
ü Break social definition
ü Innovate and create w/ shift_Me
…I’m a “designer”!
#nolabels
4.	
  DEPRESSION	
  
“Get Lost (In Your Work)”
Research	
  isn’t	
  
design!	
  
What	
  do	
  you	
  mean	
  
“you	
  don’t	
  code	
  all	
  
the	
  %me”?!	
  
Designe...
The	
  truth	
  is…	
  
Stage 4: Depression
(“Get Lost In Your Work”)
It’s ok (even GOOD) to be different.
The	
  truth	
  is…	
  
Stage 4: Depression
(“Get Lost In Your Work”)
It’s ok (even GOOD) to be different.
Photo	
  :	
  Z...
plan + make + purpose
[ Have a ]
[ something ]
[ on ]
What will they remember you for?
[…] Invent something, develop a
unique skill… — it creates a talking
point.
Chris Arnold
[Insert picture for title vs. interest story]
Photo	
  :	
  Morgan	
  Burton	
  
That’s Not My Name!
- Old me: conforms to social definition
- shift_Me: makes new form from actual definition
“What do we ...
TL;DL
Focus on what you DO (function over definition)
Create your legacy
…because labels don’t matter.
The Prestige-ish Realization
[PLAN + MAKE]
I have all these ideas in my head:
- Better process
- Better interfaces
- Bette...
5.	
  ACCEPTANCE	
  
“I’m (not) a designer. And so are(n’t) you.”
Put it all together
- Define it
- Break conventions/boundaries
- Bring your experience to new ideas/concepts
- Create your...
ENDOSTORY	
  [KIND	
  OF].	
  
What’s In This For Me?
We need MORE divergent thinkers from EVERY field
- More differences = different design
- By creatin...
shift_ EVERYTHING.
• Mind [PLAN IT]
• Body [MAKE IT]
• Purpose [CHANGE IT]
Accept no one’s definition of life;
define yourself.
Harvey Fierstein
The [Actual] End.
Thank You!
Tweet me @morgan_kb
Link me /morgan.k.burton
On the web morgankb.com
morgan.burton@gmail.com
#nolabels#notdesign
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I Am (Not) A Designer: Accepting the Designer Label On Your Own Terms (SXSWi 2014)

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"User experience" has become a ubiquitous buzzword in technology; it's everywhere. However, most people understand me to be a designer. But was I? The truth is that I am (not) a designer, and so are(n't) you.

This panel describes my journey to accepting my "designer" label while making it my own. We examine: what does "design" mean, anyway? How do I "do" design, even if I don't draw? Who is in charge of the definition? How do I move forward as a designer and make the label work for me, even if others don't agree with my definition?

The answer is often found in how we define ourselves.

[This presentation was given at SXSW Interactive in Austin, TX on March 7, 2014. These are the PDFs of the presentation; please contact me about notes or if you have additional questions!]

Published in: Design
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I Am (Not) A Designer: Accepting the Designer Label On Your Own Terms (SXSWi 2014)

  1. 1. I Am (Not) A Designer Accep%ng  the  “Designer”  Label  On  Your  Terms   Morgan Burton | @morgan_kb #nolabels#notdesign
  2. 2. Eckhart Tolle Give up defining yourself - to yourself or to others[…]You can only lose something that you have, but you cannot lose something that you are. #nolabels#notdesign
  3. 3. [Obligatory Introductions] #nolabels#notdesign
  4. 4. Hi! I’m Morgan. • Native Texan (Type: Houstonian) • Loves bacon, BBQ (esp. beef brisket) and hot sauces • Slightly obsessed with wearable and ambient tech #nolabels#notdesign
  5. 5. Before all this… Pre-med/biology + Informatics + Social/bio-psychology + Marketing User Experience [Researcher/Architect] Interesting and fun; but I HATE GERMS. Who doesn’t LOVE information?! Why are people weird? How do I make these weirdos do what I want? #nolabels#notdesign
  6. 6. PRELUDE:  A  PURPOSEFUL  DILEMMA   “WHAT do you do again?”
  7. 7. #nolabels#notdesign
  8. 8. “So,  what  do  you  do?”   I work in user experience. #nolabels#notdesign
  9. 9. “So,  what  do  you  do?”   I work in user experience. #nolabels#notdesign
  10. 10. “Oh, you’re a user experience ?” Photo by Benson Kua (CC license via Flickr)
  11. 11. NO. WAY. - graphic, arty people - crazy creatives - don’t you need an art school degree? - I don’t make websites (that often) I am so NOT a designer. #nolabels#notdesign
  12. 12. The truth is… I am (NOT) a designer. [And so are(n’t) you] #nolabels#notdesign
  13. 13. 1.  DENIAL   “Know Your Labels”
  14. 14. What Is Design, Anyway?
  15. 15. Design is in everything we make, but it’s also between those things. Erik Adigard #nolabels#notdesign
  16. 16. de•sign /də’zīn/ noun: purpose, planning, or intention that exists or is thought to exist behind an action, fact, or material object. verb: to plan and make (something) for a specific use or purpose #nolabels#notdesign
  17. 17. plan + make + purpose [ Have a ] [ something ] [ on ] #nolabels#notdesign
  18. 18. TL;DL (Too Long; Didn’t Listen) design = plan + make + purpose You can’t deny what you don’t know We plan – make – purpose all the time! #nolabels#notdesign
  19. 19. …I could possibly be a designer. #nolabels#notdesign
  20. 20. 2.  ANGER   “Breaking The Mold”
  21. 21. I used to worry about the labels others placed on me… until I realized my limitations weren’t coming from their labels, but from my own. Steve Maraboli #nolabels#notdesign
  22. 22. #nolabels#notdesign
  23. 23. Drawing!
  24. 24. CODING!
  25. 25. BUSINESS!
  26. 26. “@#%=*! I’m not creative!”
  27. 27. plan + make + purpose [ Have a ] [ something ] [ on ] #nolabels#notdesign
  28. 28. Purpose: The Only To-Do That Matters What do you WANT people to do? - Inspire - Inform - Alert #nolabels#notdesign
  29. 29. [Insert picture of car simulation for car sim alert story] #nolabels#notdesign
  30. 30. TL;DL Know the purpose of your work (whatever it is) Designers do things for a reason #nolabels#notdesign
  31. 31. But…WHO said it has to be this way? #nolabels#notdesign
  32. 32. 3.  NEGOTIATION   “Something Old + New”
  33. 33. #nolabels#notdesign
  34. 34. QUESTION EVERYTHING Look for new perspectives INNOVATION: see old things with new eyes CREATIVITY: discover new things with same eyes #nolabels#notdesign
  35. 35. plan + make + purpose [ Have a ] [ something ] [ on ] #nolabels#notdesign
  36. 36. The Tension Gap What I Know What I Want To Accomplish shift_me SYNTHESIS!  
  37. 37. Design is the intermediary between information and understanding. Richard Grefé #nolabels#notdesign
  38. 38. [Insert  picture  for  choice  arch   story  here]   #nolabels
  39. 39. Design =/= (only) Visual Arts - Planning comes from analysis, which means we must fully understand the problem. - Need some background knowledge – which you have (life experience) - Things we know + new ways = INNOVATION plan + make + purpose
  40. 40. TL;DL Use what you know already to accomplish what you want to do shift_ thinking = shift_you #nolabels
  41. 41. Checklist: ü Understand design ü Break social definition ü Innovate and create w/ shift_Me …I’m a “designer”! #nolabels
  42. 42. 4.  DEPRESSION   “Get Lost (In Your Work)”
  43. 43. Research  isn’t   design!   What  do  you  mean   “you  don’t  code  all   the  %me”?!   Designers   draw…   #foreveralone
  44. 44. The  truth  is…   Stage 4: Depression (“Get Lost In Your Work”) It’s ok (even GOOD) to be different.
  45. 45. The  truth  is…   Stage 4: Depression (“Get Lost In Your Work”) It’s ok (even GOOD) to be different. Photo  :  Zoos  Victoria  (Australia)  
  46. 46. plan + make + purpose [ Have a ] [ something ] [ on ]
  47. 47. What will they remember you for? […] Invent something, develop a unique skill… — it creates a talking point. Chris Arnold
  48. 48. [Insert picture for title vs. interest story] Photo  :  Morgan  Burton  
  49. 49. That’s Not My Name! - Old me: conforms to social definition - shift_Me: makes new form from actual definition “What do we call you?” Who actually cares?!
  50. 50. TL;DL Focus on what you DO (function over definition) Create your legacy …because labels don’t matter.
  51. 51. The Prestige-ish Realization [PLAN + MAKE] I have all these ideas in my head: - Better process - Better interfaces - Better systems - Better tools [PURPOSE] AND I’m learning new things! …wait a second.
  52. 52. 5.  ACCEPTANCE   “I’m (not) a designer. And so are(n’t) you.”
  53. 53. Put it all together - Define it - Break conventions/boundaries - Bring your experience to new ideas/concepts - Create your title by what you DO You are (not) a designer.
  54. 54. ENDOSTORY  [KIND  OF].  
  55. 55. What’s In This For Me? We need MORE divergent thinkers from EVERY field - More differences = different design - By creating with purpose, you embody design - Innovate + create
  56. 56. shift_ EVERYTHING. • Mind [PLAN IT] • Body [MAKE IT] • Purpose [CHANGE IT]
  57. 57. Accept no one’s definition of life; define yourself. Harvey Fierstein
  58. 58. The [Actual] End.
  59. 59. Thank You! Tweet me @morgan_kb Link me /morgan.k.burton On the web morgankb.com morgan.burton@gmail.com #nolabels#notdesign

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