Eight tips from my first year at EightShapes

Today is my first anniversary at EightShapes. During the last year, I’ve gotten to contribute to a ton of great UX projects. Besides deepening my skills in UX, I also improved my softer skills and habits, ones that I know I’ll continue to use and build.

Eight things I’ve learned in the past year

Here are eight tips, ranging from communication to project management to mental health. I hope they’ll help you as they have me.

  1. If you’re not sure of what you’re doing, or how you’re doing it, ask for advice or more information. Never be afraid to seek clarification.
  2. When you find yourself describing a design or an idea for too long,  you should probably get out your pen, paper, and IPEVO Camera.
  3. Being able to “point” makes remote presentations much more effective. The OS X screenshot tool (Command + Shift + 4) lets  you highlight part of your screen while screen sharing. Try it; you’ll like it.
  4. Although the abbreviation “yt?” stands for “You there?,” it actually means, “Hey, are you ok with me bothering you (or should I email you instead)?” and “Do you have your chat window outside of your screen share?”
  5. When it comes to keeping track of shared and assigned tasks, Basecamp To Do lists rock. They’re even more awesome if you share the list while you make it with your colleague.
  6. Projects are more successful when you have frequent check-ins with your team lead, and—bonus—they’re more fun that way, too.
  7. There are at least two good reasons to cowork: It’s a great way to get stuff done, and sometimes you just need to work in the same space as another person.
  8. brisk walk before work is bound to make the day 20%-100% better than it would be without the walk. It works on any kind of day; days that would otherwise be good days become great days!

A big thanks

I must extend a big thanks to Dan for being such a helpful and frank mentor—he encouraged many of the improved habits above. Thank you to the Shapers for making me welcome and teaching me, and thank you to the DC UX community who helped me build the confidence and the knowledge to join this team.

Thanks, everybody!

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About Veronica Erb

Designs, researches, illustrates, and writes code. Plays ukulele. Dances Balboa. Grew up in a geodesic dome, and hasn't gotten over it.
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