In this week’s episode, Jonathan Bowman, a Design Leader at Machinify and co-founder of the Board of Design provides his insights on the critical topic of design feedback. He helps demystify feedback and helps us view feedback as a powerful tool for collaboration and our own growth so we can become more impactful at work.
Highlights from our conversation
- Should designers know how to code? Designers should learn to talk to developers and learn about the basic frameworks and structures to have better conversations.
- Jonathan shares what he loves about design.
- We dove into the topic of feedback to learn how we can approach it with a productive perspective.
- Jonathan helps us see feedback in a new light which can help us put our guard down and gain the benefits of this powerful tool.
- Learn how to get good feedback, curate it, and synthesize it to make the most of it.
- Jonathan shares concrete ways to set yourself up for success when seeking feedback.
- Hear how to manage different types of feedback that will empower you to lead a feedback session.
- Learn how to lead with curiosity instead of emotions to get the feedback you need.
- Learn how to prevent emotions from creeping in when seeking feedback.
- We also explored how best to give feedback to others.
- Learn what matters when you provide your own feedback and how to make it actionable.
- Designers can't be lazy when it comes to feedback, both when seeking and delivering feedback. It is a lot of work to prepare. So be a prepared designer, not a lazy one!
- Learn how to take steps toward becoming better at getting feedback.
- Learn how to set yourself up for success when seeking feedback within a design tool like Figma.
Learn about Jonathan's new initiative to bring licensure to the design and research field. This idea works well in many other fields; is it time to bring it into UX?
Learn more about Jonathan
The American Board of Design https://twitter.com/board_of_design
Jonatahn Bowman Ep. 16
Rizwan Javaid: welcome to another episode of the Low Fidelity Podcast. I'm your host, Rizwan Javaid today I have a very special guest, Jonathan Bowman. He's a friend, mentor, an all around great guy, and I'm really excited to speak with him and have this conversation today. Because his insights helped me look at a concept and an idea from a different point of view that one that I probably didn't consider.
So I'm really excited to learn more from him today on the topic that we'll discuss. So yeah. So let's get started. Welcome to the show, Jonathan.
Jonathan Bowman: Thank you. It's always awesome to hear. These welcomes because you are not only flattered, but a little bit surprised. I'm glad . I can be a voice of reason. I definitely don't see myself as that, but thank you.
Rizwan Javaid: You've definitely helped me many times. I've come calling and you've been there for your support and encouragement and telling things like it is. So I really appreciate that about you.
Jonathan Bowman: So Yeah, absolutely.
I think we need more of that. I think what if for two months designers just supported each other, , that would be really impactful. So I think we should all support each other. So I'm a big fan. Yeah. Yeah, definitely. I'm excited to be
Rizwan Javaid: we've we've been on another podcast episode and so we definitely have a lot to talk about on the topic today.
Before we get started please go ahead and introduce yourself to the audience and share a little bit about your design journey.
Jonathan Bowman: Yeah, sure. So I think my design journey started probably since I could actually remember. My dad was a hardware designer. He worked for companies like Texas Instruments.
He did hardware for a lot of like computer based products and things like that. And I just when people ask this question, I just look back and see where I got my start. And that's really where I got my start. And maybe that's where a lot of us did when we were younger.
But I remember just the influence of having him around and him designing things like hardware and pushing me to, to hone my craft. It really started a long time ago, I think after after a period of kind of rejecting that and not wanting to follow in those footsteps.
I explored medicine a little bit that was interesting for a while, but then I came back to my re so to speak, and started designing like late in the late nineties building aftermarket auto parts. I would get into CAD and someone wanted a more aerodynamic. 300 ZX Nissan or something like that.
So we designed them some really cool aerodynamic type of kits. And then we would test them in this clean room and check to see if it's faster and things like that. It was exciting. That's where I came back to my craft and the owner of that company said, Hey, I'm spinning off a digital magazine.
Back then in those days, everyone wanted a online magazine with flash cartoons and stuff like that. And the funny thing is, he and I would joke on the way to lunch, so he would take everybody off to lunch. He was really, and we would come up with essentially there were memes back then.
There were just cutouts of newspaper articles and we would draw captions at the bottom and play around with that. So we had a cool relationship where we were just creating things and creating funny jokes and laughing and being hilarious. And he said, Hey do you wanna come to this new company I'm starting, which is an online magazine called GX Planet?
And I was like, Yeah, that sounds great. Had no clue what I was doing. , he asked me to be in charge of writing, directing cartoon shows. I thought that was interesting. But one thing that led me back into design was we were using flash, and Flash was of old. But at the time it was all we had and we were using flash to animate.
And over the weekend I pounded a bunch of Red Bulls because. I wanted to see what this was all about and I wanted to speed up production of the cartoons and I wanted to go ahead and test it out myself. And I was kinda like hooked after that. After learning flash and then everything is history after that, so to speak, because know, I had a good network there.
I met a lot of really amazing people and one of the first things that most folks asked designers to do, at least back then was, Hey, I need a website. Can you help me make mine? So yeah, that kind of spun off my career into design. As the iPhone came out, I realized that there's a really different aspect to design or different discipline emerging that was always there, but more important for ux.
And I got a job working on the East coast in Norfolk, Virginia. with a DoD company. And yeah, I was building dashboards and creating interfaces that are visual base for folks that are trying to find out quick information. That was a cool job, but I felt like I needed to be near more designers and other folks like me.
Cause I wanted to still develop and grow. So I came out here to Silicon Valley in 2012 and I've been here ever since. And just did the circuit designing and building really cool things. Super amazing things. If you spend any time here, you'll touch a lot of cool things. I think that's yeah, that's the long version.
It's interesting because if you ask me candidly, like what it was like around that time I'm seeing a lot of similar sort of patterns right now. One thing that I remember and I was talking to folks about is like the titles and what we called ourselves and things like that.
And the titles that, of what we call ourself now, it's all kinda getting confusing. So I think yeah I I think we need to be careful to not have that kinda stuff happen to us again. . Yeah.
Rizwan Javaid: So you said you started off in the physical design and you moved into digital. How was that transition for you?
Jonathan Bowman: Yeah, it's a good question. I think I think for me it was like I was doing something that was exciting, right? You tell any, anyone like, Hey, you're gonna make this car not only look cool, but go like five miles faster or something like, . So I think that was one of the appeals.
The other thing is alluded to it, but I'll just kinda see it. I've been doing that for years, like before that, right? Like my dad was a CAD designer before cad. He was literally just pulling out little thin pieces of tape and sometimes the tape was already predesigned where he would build computer chips and stuff like that.
That sort of designed by immersion or that training academic environment by immersion was something that was very second nature to me. But making that transition from something that you've produced physically, that someone. Out of fiberglass and then going to something that's digital.
I think that was a sort of organic progression because most of the pushback for me was like, I don't wanna do what my dad does. And not cuz I didn't like my dad or anything like that. It's mostly I think you wanna stand out yourself and make your own a name for yourself, right? So I think, and then that transition was almost super organic because it was, I'm not kidding you, it was literally a weekend where I grabbed, I dunno if Red Bull was out that time, around that time, but I thought it was something similar to that.
I grabbed a couple of those and pounded a couple of those and said, I'm gonna learn this. I pushed myself through again through frustrations. Like we weren't getting these cartoons out fast enough. I wanted to understand how it worked. I wanted to make sure that I understood how it worked in case I needed to be the one.
Building these things. So it was almost an organic transition to this is the need, let's go ahead and do it. And besides, I was already sketching the actual sketches doing all the actual layout. So I think it was a pretty natural step over, it was pretty, pretty organic for me.
Yeah. So it
Rizwan Javaid: sounds like you had the foundation, this the way you were thinking about design,
Jonathan Bowman: the the experience the you The sketching and you, so you were able to explore your ideas and it was just a natural transition into digital
where you could apply all of those and not miss a beat.
Yeah. And yeah, driven too by just this really strong desire to learn and understand, which I think is a hallmark of a lot of good designers is you have that in you all the time. and it's a kind of blessing and a curse, but that's what pushes us. We wanna learn more and understand more.
Rizwan Javaid: Any thoughts on how to bring that feeling of wanting to dive into a topic or a subject or something to learn to strengthen new skills and strengthen areas that you need to
Jonathan Bowman: Any thoughts on how to go about that? Yeah I don't wanna say it's easy cuz it's not right.
Like a lot of us are very different and even through some genomics projects I've done, there's just a fact that like some of the things we're just not gonna. But if you don't feel like you have that and you want that and you want to get it what's your driver like? That's the most natural way to do it, is for me, I was driven because when I get into meetings and I'm talking to the flash animators and they're talking about code and I don't know what they're saying that kind of made me feel like left out.
Yeah. Or when I'm asking them hey can this be done? And if I got pushed back or told no, I wanted to understand why and maybe in my own head, so I think that's where you can tap into to to push yourself more like for someone who wants to lose a lot of weight and wants to run.
You can get hyper focus on the benefits of running. And that might push you or how you feel or that dopamine rush that you get. Or whatever you latch onto, you can latch onto. So I think for me, latching onto, I need to know what folks are talking about so I can articulate what I need to get done quicker.
That's a business need and I'm gonna translate that into a driver to get me to figure this out. So next time we're talking the conversation's five seconds instead of five minutes. Yeah, I
Rizwan Javaid: think that's a great point that you bring up. As a designer you're working with developers and if you can't speak their language, then there's that disconnect.
And and it's something that, you know we can do is to, you don't have to learn full stack programming, but you should be comfortable speaking with developers, understand the challenges they have as a designer. In that whole argument of it should designers, code , I think it's you should be comfortable with it.
You should know what you're talking about because that's just gonna make your designs better and not turn you into a developer, but have that conversation and have it faster.
Jonathan Bowman: And being able, or being aware of challenges and being happy and to accept them and take them on because your yeah, your growth comes from challenges and comes.
These difficult things that we face. So absolutely should designers learn to code, you should learn to talk and you can't really talk someone's language if you don't understand the basic frameworks and structures that they use. Yeah. So I think it's super helpful. And then that goes with anything like if you're working at a company that's like a company for a legal services if you don't understand a lot of the terminology, you're gonna kinda feel left out.
So yeah, I think you should definitely push yourself. And we do that. We really, we are really good at that. Yeah, I
Rizwan Javaid: guess it's this developers is just one example it's the same with marketing, same with business. We need to speak their language, understand what their challenges are, what is important for them, and then so then they can we can
Jonathan Bowman: be a better partner for.
That's absolutely a hundred percent true. Cool.
Rizwan Javaid: So what do you enjoy the most about
Jonathan Bowman: design? What do I enjoy the most? That the answer to that question changes every few years or so , I think yeah, if you asked me like 10 years ago, that'd be something different. 20 years ago it'd be something different.
I don't know. I think for the most part, what I love the most is it's one of these fields where it's deceptively technical . So I think there's a way to operating as a designer that allows you to see the technicality in it and the systems in it and work in an angle as a designer in that way, which allows you to take on larger and larger challenges.
And work through bigger and bigger problems. And that to me is probably the most exciting thing. When you say do you want design a dashboard? That's pretty complex. There's a loaded question. There's a lot in there that you have to know and understand.
There's a lot of skills you have to bring to the table, but what if you had to design it as with constraints and what if this constraints are very technical constraints. And so for me it's like that's the level of design that I like and I get excited about is Oh my gosh this has been done before, but not in this context.
And it's gonna take a lot of really deep thinking to take up to understanding what the best approach is. So I think, yeah, I think the technicality of design is what I like most about. That's, Yeah.
Rizwan Javaid: I think that technicality of collaborating with different teams, working with them to work within the constraints, work within the timeframe that you have the abilities that the team has and still deliver something that is a great experience.
That's where the, I think the
Jonathan Bowman: satisfaction lies. Yeah. That's a big challenge too. The people factor, like we can probably design all day without any problems in a vacuum, without any feedback or anyone helping us or talking to us. But , what'd you say? ? Dribble. . We should talk about that because I think we answered.
The should. Designers co caution gracefully and honestly and as well as anyone could. But what's up with Dribble? Why do people hate it? I wanna know. I honestly wanna know. Cause I think it's great.
Rizwan Javaid: Yeah, no, it's I think it's good.
Jonathan Bowman: I'm just like a lot of times it is just just the ui like without ah, yeah.
Rizwan Javaid: Without any input from stakeholders. You can design beautiful interfaces, but if it, but they, and they all start
Jonathan Bowman: looking the same. Yeah. So that's the I hear you. Okay. I mean there's definitely
Rizwan Javaid: Real
Jonathan Bowman: Designs there I don't wanna say anything bad about those. So it's just It's the visual UI.
Rizwan Javaid: A cookie cutter designs here I I updated Spotify's ui
Jonathan Bowman: Unsolicited. Unsolicited redos. Yeah. Okay. That's a good argument that you're not really getting that sort of in the field organizational change management sort of experience, but I don't think that's what dribbles for.
I think it's just that there is some cool stuff up and have everyone clap for you. And if we leave it at that pin, it's working, right? ? Yeah. Cool. Cool.
Rizwan Javaid: I wanna learn more about your new project that you're working on. I'll leave that for after our conversation on the topic. Cause that's really interesting.
I wanted to dive into getting feedback. Feedback is a big topic for designers.
Jonathan Bowman: It's It's challenging for for everybody, whether you're new or experienced, and it's something that you have to evolve and learn from your mistakes or you have to go through the battle to come out and be able to manage feedback well.
Rizwan Javaid: And so today I'd love to get your thoughts on it. Why is feedback important in the design process and even
Jonathan Bowman: for the designers? Yeah, that's a very awesome topic, and I wanted to talk about this because I think there's super cool tidbits and tips we can explore and hopefully it helps folks that are listening too.
Feedback, What does it mean? When you look at it from the hum, human computer interaction sort of model, understanding that when you tap on a key, the key presents itself on the sort of interface and you can see that something happened, right? So in that respect, it's probably pretty easy to quantify what feedback is.
It's you do something, you then you see a result, right? Or you find a result or you you present it with the result, right? Or you get feedback essentially, right? So I think there's a very rudimentary definition there that's important. Foundationally understand so now it's less invasive.
It becomes less threatening and becomes what it is, Right? And if we think about it that way, that helps us dive into receiving it because we gotta understand that this is, there's an input and there's an output. And so looking at it like that really helped me in my career.
It's just understanding if someone raised their voice, maybe that's how they talk. If someone sounded passionate, maybe that's just what the output of them expressing themselves sounds it's a lot harder to get those vibes on a like a Slack or something like that,
But I think that's the second thing is number one is understand that you put something out there and you're going to get something back. Number two, understand that like we never intend no matter who the folks are. There obviously could be some exceptions, but we never intend to give feedback in a manner that's upsetting disruptful or hurtful or anything like that.
So we need to also understand that everyone has good intentions or at least start there until proven otherwise. So now those two things take it from a level of like stress and anxiety and worry to now you're like, Okay, when I go talk to Brad, I gotta understand that he's just given me feedback and I need to extract what that means.
I need to analyze it and I need to get work through understanding what that means. And that's the third thing is like feedback is not clear. It's going to be something that's coming from a lens of that person that you're talking to. So if you are an engineer and you're giving feedback on a design, a lot of what your concerns are gonna be focused on are naturally gonna be around your work and how the design your work, right?
So that's the third thing to consider too. It's it's not gonna necessarily be delivered in a way that makes sense to you. And I guess the final kind of fourth thing to understand is you're, you should have a goal, like when you're getting feedback, you should have a goal. The goal should be what to make a decision on something.
Is it to understand where you might have gone wrong, Where you need to kind bring yourself back into the box you're trying to design in. Or something like that. So you can't just go into it blindly and say, Hey, what do you think about this? So I think that and I guess like a fifth one would be preparation, prepare, set things up really nicely so you have content that you're looking at that really matters and it's valuable.
For example anything that could potentially be extra distracting in your UI when you're just trying to get feedback on a header, it doesn't make a whole heck of a lot of sense to show everything. And maybe you wanna show everything, but you wanna push back or dial back the other content, and that's setting yourself up for success.
So all these little tips can get you to get good feedback and then curate your feedback and then synthesize your feedback in a way that's meaningful and valuable and productive for everybody. And then if now it's not a a point of contention, it's a exercise in. How much I prepared and what my goal was.
And we do that all the time. So if we do that all the time, what's the difference here? We do that when we put out cool products and we're over there making Uber or something like that, right? We do that all the time. We present the best thing, like dribble, . We show that to folks.
We get we curate the feedback, we write down, maybe we write down a list of questions that we wanna understand more about, right? So it's really I think the feedback's only scary because subconsciously you didn't prepare, you didn't have a way to curate what you're trying to get across, and you're seeing things as threatening when maybe they're not.
Because I've been in actually this past week I had feedback and I was in a session where it sounded like the person. If you weren't, if you didn't know this person, good friend of mine, but if you didn't know this person sounded like he was yelling, sounded like he was angry, It sounded like you just got berated.
But you gotta remember, we're all going through stuff like we're all we all have our problems that we're going to. And when someone hears something in a certain way when it's thrown on them without any preparation, without any plan, without any goal, and it's loose, that's when you know you're gonna have to realize that, okay, you're, you might get a reaction and feedback, which is very different.
You don't want reactions, you want curated feedback that you're funneling into these really small buckets. And here's an example. Let's go back to the header thing. So if I wanted a header if I wanted header feedback, . Big question is, why am I asking for that? Is this already, Has this already been done?
Are there guiding principles out there? Are there some design laws and things like that can get me to more of a hundred percent? And the answer is yes. Excuse me. So the answer is yes. You do have a lot of other resources. So if you're going in to ask about is it okay to have my profile icon over here and then my sign out, add a sign out button on the left.
Okay, you didn't you didn't set this up, set yourself up for success, right? Cause there's already things like walls of proximity and stuff like that. So once you get to that point where you actually have the header after you've done your due diligence and you've stuck with your constraints and your rules for design, Now you're ready for feedback.
You're not gonna get a reaction in the first scenario with a signup button on the top left and a profile icon on the far right. You're gonna get a reaction, and that's what you don't want. And that's where people conflate, reactionary responses with feedback. Someone's gonna go, What are you doing?
This is crazy. Oh my gosh, why would you put the sign out button there? Where is our branding gonna go? ? So those are reactions, and you're gonna get this. What you don't want is that. So set yourself for success by having a plan. And that plan should be, today we're going to be looking at the header. We're going to discuss all the items that populate from the profile button.
These are the things that we talked about last week. Maybe list them out and these are things that I added. And now let's take a look at how it works. Excuse me. And I think that gets you to a level where you have some structure and you're ready to talk and you're ready to get good feedback.
Rizwan Javaid: Nice. Yeah, that's you definitely provided some great insights there, especially around just how do we prepare ourselves to get the right feedback. And I can remember from when I started, cuz I had a lot of challenges with feedback
Jonathan Bowman: and and I can tell you yes, it was because I wasn't prepared.
Rizwan Javaid: I wasn't providing the right context, I was just doing, here's the design, what do you think of it? And you know that's setting us up for failure because the other person who we is asking feedback from and doesn't have context, And like you said, they will provide reactions instead of feedback.
And I think that's really good distinction. And if if, just remember reaction versus versus feedback and you know that can help you remember what you need to do to make sure you get the type of response that you.
Jonathan Bowman: Yeah. Yeah. We design stuff every day and it's hard because we look at this as like a soft skill or something.
That's not our job, but it is your job. If you designed if you had a party at your house and you wanted to lay out all of the food in a specific order so someone can construct the taco you wouldn't have the plates at the end of the line, right? So same thing for us. It's just loving yourself right?
To actually put in the effort to go get the feedback. And it's a lot of work. I'm not going to sugarcoat it, It's a lot of work. But over timeing, you'll get faster and with more experience, you'll have a good formula for, it's, you'll make your own little template. It's just a matter of setting yourself up for success and coming up with a quick.
Rizwan Javaid: That's really good. I really like the word you used, love yourself and set yourself up for success. So it's good to know what you need to do and why you need to do this. Cause you want the best results
Jonathan Bowman: for yourself and for your project.
Rizwan Javaid: Doing your due diligence, doing you delivering the designs with the right context, with the right information so that you can get
Jonathan Bowman: the right feedback at the right time.
Rizwan Javaid: So it's, it is definitely an art it's an art. So the more you practice, the more you understand, you know what works for you what doesn't. So it'll just make
Jonathan Bowman: you a better designer. Yeah. And realize you have that framework already. You have those skills already of the structure already.
You're just applying it to something that's a little new and it's a little, you're a little apprehensive at first cuz you're like, Wow. And I go out there and everyone sees this what are they gonna say? And it's okay if folks say that I don't like the way it looks, but what's your job is then next is to put on that user research hat and dig into that and say ask them why they don't like the way it looks and understand better what they're trying to say.
Cause a lot of times folks might say that, but what they're really talking about you're not center aligned across the top of your your header .
Rizwan Javaid: Yeah. I think I can remember to my, again, to my early days is if somebody had told me, Oh, I don't like it, or It needs to be blue, the button needs to be blue, I would've just taken it at face value and
I would've felt bad and after the meeting and after the presentation cause I didn't have, didn't understand that I need to dig in to why people are making those statements was
Jonathan Bowman: Yeah. Yeah. That's another thing too. I think that's, so we talked about a lot of the structuring right. And how to get. get yourself set up to go and even do this and ask for feedback. But I think the, now, the next part is what's, what happens when you're getting it and what, when you're getting it.
Again, it's a sort of lens thing and translation job that you're going to have to do. Yeah, it's if you're in a room talking to someone from Italy, someone from Germany, someone from France you're gonna have to really do a lot of work to dig deep and understand what exactly they're saying.
And what I mean by that is, is I talked about it a little bit earlier, is engineers are gonna have a different lens. They're gonna be focused on how long is this gonna take me? What's my death? Is this something that's comp complex or is this trivial? And product might be focused on is this even worth dedicating the time?
What's the ROI for this? And things like that. Everyone's got these sort of things that they're worried about and they're focusing on. If you have marketing folks in there, that's different too. So I think it's really important to know your team and know the folks you work with. Study them, understand, you know what they care about.
Start hanging out with them in a way that's gonna allow you to hear some of their concerns and things like that. So when you go into these feedback sessions you're clear on what SWOT analysis means or something like that, right? And if you're not clear, it's okay to ask and use that session to ask a ton of questions, cuz that's the other misconception.
This is not a time where you show someone something. And then you're sitting down and they just go through it and look at it. It's mostly a sort of back and forth engagement where you need to understand what folks are saying and ask a lot of important questions. And some feedback can be vague.
So how do you handle that? If someone's I don't know, I just don't like it. That doesn't seem helpful, But you don't need to be reactionary in this scenario either because that's not productive. You don't need to get mad or bring your emotions into it. What you need to do when folks are being ambiguous, it's just drive to clarity.
Tell me why you don't like, And that's not threatening, that's not rude. That's just a response to it. I don't know why. I just don't like it. And then keep digging in a very respectful, professional way. And then you'll eventually get to I don't like it because we used it on our last project and that didn't go so well.
And then you ask for more details and more information. Oh who, who did the user research on that product? Our project? Who has the data, the information was it tested? And things like that. And you're not trying to react, you're just trying to get all the information because you didn't have it before.
So this is actually super beneficial and that's what I think the most, if you take away anything from this, it's feedback is massively helpful. because what you can do is maybe there is some a previous designer, a previous team that had some data or had already tried some of this, and if you didn't know, that's totally okay that happens.
But now you can go and take a look at those studies or take a look at those, that user research and use that to inform you. In a situation that you could've reacted when someone said, I don't like that and I don't know why, and you could've just kind flown off the cuff, you actually uncovered something that was really pivotal and helpful to you by just talking through it.
And that's, I think the kind of the biggest thing is when you're working through this, don't let it be one sided. Make sure that you're constantly driving to clarity. And it's okay to even repeat in summarize and say things like, Okay, I understand that you didn't like this because we've done this before.
Is that right? Yeah. And I also understand that there's some data and some PowerPoints we can get to back up that it didn't work. I'm going to talk with so and so to go get it. So I think that's, that if you have the, this sort of formula written down, you'll see that you have to prepare.
And then the second part is you have to really dig into what people are saying and don't take the first reactionary response as something you should react to. Start to, or even ambiguous response, but start to dig in and start to really get to the bottom of what's going on there. You're like a detective at this point.
Rizwan Javaid: so bring your curiosity to the, to, to the feedback instead of your emotions
Jonathan Bowman: and Dig in, like you said, dig into the reasons why people are providing that feedback. If there's anything you are missing, anything that you've left out or something that that can improve the designs.
Rizwan Javaid: So going in with the mindset that you are just trying to uncover, like you said be a detective and make sure that what you're delivering is exactly what is needed. Together with everybody. So it's a team sport. It's not a designers versus marketing designer versus business designer versus at the world.
It's, we're all working towards the same goal. Everybody has their their goals and we're just we're working together to make sure we all end up where we need to. Yeah. And I think there's a couple of hidden points that kind of came out when we were discussing this, and one is how do you not get your emotions into this?
Jonathan Bowman: It's not through reacting. It starts way at the beginning when you were designing. So when you're designing, you're already making the decision that you're gonna love what you're designing and that approach. This is why I said, when you asked me what is the thing I love most about design is the technicality of it.
Because when you get to the level of loving things, That's already putting yourself in a world where when you show something to someone you're ready to react, right? So that's one critical piece that we didn't discuss is you need to make sure from the beginning that you're looking at objective things, and you're making you're making calls objectively, not from your heart.
You're making calls based on what it's good for the user. Is it good to put this button up here in the top right? Is that a common pattern? What are the heuristics if they have to learn how to click on something that's in the top left and there's no branding. So I think that's super, super important to say is like you need to start looking at designing at that level because now you're getting.
On you, the amount of time you need to spend is reduced because you've already got common patterns. You've already got things knocked out and outta the way, and then there's less of a need to even get emotionally involved because you are just trying to get to the point where you're understanding where things go and how things work.
So that's, I think that's pretty critical to point out.
Rizwan Javaid: How about when designers are going through design critiques and providing feedback? What are some suggestions you would make? How to deliver great feedback. How to deliver great feedback. Okay. Let's pause on that cuz I thought of something else really quick. Okay. So when you're there in your session, And you're you're talking through and you're getting feedback. We talked about something that could help reduce getting a bunch of reactionary feedback.
Jonathan Bowman: And that's to come prepared and then show things that aren't out of the norm where the six are solid and things like that. And then another thing to think about when it comes to this is you want to go in actually let's just stop . I lost my train of thought.
Okay. So yeah. So if we're shifting over to talking about folks that are gonna give feedback, you're going into a critique, right? You as the designer. So yeah, so now if you're not the designer and you've been invited to a session, how can you help people like, remember at the beginning, I don't know.
Maybe we're gonna cut this off or not, but we did bring up supporting people, right? If designers like supported people for two days solid out of the year, what kind of massive impact would we have? So you as the feedback e or the person or feedback as the person that's been invited to a session.
Hopefully you have a little bit of lead time. Hopefully you've been told maybe realistically a couple days or maybe even a week, and that's your chance to reply and respond to the person that's setting up the session to help guide them, right? You can go ahead and start kicking off some really good conversations or thoughts by seeing, Hey, do you have anything you can send us now that we can.
Or saying, Hey, what's the agenda or what topic are we are going over? Or what UI item are we looking at? And hopefully those things are already laid out. But even if they're not or if they're not, that's your chance to already starting to set the tone of helping someone think about being prepared.
Prepared and having a plan and breaking things out. And you'll be surprised. People are amazing. Humans are amazing with a little bit of that sort of guidance, especially like self-starter type people, they're gonna go, Oh, you know what? I need to go and write a nice agenda and break this. And they'll go do that.
So that, so again we're thinking it starts at the time of the session. All this stuff happens way. So that might help that person go ahead and structure this better. And then when you're there, your goal is to not react and let's be honest, there could be something pretty egregious that you would react to, okay?
But don't react because you are trying to talk about things objectively and technically. And that's all you're trying to do. And the other thing is ask the person what they're trying to get feedback on. And if it's pretty well laid out, then that makes your job easier. If it's a little bit unstructured, that's where it gets in the zone of okay let's.
Identify some key things that we wanna look at. So sometimes depending on how mature the person's looking for feedback is, you're not gonna have that structure. And it's okay for you to inject it if you know a little bit more about these sessions. So that's my recommendation is early on, start trying to get some structure there.
Then when you're looking at this your goal, hopefully, let's say it was defined. Like I need you to look at my header and tell me if this is a common pattern and everyone thinks that no one will have a problem with it. Okay, little subjective, but what have you. Let's look at it.
And then your goal is to talk through the header and you talk objectively. You don't focus on I don't like that. I hate it when people use that font or, I don't like this thick borderlines. It doesn't matter what you like . What matters is that you're giving good, effective feedback that's actionable.
Can I take what you know Brad said and run back to my desk and start doing some cool things? So you need to make sure that everything you're saying is also curated and you don't bring up things that are superfluous or don't matter or bring in extra things that aren't helpful. Your focus would be to say, Hey, I took a look at your header and from what I'm seeing, this is good.
This makes sense. These are common patterns. I don't feel like any user will have a problem with this. Start with the good. If there's something you don't see that, or that you see that might be problematic, then explore that and say, Now that's great, but I think you need to take a consideration.
The I don't know, typeface, and then explain why. Most most folks are using this on a desktop. Most folks have like a. Are using this on a laptop, let's say, and have smaller screens. And our customers don't have really nice laptops, so their resolution isn't so great. So if you look at this typeface in a really not so great $300 laptop on Windows Explorer, it doesn't look right.
So let's take a look at it together. Show them it's a lot better to show than talk through it and say, Hey, I happen to have a laptop. Let's take a look at what that looks like. Send me your image. Let's take a look. And then, or maybe it's online, you can take a look and then that will help you steer this session and to this is what's wrong.
This is what you can do about it. Or this is, and this is why it's wrong. As opposed to, I don't like, Yeah, I
Rizwan Javaid: think that's really good and it seems like it's also a coaching opportunity for you as a designer if they're junior designers in your group or people
Jonathan Bowman: who don't have that structure for giving feedback or asking for feedback.
Rizwan Javaid: It's an opportunity to again, help others think in that way so that the next time the process is much smoother and they've grown from from the experience as well. Yeah, there's a lot of considerations that you might know as a person giving feedback that the person designing may have not thought through.
Jonathan Bowman: And that's really the value in this is now you didn't give feedback and coach someone and get the UI to look great. What you did is you took a human experience and made it super valuable. That person's not gonna forget like five, 10 years down the road, they're gonna be like, Man, remember when Brad explained the, that we gotta use 16 pixel Mac or minimum font site or TAFE size.
We, because the folks that are using our product are mostly on smaller computers. And then now they have that's ingrained in their brain for life. And now they have that understanding, that wisdom, they have that experience and that knowledge. And when they go off and do their own work in the future, they're gonna remember that they're gonna lead someone through a session one day.
And they're gonna give them really valuable feedback and open their mind to understanding type faces. And Web 1.0 and 2.0 . Yeah, I guess it's
Rizwan Javaid: Like that quote that goes
It's not how you make Yeah, it's not what you say. It's how you make somebody feel. And you, the way you've, the way you give your feedback can make a great impression.
Or not. Or not. And something that, like you said they would remember
For years to come because of a good experience
Jonathan Bowman: of how they
received feedback. And so everything's about everything we've been talking about kind of centers around this one common theme, which is the amount of effort you want to put into something.
And I've talked to a lot of people that wanna switch over from whatever their career is today to becoming designers. And that's the one thing that I'm seeing that's like people don't understand is we cannot be lazy. So if you wanna be a good designer, you are not a lazy person. You're very disciplined.
So putting forth effort into structuring your feedback session as the designer that's getting feedback is a lot of work. But you can't be lazy. You gotta really push yourself and then structuring yourself in a way where you're gonna give good feedback as the person that's viewing the designers work.
That takes a lot of effort cause it's really fast and easy to get. Oh, that's messed up. The typography's all wrong. I don't have any time to explain why I'm gonna get to this next meeting. It's super easy to do that. Just it's super easy as the designer to say I just wanna show them the header, so I'm just gonna take a screenshot of the whole thing and let's just wing it and let's just figure out how it works out.
That's not how business works. If we went into battle that way, as during the war, that would be dumb, right? So we gotta always constantly put in the work and put in the effort, and you cannot be lazy. Yeah.
Rizwan Javaid: You have to think about the experience in, in the feedback session itself.
As you're designing that experience or, and thinking about the experience of the user you need to be. Focused on your experience as well as you're going through the process of delivering
Jonathan Bowman: the designs. Yeah. And then the, there's times where you don't have time and there's times where things are chaotic and there's times where it's hard to, And you know what I say to that?
That's, you can't, you can only live like that for so long. So you know, it's just a matter of embedding things into your process to make sure that the outcome is favorable and meaningful and helpful for everybody on the team. Yeah, I
Rizwan Javaid: guess it's what we pay attention to is what is important.
And so if if you pay attention to the
Jonathan Bowman: feedback and the process and the experience, then
Rizwan Javaid: you know that's something that you value and it will show in your interactions, in your conversations and
Jonathan Bowman: in the designs at the end, right? And you're not gonna get good at this right away. I'd much rather you come and set up a session with two items to go over than 20 and at least the two items that you, we go over things that you thought through and that you prepared for it.
You'll get to 20 later as you get more experience, but that's the, that's how you do this. That's how you tackle it. You start really small and then you work your way up. Nice.
Rizwan Javaid: The, I had this other experience a few months ago where, It was like the difference between seeking feedback and asking for feedback.
And I think the diff the difference is where you are going into feedback session, you're going to ask for feedback. You go you're going into a meeting. You can ask for feedback. But then there's the differences with seeking, you're actively going out and asking for feedback outside of those set times
Jonathan Bowman: and set
Rizwan Javaid: Moments that you can get feedback.
And I think that's a shift in the mindset of a designer where you are being more intentional with the feedback. Any thoughts on that?
Jonathan Bowman: I guess I need to know like what the difference is. You're talking about if you seek, is that Yeah, what's the difference between, Yeah. See, like
Rizwan Javaid: you're you are going out and actively getting feedback, not in those predetermined moments of getting feedback.
You're at, you're just reaching out to somebody and asking them for feedback. You're your talking to the researchers to, to get feedback. You're,
Jonathan Bowman: Is this, sorry, is this like ad hoc off the cuff? Yeah. Okay. Okay. Okay. So I think this is a good one. So again we just spent a lot of time explaining you gotta have a process.
Then now we're bringing up the potential of no process where you're just kind it's called shotgunning. So it I don't recommend it and I don't encourage it. And here's why. Let's say we're all. We're all working from home, we're all, ay, what have you. I could be in Colorado like making pastrami sandwich for my five year old and you hit me up with, Hey, take a look at this cool design.
Okay. Maybe I ignore it and I have my lunch and then I run back and go check it out, right? So I think that's actually a good point. If you look at how folks send out tweets specifically people that are trying to send out tweets to get people's attention, there's actually like a time that's optimal, right?
So the same thing happens with a acing team is there's a time that's optimal and it's not when I'm cooking a pastrami sandwich from my five year old. But what is that time? So maybe there's a time to off the cuff, send me something to take a look at and review. But then again, what am I doing?
Do I have free time and my head's down? Am I really deep in some code and I'm an engineer, and now you just broke my focus and I have to kinda come up for air and take a look at this thing. We have to be careful with people's time. We have to respect folks. I think more and in the industry, we're starting to see the results of not planning of shotgunning people, of just asking quick questions and things like that.
And it's bad, right? If you go look at LinkedIn right now, I can probably scroll half a centimeter and I'll find a post about something about mental health . I think when it comes to getting. And seeking it that way, I think you might be effective, but you have to have the metrics of when it works and when it's best for someone.
And then, so that's sounds like a whole entire team and a whole year of data to get just to shotgun somebody. It's not something I'd recommend. I think when someone's prepared for a meeting it's silly to think that they you sent them something and they read it before, cuz they won't until they get there.
But at least that's a time that they're ready to talk about that. . I might discourage it, but I haven't seen it work. Maybe you have and I'm open to understanding like if I'm wrong, ,
Rizwan Javaid: I think it's more with the intention of even finding time to get to, to get feedback. Not throwing a design over and saying, Okay, what do you think?
It's more of
not. Sticking to just those design critiques, Just the team meetings. Ah it's like getting out of that. Set time to doing it respectfully for other people's time. Not just Yeah. Yeah. But I think in even those cases, it's, it will go like this, Hey Brad. I keep using Brad.
Jonathan Bowman: Brad, if you're out there, you know I'm talking about you. Hey Brad. When's a good time to show you something? That's how I would start show you a design I want, get some feedback on it. Hey, how about you shoot it over? Now I'm. Okay, here, take a look at it. But again, it, now that you've sent it over, you gotta give some context.
You gotta curate what you're looking for. Are you looking for feedback on color, drop shadows, things like that. And then as long as you have that, I think it's okay, but it's always gonna start with a, when's a good time? I want to have you take a look at something. And I think actually those sessions are pretty beneficial because you should be doing that before you go to the more formal one, if you did that, like throughout, what you're doing is you're building an audience, You're getting buy-in. You're getting folks that get excited about this thing. And then by the time you get there, it's a conglomerate or a really good design based on a lot of the early feedback you got. I think it's totally appropriate.
I think it's just a matter of scheduling that also. It's on a micro level, but yeah. That's great. Yeah.
Rizwan Javaid: Yeah. I think that can build rapport with the people that you're presenting to during those official types. And it just builds goodwill because you're asking, and you're including people in your process and not just at those set times that you're gonna meet anyways.
This kind of shows more trust, more team building more consensus, Not consensus just wor working
Jonathan Bowman: together. And folks actually feel special when you ask them to take a look at something because it shows you value, you know what they think, which is great.
And that's the kind of relationship you should have. So I think there's a benefit there. There's an advantage because it's actually between you and someone else. If you had everyone in a single Slack channel and there's 56 people and you're like, Hey guys, what do you guys think about this?
You're not gonna get the responses you're looking for. In this case, it's very, it's of like micro feedback, right? Is a good term for, or you're gonna get the feedback, you're gonna get some good understanding of what folks are thinking early and yeah you'll head over. It's kinda like a movie.
Like you have people come and sit down and check out an alternate ending and then you'll know before your premier and by the time you're at your premier you have your correct alternate ending. Yeah, I think that's super smart. Sorry, I didn't under actually that's a good that's a good way to, and a good example, right?
Someone says something and you really kinda get, have to dig a little deeper into what they mean. Yeah, that's good
Rizwan Javaid: feedback for me that I do
Jonathan Bowman: and it's and like you said we're always. Getting feedback in
Rizwan Javaid: Outside of the design process. So it's just bringing that into the design process and understanding that it's for our be for the
Jonathan Bowman: better of the design, the results,
Rizwan Javaid: and for everybody to have a good feedback process.
Ha And trust people to provide
Jonathan Bowman: Not trust, but
Rizwan Javaid: Know that people we're, everybody's working towards the same goal.
Jonathan Bowman: Yeah definitely. Nobody's has a mal intent for the most part. And I think it's also good thing to note. Your goal should be to minimize the amount of feedback you need.
And I know this might sound controversial, but I'm ready for anyone's feedback on this feedback, which is over time you're gonna have, you're gonna mature as a design in a company and as a design unit, business unit. And over time you should get something in place that allows you to speed up the work you do, right?
Like things like design systems and things like that. So where does your feedback go? Like how many times do you have to discuss how a button looks? Hopefully none, cuz your design system has all the buttons you need. Or you would have a process to get a new one created based on the need that you have, right?
But now what happens is your sessions should be shorter in duration and less. And then that's where you can get in, into the really cool parts of your job and your work because you're you've, you went from this sort of feedback needing stage to level of the team's mature.
The team knows how to get feedback. Everybody, including engineers and project managers are clear on how to get feedback. And now we're doing the real work, right? We've not the feedback spa, it's just you're putting yourself in a position where you're limiting it to things that you really need feedback on that are very new and very novel or something that you really totally are out of your element and need some.
From a subject matter expert or something like that. And now it's at a level of, okay, we're getting the feedback we need, but we've set it up so it's not as frequent as it was. When I first got here and the company was less mature and the design team was less mature and I wasn't as mature as I am.
So I think that should be something to note too. And you can disagree with me or what have you, but I think that over time the amount of feedback you are starting to seek out or get should be specific to things that are very new novel. There's not already hear stakes for it or something like that.
Yeah, I think
Rizwan Javaid: No, that's a great point. Before we go on I think we're, we may be over time, but is it okay to keep going or
Jonathan Bowman: Yeah. Okay.
Rizwan Javaid: Cool. So now feedback is also provided within the design tool. So in Figma you can add a comment and other tools as well. Now there it's a little different.
You can't provide context so it is challenging to be as clear and any thoughts around
Jonathan Bowman: that process. Yeah. Again this goes back to. Throwing something over the wall and shotting someone, right? With no context, with no goal in mind and things like that. Things are, things get lost in the sauce, so to speak, and it's becomes a lot more complex.
And now you're spending three days on something that should have taken three minutes because there's no sort of understanding of what the goal is or definition. So things like Figma where you can go in and collaborate and talk, I think that's great. But looking at a static screen and even a series of static screens without any sort of breakdown of what's going on, it's going to be difficult to provide meaningful feedback that's actually contextual to what you're looking for.
So how do you get around that? How do you fix that? Again, I'm gonna tell you stuff that you don't like, and this is the reality. The reality is you have to document within your Figma, you can. Add another art portal or have or some sort of note below things below each screen and explain, this screen works this way.
And when you click on this is how you populate the calendar widget. And the second screen shows you the calendar widget it, the users should be interacting with it like this. Here's the link to go see how it works, so again, and this goes back to the you can't be lazy. So your, what you put into it is what you'll get out of it.
It's all, that's exactly what it is. And so Figma is cool and people come and comment you gotta set them up for success. By explaining the context. You can even add a link to video. Like I think Loom videos are probably pretty awesome cuz I can go in there and quickly like show screen by screen and ex and explain all the interactions and then send that off to somebody.
And that I think is a lot more effective. You can even copy that link and throw it into Figma or something if you really have to. Again we're hoping that people are going to read, but what happens though is now you're setting the stage and elevating the bar to all the information was there.
And the reason the reason why people don't read or regard any notes or things like that is that they didn't come to understand that it was actually valuable or consistent. So if your team is consistently putting little notes below the UI that expresses and explains how things work, then they'll get used to that.
So it's a, it's all about setting up these systems to help you navigate quickly. So when you do get those little comments and and Figma which by the way, I do too, Get 'em in Figma, and then I'll notice something, Somebody say something that right away they're like, Oh, I just read the description.
Nevermind. I totally understand this. So how much work do you wanna put into it? That's just really what it boils down to. Nice.
Rizwan Javaid: That's a great way to to reduce an, any back and forth
Jonathan Bowman: and any
Rizwan Javaid: Any miscommunication is to provide context. And the I tip about adding a Loom video, I think that's great.
It doesn't take that long.
Jonathan Bowman: You can walk people through
Rizwan Javaid: and then if they have questions, they can reach out and so you can have that conversation. Yeah. Reading for people is gonna be, is, it's gonna be time. A little time consuming, but I think a video they're more open to just watching so they can get that context right away.
Jonathan Bowman: When we work in teams, we go with the flow of how the teams work. But I think as a professional, you really stand alone in your own kind of practice. So you gotta look at the work that you do at the, at that caliber and then set that bar height and embed things into your process.
So if it takes 10 extra seconds to type in a note that says this button populates the the calendar widget take that 10 extra seconds because what you're doing now is you're designing with intent. And I think, and you can get to that level where you're designing with intent and you know why you're doing what you're doing and you know the reasons you made the decisions you made.
Now you're not scared of feedback because you've already answered all those questions. So I think even a little tiny bit of documentation, even if it's video documentation, you gotta do it. So everyone has a way to refer back to those things and you're gonna forget, You're gonna forget why we chose purple.
But if you had that written down or in the womb video, you can of jump back and take it now. I know it sounds crazy and unreasonable cause a lot of folks might me saying, I don't have time in my process for that. But come on, man, that's like saying I don't wanna be responsible for the work that I put out.
You do have time, you just need to put forth the effort and then once you start doing it, it's gonna be fast. Like who half of the things that are created out there, half the s are created came out of frustration because folks wanted to automate their workflows and they didn't wanna have to type stuff up.
So I'm sure Figma has tons of little tidbits and ways for you to add annotations and stuff like that. It's just a helpful thing to do. Yeah. Yeah, I think that's a great
Rizwan Javaid: way to bring more intention, intentionality into the
Jonathan Bowman: design so
Rizwan Javaid: that, like you said you can go into the feedback session with confidence that you have done your best, you know what you have designed why, and you can have a good conversation instead of just going in blind and expecting the best.
And usually the worst would happen.
Jonathan Bowman: Yeah, definitely.
Rizwan Javaid: Any other thoughts on feedback?
Jonathan Bowman: No, write those notes down. Go forth and do well, I think having this newfound perspective, most folks will be enlightened and hopefully put it to good use. It's not a bad thing, it's a good thing. And we gotta work to make sure that we're putting.
Forth enough effort and not being lazy in these sessions to help the folks that are looking through our designs understand what intentions you had. Oh,
Rizwan Javaid: this is wonderful advice and I know I've grown out of this conversation and that I'm gonna definitely take your advice on the notes and just how you approach feedback.
Cause instead of seeing it as a as a roadblock or seeing it as a as a friction point, seeing it as a stepping stone to where you need to get to
Jonathan Bowman: It's
Rizwan Javaid: use it as a another tool in your tool set instead of another thing that you have to do or something that you don't want to do, or just the negative aspects that come up.
So I think this, you've ma made it really clear, ma really easy to understand why we should be asking for feedback, how we should be asking and how it benefits us as designers to be more intentional and so our designs can be at the level that they need to
Jonathan Bowman: be. Yeah. Definitely. It takes a lot of discipline.
It's very hard cuz I think a lot of us get into this field thinking this is about what we want and how it feels and how it looks and the coolness about it and the creativity. And you're gonna, you're gonna see there's a way to navigate with minimal emotions and creativity.
And then you can bring that in when it matters and when it's valuable, when it helps. But for the most part, our work can be very objective. And if you stay in that world you are now out of the world of subjectivity, which should totally make your life easier. Yeah, exactly.
Rizwan Javaid: Yeah. Thank you so much.
I said we will come back to the project, your personal project that you're working on. Can you share a little bit more about this this new idea that you're working towards and how it benefits the design industry?
Jonathan Bowman: Yeah, absolutely. I spoke at the beginning about some concerns I had, and some of them are economical, but mostly they're mostly focused around.
What I saw happen in the past. So I guess I could say this is not my first rodeo. What I saw happen in the past to the design industry is we were very immature as a sort of industry. We didn't have a lot of infrastructure. We still don't. Right? And there are a bunch of folks that didn't make it pass the.com bubble.
They looked at their job as designers and said I guess it's over. I'm gonna try again. I'm gonna do something else or go back to what I used to do or choose another career path. And it was sad. So we have opportunities like almost every day to destroy our industry or build it up and build each other up.
And what you can start to see now is some similarities back then when there's this sort of catastrophic implosion of all the different New designer types is that we're at a sort of point now where it's a crossroads where we can make a decision to fortify ourselves and give ourselves some good structure or just of let it fall to the wayside.
And what I mean by that is take a look at things like what are our titles morphing into? We used to, there used to be like still should be a visual designer. Now there's content designers, then we have people that are just designers and senior designers, project designers, staff designers.
So I think there's something to be said about this confusion around what do we do? I think we need to work on taking that back. And what I've been working on with some colleagues of mine is understanding licensure with the design field and the researchers. And as again when people hear about.
They're gonna react and you folks can react negatively or positively or you can start to understand why and the reasons why they're very hard to, it's very hard to jump into that head space because you are just doing your work every day and you're not thinking about the concept of a license.
So I think to even get to the point of understanding why it's valid and why it's important you really have to understand a lot of the lack of in infrastructure problems that we're seeing today. For example, one thing is have designer pays gone up? Or are you looking at online applications and you're seeing that they've gotten down, I'll say they've gotten down.
What is that a result of? Is that a result of paraprofessionals versus professionals? Is that a result of people who are really serious about their job versus people that are just in it trying to ride a wave? This is not about gatekeeping. This is actually about opening the gates for people that are marginalized today.
If you're old, you're probably not gonna be able to get a job as easy as someone who's young. If you're female, this is not, that's not gonna go away anytime soon. It's probably gonna be difficult for you to get a job. Whereas if you're male if you're Latino or if you're black, these things are all marginalizing people.
And one common thing that I've heard through talking with these folks is they say, Man, I just got an email and it said, Your skills don't align with the person that we're trying to hire. Sorry. We'll keep your resume on file and we'll call you if we need you. And that's a common theme, and that should not happen.
Whether it's driven by the economy or what have you. I think one way to combat that is to say no, my skills actually do align. And here's this, a documented breakdown of how good I am in visual design, what I scored in interaction design, what I scored in graphic design, what I scored in branding, what I scored in human computer action.
So that's what we're doing is we're quantifying what your skill set is so we can speed up the process when someone's trying to vet you. I don't think it's fair for you to have to spend all your nights and weekends and two months trying to build a really shenay portfolio.
I don't think that's, And besides the fact you could have taken that from some other portfolio and put it up on the web and it's not even your work. So that's, those are the realities. The portfolio is not very valued. And I don't think it's fair for you to have to do a whiteboard session to get hired for two hours and be put on the spot and maybe you didn't even know he had to do it.
And then, you know you're gonna get nervous and , you're not prepared, right? There's all these sort of reactionary things that are gonna happen to you there that it's always gonna make the outcome come out poorly. You might be 210 iq, but when you get in front of a whiteboard and someone scares you out of the blue and surprises you with that, you're gonna do poorly, right?
I don't think That's not fair. It's not a fair way to assess us. So I think there's a sort of time now where we're at a crossroads where we can take ourselves up a notch and say, Hey, there's a group of people that really look at their profession in a way that they take it so seriously, that they're willing to vouch for their work.
And they're willing to be vetted one time, one time just by taking this exam and getting a license. And we are vetted that one singular time. Like where, how does a hiring manager justify saying, Now you still gotta come in, you still gotta do five days of interviewing, and you have a whiteboard and you have a take home.
You can't, it's hard to argue because you as a hiring manager can easily go search that person's name on our. And see if they have a license. And if they give you permission, you can go ahead and take a look at what they scored and how smart they are and how much aptitude they have and how, what their true skills are, true skills and their true competencies are.
It was a kind of long explanation, but that's what we're doing. My my co-founder and I came up with this it's called the American Board of Design and Research. We are doing licenses, not certifications. It's a lot, they're licenses. And we believe that there's a group of people that want to practice and wanna have a license of practice and understand that there's a higher level sort of academic level of working through day to day design and research work.
I think that's this is a great idea to bring some stability into the industry and some
Some, even some rigor even to how we present ourselves and the work that we're doing and help the people who are doing great work rise up instead of being left out because of
Like you said their age, their race, their gender, and all those things that are held against people.
So I think this is a great initiative. And it, we see it in other fields specifically the medical field. People don't question if you are if you have the skills, if you have that certification, if you have the a license to, to to practice in a state. The same way a designer.
Would, if they have a license they can work in in that, in whatever state or country. Cause they have that license and they don't have to go through those hoops. And we won't even get started on the take home design channel .
Cause that's a whole uh, episode in itself. But and that's still to this day, people on Twitter and LinkedIn talking about those.
Rizwan Javaid: And it's just, it you. It's just like the worst of the worst. And sure, there may be some some reasons that people think, Val, they're valid. But it usually I don't have the numbers behind it, but it usually doesn't turn out well. And from my experience, it hasn't turned out well. I don't know about you, but those types of activities that this can get rid of those whiteboard challenges and you hit it on the nail.
You could be really smart, but somebody throws you a curve ball and all of a sudden you're you're nervous and you're completely blew it. And. That's not fair for people that, and that's not how work is done. You no things aren't thrown. You don't, you're not thrown a curve
Jonathan Bowman: ball while you're in a meeting.
That's right. Expect to recover and
Rizwan Javaid: So yeah. So there's definitely a lot of areas, like you said, that need improve improvement and I really applaud you for taking the initiative to change this industry because we all know what needs to be changed, but somebody has to step up and you're stepping up to take that lead.
So I really appreciate the, this effort that you're
Jonathan Bowman: making. Thank you. Yeah, we're all stepping up. We have a team right now of about seven. And it's just phenomenal that they totally believe in this. I think that. Really the core group of people that you get first when you start out is a group of people that are extremely passionate about this and believe in this.
What, and what you're saying is so true because we're not trying to we're not trying to like gate keep or anything like that. What we're trying to do is say to someone who graduated from University of Michigan with a Master's in Human computer interaction, Hey, you know what, you can get a job.
Whereas before it was almost impossible for you to just walk in and apply and get a job. You can get a job because you have a license, and that license is a validator, a third party sort of breakdown of your sort of scoring that tells me what your true skills are and your true competencies are. I'm not gonna get that from a resume and a portfolio.
Yeah, that's it's, that's the risk you're taking away for the business to to bring you in. Cause they know, you've embedded, you, they, you can start right away. There's no long training process or getting up to speed. You know exactly what the skills are and you know exactly what the person can do.
Rizwan Javaid: Yeah. So that's really good. It's benefits businesses and designers and researchers
Jonathan Bowman: as well. Yeah, We don't give ourselves enough credit. We are just as valuable as these folks that you hear that do have to have licenses like doctors and lawyers and you could argue with me all day that we're not doctors and lawyers.
We do important things. And if you really dig into the job and the work that you do, you have no checks and balances. You have no responsibility. If you built something improperly that maybe you built some sort of gift animation that gave somebody a seizure and they died. How do, how does someone come talk to you about that?
How do you even know about that? Maybe you find out about that and you're not responsible. So I don't buy that. We're we don't have the ability or we don't have the need. There's definitely the need. And what do we, who do we put these products out for consumers and there's a something called the Department of Consumer Affairs.
We if you get, if you don't get a haircut, that person has to have a license. So yeah, you could do some harm there. But to say that our software doesn't do harm is absolutely naive. We have a lot of power and we have a lot of potential to do good or harm. So this is about being responsible and making sure that we're doing the right things for the consumers as well.
Rizwan Javaid: Yeah I know there's definitely a propensity to do harm or whether it's intentional or not after the past few years talking about how social media, how it's how it was designed and what was it was designed to do and how it's supposed to hook everybody and all those things have led up to this point as well.
Cause we need to be more intentional and design better products. People can enjoy their lives instead of be captivated by our products and and not go down and hurt hurt us, hurt people, hurt our communities as we've seen in the past few years, how that happened. And so this type of licensing and regulation and standards will help at least make positive steps towards it.
And help again, bring some stability and and expertise and validation to the design industry.
Jonathan Bowman: Totally. Totally. And you said it quite well and eloquently, I totally agree. That's what we're trying to do. It's a positive thing. It's something that's really gonna open up the floodgates for people and it's really gonna I, I actually heard some folks say how can you quantify design?
It's very creative and no, it's not
If we use hex numbers and rgb for the colors that we're using I promise you there's a a quantum level that you get to with design where you realize, Yeah, I do a lot of math and I do a lot of science. And if you've ever worked on social apps at least for more than a couple years, I can pretty much say you're qualified.
To be a behavioral scientist. So that's what, that's why we have to reframe the work that we're doing and not belittle or say that it's I'm just making buttons. You're not just making buttons. You're doing something very serious that impacts people on a daily basis. Because of that, and because of the fact that technology changes, like what we thought was cool we're talking about flash.
Flash is no longer a thing. That's the other benefit of the license is that we're gonna make sure that you're taking at least 40 hours of extra or 40 hours of continuing education. I wanna make sure that if your license. That you're up to date on the latest things. Maybe some new regulation came out or maybe some new technology came out.
Here we are talking through Zoom next year we might be talking through some brochure, reality hookup and all in the metaverse. I don't know. So I think if you pose these arguments like that, you'll start to go, Oh my gosh, what are we doing? Like here we are just out here designing things and I have no way of understanding if any of my peers actually know what the latest and greatest considerations are for designing.
I think it's great. It's going to take some time. It's very new when you tell people that have been doing this for a long time without a license, that they need a license, It's not something folks wanna hear. I understand. But it's something that's gonna be positive. And I think we'll start to see the results coming in the next year of how much of an impact it has, because we're definitely.
Excited to see that we've pushed these people to get these licenses that are objectively complex to, to pass these exams and they really push your stress limits But we we're gonna come out on the other side with really amazing practitioners that know their job, which is those are the people that are gonna be the most sought after and highly desired in the field.
Nice. Yeah, this is great.
Rizwan Javaid: Great effort. How can people learn more about this?
Jonathan Bowman: Is there website? Yeah. If you just go to our site, American Board of Design you'll find us there and yeah, you can learn all about it. You can also check us out on Twitter. We're on Twitter as well. Just look up the American Board of Design.
We're at board under score of. Under design and you can find us there. We'd love to hear from you. We also have a Slack group you can join. The link is on our website and love to keep on conversating with folks about it and hear their feedback. Speaking of feedback, yeah.
Rizwan Javaid: Yeah, definitely. If you check it out, please reach out to Jonathan and let him know what your thoughts are
Jonathan Bowman: and and yeah
Rizwan Javaid: I think the faster we can get this, the better it'll be.
So I'm really excited to see how it evolves and
Jonathan Bowman: And how it develops.
Rizwan Javaid: Yeah. I wanna thank you again for joining me on the podcast. We've had a great conversation and it's probably one of the longest ones I've had on the podcast cuz it was so interesting
Jonathan Bowman: and and I know I've grown as a designer just from this conversation and I hope the listeners will too.
Rizwan Javaid: I think there's a lot of good actionable information here that you can apply right away.
Jonathan Bowman: Yeah. Yeah. That's great to hear. I'm glad. And speaking of actionable, if you're, let's tell the folks to do something actionable. If you guys are listening and it helped you and you liked. If you got something out of understanding some cool ways to curtail your feedback so it's more beneficial, let Rizwan know.
We need to support each other in every way and there's nothing cooler than hearing, Hey, I used these tips, or Thank you for having this show. So let him know. Give him a little bit of love. Reshare this on LinkedIn or wherever you think you Twitter or wherever you think it might help. I think that's important to prompt you guys because a lot of us are shy, so when you hear someone bringing it up, it's also sometimes beneficial.
But we would love to wake up to an email that says, I tried this at work and it was successful. Yeah. Thank you so much. I appreciate it. . Yeah, that made my day.
Rizwan Javaid: Before we go I usually have a guest share a challenge with the listeners to apply what they've heard into their Do I have a challenge for the listeners? I think that is my challenge. If you are listening to this, I would hope that it's because you wanna understand how to get better at feedback.
And if that's the case, take some of what you heard here today. And then my challenge is if you implemented it, come back and tell us, give us feedback. Come back and tell us like how it went and tell us some cool stories. Maybe you don't have cool stories. That's okay. Let's talk about that.
Two. But I think that would be a challenge to you guys, is give a share the podcast and share some feedback with us. Let us know how it worked for you because there's nothing more important to your career as a designer than learning how to navigate this. Cuz it's tricky. It's tough. We've all been through it.
We try to avoid it, but we'd like to, That's my challenge to you guys, is tell us how it went and tell us how it changed your style of giving and getting feedback. Awesome. I love that
challenge. And I'm definitely open to any feedback that you or the listeners have in, in this podcast so I can make it better and make it more impactful for everyone.
So thank you so much once again, thanks Jonathan. It was a pleasure
Jonathan Bowman: speaking with you. Yeah, thank you. It was awesome being here and I was definitely honored And yeah, let's get back to work, but let's also hope that some folks out there start by starting to get some good feedback sessions.