A Day in the Life: A Hybrid Interaction Designer
'A Day in the Life' is a series that allows readers to get an in depth look at the lives of people, professionals and artists in the industry. We follow their life for one day and have a chance to ask great questions in the end. Enjoy!
Matt is a hybrid interaction designer, working in San Francisco, with a focus on digital products and VR. He's on a mission to advance interaction patterns, for extended reality platforms, by leveraging years of architecture, UX, VR, and design leadership experience.
To balance responsibilities as a father, husband, and designer I think of my day in modes. This helps me focus given my context, state of mind, and time allowance. I will strategically chisel away at projects by working on different task given the mode I'm in.
My morning is dedicated to quality time with my daughter. This means limiting or avoiding devices! I also use this time to drink caffeine. Because, let’s be honest, I would not function without it.
When commuting to work I have time to slow down and focus. One benefit of being in this mode is that I take time to map out my creative projects. I use project management tools like Trello to edit and prioritize tasks. When in this mode I'm also stepping back and looking at my roadmap. This behavior ensures I'm exploring in a productive way. I ask often myself- “what am I learning from [x],” “how is [x] different,” and “how will [x] fit into or alter my body of work.”
I put a lot of thinking into a project. I use cloud tools like Google Docs to plan and articulate how I represent a project no matter what device I'm on. Being in the cloud lets me chisel away at writing no matter which device I'm using. If I have an idea, I write it down on my phone and smooth it out later on a laptop.
As a hybrid interaction design professional every day is different. Yet, there are some foundational similarities to how we work. A standard morning will need you to think fast and plan. Tasks may include: daily stand-ups, checking in with various teams, planning next steps, and/or whiteboarding design concepts.
These days my lunch time is either used to connect with people or have an extra hour exploring in VR. We have a VR machine set up at work which I use for professional projects. I also use it for exploring various creative VR tools like Quill, Medium, Gravity Sketch, Google Blocks, etc.
The afternoon is usually dedicated for slower thinking. In this mode I'm either thinking through our whiteboard sketches or going into full-on production mode. In this state I flesh out details, work on screen designs, pick UX patterns, manage complex files, etc.
My night is also dedicated to parent routines. Soon, when my daughter is a little older, I plan to use this time to work on creative projects with her. There is so much to teach, explore, and discover with her. I can’t wait!
Night: Free Time
Free time, although limited these days, is where I do most of my creative VR work. I use to spend 3-4 hrs a day in VR. Now I average about 1 hr. Because of this limited time I must rely on Trello to focus my efforts if I want to be productive. I can still freely explore but need to focus my energy in a thoughtful way. I’m also coming in to this mode super tired so any mental load I can free up is allocated to my creative output.
This idea of modes, paired with the appropriate tools, enables me to cover my responsibilities without sacrificing creative exploration. I often encourage others to consider tools that will not only help manage their work, but also their personal lives. Planning can be pretty dry but if you're feeling like you “just don’t have time to be creative” then these tools and behaviors will help.