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    • Please join me in welcoming Jacob Rogelberg, founder of UX design community, for a Cake panel! This panel is open for questions.

      About Jacob: As a product designer, Jacob helps systems make sense to the people who use them. Difficult problems and the collaborative design process fuel his drive to improve people’s lives through human-centered design. Previously, Jacob helped large enterprises differentiate themselves from their competition. He’s worked clients such as Chipotle, ADP, The NY Philharmonic, Koch Industries, HNI (NYSE: HNI), The Brooklyn Nets, ConsenSys, and Clarivate Analytics. When he’s not writing in third person, he enjoys long-boarding, reading, and everything Bitcoin.

      Welcome Jacob!

    • So thank you so much for taking the time to join us for this Cake Panel interview, Jacob! You’ve had a fascinating career journey: can you walk us through how you got to now, and what led you to founding Designer Hangout?

    • Designer Hangout started a little over four years ago. I started it back in college, actually. The first 2 years I studied computer science, and I liked a lot of aspects of that, but there were aspects I didn’t like. I didn’t like the programming part, which is a bit of a problem! But I really liked the collaborative part and the problem-solving part.

      So after doing that for a few years, I knew I had to do something different. I heard about UX and at the time, thought I had to learn Photoshop - and that’s far from the truth, I’ve actually never used it in my job! So I found a mentor, started learning more about UX, and at the same time, I had a small network because I hadn’t worked in the industry before and was in college. This idea came to me about starting a Slack community. So I reached out to people through LinkedIn, added them to it, just to see where to goes I thought I’d have 20-30 people to ask UX questions to. And it snowballed from there. Slack got more popular for work, and growth took off. 

    • It was by accident. I transitioned from computer science and ended up doing a psychology degree. So I was always thinking about people, how we design for them. And one of the things I remember learning was if something is exclusive, people want access to it. So I thought, let’s start this as invite-only, and then we’ll open it up to the public. It worked in my favor because it made running a community more manageable for me, as I was adding people manually. So it was by accident, but it drove high-quality conversations.

    • It’s pretty simple! We have a Slackbot set up so every time a new member joins, they get an automated message with some rules, best practices, and a code of conduct. Upon joining, members head over to the introductions channel, introduce themselves, and engage with the community right away.

      What’s cool about that is when you join a new community, you transition from a lurker to contributor to REALLY heavy contributor - so this feature encourages people to introduce themselves, and start engaging right away. So it’s a nice way to get onboarded.

    • Are there specific types of designers that Designer Hangout is the best fit for, or do all types of designers (from typographic to user experience to interior design) find their niche there?

    • I would say it’s definitely focused on UX practitioners. There are a lot of communities out there for people focusing on typography - design can be a catch-all phrase that means a lot of different things). But it’s pretty specific for UX practitioners. If you’re another type of designer who’s looking to get into UX, then Designer Hangout could be a place for you as well. 

    • Not at all! I have a team of about 20 volunteers who moderate the community. Lots of times they just moderate a few channels and help organize threads, streams of conversation. I’m definitely not overwhelmed by the amount of messages. Our moderators help guide the
      conversation, and fix problems as they arise (which doesn’t happen much). But the people who’ve been a part of Designer Hangout for a while, who’ve been there for a year or three years, and know how things work, self-moderate the community, which is unique and has worked really well. 

    • I’d say that it’s a really nice little place on the internet where UX designers can get high-quality feedback and recommendations. I believe the internet is moving more towards these smaller more intimate communities, because we had Facebook and other social networks connect everyone, but if you want to meet people in your area or specific advice, you something more tailored. So to me, it’s a nice little place on the internet where UX practitioners can speak to each other, share resources and job opportunities, and it’s not open to everyone so marketers and recruiters can’t come in and pitch members. And the other aspect is the flow of conversation. The medium of real-time chat changes the dynamic because you can have a back and forth. That’s how you get to the core of ideas and understanding. It’s not a comment / article that’s a fully thought out thing you put into the world. It’s a back and forth. 

      Our users are in a lot of cities. We have a lot of designers in San Francisco, New York, Austin, and the UK. That’s where a lot of our members are based. But it’s really global. And that’s also
      interesting, because it’s in every timezone. We have moderators in every time zone helping people out every time of the day. But the common theme is you’re a UX practitioner. We did a survey in 2018, and it seems to be a very senior community: a lot of people have 5 or more years of experience.

    • What kind of feedback do you get from your members? Are there any incredible matches that have been made (personally or professionally) between them?

    • Yeah! I would say one of the happiest days I had working on Designer Hangout was someone posted and said “Hey, I put my portfolio and my resume, in to the Designer Hangout channel, I got feedback on it, worked with other members on it, and then got a job through Designer Hangout.” So that’s one anecdote that describes the cool connections that can happen. And that’s awesome. One job can change your life, you learn something or meet someone. If the community can help create those connections, then that’s really powerful and it makes me really happy.  

    • That’s probably the hardest question - just because design is pretty broad. When I started out, I thought I had to learn Photoshop, and I think design is a lot more specific. I think we’re moving towards a divergence from titles, because the same titles mean different things at different companies. For people trying to break into it, don’t get stuck on titles. Try to become a value creator. There are a lot of ways to create value.

      For a UX practitioner, you need to focus on user research and product strategy. There aren’t new form field designs coming out, so I think in the future, if you want to focus on user interface, typography, and color, there will be a place for that, but you’ll have to be in the top 5%, because all that stuff has been designed already.

      You can create great products with toolkits assembled by other designers. Try to figure out how you can play a more strategic role on the team, and make sure you work with really experienced people. 

    • I’d recommend ignoring most of the stuff out there. I think it’s called “hustle porn” or other stuff where people get obsessed about reading about other people’s successes. Disregard most of that stuff.

      I listen to people who’ve already been so successful - those are the people who have nothing to lose by sharing their knowledge. Look at Ray Dalio, billionaire, he’s shared a lot of his thoughts through his book Principles and his app. So someone like that, maybe everything they say isn’t correct, but they have nothing to lose by giving you advice. So focus on people who’ve already made it. Have a bit of criteria about who you listen to.

      I also like Farnham Street. They have some really great content. I also like Naval Ravikant, and he has a lot of good insight, he was the founder of AngelList and now he’s a startup investor working on a few different projects. And I also listen to a lot of bitcoin stuff, because I’ve worked in that space since 2017 and really enjoy it. 

    • I’m starting a newsletter and community focused around helping people understand bitcoin. There’s a big gap and a lot of misinformation and it’s hard to understand. If you have any questions about Bitcoin, don't hesitate to get in touch.

    • Hi @United78 ,

      Great question! My degree has helped me for a variety of reasons.

      I practice human-centered design. This is just a fancy way of saying that products are better designed when we involve the people we are designing for in the design and research process. For example, if I were designing a new toothbrush, I could guess what would make it better - maybe a battery that lasts 3 years, longer bristles, etc.

      Or, I can go out and do exploratory research - I could observe people brushing their teeth, I could see their process and ask them questions about it, I could see what times they brush, where they put their toothbrush down, how they pack it when they go on a trip, etc.

      I guarantee you a better toothbrush will be designed if you take the second approach - and involve the people we are designing for in the process.

      My degree has humanized design for me - people are wonderfully complicated and dissatisfied, which means there are always opportunities to problem solve and improve their lives.

      I think you'll enjoy this article:

    • I'm worried about the state of education in general. I feel as though there is a narrative that every person must get a college degree and debt is piling up as a result - I think it's at about 1.7 trillion dollars at the moment. 😱

      I do see new software being developed that looks promising and will improve education - Lambda School, YouTube tutorials, Slido, and more.