I did all the rituals common to soon-to-be parents: showers, shopping, organizing, planning. But while I was flooded with the urge to prepare for my young one, I was equally filled with the urge to nurture something else: my career.
Perhaps it’s because my generation has been inundated on whether women can, in fact, have it all (or if we even want to). Or because the most famous examples to LEAN IN have since retracted some of that advice. Or because as a small business owner, I don’t ever fully separate work and home. Whatever the reason, I was struck by a profound desire to double down on my career during pregnancy.
I engaged in what I’m calling “professional nesting” — a period where I tended to aspects of my career with the same thought and care in preparing for the arrival of my daughter. Of course I don’t love my career like my daughter, but I do care about it deeply. And in this process, I found some things that really worked for me.
Don’t dwell on the negative.
If there was ever a time this was true, it’s this year. Whether it’s in your business or in your personal life, don’t let a failure color your entire year. So you sent a newsletter that had an abysmal open rate. Open up those analytics, look at what people did click on to see what worked. Re-think your subject line (and drop the emojis!). Segment your list even further or find a meaningful gif you can include in the body. The point is: investigate, evaluate, try again.
Summon your tribe.
When things are bleak, there’s nothing more important than surrounding yourself with the right people. Maybe that means kicking the naysayers to the curb, bringing your loved ones together more frequently, or bringing new talent to the table. (On that note, we make pretty good small talk…)
Find your people, by interest and by location with Meetup
6. Build your email list. BUILD IT.
If there is ONE THING you should take away from this is: Build. Your. Email. List.
Email continues to be one of THE MOST EFFECTIVE marketing channels available. When a Facebook ad CTR hovers well below 1% across the globe, 25% of people still open emails, not to mention it’s less expensive and more targeted than a CPC ad.
Whether you’re a new business or an existing business, it is absolutely in your best interest to always be building, refining and segmenting this list. There are also a million tools available to help you manage your contacts: Insightly, Zoho, Sugar, Salesforce, and more.
One of the benefits of working with an outside consultant is that you have the luxury of pulling from their experience. Usually, this is deep knowledge gained from working on a large volume of projects over a long period time.
The past year of booting up Floorplan Rugs deepened our existing knowledge and also gave us first-hand insight dealing with some of the most pressing issues any business — online or off, rug business or not — is facing today. So we compiled our favorite lessons from the year and are sharing them with you here.
We learned with our feet to the fire; hopefully you’ll absorb these learnings a little more comfortably.
What better topic for us to address than the collision of tech-based service design and real estate development, especially when we are living in a city seeing a tremendous spike in home prices, right at the same time short term rentals are increasing? This is a subject we plan to dive in deep, but for now, just a teaser to get us started.
When any great practitioner passes — especially suddently — it gives us a moment of pause (and probably fear) to reflect on the true import of their work and the impermanence of life. It was just a few weeks ago that I was embroiled in a conversation about feminism and professionalism, particularly in male-dominant fields, and of course, Zaha Hadid came up. Our discussion wasn’t so much that she was a great female architect — which she would have hated — but about how important it was that she (mostly) surpassed that assignation. OF COURSE, the criticisms of her are often rooted in sexist terms and standards, but her prowess and tenacity forced people to deal with her work more than her gender. So while our architectural lead might choose another article to site in reflection of her work, as a woman in a male-dominated industry, I choose to celebrate her guts and gusto (in addition to just staggering design vision). Farewell, Zaha.
In an effort to stay current with my contemporaries, I’ll often pick up a book to see how other designers are putting UX and user-centered design into practice, either to validate our own processes or get ideas of how to optimize them. This month, I’ve been reading A Project Guide to UX Design by Russ Unger and Carolyn Chandler. There’s a segment devoted to the importance of framing projects correctly and setting up the right requirements at the start. In my opinion, one of the most essential tools to achieve this is productive, open conversation with key stakeholders…which in turn reminded me of a great talk my colleague Maggie Breslin gave on the importance of conversation. Taken from a talk she gave at a 2009 Symposium at the Mayo Clinic, it is a great refresher on how valuable it can be to talk.
As a studio, FourByNorth has been dedicated to assisting companies embrace change. Whether that meant fundamental shifts in how they do business or how they tell their stories online, we facilitate transformation. So when opportunity struck for us to transform and grow ourselves, we didn’t shy away from the chance.
Circumstances had shown us that there was room in the US market for a handmade rug company that centered on design, not just as a pattern applied to rugs, but as a way of doing business. So we slowed our stream of regular consulting work and focused on applying what we’ve learned as designers and advisers into quickly creating a lean startup rug company — which is how Floorplan Rugs was born.
I never imagined I’d find similarities in my experiences of moving to a foreign country and learning to code, but when I reflect on the two, they’re impossible to overlook.
A native of Zaragoza, Spain, I moved to Istanbul in 2013, and like any stranger-in-a-strange-land, I’ve had my share of clichéd ups-and-downs. I’ve also enjoyed the feeling of independence and new perspective that comes from being completely outside one’s own environment.
At about the same time, I first started learning to code. As designers, we’re told that to remain current, we need to master (or at least dabble) in code so that we can have more control over how our designs are expressed. For some designers, this means being able to code well enough to demonstrate how they imagine an interface will behave; for others, this means implementing final front-end code. (Back-end is a whole different animal!)
When I first started working as a UX designer and Information Architect in the early aughts, web pages were a series of a containers: sites contained sections, sections contained pages, pages contained boxes of information, boxes of information were then linked to other boxes of information. The experiences were like strings of DNA, decoding one critical piece of information at a time. Of course, this is a generalization, but the paradigm — driven both by technical limitations and mental models — was boxes connected by arrows (a reference to how we document the relationships of this content when building sites).