Really good question Jess!
So the role change was a new job. During my last job hunt, I was feeling a little burnt out being on engineering teams. I still applied for engineering jobs but also explored different career paths. To be honest, becoming a designer wasn't really on the radar. I had always dabbled in design while doing dev work but never really took it on as a title.
My boss, whom I befriended many years ago on Twitter (hint, hint, befriend folks you meet online IRL, you never know what could blossom from it) wanted to see if I would join the company as a designer. I was hesitant at first, but what drew me to the position was the ability to see the other side of product development.
I had always seen things from the perspective of the engineering side to products but there's a whole different world from the design side. It's been a good change for me. I'm not a full fledged product designer but I'm a interaction designer. So I'm a designer that also codes.
I'm currently working on a design system and it's been pretty neat. I create and help build out UI components and systems in Figma (our design software of choice) and then I can guide the front end engineers with how it should get built out in code. I also hop in and help tweak the CSS and work on the interactions on screen, something that's hard to capture in a mockup.
Being a coding designer, I'm able to help folks on both sides of the product development spectrum. I'm able to contribute to mockups, think through user journeys, anticipate what design-development hand off should look like and give insight into what sort of design and interaction is possible.
I'm still learning a ton. Learning the wide range of tools available to designers was one of the big things for me. Especially thinking in terms of modular components. I had always thought of code in a modular sense but translating that into design was a little bit of a learning curve.
Receiving regular feedback is also something that is welcoming but I admit it's been a while since I've had regular feedback sessions so it was a bit of an adjustment.
Being a designer has also given me a huge respect for design teams and hugely advocate for design-led product development. I can see how being design-led, it defers a lot of the decision making that a developer encounters in coding up a solution to the designer or product manager. I've also gained an appreciation for systems and patterns used in UI and it has greatly influenced the way I write code now. Things like the 8-point grid. Or that UI/UX shouldn't be about pixel perfection but it's having a single source of truth that both design and development can build from.
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