Camille Blogs a Bit

Writing about design, technology, maybe philosophy, and daily living (in Singapore)

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Category: Literature (page 1 of 4)

Currently Reading: The User Experience Team of One

I’ve recently decided to join a team as a designer and front-end developer. We’ll be working on a product and I wanted to start off with the User Experience in mind. I bought the book, The User Experience Team of One on the Kindle app a day before UXHK (as a refresher, because I didn’t want to embarrass myself if I say things that may be incorrect when talking with other people, hehehe). I haven’t finished the whole book, but as the reviews on Amazon said, it is a good guide for those starting to integrate UX more into their products. It is general enough that you can come from any background but is specific enough to give some guidelines as to where to start.

As a designer, I have the tendency to jump right into the visuals even though I haven’t really understood the business goals or clearly identified user goals that would guide the interface design. I keep in mind UX design to an extent, but I’m not usually part of the team when planning the product (or at least the last time that I was, the company doesn’t exactly start with the UX even though it keeps some of it in mind, such as design principles for user interfaces). I attribute it to only being hired as the visual designer (and front-end developer) so I’m not really part of the planning of the product, where design decisions can be made very early on. This time though, with the new job and project I’ll be working on, I could be more active when it comes on identifying key aspects that will affect the product we want to release.

I definitely recommend the book to anyone who wants to put user experience first regardless of their role in a team (or as an individual). It really is a good starting point for designing user experiences.

Just read: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

I blame Carina for making me curious about Fangirl, so I got an ebook version and ate it all up yesterday — gobbled it up like I’ve been starved of a nice, romantic story for a while.

Spoilers ahead, since I want to reflect more on my feelings towards the story instead of an actual review — 

It was a light, fun read that I couldn’t stop until I had finished it. Set in college, it made me think of my own four years that now feels like I’ve wasted a little. I wish I could do it all over again, do it differently, even though I had made few precious friends at the end of it all. Why couldn’t I have finished something, even if it were a fanfic? A string of what-if’s: what if I never stopped writing? What if I pursued programming or web design stuff more? What if I had never gone into film? What if I had made a different set of friends? I’m not exactly full of regret, but it just made me wish a little that I had done things much differently.

On the brighter side of things, it inspired me to perhaps try to write a little again even if I’m not writing a thousand words a day or finishing a fanfic with thousands of readers. Once every few years I still receive an email with a review from one of my fanfics at Fanfiction.Net, but unlike Cath, at the start of college I decided I wanted to try original fiction and stopped writing fanfic altogether (an endeavor that I eventually failed at, and funnily enough it somehow started the same way. I stopped writing when I fell in love, thought about boys, but that didn’t end so well either. Now it makes it seem the whole thing was a double failure!). I have worlds and I have characters but my problem isn’t world-building: it’s threading the start and end of a story. Most of the time I don’t even know how the story will end, so I’m stuck writing bits and pieces of starts and ends.

As the book progressed to Cath’s relationships (with her sister, with Reagan, with Nick, with Levi. Especially Levi), I felt all the similarities with my relationship with Charlie. In a way, Charlie is similar with Levi: he always smiles, he’s way too nice to other people, he is just good. He has so much good in him that sometimes I can’t believe he loved me of all people. And then here I am: the crazy one. The one who had a lot of issues and baggage at the beginning of our relationship, who would scream and rage at him for his friendship with people who have hurt me deeply and traumatized me, among other things. But he stuck through it all: throughout all the crazy, throughout my sessions with my doctor, throughout the healing process in between. I’m only a little less crazy now, only a little less stubborn, but every day Charlie would make me feel so loved.

“I’m such an idiot,” he said.

Cath fell between his knees and hugged him.

“I can’t believe I said that,” he said. “I can’t even go nine hours without seeing you.”

We fight, like normal couples, but we never drag it out too long because Charlie hates it. I don’t like fighting in the heat of the issue, so I end up trying to run away to deal with it later, but Charlie stops me from being stupid because it really is a waste of time to stay angry with someone you love when you can spend more time being happy together.

Seeing each other daily was one of the things that I liked in Cath and Levi’s relationship. I know independence is good for couples, and for a while I thought it was weird that Charlie and I are the kind of couple who would see each other every day, spend hours in each other’s company six out of seven days a week! We managed it somehow, even though we’ve already graduated from college, even though there were points wherein we both worked in different cities. My officemates usually saw their girlfriends or boyfriends a few days a week, some only during weekends. Some less often than that because they lived too far away from each other. But there’s Charlie and I who would see each other as regularly as possible, and yet still miss each other just as often. I thought that maybe that wasn’t healthy or something. But then there was Levi who would always go to see Cath, every day. It was nice. It’s amazing, I realized, and I’m lucky. I’m happy for Cath and Levi and for myself and Charlie.

The book made me appreciate my relationship with Charlie even more. Maybe I wanted things to have been different for me. Cath had been lucky, I think, because even if I had similar experiences with her, she had drawn the better stick. But what matters in the end is the me now, my life now, and it’s good. The book made me feel thankful and hopeful at the same time, and I’m really glad I read it.

The secret to being more

“The secret to a good life,” he told me once, “is to bring your A game to everything you do. Even if all you’re doing is taking out the garbage, you do that with excellence.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Karen Joy Fowler

Sometimes I want to be more.

But isn’t this it?

Some days are hard. I can’t do everything. Does A-game mean every thing I do should be pixel perfect? Trying to think about the design, doing the code, understanding and implementing the flow, figuring out the whole experience in one sitting — I’m sure I’m not really giving an A-game.

Design books book club

Design books book club

Nobody can intervene and make that right and nobody will. Nobody can take it back with silence or push it away with words. Nobody will protect you from your suffering. You can’t cry it away or eat it away or starve it away or walk it away or punch it away or even therapy it away. It’s just there, and you have to survive it. You have to endure it. You have to live through it and love it and move on and be better for it and run as far as you can in the direction of your best and happiest dreams across the bridge that was built by your own desire to heal.

Cheryl Strayed, “Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life From Dear Sugar”

Emotionally healthy people sometimes behave badly. They lose their tempers, say things they either shouldn’t have said or could have said better, and occasionally allow their hurt, fear, or anger to compel them to act in inappropriate, unkind ways. They eventually acknowledge this and make amends. They are imperfect, but essentially capable of discerning which of their behaviors are destructive and unreasonable, and they attempt to change them, even if they don’t wholly succeed. That’s called being human.

Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life From Dear Sugar