Solving Problems Through Empathy and Collaboration: Meet Steve Achord
I’m really pleased to introduce you to Steve Achord, the newest member of the Design Team at Revelry. I met Steve at Front End Party, a local meetup for Front-end developers and designers, when I was scouting around for a new Design hire. Immediately, Steve impressed me with his understanding of UX and how it impacts design. And when I realized that his UX and Design savvy was backed up by solid Front-end chops, I got super excited!
His eye for detail and ability to organize and plan for projects at scale has already brought tons of value to the team. I’m thrilled to introduce you to Steve and share a little more about his background and inspiration.
Steve, how did you get started in UX and Design?
In college, I was studying Photography, Filmmaking, and Digital Media. I began building websites to showcase my projects. This led to a student job with the Philosophy department where I was able to teach myself more programming skills developing offline applications and CD-Roms.
From here, I was able to find work opportunities in New Orleans. For more than 15 years now, I’ve had the opportunity to be not only a member of the New Orleans tech community, but also to be intimately involved with making this city a better place.
I’ve been involved in the rebranding for NASA’s Michoud facility, I’ve worked with local economic development groups including Mitch Landrieu when he was Mayor, and I even won a Gold ADDY for my work with JoinNopd.org
That’s really exciting! Did I mention how impressed I am that you specialize in Design, UX, and Front-end? This combination is so rare that some people refer to it as, well… A Unicorn.
Sure, I’ve heard that, but honestly, I think that term has been abused and misused so much that’s lost it’s meaning outside of those in the know.
I used to feel that I should specialize in something; 3D, Photography, Graphic Design, etc. because specialization plus time breeds expertise. It allows you to be not just good, but great, or in some cases legendary. I have close friends who have followed this path with great success.
However, the more I learned about a given subject, the more I wanted to know about its counterparts. Photography led to Filmmaking, which led to 3D Modeling and Animation… And this led to Graphic Design, then Digital Design, then Web Development, and on to UX Design…
And the more engrossed I became in media creation, the less I cared about labels.
How do you think these various skills can work together?
There are so many ways. Studying photographic composition and logo design can influence UX design. Psychology has a strong influence in the way people make decisions within software. You apply color theory to the choices you make when designing buttons.
Even the work you might do improving your public speaking skills help your overall communication and listening skills. This is really important for user research and interviews. We apply empathy and insight to understanding how people make decisions, and this helps to inform proper information architecture.
Our job is make people’s lives better. We want to give them an experience that makes them feel empowered, not frustrated. To help them get the information they are seeking faster, with more confidence, and maybe even with a little delight.
It sounds like you’ve thought a lot about this. We’ve definitely been able to benefit from your approach at Revelry.
Yeah, I mean, I do believe that one should have fundamental understanding of some core concepts. You could be well versed in Composition Psychology, Color Theory, Typography, Human / Computer Interaction, Design Thinking, etc.
But you really have something when you pair hard skills with empathetic design, user testing, accessibility/designing for people with disabilities, and understand how design will be implemented and translated across all screens in all languages.
There is an advantage to a cross-disciplined approach. For those of us with a growth mindset, we understand that skill diversity is not just helpful. It’s a requirement, as the tools we use change daily and new mediums seem to be invented all the time.
We must adapt, and do so rapidly.
Well, we’re so lucky that you’re a Reveler now. What factored into your decision to join us at Revelry?
I’m a process nerd. I had the privilege of hearing about the Revelry process at a #productNola meetup from Max Walters. I know that real problem solving, and intelligent product design begins with empathy. As I discovered that Revelry were fellow practitioners of Design Thinking (i.e. user-centric design), I wanted to be on the team.
I wanted to work with a talented, motivated team who wants to ship first-in-class products. I believe that rising tides raise all ships, and I was excited about the opportunity to practice a growth mindset and to grow exponentially with like-minded team members.