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UX/VX Designer Andrea Hock’s Creative Residency Project

A UX/VX Designer from St. Louis, Missouri, Andrea Hock is one of the seven Adobe Creative Residents starting their projects in 2018. As an experience designer, she focuses on things like the branding, usability, and functionality of web applications and websites. She says she’s eager to combine her passions for technology and design in her residency project, which is focused on automation and how Internet-connected objects can improve our lives. Hock explains her project below.

This article was adapted from a presentation Hock made at a recent Adobe Creative Jam. 

ABOUT AUTOMATION AND MY RESIDENCY PROJECT

I’m designing a series of screens to control Internet-connected devices, based on various areas where that can be beneficial. I feel that automation is the perfect combination of technology and design for understanding and addressing everyday problems. My interest in this area grew from working around developers and getting into the programming mindset; if developers have to do a task more than a few times, they start to consider writing a script that can do it. Seeing that, I was encouraged to think about how non-developers could automate their lives.

For me, part of success is getting into the mindset of making a necessary task into a habit. If you automate something, you free up time and energy to work on other things. It’s all about being able to live your life more deeply by removing burdens or making processes easier.

A BACKGROUND IN THE TECH INDUSTRY

I’ll be applying my background in experience design (both as a freelancer on various projects and at Hewlett-Packard as a VX designer) as I create each series of automation-focused designs. For each use case in my project, I want to demonstrate how I define a problem, conduct research, design, test, and iterate.

While working at Hewlett-Packard, Hock worked on immersive products like 3D scanners. One such project was a 3D foot-scanning kiosk. Sprout by HP partnered with Superfeet to create FitStation, a device that delivers individual shoe and insole recommendations, 3D-printed insoles, and custom footwear. Hock worked on the UX and VX for FitStation, defining the screens’ branding and user interactions.

WHAT DREW ME TO EXPERIENCE DESIGN

My favorite part of a project is after the research, when I get to play in Adobe Illustrator CC or Adobe XD CC and decide on the perfect blend of font weights, the mood of the color palette, the placement and opacity of drop shadows, and details like that. Combining the visual styling with a real solution to a human problem is what drew me to this field in the first place. I love working at the crossroads of aesthetics and functionality, and I hope to evolve both my visual design skills and my prototyping skills this year by exploring new processes and mediums.

But while I do love the design process and developing the visual aspects, I of course recognize the necessity of the research phase. Research should drive everything that experience designers do.

As I’m beginning my research for this project, I’ll be getting guidance from Adobe’s research team on best practices and steps to take. Right now, I’m thinking about what areas automation might make a big impact on, not only in the places that you often think of, such as in the home, but also in other spaces such as schools, medical environments, offices, agriculture, and so on.

After that, I’ll be targeting the users who might be likely to adopt these Internet-connected devices, and I’ll interview them. From there, I can begin to work on the primary research and analyze the interviews I’ve conducted, and determine how I can solve users’ common problems with design.

Prototype screens for automation applications. 

A PIVOTAL TIME FOR DESIGNERS

I’ll be showing the entirety of my design process for each of these use cases, and I hope my project will encourage everyone to identify where they can make changes in their own lives by using Internet-connected devices. Another goal is to get people thinking about experience design and its larger role in our society, particularly at such a pivotal time in history, as we’re considering what companies are doing with our private data.

As designers, we’re living in an era when we can be rethinking the building blocks of society. Automation has far-reaching implications as it replaces human labor. No one can say what the future will look like, but I’m sure that design will have a big say in the direction it goes.

Hock will be posting her work across many social platforms in the year ahead. She hopes to have engaging conversations about automation, data security, emerging technology, and the future of it all. To watch Hock’s journey and join the conversation, follow her on Instagram, Medium, Twitter, and Behance.