Year in review: 2019
As with previous years, I like to finish out the year by taking a look back. This gives me a moment to get some perspective on all my accomplishments and areas where I've grown. If you're interested, you can read my thoughts from the end of 2018 and 2017 as well.
Projects & Work
A large part of this year was dedicated to finishing up an internal tool at IKEA. I began working with them in June 2018 and stayed with the project all the way until the first launch in June 2019! It was a different experience for me to spend such a long time working on just one project. I'm really proud of the work we did at IKEA and it's unfortunate that I'm not able to share more of the work and the processes we used to create it. However, it did give me opportunities for reflection resulting in what it's like working as a UX Lead as well as how to create an UX strategy.
During the summer, I began to feel that I wanted to move on and work with a diverse set of clients again. Around that time, I got back in touch with my friend Dan Mall who runs Superfriendly. As a coincidence, Dan was just looking for someone like me to join a project so the timing was perfect. I ended up working with Superfriendly for two months on a really cool project during the summer and even got to go to Boston and meet everyone. Again, I was reminded how important who you're working with is. You can even say that it's more important than what the brand is or even what you're building. We're all people, after all. I loved the team at Superfriendly as well as the client - so much I got the chance to continue working with them in November.
During the fall, I've worked with various startups on mostly different UX improvements and implementing smaller design systems. I recently started working with a really nice set of people based in the Philadelphia area, leading the UX and design for a coming SaaS.
I've also been back to Hyper Island talking to students there about their career options and their goal timelines. I took the time to really walk them through the how, what, and when of choosing a career and how important intentional reflection is. You can find the summary in my post, Finding your Professional Path. The talk was 5+ hours so it was an intense (but fun!) day!
Whenever I get the opportunity to invest in something I value, I go for it. Two years ago I invested in Hyper Island (with an additional investment this year). In fact, this year I bought a minority stake in the car service, The Car. The Car is a premium service that I've really enjoyed experiencing as a customer. They're different from Uber and regular taxis in many ways - they only have electrical cars (Tesla X) and their drivers are employed by the company with benefits. I'm proud to say that I'm now also consulting for them, mainly to help them navigate the digital landscape.
Website and newsletter
My website is continuing to perform well and traffic is increasing (I know this isn't really anything besides a vanity metric, but hey - I like it). So in the spirit of transparency, my website visits for 2019 is an estimated 77.5k (at the time of writing, Dec 11, it's 72.8k). This is an 88% increase over 2018! My most popular post of 2019 was "Working as a UX Designer" and the most popular page was actually the homepage, with credit going to being listed as one of the best UX Designer portfolios of 2019 (Thank you!).
Something about my blog feels... different during the last year though. I've been struggling more and more to find things that I really want to write about - things that create value and meaning for an audience. But at the same time, I'm planning something much grander that I'll be able to tell you more about in a near future. People on my newsletter will be the first to know 😁.
I was trying out a bunch of different tools for my newsletter in 2019. I started out with Mailchimp, transitioned to Convertkit for a couple of months only to change to Buttondown... and finally go back to Mailchimp. I'll try and stay with Mailchimp from now on... after all, someone once said that New Tools Don't Equal Productivity... 🤔
And unlike previous years, I'll be deploying an update to the design of my website in the coming weeks. My developer and I have found this rather nice way of working now. Basically I'll start off in Figma, then do some CSS changes to the current site - try out new fonts and colors in the browser. He'll then go on and create the templates and restructure the layout and finally I'll do minor tweaks. It feels nice being able to play a part in the coding process again.
2019 has been a year of personal change for me. I've started therapy again and am working on being able to allow myself to do things for me more often. I've previously struggled to raise my voice in certain settings and, while it's still super difficult, I think I'm getting better at this. I could not do this without the support of my family and friends.
I've never been someone who's worked out regularly - and certainly not going to a gym. But for some reason in August, I decided to give it a go. And because I have people I work out with, it's not just working out - it's a social thing. For someone who's mostly by himself in his office having meetings on Zoom or Slack, getting recurring physical time with friends is really nice. So since August I've been working out 3-5 mornings every week! I can hardly believe this myself as I'm typing it, but I really enjoy it and I've even made a habit of packing workout clothes for all of my trips too. This is something that's reflected in my yearly Spotify playlist too as most of the most played songs are from my workout playlist (don't judge).
I've experienced some amazing travel during the year too - my wife and I've been to France multiple times and visited San Sebastian together with my parents too. I've been to Boston and later got to go to Toronto as well. We've also visited some of our favorite hotels in Sweden, Ett Hem in Stockholm and Wanås Slott. Waking up in Ramatuelle, France:
Also, I finally got the tattoos I've been thinking about for nearly 10 years!
At the end of 2018, I wrote:
I’m looking forward to 2019 in a way I’ve not experienced in some time. I’m doing some personal development as well that I’ve started to see some results from so I’m curious to how that will pan out.
For some reason, I expect big things from 2020. I can see things more clearly now and I'm getting more prepared to achieve my goals. Professionally, I have something brewing in the back of my mind that I'm really excited about. Basically, it's something that has the potential to transition my business quite a bit.
Just like previous years, I've decided not to send gifts to my clients and instead donated to Hand in Hand for the forth consecutive year. Hand in Hand helps women find a way out of poverty through entrepreneurship via access to micro loans, training, and market linkage. They are currently supporting women in Afghanistan, Cambodia, India, Kenya, Namibia, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe.
I'm looking forward to talking to more of you in 2020. I hope all of you will get a chance to slow down this holiday season and spend time with the people that mean the most to you.