On Leading Teams
"Julia and I worked together closely during my internship at TripIt. She was my mentor and supervisor for three months, overseeing primarily interaction design and visual design projects. Her guidance was instrumental in my final internship project, which involved all aspects of UX, from generative research to prototyping to usability testing. Julia's advice and cheery disposition continued to make her an indispensable mentor when I transitioned to a full-time role.
Julia is obviously an excellent and multi-talented designer; her work at TripIt spanned responsive web, iOS, and Android projects. She is an even better team member. Julia organized a huge number of collaborative practice and inspiration workshops for the UX team, as well as professional development opportunities. She was always happy to answer a question or give an opinion, regularly solicited feedback from everyone on the team, and was never overbearing. You could not possibly find a person to serve as a better resource for beginning or veteran designers."
-Liz Fox, Senior UX Designer
TripIt is a SaaS platform that scans your email for travel reservations and loads them into the platform to create a master itinerary for each of your trips. It is available on Android, iOS, and the web.
One thing I did here was fight for a Design System. Unfortunately, it never took off due to internal politics. I did get the marketing and product teams to realize they were going in totally different directions as far as the visual design and product branding.
Looking back on it, I see things I could have done differently and I regret not knowing what I know now that could have helped the situation. At least I did get everyone on the product team to realize we were very inconsistent across all our platforms. Teams were broken up by Web, Android, and iOS. When we made our transition to Agile from Waterfall I snuck in a restructuring of our team to be by product area. For example, I was originally on the Android team and the inconsistencies across platforms and screens drove me crazy. I created a map of all the screens and printed it out to show everyone. It was six feet across and four feet high.
It certainly got people agreeing that something needed to be done!
The web version of the site originally.
Over time, I was able to organize teams differently. Whatever product area you were on, you had to do the web, iOS, and Android versions of all the screens. This helped designers grow into new skills, created more consistency across the product, and actually allowed for faster releases.
"Julia is hands down the best manager I have ever had the pleasure of working with. Her overall kindness, wisdom, and extensive experience make her a perfect fit for any managerial or mentorship role. She never hesitates to do everything in her power to aid the people around her to reach their full potential. She has a natural ability to bring a team together and enhance the culture and morale of the team she is a part of.
In addition to her incredible skills as a leader of a team, Julia is an amazing designer and understands users, processes, and UX methodologies better than most of the people I come across in the industry."
-Rachel Shavar, Senior UX Designer
At Epsilon, I led a team of designers producing work for high-profile clients such as American Express, Wells Fargo, Delta, Cox Automotive, Cisco, etc.
Epsilon is a large (10,000+ employees internationally) consulting company that acquires a lot of smaller companies and then brings those strengths onboard. When I started, there was no source of truth on how to present work to clients. There were various colors, logos, voice, and style guides floating all over the place. Also, everyone used different tools, such as Visio, Axure, Adobe InDesign, and Sketch.
I thought it important to create templates so we could be unified in how we presented our work to clients.
I made templates for every tool we used as getting everyone to agree on one tool proved to be more difficult than I expected. We used both Macs and Windows for design at Epsilon.
It was my job to grow the Design team while at Epsilon and I thought it important that we have a structured, repeatable hiring process.
Besides creating interview templates, I developed a process on how to decide when to hire and for what skills. In order to do that, I first needed to create a career ladder, as one did not exist for design at the time.
Once we had a Career Ladder, interview templates, and other cohesive documentation, it was time to start interviewing. I wasn't finding the skills I needed from outside the company so I started looking inside the company. I found a terrific person to add to the team and mentor into a strong UX Designer.
"Julia is truly a one-of-a-kind mentor and manager. She has that special ability to see each person’s unique strengths, weaknesses and works with you to help you become the best version of yourself. She gives you enough freedom to let you learn things on your own while guiding you when needed. She is a kind and compassionate mentor who does everything she can, even more of what is required, to help everyone she mentors succeed in whatever they would like to achieve. Sometimes, she even believes more on what her students can achieve than they themselves. She is able to create a happy culture and environment on any team she manages because she ensures that each member of the team is valued and heard. In my years of working, I can honestly say that she is the best manager I have ever worked for."
-Jessica Dee, Product Designer
While at GrowthX Academy, I started the GrowthX Studio. This was a chance for alumni and students to work together on real-world projects on a consulting basis in order to add projects to their portfolio and get practice being UX Designers.
Over the course of a 2-year term, I led about 40 different UX projects.
Example projects included:
Designing an onboarding flow
Adding a new feature to a website or an app
Redesigning two or more key flows
Redesigning a small site/app
Creating a concept for a site or an app
Converting a traditional website to a responsive, mobile-friendly site
Doing a UI refresh
Project objectives were:
Alumni and students learn to work with stakeholders such as Founders, Engineers, Product Managers, and Growth Marketers.
Alumni and students work within real-world constraints to solve a business challenge.
Alumni and students learn to communicate and demonstrate the skills they have learned.
Alumni and students apply their skills to create work for their portfolio and make connections to people in the industry.
I created a deck to discuss projects with clients in order to have a consistently structured conversation. Within this deck were expectations, examples, commonly asked questions, and timelines.