The Ongoing Battle of a UX Developer

I started going down the rabbit hole of the web design/development career as, well, a web designer. I made things pretty for users. That was my focus.

You want a website? I got you, bro. HTML and CSS were my friends. JavaScript? Pfft. No.

See, I made a stupid mistake almost a decade go. I avoided writing JavaScript. I focused on the UX/UI side of things. I was busy making things easy for end users. I also made my projects pretty to look at. If there was any JavaScript to do, my other colleagues took care of it. After a while, I started to fear it. I wrote it off as something crazy people write.

If I could go back in time to 2003, I'd take my backhand to my past self's face, and drop that knowledge. Because, now, I'm paying for it.

I was forced on assigned a project that involved me doing both design and development. I knew I had the design process in the bag. Locked down. I can already imagine the pretty icons and buttons I would use for user interaction. But, JavaScript development? My heart dropped while on the phone with the client. I came out of the conference room a little pale.

Long story, short: I stumbled but came through in the end and delivered. The entire process was rough. I learned what not to do in code. My solution was extremely convoluted and realized there had to be a better way.

This was a turning point for me. I realized that I could no longer sit on my hands. I needed to learn JavaScript. A couple years go by, and I grew proficient with a popular JS library. A few years later, I'm utilizing JS frameworks.

At this point in my career, design has pretty much been put on the back burner. I've been asked to design some interfaces but our clients' JavaScript projects thwart these requests of design and have me focused on implementation.

I'm not complaining. I've grown to love JavaScript as a programming language. I'm not an expert at the language and don't claim to be. There are many things left for me to learn. I'm surrounded with colleagues that remind me every day that I don't know shit. I think the most important thing, for me, is that I no longer fear it.

All the learning I've done at this point has been that of doing. By doing, I mean, I needed a problem to solve; a task to be done.

So, here I am. I barely design anymore and I miss it. What is there to do? Start a side project. Own the interface. Own the implementation. Great! I can be my own boss. Okay, but more JavaScript? Maybe, but I don't want to get burnt out on all JS since I do it almost 100% of the time at work. What to do?

I took some time thinking about a problem I wanted solved and finally came up with one that has to do with gaming on my PS3. My brother and I are pretty competitive on certain games and these games have specifications that you can customize based on your style of play. I am being intentionally vague.

I began to flesh out the tools I would use to develop this web application (MEAN stack). Details about what specifications/settings from the game to save on the application were kept on my iPhone Notes application for quick reference and edits.

A couple months down the road, no implementation yet. Then it dawned on me. Why am I creating a web application for this? I don't want a laptop in front of me while I play this game.

Enter iOS.

Perfect. I've seen some of the most beautiful user interfaces on the iPhone. I want to join the fun!

I spent about a week researching iOS. At the time of writing this post, Apple seems to be in a state of transition with the release of Swift. So if I am going to tackle this, I'll need to learn both Objective C and Swift.

I wanted to start from the bottom and work my way up. This contrasts from my usual way which was learn as you go and if it looks like magic, don't question it and keep on rolling. With this in mind, I needed to find a book that was worthy of being read. These tutorials out there on the Interwebs are either too general or highly specific. I needed to focus on basic concepts. I needed a book that would give me exercises to test me.

I decided on Objective-C Programming: The Big Nerd Ranch Guide 2nd Edition. I read the entire thing in less than a week, great read! For years, I've looked at Objective C syntax with such distaste. After understanding the language it makes sense.

It's been a while since I was excited about coding and design. My journey has been fun so far. My hopes are that one day, it will be both fun and fruitful. Pun intended.