Thursday, April 24, 2008

Interaction Designer

Remember how on Friends, it was a running joke that even Chandler's closest friends had no idea what he did at work? I often get asked what I do, and I get the sense that nobody really knows -- but that's about to change. Angelo provided the inspiration for this, aptly describing his day job.

The company I work for (and head office in LA) build web sites to help kids figure out what they want to do for careers, and how to plan their schooling (high school and college) to prepare themselves for "the real world". Organizations like schools, school districts, boards of education and big companies buy subscriptions to those sites so that students can use them to plan their futures, usually as part of a school program, often run by school guidance counsellors.

So we've got 100+ people making this happen -- sales, support, designers, developers, executives, analysts, writers -- and I'm an interaction designer in the group that designs and builds the sites. Basically I design the blueprints for the site, researching what we need to include, pulling together the content or data, doing rough page layouts and showing how people would interact with the site. It's creative work, and I work with talented graphic artists, business analysts, product managers and techies. They're the ones who actually build stuff based on my blueprints (officially called wireframes). You can check out Transitions in the public-access Rhode Island version if you're curious.

By this fall, I will have been with the company for nine years, which is an eternity in the dot-com realm. I work at home mostly, going into the office in Kelowna every week or two for meetings and lunches with work friends. The pay is decent but not spectacular. I sit at a desk with a laptop, and basically live online. Overall, the work has been interesting and the job has facilitated a great lifestyle for us during our transition to parenting.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

At my last job I was a "Project Technician" (note: that title was created on my last day to fill in the blank line on my ROE). Nothing like putting two meaningful words together to create a mysterious haze of semi-importance for a title that is meaningless.

Interaction Designer! Maybe I'll remember that the next time someone asks me what Hiebert does, but I'll probably just revert back to "Uh, he does stuff for a company that makes websites, I think for schools maybe?". The Chandler comparison was very accurate.

Don't sweat the pay; I have been slaving away as a Lager-Consumption Engineer for many years, and have never been properly fiscally rewarded for my work.

Have a good weekend,
Plett

Tannis said...

Oh so THAT's what you're doing in the office all day.

Angelo said...

Haha! Nice one, Tannis! I'm sure Esther can relate, at times.

I think it's interesting that after years and years of discussing career/lifestyle choices together, we both find ourselves working primarily out of our home offices.

Where, by the way, it's possible to moonlight as a Lager-Consumption Engineer.

Jeremy said...

Project Technician, eh Plett? That's a big step down from your best job title (if not best job) ever: Garden Weasel.

Your description of my job isn't bad, really. I might adopt that as the quick version, when the person really just asked to be polite, and doesn't give a shit.

Jeremy said...

Tannis, you're playing dumb. I've heard you bust out a pretty good description of my work, so I couldn't really include you the "nobody really knows..." group.

Jeremy said...

Angelo, it is interesting, but maybe not surprising. I think we've tried to be intentional about these choices, shaping our paths to be more sustainable. Having each other to bounce ideas off of over the years can't have hurt either.

I've refrained from taking on the Lager-Consumption Engineer role during regular working hours, but in times when I'm working late, or OT on the weekend (very rarely, thankfully), a good lager helps stave off the bitterness of overwork.

Tannis said...

I know, it was a cheap joke...

Lesa said...

I had no idea.

Michelle said...

I have always wondered what you do for work. Now I know.

Kaili said...

I love Tannis' first comment!
I think Robin should write something like this so I can understand what he does. Actually I know what he does, but I will NEVER see inside those doors, so it's a bit of a mystery!

I am glad you wrote this, Robin told me you worked for the school district, and we were off. So cool post! More people should poast something like that so we the blog addicts will be more informed! Haha!

Jeremy said...

Hey, glad it was helpful. Maybe my fate will not be Chandler's after all...

Vicki said...

You and Donoan have this in common. We never know what to tell people he actually 'does' for a living. I'm still confused sometimes, myself! Sounds like you have a pretty cool job!

Jeremy said...

Yeah, it's a good job, well matched for my interests and skills...although I may have been doing it too long already.

What does Donovan do? I gather it is something techie-like as well?

Lindsay said...

Interesting! I agree that everyone should post something like this... I know for a fact that most of the people in my life have absolutely no idea why I'm busy all day :)

Lindsay, Queen of Generic Titles

Jeremy said...

I think so too -- I'd be interested to hear what people actually do for work. We really enjoyed reading Gig a couple of years ago...all profiles of people at work; totally fascinating.

Update: Lindsay, loved your work profile -- would be great if more people would do it. Maybe I should have been more explicit about inviting others to do it, like the personality type exercise a few weeks ago...

Jeremy said...

And this is what Tannis does for work.