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021: Designing for Happiness with Drew Lepp

User Defenders podcast
User Defenders podcast
021: Designing for Happiness with Drew Lepp

User Defenders "Pizazz" Drew Lepp

Drew Lepp encourages us to learn the business side of technology in order to achieve greater success with our designs. She encourages us to always know why we’re doing what we’re doing, and to be able to clearly articulate why every element on the page is there. She inspires us to fight on in our work especially when we grow weary because what we’re doing can make a world of difference in the lives of many. She also motivates us to be our authentic selves and to follow our values and what we think is important.

Drew Lepp (Pizazz) is the UX Director and Co-Founder at TimeKat which is a delightful time tracking, task and project management tool. She’s runs her own UX Design consulting biz where she designs incredibly beautiful and usable digital experiences. She believes in putting her heart into everything she creates while focusing on delivering thoughtfully simple experiences that are engaging, compelling, memorable and fun. She lives almost entirely on sugary snacks.

  • Secret Identity/Origin Story (2:27)
  • Biggest Superhero (12:02)
  • Second Career Choice (14:18)
  • Biggest Failure (17:38)
  • How Do You Measure Delight? (26:04)
  • Awkward Testing Story (30:38)
  • Design Superpower (36:05)
  • Design Kryptonite (38:30)
  • Fight For Users (49:10)
  • Design Superhero Name (52:55)
  • Future Of UX Design (54:10)
  • Habit Of Success (59:55)
  • Invincible Resource (1:02:30)
  • Book Recommendation (1:04:49)
  • Best Advice (1:08:00)
  • Advice On Color Usage (1:10:20)
  • Most Excited About (1:16:25)
  • Contact Info (1:18:26)

Drew’s Website
Drew’s Twitter

[RESOURCE]Pen & Paper & Keynote.
[BOOK] Articulating Design Decisions
[BOOK] Creative Curiosity
[VIDEO] Five-Act Interview (Google Ventures)

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Artwork by Cesar Lemus | Editing by Chris Combs | Music by Wyman Gentry

Nothing super crazy, but like pancakes, there’s always a few duds in the batch. Through user testing I’ve met some really interesting people that I’ve learned a lot from. Your user test will be a lot more effective if you can build trust beforehand.

I don’t feel I have skills that other people don’t have or can’t develop. Everything that I think makes myself a fairly good designer is something that I’ve really worked towards. I think if I were to pick one though, I would say probably super-hearing. It’s really just because it’s something that I focus on a lot. Doing user research or working with stakeholders of different types. People don’t always say what they want to say. Oftentimes you have to listen between what they’re saying or listen to what they don’t say. Look at their body language if you’re able to talk to them in person. There’s a lot of different ways that people communicate that I slowly become more and more attuned to.

Not being able to turn off and being distracted by all the noise out there. Knowing when enough is enough. There might be a better way to do it, but if it works…it works. Get it out there and see what happens. It’s scary, but it’s worth it. Another design kryptonite is comparison. Comparing yourself to other people. You can’t do everything. Own your strengths.


In a number of different ways. The biggest one is the reason I love what I do as a designer is that I can make a positive change in somebody’s life, even if it’s just a small one. Maybe that’s helping them find the information they need quicker. Does the application help save them time so they can spend more time with their family? Does it help them make more money? Does it help them get healthier or more productive? The list goes on and on. I always remember why I’m doing what I’m doing and think about those people. If people are happy using your application, they’re going to keep coming back to you and they’re going to remain loyal to you.

This is a tricky one because I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the long-term future. Something that I’ve noticed just from doing UX work for a number of years (and before that web design) is just how much more integrated UX has become into the business side of things. So for somebody like me, I kind of started as a web designer and now I almost feel like I am more of a product designer. I’m really integrated into building a great experience with people who work on the business side and the product team. So really helping to develop the functionality of the experience and doing it for a reason. We’re not working just to make things pretty, which is really what I thought I was doing as a web designer. Good design is good business now. We’re going to continue moving more towards voice interaction. Experience designers will be working a lot more on these invisible experiences.

I think the number one thing that’s help me become moderately successful is I just do things. If I’m thinking about it, I do it. Because of that, I learn a lot. Even if the project I’m working on goes nowhere, it’s still super-valuable and I learned a lot of things from it. For example, when I thought I needed to quit my job because I just wasn’t feeling I was growing–I did it with no savings and no back up plan. And a lot of people told me that’s really silly you shouldn’t do that you should have some money saved up and for whatever reason. I felt it would turn out fine in the end, and it has. So whether it’s the situation I’m unhappy with or maybe just a job that I’m not growing at, or a new technology I want to learn–I’ll just do it.

Really get out there and start building I think is number one. If you call yourself a designer, or want to be a designer–start designing. Even if you have nothing to design, make it up. If you don’t have (like I didn’t have in the beginning) someone who’s willing to pay for your services…start doing it anyway. If you’re at a job you’re not happy with, start designing in your free time. If you want to learn design tools, or if you want to learn how to code–the truth is a lot of us really do have time even when we say we don’t. Be your authentic self. Because there are so many people in this world who are telling you to do things a certain way. Be yourself and follow what you think is important and the values that you have and eventually, I believe things will all turn out just fine. Don’t take a job that you feel isn’t going to help you in the long term that maybe will make you unhappy and maybe you don’t believe in the values of the company. Because I can tell you from personal experience that it’s a terrible mistake, and it will hurt you. I seen people in jobs that they don’t love and they’re physically getting sick. Find some place that will allow you to be yourself.