A day in the life…

I saw this answer on Quora describing the “day in the life” of a product designer at Quora, which got me thinking, so what is it that I do on a typical daily basis? How would I answer that question given my current job duties and tasks and goals? And how would that change if I were to change positions or employers? OK, that last one may be a bit harder to answer (perhaps worthy of a separate post entirely ;-) but below is my own quickly drafted attempt at articulating “A day in the life of a principal designer” at Citrix. In general it’s really a composite picture encompassing several various days recently, but you get the point.


– Have early AM web conf call (using GoToMeeting HD Faces) with remote dev team on project progress: status of prototype development, UI design iterations, issues/concerns/questions, etc. Identify core issues, flag follow-ups, reply diplomatically to criticisms and raise counter-points respectfully.

– Update notes and action items afterwards via email and/or twiki as appropriate

– Answer emails missed during the call.

– Check Twitter and Facebook. Retweet or like/share accordingly.

– Send out emails to people for events coordination (speaker series, summits, workshops), verify scheduling with team exec admin and reserve venues/resources as needed.

– Check Twitter and Facebook. Retweet or like/share accordingly.

– Sketch ideas for product concept in my notebook. Move to studio to explore on whiteboard. Gaze out at mountains in the distance, daydream and sketch and ruminate on new possibilities.

– Lunch break with team. Maybe Pho or Indian or Sushi, as warranted per collective appetites.

– Return to design space, wander around, visiting various designers and directors. Ask about projects. Explain what I’m working on, Identify touch points if any, flag any follow-ups.

– Answer emails missed during lunch.

– Check Twitter and Facebook. Retweet or like/share accordingly.

– Translate sketch ideas into Fireworks for digital production. Consider them hi fidelity wireframes or rough visual concepts. Interrupted a couple of times. Got Twitter and Facebook running on second monitor. Concurrently (ha!) updating statues and digital design files.

– Check-in with another project team. Offer inputs and offer to respond/create deliverables. Thinking of pulling in my boss for some executive maneuvering and reinforcement. Hmm.

– Check Twitter and Facebook. Retweet or like/share accordingly.

– Munch on an apple while walking around the studio area, visiting with designers. Noticed a group struggling with a concept, I hover and suggest ideas. On my merry way back to my desk.

– Sit at the Mad Men couches and sketch ideas for new concept, and/or articles and conference talks while listening to Spotify on my Beats headphones. Great place for thinking and writing! Also for people-watching with all the foot traffic passing by. Chance to say Hi to folks haven’t seen in awhile. Build social relationships.

– Get emails from non-supported teams wanting Office Hours support. Scheduled for next slot. Shoot email to colleagues requesting their participation in Office Hours to help figure out support, etc.

– Receive a head’s up about upcoming design workshop needing my help and/or facilitating direction. Make mental note to refer to previous workshop methods/plans and adjust as needed per project team. Need to schedule a “prelim” call to assess the project needs.

– Meet with team on drafting a conference proposal about latest UI design approach, success, lessons learned. Identify venues to shop the proposal around.

– Text from boss about possible “firedrill” needing me to stand-by for possible deployment on this project. We like to refer to this as “Navy Seal” design work, informally. Rapid expert design! Great times to dive and thrive.

– Check Twitter and Facebook. Retweet or like/share accordingly.

– Time to head home…possibly #nightshift activity per the day’s projects and looming deadlines or conf calls demanding to see fast results. The cycle continues! Never know what the day shall bring ;-) Gotta be adaptive!

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