"Be your own self in all you do, not someone else’s."
Henry Binning is no stranger to switching gears. After years as a technical project manager, he found himself slowly tasked with creating wireframes and building designs. Luckily, he's since made it official at his company.
Binning shares how he strives to keep the user at the center of UX in every design, the designers that speak to him, and why we should take the time to really find our niche passion.
DesignRush: Tell us about the work you do. What inspired you to get into it?
Henry Binning: I’m inspired by the idea that design—be it physical or digital—is purposeful. As a child, I was completely enthralled by architecture and urban planning, both of which follow that properly organizing one’s physical space results in efficiency and happiness.
I soon learned that these same principles apply to digital design. Somewhat aimless after graduation, I took a job as a Technical Project Manager at Sherpa CRM in St. Louis, Missouri. As a part of this job, I was often tasked with designing wireframes and mid-fidelity mockups to prepare our development team for upcoming features. I soon found that my passion for creating efficient spaces largely overlapped with the field of user experience design—I was hooked. Mere months later, I formally transitioned into the first User Experience Designer at Sherpa.
My job at Sherpa is to make our software as intuitive, organized and visually appealing as possible. As such, I am heavily involved in feature development from concept to completion, specifically designing wireframes, interactive prototypes, pixel-perfect mockups and more.
DR: How would you describe your approach to design?
HB: I seek to incorporate the user in almost every aspect of the design process. At the outset, designers must ensure that a customer base exists and wants to solve the problem being addressed. After all, there’s little merit to designing a product that will never be used. User feedback is also crucial when testing prototypes or iterating on your design once released.
DR: You have the day off. What can we find you doing?
HB: I’m a perpetual wanderer and find joy in traveling and experiencing new cultures. Not just visiting museums or tourist hotspots, but really uncovering the “heart and soul” of a place.
I’m also a massive political nerd and can usually be found scouring the news, listening to podcasts, or reading topical books and memoirs.
DR: What designers or brands speak to you and why?
HB: Paula Scher is someone I highly resonate with because of our mutual obsession with “place.” Scher’s series, The Maps, brilliantly shows the variance in how places are defined. Take for example her series of maps on the United States. While most people would stop at state names or major highways, Scher is instead interested in the complex demographic and economic situations that make a location unique: zip codes, geography and climate, political divisions and more. It’s magnificent.
DR: What is the number one mistake you see in user experience design, and how can designers correct it?
HB: Designing for the designer and not the user. I’ll admit, there were times early on in my transition to UX design where I found myself thinking, “Well how would I use this?” The fault in this logic is that I’m only one person. Users have a vast range of needs, inherent behaviors and preferences, and all attempt to solve problems in different ways. By accounting for only one perspective, designers fail to empathize with a broader base and risk making design decisions that will only work for some. This is why human-centered research is so necessary, prior to moving forward with proposed solutions.
DR: What are a few of your favorite design tools and why?
HB: Sketch is far and away my preferred design application. Though Illustrator and Photoshop may win in terms of depth, Sketch wins handily with intuitiveness. Its simple interface allows me to create symbols, incorporate grids, interact with multiple artboards and more. This package also integrates beautifully with Craft and InVision, two prototyping applications I use daily.
DR: Any final thoughts, comments, or words of wisdom you’d like to share with someone in the industry?
HB: Take the time to find your passion and when it’s found, hold it closely. I recognized my passion for design early on, but set it aside to pursue a career with “higher fiscal gain.” At my university, I worked so hard towards a science degree that when I finally put down the textbooks, the debt was there but the passion wasn’t.
In the end, we’re living in an exciting time where people are encouraged to pursue careers that fit within their larger passions. If I can do it, you can too.