Meet Cat

We’re proud of the team members that make up Slide UX and want to give you a chance to meet them. Our Meet a Slider series continues with Cat Battson, Senior UX Designer.

Name: Cat Battson
Specialty: UX design
Start Date: August 2017

Cat

What drew you to this field in the first place?

Ever since I was a young girl, I can recall observing product logos and packaging, and noticing when the designs changed. I wondered why the company changed the design and what was wrong with the old one. Then I would analyze the new design and draw conclusions on whether it was better.

Fast forward several years, and I am still enjoy learning about the "why" behind how people use things and using that information to inform design. It's very rewarding to design that thing, be it app, website, software, etc., in a way that is easy and delightful for someone to use.

What one piece of advice would you want to give to aspiring UX designers?

I have two pieces of advice. The first is that the hands-on approach works best. Classes can be fun and reading is interesting, but nothing beats getting in there and doing it. I used to create design projects for myself so I could get into the tools and have something real to work on.

The second piece of advice is: find a mentor. I had a great mentor named Jeff, who was my then boyfriend and now husband. Jeff's years of design expertise were integral in my progress as a designer. To his credit though, he never gave me easy answers. If I asked a “how to do XYZ”, his typical answer would be “well, there not just one way to do XYZ” and “show me how you would do it and why”. His answers didn't agree with my “read the instructions” personality, but they helped me become a more thoughtful and knowledgable designer.

What's the biggest challenge we face as an industry?

Keeping up with the speed-of-light, blink-and-you've-missed-it, ever-changing world technology is both exciting and challenging. As soon as you feel like you've got something dialed in, something else is ready to replace it. It's important to keep an open mind and a flexible attitude.

What's new in the industry that's catching your eye?

Speaking of ever-changing technology, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Voice Design are a few that come to mind. For someone who is very visual, the idea of creating “interfaceless” design (think Alexa) is a fun challenge. It will be interesting to see how those technologies progress in the next few years.

What are the most challenging parts of your job?

Sometimes, getting the ideas to come to life, pulling that first idea from my brain onto the screen, can be tricky. Then after a certain point, the challenge shifts to slowing down the idea train so you can zero in on the best solution. When I start going down the rabbit hole, I reach out to one of my teammates to discuss my ideas or have a quick sketching session. Those collaborations can help me refocus and push the designs where they need to go.

Cat doing glassblowing during this year’s Team Week.

Cat doing glassblowing during this year’s Team Week.

What is the biggest lesson you have learned in your job, and how did you learn it?

It's OK not to know everything. As I already mentioned, I'm a “read the instructions” kind of person. So I always want to know as much as I can before I do something, fearing my attempt will fail if I don't. But sometimes, you have to "just do it", and make a few mistakes to learn it. It's that old conundrum of how to get experience if you can't get a job to get that experience. Answer: try it, and you might be surprised what you learn.

What makes Slide UX different?

Our team is fantastic! Everyone is incredibly bright, motivated, talented, supportive, and they are some of the nicest people I've worked with! I can't say enough good things about them. A big part of Slide UX's success is 1) our team is wonderfully talented and produces amazing work, and 2) they are fun to work with. Let's face it, don't we all want to work with nice people? I know I do.

Describe the ideal client or project?

I love “soup to nuts” projects; the ones we get to do it all, from user research, to wireframing, to design, to user testing — the whole nine.

But regardless of the size of the project, the best clients are those who are engaged. This means that meetings are conversations, and the client provides thoughtful, actionable feedback. Those projects are the most enriching and yield the best results.

What's the most powerful part of our design process?

Talking to/learning about the users is key. I mean, you can't have UX without the “U”. This also makes the work more objective and purposeful. There's user data to back up the “why” to the “what”.

What's your typical day look like?

After I see my son off to school, I make the long commute (20 steps) to my office. I fire up my Google calendar and Slack and get caught up with all the goings on of my Eastern and Central Time Zone co-workers as I finish my coffee. After reviewing my Asana task list, I create my to do list for the day, and then I begin on whichever task either needs my attention or am inspired by. A typical day usually consists of at least 1 or more internal briefings and collaborations or client calls. Otherwise it's heads down working in Sketch and Zeplin.

Cat is one of our three San Diego Sliders!

Cat is one of our three San Diego Sliders!

What tools do you use for your job that you could not live without?

Sketch is our go-to design tool. I love how they are constantly improving their tool, and they have a great support community with lots of useful plug-ins. Their integration with Zeplin is great and makes delivering redline specs to clients a breeze. Quip is fantastic for notes, briefs, and all other shared project documentation. I also use Adobe Creative Cloud, in particular, Photoshop and Illustrator.

And last, but certainly not least, there's Slack. As part of a remote company, I can't imagine being without Slack. We use it to collaborate on projects, share useful UX info, enlist help from the team, or just to chat about daily life and share a funny GIF or meme.

How do you stay inspired and creative?

I get the creative juices flowing by seeing great design, and not only digital design. Whenever I'm out and about, I love looking at anything that is thoughtfully designed, from architecture to packaging design. Just about anything that is well-designed can be a source of inspiration. When I'm at my desk, Dribbble is a site I like if I want to see some great, fresh digital design.

Lightning Round

  • Do you have any hidden talents? I have an uncanny memory for Star Wars trivia. I know and can teach you how to do the Thriller dance. I also make amazing polvorones (Puerto Rican shortbread cookies).

  • Cat or Dog? Cat (It is my name after all).

  • BBQ: sauce or no sauce? Sauce, on the side please.

  • Hot Dog Toppings: Brown mustard, ketchup & sometimes relish.

  • Favorite coffee shop? Grit Coffee in San Marcos, CA - strong coffee, pleasant decor, yummy eats and good Wifi.

  • How do you like your coffee? Strong! And with a medium amount of cream & sugar.

  • Who on the team would you want to be stuck on an island with and why? Jeff, because 1) he's my husband, and 2) he would think of a clever way to get us rescued after a few surf sessions in, that is.