A Designer’s Diary of UXPH Conference 2020: Reflections on Navigating Change

December 4, 2020

This article was originally published on Medium.

This is the last entry on the three-part series on my key takeaways from UXPH Conference 2020: Designers as Navigators of Change. You can read about Day 1 and Day 2 on my Medium page.

What a rush! The two days of the conference went by in a blink of an eye, but not without leaving me with a ton of thoughts to reflect on. I’ve been several design conferences already, but UXPH felt special to me in how timely and relevant the topics were.

As someone who didn’t formally study design and was involved in a lot of extracurriculars on the side, I’ve had burning (probably will be lifelong) questions on what it truly means to be a designer, beyond the day to day. And with the pandemic ongoing and bigger, hairier problems to contemplate, **it was a blessing to realize that so many people wonder about the same thing, **and are willing to share their experiences as well.

Ultimately, how do we as designers navigate the winds of change?

#1: Have curiosity for the world around you, and open your eyes, ears, and heart to what is, and what could be.

Photo by [Heidi Fin](https://unsplash.com/@heidifin?utm_source=medium&utm_medium=referral) on [Unsplash](https://unsplash.com?utm_source=medium&utm_medium=referral)

The winds of change are blowing. One look around us is enough to see that our world is evolving into the kind of futures none of us might have imagined a hundred years ago, and it will keep going that way.

That constant change is like the path of a rollercoaster ride: it can be paralyzing and nerve-wracking to ride, but it can also be absolutely thrilling to see it around us. Better yet, it would be absolutely amazing to see distances ahead, and to forge the path moving forward.

**A designer’s great power **is not just in their process of bringing ideas to life, but is also in their imagination and the act of envisioning. And it starts with opening our eyes to how the world is now, so we can create what it could be. Speculative design, and closing the barrier between physical and the digital, are just some of the emerging ways that designers can play a part in building the future. Be curious.

#2: When we see the future, we have the responsibility to share what we see to the people around us and work with them.

Photo by [Kate Kalvach](https://unsplash.com/@katekalvach?utm_source=medium&utm_medium=referral) on [Unsplash](https://unsplash.com?utm_source=medium&utm_medium=referral)

When we have that understanding of the world, and when we see that better future for everyone, we have a responsibility to share what we see with the people around us.

We can start with showing people what they don’t know by building a world of what the future can be through stories, outputs, bite-sized experiences, and other things that can give them the appetite for that future.

Once they’re more interested, we can bring them along by sharing our designer mindsets and tools for them to adapt. There’s much power in bringing people of different backgrounds together to solve the same problem, because everyone has a unique perspective to bring to the table.

As more and more people get interested in thinking like a designer, communities play a part in nurturing that love for thinking about the people we design for. Communities of like-minded people make it easier to create bigger visions of the future together, share opportunities for growth, and spread compelling stories of what it means to be a designer.

#3: Be kind to yourself and the people around you.

Photo by [Lina Trochez](https://unsplash.com/@lmtrochezz?utm_source=medium&utm_medium=referral) on [Unsplash](https://unsplash.com?utm_source=medium&utm_medium=referral)

The world we see in our imagination is dreamy and easy to fall in love with. There are many things to make better, roles to play, people to listen to, spaces to enter — and it can get really overwhelming to be everything at once.

The conference reminded me that it’s okay to take one step at a time, and to acknowledge that enabling change starts with understanding myself and the people around me. I might have my worries, such as feeling like I need permission to speak, not coming from the “right” background, a fear of failure, and everyone can feel these things at some point.

There’s no better time to each out to the people around us than now, whether we’re junior-level or executives. These worries and fears are normal and human, and empathy for the people we work with goes a long way in creating a culture where people can feel safe to be themselves and ask for help. It’s to be accepting of different perspectives and backgrounds, and live by the mantra “Anyone can be a designer”. It is to understand that small wins are still wins, and failures are not ends, but steps to the best version possible.

The path to and through change can be difficult, but understanding and being kind to each other makes a big difference.

Ultimately, as designers, we have a great responsibility to shape the future. We have to be curious, be inclusive, and be kind in navigating change together.

Really thankful to the UXPH team for organizing this conference, the speakers for taking the time to share their wisdom, the sponsors who helped make this remote conference possible, and to my fellow attendees who opened up in our two days together. Thrilled with all my new insights, and can’t wait for next year’s conference!

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