One North is excited to welcome David Roth as the new Director of UX Strategy on the Brand & Experience Design team. David has a rich background in technology and has always been passionate about UX (even before it was called “UX”). David is a sculptor, furniture-maker, amateur photographer and according to him, “has too many hobbies.” Despite his many interests, his passion for UX and designing thoughtful digital experiences is reflected in his robust career and vision for the future of his evolving UX team.
In the following Q&A, David breaks down his career history and explains why he’s so passionate about UX and digital.
Tell me about your career background.
I started off as an illustrator while I was in art school, even before computer graphics were totally a thing. I then worked as a production assistant right as the internet started becoming more commercial. I was designing web pages and CD roms, and over time, digital design became my career. It was very much a “right place, right time” situation and I actually worked independently on corporate identity, copywriting, brand strategy, print and digital design and illustration for 13 years.
After consulting for over a decade, I decided I needed to focus my skillset, and UX was something I had been interested in throughout my career, partially because it is such an integral part of what I was doing. So, I worked at a startup designing huge platform software and building out a UX team. From there, I worked at an agency as a UX architect and now I’m here!
Why were you drawn to the UX and digital world?
UX sits in the middle of everything. It’s a little bit technology, a little bit design, a little bit content. It touches every aspect of digital. I think UX problems are some of the most interesting to solve. I also feel like I get to be a part of conversations that are truly at the heart of a client’s problem.
What drew you to One North?
I love the idea of being apart of an organization with full-stack development capabilities. This is really important for creating great, collaborative digital. I’m also excited about the opportunity to shape the UX team even further.
There’s something very exciting about the opportunity to be a part of building something. I think as the agency continues to evolve and grow, our teams will have to work hard to focus on our future vision and I look forward to being a positive catalyst for change.
What do you hope to bring to the table for clients?
Clients don’t always know what they need to do, but they often know what hurts. I want to be an active listener to help translate their strategic goals into tactics that deliver value. I also intend to ensure that the things we deliver to our clients are very usable for those who may not have a lot of information, access or background of “what it is.” I want our clients to be able to use the tools we give them through our guidance.
At the end of the day, UX is the bridge between business goals and user needs, and I will always aim for my team to be that bridge.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to lead by example, to be very clear with expectations and to bring humor to my work life. I believe it’s my job to do all the things needed to enable my team to do their best and grow, from scheduling and giving them support during projects to having those challenging conversations that they may not be in the position to have.
In truth, I have a responsibility to the clients, the agency, the project and my team. I’m accountable for all those moving pieces, so I make sure I’m doing what I need to set them up for success.
I also think it’s important to emphasize that work here is to support my team members’ lives, and not the other way around. I don’t expect a 24/7 commitment.
What advice do you have for prospective recruits hoping to join the team?
It’s really important for UX-ers to be intensely curious. It may drive people bananas, but you have to be willing to ask “why,” be very curious about your work and to have good judgement about which things should be interrogated and which are OK as they are.
There’s also something to be said about having an appreciation of rigor. A dimension of UX is planning and setting up the rest of the Experience Design team for success.
Most importantly, you have to be interested in how human beings think. How do people comprehend information that’s new to them? What does it take to make a message or wayfinding clear to a variety of people who have no exposure ahead of time? It’s cliché, but that empathy is essential to being a great UX-er.
At the heart of an interest in UX is a desire to be humane. There’s something humbling about UX work when you do it right, because it requires you to really care about people you’ve never met in order to make their lives easier.