Last friday was my last day at ComQi. I had made the decision late last year to leave a position that I have learned so much from. I will miss the team most of all. Everyone is incredibly smart and are amazing collaborators. I had the opportunity to work on large, complex software products that served many clients and users and I got to advocate for the user. I was also involved with a large product design from initial concept to delivery. I had never been involved with a web product of that magnitude before.
Product design is extremely challenging. You strategize and make quick decisions to release early and release often, as they say. It's very exciting when you get started because you are still conceptualizing it and trying to make the pieces work together. As you build your product, you find the gotchas and you make defined architectural decisions. You're constantly designing a solution to all these little parts that need to work together. Then you release it and you hope for the best. It can be immensely gratifying to see everything work together the way you hoped it would. But then you learn from your users and you find that your old assumptions were wrong, so you revisit them and you change them. Then you iterate: you solve issues, fix bugs, etc. Products become this massive beast of their own and the challenge is keeping it all clean - your code, the designs, the workflows. It's a challenge for any one no matter the role- designer, developer, project manager, etc. And I would recommend anyone to try it. You learn so much from the process and you're always on your toes.
I'm taking everything that I learned with me as I go back to full time freelancing. I'm not sure if this will be temporary or long term, but I'm excited. I decided to go back to freelancing because I missed working on a variety of products and projects. I wanted to have the flexibility of being able to work on an illustration project one day and a UI/UX design project the next. I also want to work with other designers and agencies. I've been a one woman designer for a long time and I hope to have the opportunity to work with other designers and art directors. I think learning from your peers is essential to growth. I've learned a lot just by being involved in the community, attending conferences and meet ups and being involved online, but I want to collaborate with more people and on different projects. I've always been interested in design as a discipline and have been fascinated with it's varying application from graphic design to illustration to industrial design to web design.
I'm also excited to work on more open projects. Two years is a long time to work in a closed, private company where competition is fierce and NDA's are common. I'm not saying I don't believe in NDAs. I think for many companies they're essential. But freelancing gives me the opportunity to work on those projects as well as open projects that I can share with the community. I think sharing and learning from each other is one of the greatest thing about the open web. Of course, I'd also love to include more projects in my portfolio and working on open projects is one way I can add to it. It can be unfortunate to know that you worked on a really challenging project that stretched you but you can't show it.
I hope that this move opens up more avenues for me to work on a variety of design projects and to collaborate with other designers, developers and agencies. I need to constantly grow and I think my decision to go back to freelancing (for now) will help me to do that.