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How Serving Jury Duty Made Me a Better UI Designer

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Everyone dreads jury duty. It is an inconvenience to everyone’s work schedule, and rarely do people enjoy sitting in a room waiting. I was summoned today for the first time, and while I was there I observed a few things that can apply to my role as a UI designer here at FTS and ultimately, make me better.

1. Be fair and impartial to your design.

I’ve read this before, but it was made clear again to me today while raising my right hand and swearing to judge the trial impartially, should I get selected. When designing websites and applications, it is so important to take a step back from your design, and take a good, unbiased look at it. Strip out your most favorite feature. If you can’t do it and are too attached, get someone else to. Then do it again. Keep the user in mind and question every feature on whether it is absolutely necessary. Your design can only benefit from a neutral review.

2. Strangers in strange situations become fast friends.

No one likes jury duty, so everyone immediately had something in common today. People were offering to bring back coffee for others, giving up their seats to one another, sharing newspapers, and doing lots of general bonding together over the inconvenience of jury duty. What I took away from that, is that to become better designers, we need to get to know our community a little better. Let’s get to know the people who will use our websites and applications, and design for them. Let’s find some common ground with our users, and do a little bonding – We will always learn something.

3. A little inconvenience can be good for the soul.

I have a deadline to meet this week. Having to dedicate an entire day to anything BUT meeting this deadline is a huge inconvenience. It has, however, forced me to better manage the time I do have, and find ways to work more efficiently and with less distractions. I am already a more productive designer now that I have made these small adjustments:

a) Keeping only two programs open – Dreamweaver and Firefox with the single tab browsed to the site I am testing.
b) Earbuds in. Listening to strangers’ conversations is far too interesting and distracting. Music = productivity.
c) Learning the handiest keyboard shortcut of them all in the absence of a mouse: cmd + tab to flip between open applications.

I didn’t get selected as a juror for this trial. The next time I am summoned though, I’ll go willingly and without complaint, because I know I’ll learn a thing or two.

Author Emily Dunkle

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