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Aaron Williamson

Manager, UX Design / Raleigh, NC

What is your role and what team do you work on?

I am an Associate Creative Director and Manager of UX Studio for the User Experience team in Digital Marketing. My team focuses in large part on the digital expression of our brand through campaigns, branded media, and events.

How do you get inspired first thing in the morning?

Coffee, my window, and some obtuse instrumental music.

What makes leading a design team at Red Hat unique?

The team is very skilled at collaborating openly—it's something we hire for. Where that makes leadership a little different is helping keep the balance of responsibility. What is on the individual and what requires the group. Part of leading a team here is keeping out of the way of that independence—giving direction as lighter touches and bringing yourself into the process as a participant. If you feel disconnected or have to give a lot of orders, it feels like something has gone awry.

How are you incorporating open source principles into your designs or design processes?

Our work is not finished if it has never been seen by other Red Hatters. Designers on other teams, other parts of the project team, or even folks who aren't connected to the work at all.

Aaron Williamson

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Open design is a name for the natural way we create.

How do you prioritize collaboration across teams in your design process?

Collaboration is a requirement. Co-creation is even better. Whenever we identify a cold hand-off between team members on a project (writers, designers, developers), we go back for a process change. The outcome just isn't as good if we can't at least discuss changes we see across disciplines.

How do you think diverse voices and perspectives make the design process stronger?

In user experience, there is the phrase "you are not the user". It's true for every kind of design. To make something that is useful and usable for somebody else, you are required to step outside of your experience and listen. If you didn't do that, who is it helping?

How does your design work contribute to the creation of helpful and accessible experiences?

As our practice continues to mature, our designers have turned their focus from individual experiences to the design of systems. For my team, that means subsystems of design meant to create consistency and parity between very differently expressed parts of our brand, like our podcasts. One of the key benefits to managing the work in this way is ensuring that even 'custom' design patterns that would normally be one-offs, like episode listings, are navigable and accessible in each instance even as the styling and art vary greatly.

What does open design mean to you?

Open design is a name for the natural way we create. Have an idea, share it with others. If they see a problem or an opportunity or it sparks a new idea, they share back. When you have enough people sharing and collaborating, you have a design community.