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My experience with Porfolio Design Jam

The experience I got from an event called Design Jam took a profoundly impact on my self-esteem. Although I ended up with a fantastic learning experience, I still want to write exactly how I feel, vent all my feelings here, and be more personal and authentic in this post. I have a lot of faith in the mysterious and arduous path that leads to success, so let’s start this journey by explaining what a Design Jam is.

What is a Design Jam?

A Design Jam is an event where designers (UX, UI, graphic designers) gather up to review and work on an existing app to create a new layout. The event tasked designers with doing UX research, design brief, and rapid prototyping. For this Design Jam, the app reviewed was my app Porfolio, a social media scheduling web app that can schedule 40+ social media messages in one minute. The biggest problem with Porfolio is that the UI is confusing, and not a single person understands how to use it (see Food for Feedback overview for the very first impressions of the app).

Contrary to previous events that I got feedback on this Design Jam, I had a group of passionate UI and UX designers that destroyed the current Porfolio UI. Yet, they surprisingly came up with a promising UI, and more impressive was that they did it in about two and a half hours while I watched via the lens of my camera.

A cameraman named Oscar on a Design Jam.

The Duplessy Foundation hosted Porfolio Design Jam with Derrick Duplessy and Joanna Vieira (a professional UX/UI designer). Derrick has been my sales coach for nearly half a year, and this would be the third feedback event he organized for me. As I arrived with the food (thanks so much to my sister and brother in law for cooking), the first thing that Derrick told me was that on that day, my name is Oscar. You see, before the event, Derrick asked me to make videos of how to use the main features of Porfolio and add them to a shared Google Drive folder along with all the design mockups I made for Porfolio. This folder would allow attendees to review all the documentation of the app functionality and see older mockups. 

For the instructional videos, I started with the standard, “Hi, my name is Luis cofounder of Porfolio. In this video, I’m going to…”  Derrick told me after I recorded and uploaded the videos that I shouldn’t have said my name and what was I thinking when I did that. You see, to get an unbiased opinion/feedback from the Design Jam attendees, they should not know that I was the creator/developer of Porfolio. That’s why on that day I was “Oscar, the cameraman” and that all I did. I have been recording videos for decades and is something I enjoy, but this is, without a doubt, the most challenging recording I have done with my camera. The reason is that it took such an emotional impact on myself and my self-esteem, and I could not say or talk to anyone. As I was recording, I saw through the lens of my camera how the Design Jam attendees were obliterating the app I been working so hard for nearly three years. 

The person called Luis is worthless.

By recording with my camera the things that were happening, I felt incredibly worthless. I was somewhat prepared to hear some negative feedback (as it happened in Food for Feedback #1), but I didn’t account for how hard it would be for me to pretend that I was only the cameraman. Not a single attendee talked to me on the whole event, and no one knew that the developer of Porfolio was with them all along, recording everything from behind a camera. I honestly felt so worthless, like a total outcast in my territory. I began to think that after the many struggles I had gone through to create Porfolio for nearly three years that it was all for nothing, and it was not worth it. Still, I remained silent, concentrating on recording from every possible angle I could think. I wanted to document everything, so when I edit the video, I have a fantastic end product. Even though I felt worthless and I was “not there” in a sense, now that I look back, being “Oscar the cameraman” was the right call.

The big reveal didn’t happen.

The plan was to reveal at the end of the Desing Jam that I was the developer of Porfolio. However, Derrick decided not to do that, so I remained distant and behind the scenes as “Oscar, the cameraman.” I confess that I wanted the recognition and praise, but Derrick, without a doubt, made the right call. If he had revealed that I was the developer of Porfolio, the dynamic of the event would have changed entirely, and attendees would have most likely felt cheated and awkward. They were all so happy and so full of energy. They were so proud that they, a group of strangers that never met before, all worked together to finish with a useful design for Porfolio. Derrick most likely noticed this and wanted to end the event with those emotions. It was the right call, and I’m happy that I have a group of potential people that could help me make Porfolio UI way better. The challenge for me now will be.

Reach out to new people for help

One of my problems as a person is that I have difficulty trusting and making friends with people. I’m not shy by any means and find it surprisingly easy to talk to total strangers and do things on my own without a problem. However, for some reason, I find it brutally hard to trust people and ask others for help. I have always been a person that does everything on my own, and I fiercely guard my independence. I always overthink everything and end up doing nothing instead. I’m honestly surprised I found someone that I trust entirely that made Porfolio possible. She developed the frontend and backend and is still helping me to this day even though Porfolio hasn’t seen any success.

My job now is to take it a step further and find a way to trust people. I honestly have no idea how, since my insecurities scream at me non-stop (in this case is taking the form of a nasty cold bank asking for money). I’m educating myself on how to deal with my situation, and I’m confident that I will figure it out and soon succeed and end up with a fantastic new design for Porfolio. If I don’t work this out, all the effort I put in Porfolio will go to waste. I need to battle these insecurities because the result will be more than worth it, both for me as a person and for my startup business. I’m confident now and looking forward to what my hard-working future will bring. Let’s do this!

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Luis is Porfolio co-founder. He is a video producer, web developer, and social media specialist. He greatly enjoys hiking, kayaking, watching anime and video games.

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