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Argyler Spotlight: Stephy Hogan, User Experience Manager

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Argyler Spotlight: Stephy Hogan, Friendly, Neighborhood UX Leader

For this Argyler Spotlight, we asked our fearless UX leader, Stephy Hogan, to talk us through things like: how she got to Red Argyle, design, emojis, and other very important topics. 

Hi Stephy! Can you tell us a little bit about your journey to Red Argyle?

picture of me in the new chemistry labs at my alma mater

You know how they say, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”? That’s how I ended up at many of my past employers, Red Argyle included. We could be here all day if I went into any detail at all. Suffice to say, once upon a time I was a scientist who was kicked out of grad school. While drowning my sorrow in ice cream and Final Fantasy X, I figured it was time to get a job of some kind. I stuffed envelopes for 2 weeks at a local non-profit who then offered me a full time design job. I figured, hey, I always wanted to be an artist, so why the hell not? That was the start of my decades-long design career. 

I started in print design with a side of web design. From there, my path went to newspaper design at a Baltimore newspaper, to a retirement plan services company. I was there on and off for a decade and somehow became the PowerPoint girl. Did I WANT to be working in PowerPoint? No, no one does. But I made the most of it and co-founded an international non-profit for the presentation industry called the Presentation Guild (highly recommend).

women founders of the Guild

While I was the PPT girl, I had a web design and development side hustle (back when UX was new to the corporate world). Here’s where the “it’s who you know” starts REALLY kicking into gear. One of my past side-hustle clients needed a UX designer to build up a UX department and he called me. I was more than happy to leave the job I had at a well-known recruitment agency (NOT the life for me). I became great friends with my manager there.

Then, as many people do, I was ready for more. I ended up working at 7Summits (an amazing UX-centric Salesforce consultancy) which was later bought out by IBM. Acquisitions being what they are, it was time to find a new place to call work-home. Funny that my old manager happened to be doing some work for Red Argyle (he’s a brilliant engineer) and connected me with the folks here. And they were looking for a UX leader. The rest was history.

Can you share a bit about your role at Red Argyle and what your day-to-day looks like?

Like my mom, many people have no idea what I really DO. So I’ve started explaining it like this: “You know those websites and apps that really burn your biscuits because they’re so hard to use or have really shady cancellation processes? I fix those.”

This is what my team does. I am fortunate enough to have two very smart designers on my team who care more about your users, stakeholders, and business success than most. Our days can be filled with anything from talking to users and asking them to vent about their (technical) problems, to research about how UX affects website security, to creating beautiful, accessible user interfaces, to making sure that you can do That Thing as easily and quickly as possible so you can get to that team happy hour and get the good seats. (Yes. That was a very long sentence. I’m not sorry.)

As for me, personally, on top of all that, I am constantly sharing how to think in a happy-user-first way (it involves asking “why” a lot). I’m also doing the same thing around accessible design practices so that everyone has an equally awesome experience with the things we build. 

What is the most rewarding thing about your job?

It’s probably the fact that being a UX designer involves both halves of my brain. I get to be creative AND analytical. It’s a perfect fusion of my chemist-self and my artist-self.

Outside of work, what are your passions or hobbies? How do you like to unwind?

image of me inside of my van, Curious Maker Lab
the embodiment of PowerPoint at If Software Were People

Unwind? I don’t know if I know the meaning of the word. 🙂 Outside of work, apart from being a mom, wife, tender of animals, I have a couple of YouTube channels. One is called Digital Thing Fixer where I show how to make your Digital Things more usable and accessible. One is called Curious Makers where my daughter and I do fun art/sciencey projects together and also tear down our 1996 Mitsubishi Delica from Japan to turn it into a mobile workshop. I even launched a new channel a couple of days ago called “If Software Were People.”  If you ever wanted to know what PowerPoint, Apple Keynote, Prezi, Google Slides, Figma, Canva, and Salesforce would be like if they hung out together…go check it out. 

I also have severe ADHD which means that I am a collector of hobbies. I see something that looks cool, research it, watch a bunch of videos about it, and then go buy all of the materials only to use them once (maybe) and then store them in the art room. (Yes, I have an art room. Most people would call it a formal dining room, but MY china cabinet is full of art supplies from pencils to paint, to arduino parts.)

the art room

I also do a fair amount of public speaking about design– ways to make it easier on yourself and ways to keep your users/audience engaged. I suppose I’m ok at it because people keep inviting me back to speak at their events every year.

me in the act of speaking publicly

What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve ever received?

That’s hard to choose. There are a few that always stick in my head:

“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. “

“Don’t be afraid to say no to ‘good’ so you have room to say yes to ‘great.’”

“Remember that you won’t end up where you start.” (This one hits home hard.)

And from another co-founder of the Presentation Guild, Echo Swinford:

“It’s not the tool. It’s the tool behind the tool.” (You don’t blame the hammer when you build a 2-legged chair.)

What is your most-used emoji?  

I have to pick ONE?! Impossible.

I often use 😬😇 as a pair when I answer a question with an unsure answer that sounds like a question and that I’m genuinely not trying to be a butthole.

Someone else: Why is there a cookie on the floor?

Me: Maybe Cookie Monster dropped it??? 😬😇

Other than that? Definitely the sparkle. Because I love sparkle.

What is something about your role that people might find surprising?

Nothing I design is based solely on user needs. It’s also based on psychology. What changes can we make that really make users happy? Many times it’s not what the user themselves assumes.

Note: Since interviewing for this blog post, Stephy has published a book on UX and Salesforce Design! Made for designers, admins, and anyone else who is new to Salesforce or has been there a while and is just befuddled by the experience. Find it here!

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