When it Comes to UX, Gerald Willis Knows What He’s Talking About

Gerald Willis is a graphic designer turned user experience wizard with thanks to General Assembly’s UX Immersive Program. When he’s not perfecting his clickable user prototypes, you can find him hitting up Atlanta meetups or perusing Rosenfeld Media e-books. No company size is too big or small, so if looking for a UX pro, Willis could be the right talent to join your team.

What program are you graduating from?
I completed the Full-Time User Experience (UX) Program at General Assembly in March.

What were you doing before this program?
I was a graphic support specialist for a virtual professional development and training team. I created web content, presentations, and training collateral for 700+ Fleet and Family Center staff globally for the U.S. Navy.

What startup/tech projects have you worked on?
I was part of a UX team which developed a new search feature for The Home Depot desktop website, tablet and mobile consumer app. The “project list” feature was created to engage “Do It Yourself (DIY)” customers during all phases of customer’s project journey: planning, designing, purchasing, and managing. Our solution was to suggest a “project list” within the search feature to push the most valuable content (ideas, design galleries, products, tools, how-to guides, and videos) to support the searched item. The biggest challenge was to find central locations to allow users entry, exit and re-entry to the solution at any given time based our persona’s shopping patterns found in our surveys. So, we provided the option to save project lists.

Also, I had the opportunity to create a responsive microsite for Lou Lou Boutique, an accessory retailer in Atlanta’s Ponce City Market. The microsite focused on one of their most popular items, purses and targeted “gifters,” 19 to 35-year-old women who purchased unique gifts for other females in their lives.

gerald-willisI’m currently refining a gift reminder mobile app to provide notifications to purchase and deliver gifts. The app will allow users to share reminders with others and track previous gifts.

What tech/tools are essential to you?
When it comes to building clickable prototypes to test, Axure RP is a must. Coming from a graphic background, the Adobe Creative Cloud (CC) big three (Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign) were requirements. I’m using a recent release of Adobe Experience Design (XD) CC, to prototype the gift reminder app.
I’m intrigued by the fact that many UXers are gravitating to Sketch and Invision for their high fidelity prototypes, so I use them too. Marvel is another option. I’ve been using Keynote or PowerPoint for presentations.

How do you stay informed & on top of emerging trends?
General Assembly has been a great resource. It hosts some top industry events, hackathons, boot camps and Meetup group events on its vibrant campus. Particularly; the IXDA meetup, amUX and Creative Mornings have all been great places to network and learn. I also follow some leading designers and design boards on social media, blogging and networking sites like Twitter, Pinterest, Dribbble, Medium and LinkedIn.

What are your best technical or creative skills?
I think my best creative skill is strategically being able to put myself in user’s and other stakeholder’s shoes. I think it allows me to look at projects holistically versus one point of view. Working in multiple industries and systems has helped me view challenges differently and provide unique solutions. I’m great at choosing a solution, software, or system which best suites the particular project or team.

What’s next on your list to learn?
I won a digital library pack of all of Rosenfeld Media books (25 user experience titles) in a World Information Architecture Day 2016 raffle. So, I have plenty of reading to keep me busy this year!

Since a big part of working in UX is working with developers, I’m attending some Meetup events for mobile and web developers to improve my acumen. As for software, I’m looking at Flinto for Mac and Principle for animating the user interface and motion design needs.

Why the interest in startups and the technology field?
I think the technology field provides challenging and more rewarding careers. UX allows me to use my creativity, research, strategy, facilitation, and presentation skills with others. Together, we get to enhance more lives!

Are you interested in working for a startup, mid-sized company, or a corporate giant?
I’ve worked with Fortune 500 companies, agencies, design firms, and small businesses. So, I remain open to all opportunities. Each has pros and cons. I’m looking to contribute to a talented team.