About this episode
In this episode, we'll hear how Emily went from studying graphic design in University to finding her way into UX design and an excitement when designing interactions and experiences with an interface.
Matthew Munger: How would you describe your role and what you do?
Emily Giordano: I do two things: One, I'm a user experience designer, where I work with components and products and things like that. On the other side, I do podcasting and I have people on that are web people, product people, copywriters, and then I just don't talk to them about that and I talk to them about their lives. Kind of a niche thing, but it's working out so well.
Matthew Munger: And how is that different from what you might have imagined you'd be doing today?
Emily Giordano: A few years ago, I thought I had my whole life figured out. I thought I was gonna be a graphic designer. I thought I was gonna be working at Pentagram. I had a whole idea about what my life was gonna be. Then I found user experience design, and I thought “Oh, this is more my jam.” My whole life changed and it's really nice. It worked out.
Matthew Munger: Can you describe for everyone listening what is your work environment like? What's the room or the space look like? What's on your desk? Do you listen to music or not?
Emily Giordano: Oh, okay. So set the scene. For the past year I was a user experience designer at an insurance company, and so I was working remotely. They sent me a laptop and I had a desk in the corner of my room. Usually I had a podcast on, looking out one of my two windows in my Philly apartment. On my desk I have another monitor. I have a framed picture frame of my envelope from the Comedy Cellar in New York that’s on my desk. Just a Mac. That's my vibe.
Matthew Munger: So out of those two windows what do you actually see out your window?
Emily Giordano: My one tree that I treasure. Because when you live in a city, you don't have a lot of nature.
Matthew Munger: That that one piece of nature.
Emily Giordano: My one tree, yeah.
Matthew Munger: What excites you about what you're doing?
Emily Giordano: When I was in school, I studied graphic design at Drexel. And I loved design, loved everything. But while I was there, I knew something was missing, but I didn't know what it was. So it was a very scary thing to go through because you're in school spending all this time and money doing this. Being unsure is not a good feeling. So once I found user experience design, I got really excited about that because I feel like it's something that's alive and something that's interactive. It was that missing element of you interacting with something and it interacting back with you. Yeah, experiences, that’s what excites me.
Matthew Munger: You're also in a way interacting with the end user, right? Do you feel that when you're designing? Do you picture the person on the other side interacting with the thing that you're designing?
Emily Giordano: Yeah, I think that that's really cool. I think user testing is a huge ego crusher, but also really interesting to understand how people's minds work and why they do what they do. Also, when you make something and then you give it to somebody who has never seen it before, seeing their first reaction when you've been staring at it for months. That's a cool experience to see. Oh, I made this thing, how does it do on its own, walk on its own? Because you're not gonna be there to curate an experience.
Matthew Munger: You can't stand over everyone’s shoulder as they use your interface.
Emily Giordano: Yeah, it has to grow up and leave the nest.
Matthew Munger: What would you say you aspire to? Is this where you want to be in UX design?
Emily Giordano: The biggest role model that I had in product and user experience is this woman named Christine Chun. She was a product designer at Instacart, and I found user experience design, even the phrase “product design”, from her YouTube videos. Her channel is called Chun Buns, and she's great. I would go to her live streams and go to her workshops on Zoom.
Matthew Munger: That was like your first introduction to what is “product design”, what is “user experience”.
Emily Giordano: The person that introduced me to what is design was Michael Beirut.
Matthew Munger: What is design? That's a really big question.
Emily Giordano: Yeah. Michael Michael Beirut was the one. He's a graphic designer at Pentagram in New York. I listened to a podcast with him and Debbie Millman. He's from a small town, kind of rural. When I saw him go and live this amazing metropolitan design life, I'm like, oh, maybe me too. I'm from Warfield, Pennsylvania. Maybe I could do that too.
Matthew Munger: So what about within the Webflow community specifically? Who inspires you?
Emily Giordano: Oh, so many people. I think Grace Walker is a wonderful person who has been doing really really well. And then Connor Finlayson and Aron Korenblit. The stuff that they do with automations is just magic. It's so cool. I haven't felt that kind of magic since I discovered Photoshop when I was 12 years old. I was like, “Oh that's so cool, you can do stuff with images.”
Matthew Munger: What is that feeling when you see what they do, or what you saw that Photoshop could do. What is that? Describe that feeling.
Emily Giordano: It's just doing something you didn't think was possible. Like the stuff that you can do with Airtable and Zapier and MemberStack and all that kind of stuff. It's just whenever you find something that's so… not easy, but accessible… that you didn't ever think would ever be possible. And it's a great feeling.
Matthew Munger: It's empowering. It opens up doors that you didn't maybe even know were there and now are open to you.
Emily Giordano: Yeah.