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Q&A with Ryder Carroll

Digital product designer @ Brooklyn, NY

My name is Ryder Carroll. I'm a digital product designer who lives in Brooklyn, NY. I serve as the design lead at Idean's NYC office. I'm also the inventor of the Bullet Journal system.

How did you get started in UX design? What is your background?

When I was very young, I wanted to write comic books. When I was not as young, I wanted to make movies or games. Eventually I realized that what I wanted to do was tell interactive stories. When the web started to emerge, I was captivated. It was a space with little to no rules for now narratives needed to be structured. Before UX was a thing, I designed online experiences for clients, especially fashion brands. It was my job to immerse the user into a brand's narrative. Back then it was all Flash and usability would sometimes fall victim to showmanship. Over time, I paired way down and focused more on designing digital tools. Even though not as flashy, I think designing intuitive experiences is very much about storytelling.

What tools and software do you use for your work?

All projects I work on begin with understanding the user. What motivates them, or what problem are we trying to solve for them? Once I understand this, I try to unpack it. I usually start writing user stories as outlines e.g.

John Doe launches the app, which will prompt him to login.

Then I'll start to question actions in the script: why do they need to login? Could they just allow access to their location? etc. Once I have a working script, I will start to create a basic wireframes in Sketch and wire them up in Invision. Interacting with your ideas is illuminating, so I try create protos asap.

What are you working on now?

One thing I recently worked on was I helped their lovely internal team on refining some UX and storytelling for launch. If you like workspace design, be sure to check it out.

What is your ideal work environment?

A lot of light surrounded by people who are smarter and kinder than me.

Where are your favorite places for sharing experiences?


Who are the UX designers you admire most?

Some formative influences were: Bret Victor and Ryan Singer. Not UX designers as such, but some people who I believe spend a lot of time thinking about designing experiences: Stefan Sagmeister and Tobias Van Schneider.