Hello my name is...

Deborah Allison

Product Design Manager @ Disney by day ☀️
Portrait Artist by night 🌙

Years of Experience:
Favorite Emoji:
On the Playlist:
Anything Art Pop = Bjork, Robyn, Jungle, Fever Ray, Japanese Breakfast, Lykke Li, Fiona Apple, M.I.A. PIXIES make me feel ALIVE!
Go-to Food:
Mexican food

Hi there, please tell us a little bit about yourself! Who are you? What do you like to do for fun?

Hello hi! I'm a moody introvert that likes to spend my time questioning the meaning of life. It's sounds pretentious but I can't help myself.

I love to read! I love to draw people. I love a low key "walking simulator" video game.

Can you tell us what you do as a Product Design Manager at Disney for those who are unfamiliar?

I'm a Product Design Manager, focused on User Insight & Inclusive Design practice for our team at Disney. In this role, I lead a team of designers focused on usability testing, product optimization, and accessibility for our digital products.

How did you decide to pursue your specific career? What pivotal moments pushed you to where you are now?

I've taken a circuitous path, guided by my intuition along the way.

I graduated in 2002 with a degree in fine art, but I struggled to find work as an artist. I thought the movie business would be more lucrative, so I moved to Austin to break into the indie-film scene. While there I created animated title sequences for a feature documentary, but I spent most my time waiting tables at a Chicago-style pizza house and honing my latte-art skills as a barista.

In 2006, I moved to Los Angeles for grad school. I went to grad school to study film and animation. During one of my elective courses at USC, I discovered the world of interactive design and shifted my focus. I felt like I could carve out a unique career path for myself in this field—one that would pay well and allow me to be creative. That belief paid off when I landed my first job as a UX designer. It’s a career that allows me to utilize, daily, many of the skills I learned in art school and film school: storytelling, sketching, storyboarding, prototyping, and animating.

What programs & tools do you use everyday for your work? What do you like/dislike about these programs?

Slack, although I'm trying to figure out how to not let this take over my day.
UserTesting.com for usability testing & research
Sketch for design.
Invision for lightweight prototyping! I'm starting to learn Figma.
Keynote for presentations – I love crafting a story about the work. I think our designs are only as successful as our ability to influence through good communication.

Any advice on how to stand out and get hired for those starting off?

If you're struggling to develop a portfolio of work - try supplementing with "Daily UI" challenges. These can showcase your hard skills as well as the intangibles - your  enthusiasm, willingness to learn, your personality (https://www.dailyui.co).  

It can be hard to distinguish one UX portfolio from the next (insert photos of sticky notes, wireframes, comps). Don't be afraid to share your point-of-view in your work. Did you deliver something you didn't like? Tell us, show us how you would've done it differently. Beyond the performance metrics, what is it you personally learned from the project? How did you grow as a designer?

What are some must-have resources or skills you would recommend for your industry?

Finding Our Way podcast - a series that discusses the evolving challenges and opportunities for design leaders.

The Universal Principles of Design
- a comprehensive, cross-disciplinary book covering 125 laws, guidelines, human biases, and general considerations important to successful design.

What are 3 character traits that would make someone excel in your field?

Curious, Proactive, Communicative

Most satisfying & difficult thing about your job?

Influencing effectively - it's really hard to influence. I don't always succeed. But, when I do, I feel amazing.

What would you like to say to your younger self?

Don't be afraid. Be bold and courageous. (I'd like to say this to my present self too).

Best advice you've received/heard?

"Risk being seen in all your glory" - Jim Carrey.

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