15 Life after Decagon

Three years ago, in the summer of 2011, I could sense I was the subject of not-so-secret meetings at Decagon. They had a new web developers on staff. He was getting all of the toys he desired and running free reign. I suspect this is because they felt they got a $120,000 per year employee for around $60,000 (or less). While that may seem like a bargain, he didn’t last three years. He left to get married and followed his new wife to her new job location. I don’t know what Decagon did for a new web person. But I read the job advertising and it was a good description for Superman.

But this guy wanted me out. He saw me as an obstruction. I was also locking horns with Scott Campbell who I had once rehired in his teenage years after he was fired from production. We had too much history. I had been too close to him. He was now the soon-to-be president of Decagon. I was doomed. All my old credibility didn’t matter diddle to this young generation of Campbell’s. They had forgotten all of the magic tricks I had done in my earlier years.

It’s always sad when you wake up one day and your business allies are gone. I was alone. I grieved for a long time. But I had started studying User Experience in earnest in spring of 2010. Or better said, I was heading in that direction for a long time and finally discovered that “discipline.”

Low-fidelity Branding was a blog I started about that time. http://ultraspeed2.blogspot.com/ Judicious beauty for advanced front-end optimization techniques.
When I first read about UX, I felt the Holy Ghost tingle inside of my chest. It was such a strong match to what I had been originally thinking. It seemed like the right path to follow. I needed to reinvent myself because designers were losing jobs right and left. The dawn of mobile devices like iPhone and tablet computers had changed the landscape. Plus CMS (content management systems) were the rage. It was a new DIY (do-it-yourself) web world. I was still hand-coding. But I didn’t like CMS because it was so bloated and slow to load. Lots of overhead code.

I had coined a phrase “web hospitality” and “web habitat” prior to that time which were about the same thing as UX. It probably was incubated before 2009. I registered PagePipe in February 19, 2004. So that was probably about the earliest time I got started. UX is about how people feel when they use a website. But that definition has gotten way out of hand and overblown into a mess of philosophies and cross disciplines. I now call UX a pseudo-science. It was idealistic beliefs but not practical. And research based, design is not a science.

At the end of August 2011, was when my Decagon contract expired. We had come to an agreement. They would pay me $40,000 plus one-years insurance as my “severance gift.” They would also pay for travel and retraining for UX certification. I got an additional $1,800 for that. And they paid, one last invoice of $1,700 which I claimed I needed to buy floor covering for our house. We did need floor covering — but after some thought that isn’t what we used it for. Everything went into savings. Or as much as possible.

I then finished up some pre-paid jobs for them through December and that was the end of it.

I didn’t attend any UX certification classes as I found out it was pretty bogus. Anyone can hang out a sign saying they are a UX professional. No schooling or certification required.

Those were wise decisions.

I was aware of a satisfaction survey idea that could be automated. I wasted a year and a half on that idea. No reward. But no debt. Just opportunity cost. It wasn’t a complete waste because it got me closer to the next step.

I was creatively lonely. Before-and-After Magazine, to which I subscribed, started an online forum called, “The Grid.” I started hanging out there and writing about my experiences and knowledge. I was soon their number one content writer. But it became boring as so few actually participated. It was like the same thing every week. I copied all of my entries and moved them to http://kat-files.blogspot.com/ for storage.

UX is what graphic design printed brochures have always been about: making people feel good about your product and business. Nothings changed just the media is electronic and onscreen. Big deal.

Anyway, I had worked at Decagon for 22 years. I saw the death of print on the horizon and Decagon had kept me boxed into that area. They wouldn’t let me do much in web work. I don’t know why. I guess they didn’t want me to be more than I was. No clue. I’d been lead to a dead end.

When the testing software venture went belly up, I had $1,000 left from it. I had only put in very little money less than $100. But I was heartbroken and had no idea what to do next.

Before that time, I’d gotten to know an interesting character from The Grid named Christian Nelson. He lived in Minnesota. I had started evaluating websites and publishing my results. I showed the stuff to him and we started talking about evaluating WordPress websites.

I also met Katrina Newman around this time. She was an inspiring kindred spirit that helped get me thinking creatively again.

I was opposed to using WordPress because of my prejudice against heavy CMS websites. But Christian convinced me that I could probably still customize WordPress. Soon, I was bitten and as I learned more I found I could obtain one-second load times. That was something I thought was impossible before.

WordPress is still growing but certain aspects of the market are mature. We’ll see how it goes.

Christian and I had an on-again, off-again creative collaboration. We were both pretty head strong. But I couldn’t tolerate him badgering me. A crime he always denied. Basically, he thought I was too sensitive. And maybe I am. So what?