Following a familiar road to an unexpected destination.
The world was a lot different when I began my career as a graphic designer 16 years ago. Most of my work then was marketing related, whether it was coding static HTML sites for B2B clients, or building paper prototypes by hand in a production room. Since those early days, I’ve worked on a variety of complex digital assignments with organizations of different sizes to create experiences for all manner of media. This ongoing exposure to new problems has afforded me plenty of opportunities to diversify (or upgrade) the tools in my professional toolkit. In fact, change has been such a constant in my life that I now anticipate it, rather than fear it.
Some things change all the time. I’m often humbled by the sheer complexity inherent in making products for the Web. Not just making them work, but making them awesome. When everything else around you is constantly being redefined, however, *awesome* can be a difficult to identify. Perhaps that’s why the challenge is so intoxicating, and I’m always drawn back into the weeds in search of better solutions.
Other things never change. As work becomes increasingly technical, people become more important than ever. That’s because who you’re working with — and how you work with them — matters more than the work itself. Otherwise, nothing of value gets done. Especially when that work is advancing a worthy, but difficult mission.
So when the road I was following most recently came to an abrupt end, I found myself in a quandary. After almost three years working specifically as a product designer, my journey eventually lead into the deepest depths of the Web ecosystem. In the end, everything I was working on came down to the fundamental relationship people have with the Web. And the team I was on was truly dedicated to making it better…
Where exactly does one go after that?
As the principal economic engine driving revenue for content creators and publishers worldwide, online advertising still looks a lot like traditional advertising. Only today, getting the right message, to the right person, at the right time, requires the collection of personally identifiable information, while degrading both performance and the user experience. Meanwhile, users have been left in the dark, and have had no control over how their data is collected or used in exchange for the free content they consume.
Eyeo seeks to improve the user’s core Web experience through their Adblock Plus products and Acceptable Ads program, while brokering compromise within the industry to improve advertising overall. In the future, Eyeo plans to develop new products that will encourage content discovery — without the invasion of privacy or lack of transparency — as they find alternative ways to sustain the Web economy.
Also, they just so happened to be in the market for someone with my particular toolkit.
Joining Eyeo as Head of Products was an easy decision. I will have the opportunity to contribute to the sustainability of the Open Web once again, while learning from some of the most talented, passionate folks in the industry.
Although I never imagined that my journey would lead even further into the world of online advertising, I look forward to continuing down this strange road, and whatever new challenges await.
Sometimes the best place to go next is directly ahead.