Meet Paul Hershey - Product Designer

My name is Paul Hershey, and I’m a product designer based out of Orlando, FL. I have a passion for user design and experience, which fuels my aspirations to produce high quality and practical interfaces. In UX design, the primary objective is to improve the overall experience for people using a product, so I try to use my artistic abilities to creatively refine and solve any issues that the end user might encounter.

In my spare time, I love being with my family. We have the awesome opportunity to live in what is considered to be a vacation destination by the rest of the world, so it’s especially fun taking my daughter to all of the theme parks and beaches in the area. I also try to make time for playing drums, running, and surfing on the weekends.

How did you get into design?

I’ve always been an artist, drawing and doodling from a young age. When I was younger, I was in a lot of bands. I really started in graphic design by making visual graphics for shirts and posters. After college, I was working in recording studios constructing their brands, including logos and any graphics they needed, as well as creating flyers for some night clubs.

Once I left that avenue of work, I entered the video production industry, creating flash graphics and animations for film projects. I was picked up by a design agency where I focused on print work for magazines and newspapers. It wasn’t until I was working there that I started getting interested in web design and development.

Following that interest, I began working in software development where my passion for user interfaces was really ignited. I saw just how bad design truly could be, but it was bad because there was not a creative person in the mix. Everything was traditionally built by the developers who just needed to make things work. I knew that if I could get my hands on the design aspect I could really make a difference.

After a few years of learning, looking over the user data, and exploring user behavior, I was able to take the analysis of user experience and turn my findings into design fundamentals that worked for the intended audience. When I was reinventing user interfaces, implementing user studies, and tapping into user experience -- that’s when I really came into my own and became a legitimate product designer.

What does your typical workday look like?

I currently work in the role of Art Director, so my day mainly consists of working with my team, getting them up to speed on assignments, and providing quality assurance on all of our projects. We generally have multiple projects running at once, being that we work in a service-oriented environment. We’re tasked with designing anything from mobile and web apps, to native software apps, to military projects.

We create products for a wide range of users so we need to take the time to identify the user base. This information can include their level of computer proficiency, age, location, title, and personal interests, among many other things. All of this information needs to be taken into consideration to create a successfully functional product.

Once I get home from my day job, I mostly like to spend time with my wife and daughter. I also try to make time to give back to the design community by creating free resources, attending and presenting during local tech meets, and writing blog posts.

Who or what inspires and influences your work?

Aaron Draplin is a huge influence on me. I see a lot of parallels in my experience as a designer to his, and I’m really inspired by his creativity and his ability to look at the world around him in a different way.

I also draw a lot of inspiration and influence from my local community. We have a huge creative community in Orlando. There are always tech events going on where we all can meet up to share and learn from one another. We’re really becoming a hotspot for technology right now. There’s even a documentary currently being filmed about our tech industry - Orlando Rising.

What is one project you are most proud of?

I’m probably most proud of a project that I worked on for the US army. I was designing software that helped with combat simulation to train soldiers how to be aware of their surroundings during combat strategies and real-world war situations. It meant a lot to me because I knew I was designing something that was going to help save lives.

Other projects:

My goal is to try and create four to five high quality Sketch resources a year. A mobile store template freebie for Sketch App is available at Sketch App Sources

Paul Hershey - Crush Surf Shop

How did you get introduced to Sketch and what do you like most about it?

I found out about Sketch from reading a lot of articles about Photoshop vs Sketch. I was hearing about the benefits of Sketch and it really got me curious. I started working with it and just fell in love with its ease of use and simplicity. I felt like it provided the only tools I needed to design software, cutting out everything extra that cluttered my workspace. The best thing about it is that it allows me to get my job done faster and more effectively.

What are some of the tools in your workflow?

The most helpful tool for me in my design process is communication. I try to help with writing proposals in my day to day work. If we win the bid, I usually sit down with the client to learn more about their needs and any existing issues with their current software. If it’s a new project, I’ll try and find out what they’re trying to solve for people and what it was that inspired them to start that project.

As for physical tools, Sketch is obviously at the top of the list. I’m also a huge fan of Framer Studio, Affinity DesignerBracketsSASS , and Bourbon.

If you could go back in time and do something different what would it be?

If I could go back in time and make a decision on a career goal, it would obviously have to have been rockstar/astronaut, specializing in wicked guitar solos in outer space. But since the job market isn’t very lucrative for that particular career, I have to say that I actually feel like I’m working in the field in that I was meant to be in. I love being able to create awesome products that people use in their day-to-day lives.

What advice would you offer to those starting out in the field?

In this industry, I feel that a lot of people early on in their career get pulled in so many different directions. Companies have needs, and they tend to spread resources thin, so people end up having to wear many hats. I recommend taking that situation as an opportunity to find what you like and don’t like. Once you hone in on the thing that you really enjoy, and you get excited to work on that thing every day, focus all of your efforts on it. Try to be the best that you can possibly be in that space, whether it’s brand design, user interface design, or front-end design. Once you’re focused on what you want to do, you really have to work hard, and work on it every day. The more projects you do, the more you will learn and the more you can fine-tune your skill set. It’s going to take some time but you have your whole career to get good at it. And getting good at something is the fun part.

Feel free to reach out to Paul:

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