Vancouver is a great place to be a UX practitioner. Gordon Ross—Co-Founder and Vice President of OpenRoad—attributes this to the strength of local education programs, a thriving startup ecosystem, established independent agencies, and the presence of global tech companies. Together, these things offer UX practitioners a lot of a opportunity to experience variety in their work.
“This variety is something that has personally motivated me for the last 22 years,” Gordon explains. As Partner and VP of OpenRoad—an end-to-end design and technology consultancy in Gastown—he spends his days working both in and on the business. He’s able to work closely with teams across the company; from marketing and HR to service design and design for policy, collaborating with UX, visual designers, and developers. “A lot of our projects have the values piece, doing work that matters and has an impact in both the public service and private sectors,” he explains. No two projects are the same, and that’s something he appreciates.
As a founding member of VanUE, Gordon’s pleased to also see this range in the work submitted to the VanUX Awards every year. “Culturally, I think there’s something really interesting about Vancouver. The diversity of the design practitioners here leaves a mark on the things they create. Different cultures have different ways of knowing and that shapes project work,” he notes.
VanUE was born from the realization that there was no place for UX practitioners to convene and discuss what was shaping their work. Over the last 10-years, Gordon and the other VanUE founders worked to build this amazing community. At monthly meetups it was clear that there was really great work being produced, but no platform existed to show it off.
Then came the Awards. Now in their fifth year, it was started both as a way to showcase local talent and further legitimize the practice of UX. Giving the community this platform to highlight their work has been incredibly exciting and rewarding. The student category, however, is a highlight for Gordon. “We’re continually impressed, and quite floored by the quality of the student work that’s coming through,” he said.
The quality of the student solutions speaks to the ongoing improvement of local programs like SIAT at SFU and the Centre for Digital Media. Continuous improvement is something he acknowledges is incredibly important, both to him as a practitioner and as an organizer of this event. “We are really committed to the ongoing improvement of the Awards as a service. Every year we invite feedback and listen,” he explains.
As the awards approach, Gordon hopes to see more people become involved with the community. “There’s a lot that happens throughout the year and we really want to keep the excitement of the event rolling in beyond this one day of the year. Helping with meetups, doing design jams, fostering conversations, mentoring—there’s a lot of great things this community can do. Volunteers make the whole thing work. And we can always use more.”