The other day, AWeber’s Chief Product Officer posed a question to the UI/UX team in Slack: “What have you worked on recently that’s given you joy?” I really struggled to answer this question, and I found that extremely troubling. Hiring a new designer was my answer. As the manager of the UI/UX team, that process does give me great joy, but I couldn’t come up with an answer for any of my direct product work. You know, that stuff that’s supposed to help the company grow and make everyone’s individual dreams come true at the same time? So I started asking myself “why?” What exactly is the problem with the work I’m doing that leaves me feeling empty and unfulfilled?
When I was the UX designer for the Content Creation team – the team responsible for our email and landing page builders – I almost always had a feeling of great satisfaction with my day-to-day work. After moving to the Conversions team, however, that inspiration slowly died away. The Conversions team is responsible for both new customer activation and upgrades from our Free plan to AWeber Pro. After taking some time to ruminate on this question a bit, which included taking a break from the podcasts and Phillies baseball games I normally consume while doing mindless household chores, I believe I found the answer. I simply don’t have confidence in my abilities to increase conversions.
I’ve always been strong in my ability to develop a good product workflow. That’s what led me into the field of UX Design in the first place. I had repeated success while on the CC team, while also constantly being challenged. This was a perfect environment for steady growth. The longer I was on the team, the more complex problems I had to solve, and the more confidence I had in my own abilities. With Conversions, however, I’m taking on a challenge that I have no past success or groundwork of experience in. This means that every test I create feels the same as throwing punches in the dark, desperately trying to make contact but having no input on how to course-correct.
So there’s a possible answer to why I’m feeling unfulfilled in my work. Now that I’ve identified that, what is the next step I need to take in order to build skills that will lead to mastery? I don’t have an MBA, nor have I taken any business classes. All of my business skill has been gleaned from my corporate experience. With that in mind, in the short term I’ve been reading articles about SaaS conversions and finding out what has worked for other companies. This could help kick-start some ideas for how I might make some wins on Conversions, but I realize that I need some deeper knowledge. To that end, I’ve also started reading “The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business,” by Josh Kaufman. This is a low-cost way to gain some basic business education at my own pace while continuing to conduct experiments with the Conversions team. I may even take some business classes at a local university. This will help put some purpose behind my efforts and hopefully lead to some wins.
Going back to the prompt that started this thought exercise, I’m going to change it to a future-focused question. “What daily work outcome will give me joy?” My answer will be – being able to build out a test with a sole purpose based on sound business practice and seeing it succeed. From there, I plan to build on those successes, learn more, and build my confidence at the same time. Wish me luck!