chris barr

Photo/Dev/Design

User Psychology Presentation

I work as a UI designer/developer for AppRiver, and every week someone presents what we call a Ten Minute Topic (TMT) to the entire development department.  A few weeks ago I presented a very non-technical presentation about user psychology, mostly dealing with how we as website developers & designers can make websites work better for the people who use it. We can do this by better understanding how the human mind works, and knowing what the person using the website is expecting to happen.

We record these presentations internally so we can watch them later in case anyone needs a refresher or if anyone missed a week.  A fellow coworker, Shane Drye, has written a blog post summarizing the main points of my presentation, and you can even watch the video of my presentation!

Check it out here: AppRiver DevBlog: “Ten Minute Topic Review: User Psychology”

Set Goals, Not Resolutions

“What are your resolutions for next year?” – a question we all hear every year near the border between December and January.  Often we don’t give this much thought and any resolutions we do make we don’t take too seriously, usually forgetting about them within a few months.  Instead of general “do _____ more” type of resolutions, I’ve found more satisfaction and success in setting specific achievable goals instead.  The problem with a resolution like “lose weight” or “blog more” is that these aren’t specific enough, you can’t point to a date on a calendar when it was accomplished. If you lose just one pound or 50 pounds you’ve technically fulfilled that resolution, and if you’ve got 50 pounds of weight to lose then chances are that the 1 pound loss isn’t going to feel like much of an accomplishment. Each goal you set should have a specific end point that can be reached.

I’ve tried this for the last two years, although at the time I didn’t fully stick to my suggestion above.  I wrote my goals down in my phone so I always had the list with me and I could check them off throughout the year. Writing them down in some form is absolutely key, otherwise they only exist in your mind and you have no accountability to actually accomplish them.

See? Even Dave Ramsey says so! Let’s break down each of my goals for the past 2 years and the results.

2013 Goals

Screenshot of my 2013 Goals

  • Bench Press 100% body weight – I was able to do this once, but I was hoping to do 10 reps. So, it actually was accomplished, but I was being strict by not checking it off. Meh.
  • Run a 10K – I had hoped to run an official 10K race, but it got rained out. Before the event I had run a 10K (6.2 miles) at home on my own to prepare for the official one. So this goal was also technically met, but not in the way I originally wanted.
  • Work on more code projects at home – This is hard to point to specifically, but I did work on more code stuff at home. Most notably was my LyricConverter project! This goal should have been defined more clearly.
  • Get Engaged – My then-girlfriend and I took a trip to Savannah Georgia in July, and I proposed on top of a lighthouse on July 15th!
  • Re-launch Personal Website – This website was feeling a little neglected, and since my full time job is as a web developer/designer it really looked bad on my part. So I worked hard and got this site launched in February.

All in all not perfect, but my 2013 goals were a success!

2014 Goals

Screenshot of my 2014 Goals

  • Deadlift 300lb. – Sometime in November I deadlifted 295lb. but failed at an attempt for 300lb. I had plenty of time to make another attempt, but I actually didn’t accomplish this until January 2 of 2015! I had every intention of doing it, but time just slipped away… totally my fault. But on January the 2nd of this year I was able to lift 305lb. and I was happy. Goal met, but slightly late.
  • Greatly reduce debt – This goal wasn’t defined very well, but in November I was able to make the final payment on my car that I bought in 2012. Hooray, for less debt!
  • CrossFit “Fran” in under 9:30 – When I joined CrossFit in 2013 I did the Fran workout, but I was dissatisfied with my time which was over 10 minutes. So I set a goal to finish Fran in under 9:30, which I did on December 26th with a time of 7:39! Huge improvement!
  • Get Married – I proposed in 2013, and in 2014 I got married on July the 19th!
  • Run a 10K – On March 29th I was able to run a real 10K (6.2 miles) at the same event that was rained out in 2013. I ran it side-by-side with my then-fiancé and my final time was 1:02:30.

2015 Goals

A new year is upon us, and now I’m married so it’s not just my goals to keep track of any more!  I sat down with my wife and we each set some goals for ourselves individually, and we set some for ourselves as a couple.  To ensure that we don’t forget about them, I put something together in Photoshop, printed it out, and framed it.  We’re going to keep our goals displayed where we can see them every day, and check them off as we complete them.

There’s a lot listed on it so I don’t want to get into the details all of them. However, here’s a brief overview of the goal subjects: we each have a few personal weightlifting & fitness goals, we want to take a nice vacation, plan for the future, and reduce our car & student loan debt by about 50%.

I also have a personal goal of taking 1 quality photo every month.  In 2010 I took a photo a day for the entire year (Read my summary of the project here, and you can see all 365 photos here.) While that was successful it was incredibly stressful and not something I want to repeat. Coming up with a minimum of 1 photo every 30 days is a lot less pressure and it allows me to still pursue my photography, but focus on quality instead of quantity.  I’ll be posting my 2015 photos here as I take them!

At the end of 2015 I truly hope that I can write another blog post showing every item on our goal list checked off.  Here we go!