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About Stewart McCoy, Product Designer

I care about working on difficult problems where thoughtfully designed solutions can significantly improve people’s lives. I believe the way business and teams are designed intimately affects the resulting solutions, and for this reason design should be involved at the outset when aligning mission, vision, and strategy. I also believe it’s important to trust your gut.


I work in Downtown San Francisco

Along side the fantastic team at InstaEDU, an online tutoring platform, I make product and user experience decisions based on business goals and students' best interests. Full stack or GTFO.

Interviews on Design Education

I write about design and communication

Using design to unblock stakeholders
As designers we are uniquely positioned to show people the future. It’s not always that easy, though, because designers are often organizationally positioned below decision makers.
Keeping PMs and designers on the same page
I’ve found that more than anything, “design” is the decisions made in conversations between teammates. To be effective I’ve needed to learn how to stay on the same page as my PM, and for this, the use of a design brief for each project has become instrumental for me. In effect, it’s the common vocabulary for talking about and evaluating a project.
Being intentional about stakeholder feedback
Being more intentional about who to ask, when, and about what, can go a long way in reducing miscommunication in the product dev process.
Why startups should care about App.net
When App.net became a thing last summer, everyone thought it was a Twitter clone. That’s a huge marketing problem because most people in the startup community still don’t understand that App.net is offering a development platform for social products, one that comes with a clear business model that foregoes advertising, an active community of users, and exciting implications for improved UX across the app ecosystem.
Thoughts on succeeding at your first UX job
Design ahead of the product development curve; seek out people to brainstorm with; get critical feedback on even the smallest changes from the rest of your design team; when you give feedback, honor the golden rule; find a mentor that will help you refine your process, and other thoughts on how you can be a better employee and designer.
Making a career change into UX
I recently received an email from Chris, who read How to get a UX job and what it's like and had questions about how to make a career change into UX. My advice: you don't need a special degree; you do need a thoughtfully-designed portfolio; make up your own projects if you have to; you should only teach yourself code if it interests you.
A better way to organize pickup sports
There's currently an opportunity for creating a better way to help people play pickup games—one that brings together people who typically play pickup anyway, and who would play more often if knowing about the pickup games in their area was made easier. In this post I outline the opportunity, apps currently tackling this problem, the problems with those apps, and what an improved pickup app UX could be like.
Will a master’s help you get a better UX job or salary?
I received another email this week from Meghann, a junior UX designer, who wrote me asking whether pursuing a master's in HCI would help her get better job opportunities or a higher salary. I told her, in short, yes. But also that a grad program is a time for reflection and self-motivated projects, that a good internship during the program is critical, that many leading designers have their master's, and above all, your portfolio is most important.
How to get a UX job and what it’s like
Last week I received an email from a graduating high school student who is going to college in the fall and thinking about a career in UX and product design. My response explains what my experience has been like working as a UX designer, what different kinds of opportunities there are in the field, what to study in college, and how to prepare for finding a job.
UX, agile, and front-end development
Two recent articles on UX Matters, one on Agile UX, the other on UX and front-end development, have reinforced my thoughts on how product teams can improve requirements definition, and how adding a front-end developer to the UX team can help ease the transition between product vision and implementation.
Design with trust, ask questions
The most important lesson I learned this past year is that when I don't understand something, I need to ask questions. I've found that overcoming any embarrassment, shame, pride, or ego, and pushing myself to ask seemingly ignorant or naive questions is actually my responsibility as a professional.