Quick Intro

My name is Dennis Avdey. I am a designer and creative leader. I design software as an end-to-end experience, which makes me an experience designer. I came to user experience design from civil engineering and graphic design backgrounds. So, for me, UX is in the perfect balance of logical and creative thinking. In my extensive experience, I worked in breadth and depth on diverse design projects – from concept development and information architecture to visual design and marketing collateral.

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User Experience Design 95%
Visual Design 95%
Information Architecture 90%
HTML/CSS Development 80%
Creative Direction & Leadership 95%
30 +
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My Story

I was born in Odessa, Ukraine – a big, beautiful, multi-cultural city on the Black Sea. Back then it was still USSR, and now it’s a sovereign country of Ukraine. I graduated from the Academy of Civil Engineering and Architecture in 2002. At about the same time, I discovered my passion for design. Year later I moved to the U.S. where my obsession with design rooted even stronger. I ran my own studio as a consultant for a number of years while in parallel worked on my second degree. I graduated from Sacramento State University with BS in Graphic Design in 2009. I worked on a variety of products for such companies as Cisco, Gilead, Broadridge, Genentech, Roche, and SAP.

I currently reside in Pleasanton, California (San Francisco Bay Area). I love to travel; I enjoy good movies and books, and ocean – a warm one, with sandy beaches and tropical fish. Also, I’m a coffee enthusiast and connoisseur.

my short version of

Design Process

This step may be considered a boring one by some designers, so they skip it. However, it happens to be the most crucial step in solving any type of problems. The classical tools of defining a design problem are problem statement and research. There are many ways to do it, but the main goal stays the same – knowing what we’re doing before we’re doing it. It is as critical as an accurate diagnosis. If you have ever been treated by a doctor who got your diagnosis wrong, you can relate to users whose problems haven’t been justly defined.
In this exciting stage, a baby-idea is born as a result of laborious hours of the brainstorm. It’s great to (temporarily) see no boundaries for initial explorations and sky as the limit. This step separates designers form non designers and visual thinkers from… well, any other type of thinkers. Only a true designer can visualize a thought and turn it into a vision. We are explorers, adventurers and inventors in this step of the process. This is the time to discover the vision!
As designers, we have a tendency to stay longer in exploration mode. However, the main point of this phase is taking a leap of educated guess and trusting your design intuition. “Intuitions represent data processed too fast for the conscious mind to comprehend” ( “Sherlock” show). It’s much more efficient to prototype sooner and then test shortly after. With all that great feedback from a usability study, now it’s time to perfect the design or (and I know it’s painful sometimes) go back to the exploration. In some cases, we even need to revisit the original idea. But hey, that’s what often turns a good design into a great one!

my design philosophy or

Designer’s Creed

I’m sure these principles are not new and may be even based on something I heard before… (as this title is based on a popular video game). Nonetheless, it’s my list of “dos and don’ts” and things that I consider crucial for a successful design.

It’s All About Relationships

Clearly, a relationship among design teammates (and their leader) matters and have a great impact on design quality. However, it’s not only about that. Design is a form of communication, and good communication is essential for any healthy relationships. There are usually multiple parties at play interacting with each other via our product (and with the product itself). We may design for all sorts of relationship scenarios – C2C, B2C, B2B. Thus, as designers, we can make these relationships either great or miserable.

Just Draw It!

Sometimes we jump onto a computer too soon and start moving things around without any sort of a draft. When we truly create, it’s important to give ourselves time to think. Being a designer means thinking in pictures. So, unlike Nikola Tesla, who created his inventions from the mental images directly, most designers need to doodle their ideas out. It’s not about how well one can draw but about the process itself and embracing the freedom of a blank canvas. Design is all about visualizing, not pages of writing or zillions of bullet points.

Don’t Play User

Some people like to play God and some designers like to play User. Occasionally, we do ask ourselves a question “What would User do?” It’s a good start to practice user empathy, but it won’t take us very far in solving real design problems. Let me underline a simple fact – when you imagine yourself as a user, you are still you. You still bring your own baggage and views into this simulation, and at the end of the day, you don’t know more about real users. Therefore, I believe, there’s no substitute to testing your ideas in front of actual users. If you’d like play somebody – play Designer!

Don’t Overanalyze

Some things seem simple because they are. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to overanalyze, as long as there’s time and coming back to simplicity. A common danger of overanalyzing, however, is lingering in a realm of overly complex ideas and creating endless solutions for them. A possible remedy for this could be a review with a fellow designer who doesn’t know the problem too well and can easily abstract from complexity.

Mind the Big Picture

It’s a common design trap – focusing on a part of a whole so much that it blurs the sight of the big picture. Sometimes designers are tasked to create only parts, especially when a product is so big that multiple designers or even teams work on it. Other times designers may dwell on fringe cases that may be very small, insignificant parts of a system. However, user experience is like driving a car – users don’t care a lot about parts and how they’re running, but they do care about how the car itself is running. Users care about overall end-to-end experience, and so should we!

Everything is Permitted

Reason forbid, I do not mean that everything is permitted in terms of ethics. The main point is that we may get used to some design principles, standards, and conventions so much that we lose a sense of freedom. We owe ourselves a chance (even if it’s just one more variation) to create in absolute freedom. We should occasionally let ourselves and others (whose designs we judge) to think differently – what if there were no parameters, standards, guidelines, and conventions? How would it work? How would it look like? At least in our design thinking – everything is permitted!