32 episodes

A podcast about working in design.

Opacit‪y‬ Tom Cunningham, Craig Phillips

    • Design
    • 5.0 • 5 Ratings

A podcast about working in design.

    31. Generalists and Specialists

    31. Generalists and Specialists

    Welcome to the new year. In the first episode of 2021, Craig and Tom jump into an evergreen topic on the minds of designers everywhere. Should we be generalists or specialists, and why?

    Specialization and generalization are tough terms to define. There are generalist designers who have a breadth of skills that cover the full design process. And then there's a wider definition of generalist that includes knowledge, skills, and experience outside of design. Similarly with specialization, it can be narrow, or wide. There's no standard way of saying what is general and what is specialized.

    But saying "it depends" isn't too helpful. It can be a real conundrum in a designer's professional life. In the episode Tom and Craig talk about how they approach the topic, and some pros and cons of each. And in the end, it's all about recognizing you're unique "shape" as a designer. 

    If you enjoyed the episode, make sure to share it with your friends and colleagues. You can support the podcast by leaving us a review or rating wherever you listen. You can subscribe to Opacity anywhere audio is distributed. Connect with us on twitter @opacitypodcast, and by checking out our new YouTube channel.


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    • 35 min
    30. Wrapping up 2020, Lacing up for 2021

    30. Wrapping up 2020, Lacing up for 2021

    We've made it to the end of 2020, a year unlike any other. Putting aside the roller coaster of the past year, we wanted to take some time to reflect on what's changed for designers in the workplace, and what these changes may mean for us in the coming year.

    A major theme for this episode was on the move to remote work and it's far reaching impacts, for good and maybe-not-so-good.  We also get into some of the following topics:


    Global asynchronous work, and ways to communicate effectively and efficiently
    The dangers of a more output-centric work environment for designers
    Remote facilitation as a designer superpower
    Finding balance and setting boundaries when everything has blurred together
    ...and more!

    This episode was fun to record, and we really hope you enjoy it. As you close out the year, take some time to reflect on the new work-reality we find ourselves in, and how you can make it work best for you in 2021.

    Here's to wishing you all a very happy new year, and all the good things in the year to come. 

    If you enjoyed the episode, make sure to share it with your friends and colleagues. You can support the podcast by leaving us a review or rating wherever you listen. You can subscribe to Opacity anywhere audio is distributed. Connect with us on twitter @opacitypodcast, and by checking out our new YouTube channel. 


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    • 48 min
    29. Starting your design career (part 1)

    29. Starting your design career (part 1)

    Starting out is hard. We've all been there, and have all had different experiences of this time. Regardless of how well or rough your entry to a design career is going, it takes real work.

    In this episode, Tom and Craig get into the topic, reflecting on their personal experiences as well as some suggestions for how designers starting out can grab the proverbial bull by the horns. They talk about job titles, transferable skills from other types of work, and creating your own work experience when starting from scratch. They also share about what stands out in the interview room, such as authentic interest and an ability to learn, good presentation skills, and the undoubtable benefit of investing in building your network.

    There's a lot still so much to talk about (it could be its own podcast!), so we're calling this "part 1". 

    If you're starting your design career, we'd love to hear from you! Tell us about your successes and failures, struggles and joys, or questions for us to cover on the air. Tweet at us @opacitypodcast or reach out to Tom (@tomcdesign) or Craig (cp5446)

    Please share with anyone you know starting out! And subscribe to Opacity wherever you consume audio. 🎧


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    • 27 min
    28. The moments that matter most

    28. The moments that matter most

    Looking back through your career you'll find a series of memorable moments that stand out. Highs, lows, and transitions likely make up the bulk of those memories. These memorable, defining moments are some of the most impactful on your career. These ideas are explored in depth in the well-known book, The Power of Moments, by Dan and Chip Heath.

    Knowing this, how can we think about creating defining moments for others as a form of design impact? When thinking along these lines, how can we broaden out perspective on what it means to bring impact as a designer?

    Hope you enjoy the episode! To read more on this topic, we recommend The Power of Moments, as well as checking out Craig's recent article, Designing for impact through defining moments on the Shaping Design blog.


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    • 35 min
    27. Ethics on the Table

    27. Ethics on the Table

    It's easy to assume that UX design is inherently ethical. After all, designing with people's interests in mind is a big part of what we do. So why then, are certain technologies driving the downfall of civilization? ::cue ominous thunder:: Technologies that designers have played a big role in creating.

    Regardless of what we're designing, ethics needs to be on the table. No product is immune from ethical dilemmas. And every product—or perhaps the companies that build these products—wants to be something. It wants to grow, get more users, increase market share, make more money, keep investors happy, buy more pool tables and give employees free massages. But at what cost?

    In this episode, Tom and Craig scratch the surface of this big, important topic. tl;dr -- actively think about ethics, and interrogate your work, your employer, and yourself about upholding ethical standards.

    Enjoy the episode! If you do, please share with your friends and colleagues. And subscribe to Opacity anywhere audio is served.


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    • 41 min
    26. Embracing Serendipity

    26. Embracing Serendipity

    Our careers (and life) are made up of cross-roads and decisions we make on where to go next. We can approach these moments through detailed calculation—trying to find the right way to go based on the information we have available. Or, we can embrace a bit of randomness, and follow our gut. 

    In this episode Tom and Craig talk about their experiences with key decision points in their careers, and how they calculated (or rather, didn't calculate) them. Really, this is about much more than career, as it gets down to what we all believe is a life well-lived. 

    How do you approach career and life decisions? What do you intentionally calculate, and when do you embrace randomness. 

    If you enjoy'ed this episode, please subscribe to Opacity anywhere, and share with others who might like it. 


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    • 36 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
5 Ratings

5 Ratings

Itsestherrr ,

Interesting topics - I'm hooked!

I'm relatively new to the UX world and this podcast gives a lot of great insight. I was worried some of the topics would be too advanced for me but they're all so relevant. Look forward to hearing more from them!

Craig the cohost ,

Listen to Opacity whydoncha?

Full disclosure, Im the cohost of this podcast. Wanted to kick off the flood of reviews that are bound to start streaming in any day now. My review of it is that it's tons of fun to make, and I hope it will go on in perpetuity. I hope it's at least half as good to listen to as it is to make. If so, then we're doing something right.

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