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Laura Eley, UX Writer

February 2021

Article

Spotify Design Team

To showcase our band members, every now and then we put a Spotifier in the limelight. Today's headliner is Laura Eley, UX Writer for S4X in New York. Put on your headphones, hit play, and read along!

Questions & Answers

Why are you a writer?

I have always loved words. I have always felt that anything could be imagined through pen. I didn’t know that UX Writing was a thing until I was introduced at a storytelling session held by Spotify’s Opening Act conference. I vividly remember being a college junior thinking, “My words could improve the way millions use something they love? Yes, please.” 

I enjoy taking minor details and turning them into masterful tales. Writing was the natural way to go.

Describe your job at Spotify without using the words "writer" or "writer"

I’m the author to my illustrator, better known as a product designer. I’m responsible for crafting copy that directs and engages artists and fans alike. I have to understand how this product will empower artists, but also introduce ways for fans to connect with their favorites. I might ask myself questions like, “What is the end goal?” or “What do I want the creator or fan to feel when they see this?”. I also have to understand what context the design offers before I write anything. I have to carefully choose words because one wrong word choice can create an unwelcome outcome or feeling.

Show us a picture of your desk, and explain why it looks how it does.

My desk looks a lot different from my normal setting, as I am in Virginia for an extended holiday, but essentials are essentials.

  1. Peace + Tranquility candle: It smells like clean linen and with the right lighting can calm any moment. If it’s a heavy deadline day, I can light it and get to work.

  2. Lip balm: Because who likes chapped lips?

  3. Spelman journal (with a black pen): One of my favorite grad gifts was the Spelman journal, it's where I create the vision for my copy. Also, a black pen is the only way to write.

  4. Blue blocking glasses: Screens are just not friendly to my eyes. I learned during teaching that it affects my sleep and gives me crazy migraines. One day, I’ll upgrade, but for now, these blue-blocking glasses from Target will do!

  5. Laptop (with a finger smudge): Because how can I work without a computer and it wouldn’t be me without a smudge.

  6. Tablet (with pencil): I just got this to help work through designs, get into drawing, and try to limit the number of books I collect. I love bookstores, but I don’t have enough space for all my favorite books. So, I’ll be using 'Paddy' (its name, lol) to read mostly.

  7. Water bottle: The lasting effect of the pandemic for me has been mask acne. I have to stay hydrated to calm the redness. 

  8. Pictures of mom and dad: I lost my dad in April and what I thought was going to be the worst year ever, ended up being the year of opportunity. So I want to remain reminded of my support system :)

Tell us about a time you beat an intimidating design challenge.

At this point in my career, I’d say my most intimidating design challenge has been entering this field. Hot take, huh?

Coming from a liberal arts, specifically English, background, I didn’t think a career in design or tech was possible. To add on another layer, as a graduate of an HBCU, design roles weren’t necessarily represented at our career fairs. Being able to not only find a position in design that fit me but also transition from a career in education to this has been such a journey. That’s why I’m passionate about increasing diversity in design teams and education around design roles, in general.

Tell us about some phenomenal Black designers or a piece of work by Black designers that you love.

One of my favorite Black designers at the moment thrives in the illustration space, Jade Purple Brown (same on Instagram). She creates the most beautiful multi-method pieces. She creates with a sense of individuality and empowerment that you can feel through Instagram. I aspire to create the same way.

Sharae Gibbs is an interaction designer at Google and founder of SheDesigns, a UX course and program that is committed to educating and offering tools to women of color interested in tech. As someone who had a non-traditional journey to design, I hope to eventually empower more like me to explore their options in design and technology.

Name three non-UX Writers you feel inspired by when designing.

Stevie Wonder: Listening to Stevie Wonder can power me through any project, obstacle, or triumph. His art is captivating and he tells the best stories. 

Jazmine Sullivan: My favorite artist! The voice, the songs, the stories. Jazmine has a unique way of capturing the essence of young Black womanhood, her album Reality Show got me through college and Heaux Tales is giving me everything in adulthood.

The Knowles sisters: I couldn’t just pick one. Both Solange and Beyonce take ownership of their storytelling. They create experiences that create lasting memories and emotions. Saw both of them live and just — ahhhh!

What would your self-portrait look like?

For you, what’s the greatest celebration of Blackness?

This is a very interesting question. For me, I’d say the greatest celebration of blackness is the community within our culture. No matter the room we enter there is a comfort in knowing that there’s a group of people that are going to look out for each other. Beyond that, there will be people who get the joke, reference, etc. Having people who like me where I work makes me feel safe and seen. Things people take for granted.

Any final shout-outs or things you'd like to share?

BIG Shout out to my mom for being my mom, haha.

Also, I want to shout out my manager and mentor, Tamara Hilmes. Since I was a rising senior in college she’s been in my corner helping me find my way into design. Thank you so much for all your help.

As for socials, you can find me @lauraveley on Instagram :) I love sharing cool articles, illustrations and more when I’m not on hiatus haha.

Credits

Spotify Design Team

We're a cross-disciplinary team of people who love to create great experiences and make meaningful connections between listeners and creators.

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