Art is important to me. Drawing, writing, graphic art, computer art — I have always enjoyed creating. But games were always my favorite. I started making my own games when I was in grade school. Once I did, programming became a major form of self-expression. I would write programs and share them with my friends.
Programming was my original form of art — meant to invoke a reaction from the people using what I had created.
Once I got to college, I started writing “real” programs for class assignments. And before long, I was not just writing for class — I landed my first job during my second year. I began working as a programmer for Shell Oil Company, mostly focused on geographic information systems (GIS).
I enjoyed the work, but over the years, the focus changed. Things became much more about requirements and technologies and problem-solving. At first, this seemed to take me further from that expression and connection that I had first found in programming.
However, as I matured professionally, I came to realize that programs are really about the users. Every program I wrote was written for a person — even if it was for myself to manipulate data or do some other useful task.
Technologies are interesting, but they are not a program’s raison d’être. It is about the people who use it.
This gradually became clearer as I continued to work in GIS companies. A lot of my work was producing pretty maps. But making them pretty was not the end goal — making them functional was.
Another discovery was my interest in UX design. Not just the GUI, but also how the user interacts with an application — whether it is a web page, a command line utility, or a game. I found myself thinking about the person I was writing the programs for and how the interface gives users clues on how to use the application.
This line of thinking prompted me to revisit my passion for writing games. So, I started writing games as an independent game developer. You can see a handful of my games in various app stores today.
My favorite part of writing games was communicating with the player — building interfaces that are as functional and explanatory as possible.
I was fortunate that I was able to turn my hobby into an actual job. However, gaming is a tough industry. I started thinking about returning to a more stable role — but it had to be at the right kind of company.
I saw a listing for Aha! on a remote jobs site. As I started to research the company, it was clear that there was something interesting happening there. I applied and was quickly scheduled for an interview with an Aha! engineer named John Bohn. I used the opportunity to ask a lot of questions. I wanted to know how this company treated people.
I was happy with the answers. The team seemed entirely focused on helping people — both each other and customers. Just like me, they really thought about the people using the product. I was impressed with how user-centric Aha! was and how much there was to do on the front end.
That is ultimately why I joined Aha! — focusing on the user is my favorite part of working here. (Though the people I work with and being remote are great too.)
Product management is important because bad product management equals bad products. The beautiful visualizations and organization that Aha! gives users allows them to build better products. I have the opportunity to give those users better performance and a better experience. And that is art.
That is why I joined Aha! — and why you should too.