Jordan Clayton: Unexpected UX

Joining me on the Feisworld Podcast today is Jordan Clayton, an SVP Creative Director of UX (User Experience) at Arnold Worldwide. UX has become increasingly popular over the years across all industries (technology, marketing, medicine and beyond), but most schools haven’t yet figured out a systematic and effective way to teach it. As a result, many young, ambitious, creative souls find it challenging to find jobs as UX professionals.

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This episode isn’t a crash course on UX. It's a collection of deep insights to how a UX designer thinks, what he looks for when hiring, and how he creates prototypes. Jordan offers his unique perspective, and lessons learned throughout his career path.

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Jordan argues that UX isn't just about making things useful and usable, but about making them more fun, inspiring and emotionally-engaging as well.

Beyond UX, Jordan is known as a well-dressed, charismatic leader around the office. How does he achieve this level of credibility? The answers live in his cross-disciplinary vision to design, fashion and music. Jordan appreciates the small things in life, every day.

I hope you enjoy this conversation and thank you so much for choosing to spend your time with us. I feel very privileged to be able to do this.

Key Discussion Points: (Try highlighting any amount of text to Tweet!):

On Presentation and Preparing for a Client Discussion:

You need to think through the questions they might ask and being able to improvise on the spot. There is such a thing as 'over-prepared'. You don’t need all the answers. So take the pressure off and get out of your own way!

On Hiring UX Candidates:

Conceptual thinking is critical but challenging to find (in most candidates). Analytical skills are super important. However, coming up with big ideas, be in a room with other fellow thinkers without too much “editing” is what we need in an inventive environment. Hemingway said: "Write drunk; Edit sober."

On Prototyping:

In an inventive workspace, we look to explore in Keynote, Axure, Invision, etc. As we concept, we come up with prototypes for potential users, technologists to be able to interact with.

On Fashion (Brands and styles Jordan loves): 

Credit to my wife, she makes sure that my outfit is cohesive. She’s quite a design thinker as well. I shop at Banana Republic, J.Crew, H&M, Converse (I wore Converse since I was old enough to walk), Ray Ban. Thrifty sections are great too. I try not to be too much of anything.

I freelanced for Burton as a layout artist. Layout artist is basically in charge of how color palettes can work together. Fashion and design have always been an undercurrent of my career.

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On Meditation, Healthy Living and Appreciation for Everyday Life

Every stage of your life is a different experience. Forcing yourself to experiment is key to growth.

Meditation is one fundamental skill to calm your mind, stay centered. It also sets my day and helps me be more alive and present.

My wife and I recently started "Five Things” - Before we end our day, we talk about five things we feel grateful for.

Set up your house so it's easier to make healthy decisions. I leave gym clothes next to my bed and I run with my dog a few times a week.

On Music and Drumming:

Playing drums is a great way to be physical! I sold my drums when I moved to Sweden for work. I’m still looking for the smallest and quietest drum set (for my apartment). I was introduced to cigar-box guitar recently, an instrument originated from the South that defined blue grass music, and I'm getting pretty good at it.

What is it like being interviewed on Feisworld Podcast?

I’m able to articulate this stuff brings a lot of clarity to myself.

What does it mean to you to live a meaningful and fulfilling life?

Be true to yourself. Contribute to your environment. Help expand people's perspections of possiblities.

To learn more about Jordan, connect with him on LinkedIn. He admits that he's most actively on Twitter (@jordan001).

Do you enjoy this podcast? If so, please leave your comment below and share the podcast with your family and friends. You can also email me here. Your support will keep me on track and bring many other sung and unsung heroes to this podcast.

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Show Notes (Time is Approximate):

  • How long have you been here [at Arnold] and what exactly is it that you do here? [5:00]
  • What are some of the things you were doing early on in your career that everybody else around you wasn’t? (counterintuitive learnings) [10:00]
  • Most people struggle with presentation skills. How do you prepare yourself for a client presentation? How did you learn in school and on the job? [12:30]
  • What do you look for in a new hire? [17:30]
  • What are some of the things that you want people to know about you at Arnold, but they don’t yet? [20:00]
  • What are some of the off-brand, off-work styles that you like? [23:30]
  • What do you think is the latest thing that you’ve learned? [26:00]
  • What do you do in the first half an hour or sixty minutes of your day? [28:00]
  • Close the day with good feelings, thoughts, and set the tone for the next day. [30:30]
  • How do you go about meditation, what's your approach? [32:30]
  • One of the struggles I have is healthy eating, and I’m looking for tips from people who seem like they live healthy lifestyles [35:00]
  • Where did you go for your last vacation - private island?! Once in a lifetime experience [37:30]
  • Family influence - photography, music, entrepreneurship [40:30]
  • What does living and fulfilling life mean to you? [45:30]
  • What is it that you love? What sparkles joy into you? [49:00]

Podcasts Jordan chooses to listen to:

  • The Nerdist
  • On Being
  • Serial

People/Businesses/Media mentioned on the show: 

  • Savannah College of Art and Design [8:00]
  • Crispin Porter + Bogusky [9:00]
  • Xplane - visual explanation company [11:00]
  • Jeff Gothelf [15:00]
  • Antifragile - Things that Gain from Disorder [17:00]
  • Burton Snowboard [24:30]
  • Arnold Gives Back session [26:30]
  • Richard Branson [27:00]
  • Gary Hall Photography (JC's dad) [38:30]