Interview with D. Keith Robinsion(@dkr)

We have past the 80 interview mark. 81.

Today we have an awesome interview with a product designer who has held almost every possible job in the tech business.

 developer, project manager, game designer, writer, you name it Keith has done it.

Currently Keith is working at Desk.com a great customer support app. Here is our interview.

How did you get into design?

Good question! I sort of fell into design. I was working at Microsoft as a technical support person (you know, someone who fixes people's computers when they're on the fritz?) and I'd been tasked with building a web site. I knew next to... ok, I new nothing about the web so just dove in and began to learn. Most of that learning was the coding nuts and bolts: HTML, etc. Coding, essentially. But I was designing and I was much more interested in the "why?" behind what I was doing.That curiosity sort of lead me towards design. That work also landed me a job at Boeing whrere I had the great and rare opportunity to work with some amazing "old school" designers who were coming to the web for new challenges. Between their guidance and a lot of self-learning I slowly became more of a designer and less of a coder.

What is it like working at Desk.com?

It's good. I work on an amazingly complicated and challenging product with a ton of really engaged users; people who use my product every day, all day long. On top of that, they use it to help their customers, which is even more exciting to me. It helps reinforce my purpose: to help people via great design. In a way I feel like I'm an extended support team for companies like Pandora, Rdio, Square, etc. I help their customer service people do their job better through technolog and design. And that's pretty awesome. 

What does your workspace look like?

I work in a cube at the office, so it's pretty boring, At home I've got a great metal-topped desk that I swindled from Daniel Burka, one of my favorite designers and an all-around awesome dude. It's clean and orderly, as I find messiness totally distracting. I've got photos of family and friends and fun times on the wall next to me and I often look to them for a mood adjustment when I'm in the thick of things. Aside from that though, I keep my workspace pretty clean and simple.

If you could talk to your ninth grade self, what would you say?

Girls, man, who needs 'em. :) Seriously though, I think I would encourage me to stick with all the geeky stuff I was into and not worry so much about what was "cool" or what other people think.

What can we expect from you in the future?

Ah, another good question. So, this one is hard to answer. I'm very happy with what I'm doing and where I'm at, so I expect to keep cranking away.  At the same time, I've got some projects bouncing around in my head that I'd love to pursue. One of those is a better way for designers to manage user research. Research is a huge part of my work and I feel like there needs to be an easier way to manage that work and share the results with others. I'm still thinking about it, but it's a passion of mine and I'm hoping to explore it more soon. I also love to write and my life-long goal is to write a novel.

I really enjoyed talking to Keith, and am inspired by his approach to the tech industry.

Here is his desktop background.

Thanks Keith,

instantbight

David Silverman