The roboboogie team had the pleasure of attending July’s Creative Mornings PDX to learn from the inspiring Traci Sym, the Founding Principle of Portland’s +&> (plus & greater than). In early adulthood, Traci was diagnosed with cancer and told she had a 30 percent chance of surviving. Instead of getting bogged down in her diagnosis, Traci decided to “look at cancer as an art project.” She used her fight for her survival to fuel her creativity and inspire her growth. How? Through defeating her fear of failure.

Traci shared her lessons learned, and how they have reduced her fear of failure in her creative approach: Survival of Listening, Survival of Humanity and Survival of Optimism.

At roboboogie, working in the optimization space – in a continued push to iteratively improve digital experience over time for our clients – we know the concept of success through ‘failure’ all too well. In pondering Traci’s inspiring words, we decided to work through her thinking further and apply it to our user experience optimization process.

Survival of Listening

“You have to be present. You have to really know what is happening.”

Traci Sym speaking in front of an audience at Creative Mornings PDX - How we frame survival determines how we live

For Traci, this stage came when she chose to stop being afraid and chose to turn her tragedy into a project. When it comes to user experience, the same principal holds true. You can’t be afraid to make mistakes or try new things. You have to test the waters. Try hundreds or thousands of things to see what soars and what fails. If you are married to a design or a test you won’t be able to see or, in this case, hear what other alternatives speak to your audience. If you only look at a situation or a project one way then the testing and design will never reach their full potential. Design and test for your audience without limits or fear. That is the survival way.

Survival of Humanity

“Our work is not new, even if our tools are. It must be about more than just ourselves.”

Traci Sym speaking in front of an audience at Creative Mornings PDX - Our work is not new.

In the world of conversion optimization, our ideas are for others, not ourselves. As Traci said, “listen to, respond and challenge your audience.” It’s about more than just choosing your favorite test or design. It’s about choosing your audience’s favorite. Sure, the first wireframe you made may be your very favorite and you devoted a lot of time and thought into that design, but if the audience isn’t responding, it isn’t the right choice.

When it comes down to it, you have to choose what your audience responds to the best because, as Anne Bogart said, “without a receiver there is no experience.”

Survival of Optimism

“You need to be able to look back at the world in a way you didn’t expect and think you could do it better.”

Traci Sym speaking in front of an audience at Creative Mornings PDX

This rings most true when it comes to testing. You need to be strong in your opinions but willing to be wrong. Accept the data that you get, even if it doesn’t match your original plan. Ultimately our goal is to make the internet better, and that is the only way to ensure that can happen.

Thank you for the Inspiration!

Thank you so much to Traci Sym for sharing her story and to Creative Mornings for the creative fuel. If you want to learn more about our data-backed design and optimization Services, click here.

Written by Sophie Ey