I worked for Thomson Reuters for three years, 2013-2016, as an interaction designer. When I was approached about this job by a recruiting agency, I told them upfront I didn’t have the experienced expressed in the job description. I had no Silverlight experience. No XAML experience. No Visual Studio experience. He thought it irrelevant and asked to submit me anyway.
I said the same thing at the interview. I got the one year contract job regardless. I got hired directly after three months. And I learned Silverlight. Learned XAML. Learned Visual Studio. And I learned all about MVVM, front-end programming, Thomson Reuters, TR’s IP & Science division—and a whole lot more.
Thomson Reuters was also my gateway back into the corporate world after freelancing for a good part of my earlier career. Thomson Reuters is a conglomerate corporation with six divisions at the time. TR had dozens of products in their IP & Science division, our office focused on software to manage patents and trademarks. I quickly learned what I need to know. Performed what I needed to do. And, sought new ways to do things better—while developing a local and global TR network.
Basically, my “job” was making the enterprise application interfaces correct for Thomson Reuters’ patent and trademark maintenance software products. The software recently converted to Silverlight had a lot of bad UX and UI. After cleaning up the interfaces, getting rid of a gazillion grammatical errors and typos—often to the pushback of, “What’s the big deal if ‘IP’, or ‘iP’, or ‘ip’, it all the same? Or if something is misaligned, it’s still a powerful application. It still works. I have more important things to spend time on.” My simple reply was, “If I’m a customer and I’m trusting my multibillion dollar invention to this software, and I see Ip on one line, IP next to it, ip on the next screen, the app littered with typos, my thought is, ‘These dumbasses don’t even know how to spell properly and I trust they will secure my patent properly?’”
Bad design—whether visual, UX, or overall product design—will rub customers the wrong way whether or not they can identify what it is that bugs them. Even if the customer isn’t consciously aware of bad design it subconsciously grinds them. The quick fix is remove as much negatives as possible. Usually these entail very simple fixes—typos, grammatical errors, misalignments. And such fixes go a long way. A person isn’t distracted by "iP," or cognitively slowed by trying to negotiate what is meant by a grammatically incorrect instruction or warning. And that was what I first did with Thomson Reuters’ Thomson IP Manager (TIPM) and Thomson cIPP—got rid of negatives.
Also in need were common controls, style guides, and a much needed design system—so everyone was working from the same playbook. Some developers would develop a screen one way, a different developer a different way. Some used certain controls, others used other controls, and/or in unintended ways. We needed common styles and common controls. Previously controls requirements were from a huge Word document called Functional Requirements Document (FRD). It took a lot of hard, manual searching and sifting to find what most users would need in this document. I changed that.
In addition to the applications TIPM and cIPP, there was another product needed to be merged into our fold, an IP research product called Thomson Innovation. Though there was a team specific to Innovation, there was still a need to pull all the applications into common family look-and-feel. A part of this was a common icon library. While TIPM and cIPP were developed together they already started sharing many of the common resources. Innovation was acquired. Innovation had been developed and was still being maintained somewhere entirely different. The iconology, amongst other elements, was very dated. The intent forward was to match the other applications.
I had already quit using public icon libraries and designed custom icons simply because it really was more timely, convenient, and suitable to create icons specific for a function rather than trying to contrive meaning into a public icon other designers may use for other purposes. All-in-all, I created over 175 custom icons, and created a common library with each icons' Silverlight data paths, XAML references, and downloadable PNGs. I also had extensively researched SVGs v. icon fonts, concluding for our present needs—SVGs. Actually sans Silverlight all the new icons were exclusively SVG, thus to soon be added to the library.
In 2013, Microsoft announced they were giving up on their Silverlight platform transitioning to HTML5 video, thus we would have to restructure yet again. I was given the task to research possible MVVM and MVC solutions, such as AngularJS—which was also about to transition to 2.0—a big structural shift in its own. 1.0 or 2.0?
Also, there was discussion of exploring responsive design. I only need very little coaxing, particularly in something I'm interested in, so I tasked myself to preliminarily research, mocked up, and created a prototype for some responsive concepts.
My duty tasks were pretty nil the last year I worked at Thomson Reuters. The last year I was there, our office was focused on application debugging and optimization as it soon became known Thomson Reuters was looking to sell the IP & Science division—of which I worked. However, this did give me the opportunity to do some conceptual work—the most rewarding work I would say I did at TR.
Thomson Reuters was an innovative organization and stressed its employees to pursue innovative research and developments, up to 20% of time. I took advantage of opportunity. For example, after reading in the company’s intranet about “blockchain technology” being one of the hot technologies that year, I designed and mocked up a copyrighting app to complement our office’s patent and trademark software. Likewise about ideating an alert app for vehicles. After watching a TR video about the Innovation Lifecycle (using Thomson Reuters products), I conceived, researched TR IP & Science products, and designed the concept for an application-of-applications utilizing TR IP & Science products to step a user through the entire process, introducing and suggesting appropriate products, accumulating and aggregating pertinent data—end-to-end, concept-to-market. One application bases the baton to the next application.
These concepts really didn’t go anywhere in my office, as they were solely focused on debugging and on sale preparation, but it did get me noticed a bit globally via me posting these concepts on the intranet. Thomson Reuters’ intranet called The Hub allowed me to establish a quickly expanding, global TR network (especially in regards to blockchain). Lots of support and encouragement for these ideas, however I ended up getting the job at eFlex Systems before anything ever came of these concepts. Great stories, though. Concept Mockups • The Big Idea Architect • MyIP • AutoMate • ALERT
When it was evident Thomson Reuters was going to sell our division, it seemed like a good time to dust off my resume, build a new portfolio, and seek another opportunity.