Christopher Ryan is a UX Manager and lead Experience Designer at Capital One. Before Capital One, he was a Creative Director for the University of North Texas. Before UNT, Chris has worked in both marketing communications and technology industries.
Chris holds an M.A. and B.A. with Honors in Art & Technology from the University of Texas at Dallas. He also holds an MFA in Communication Design with a concentration in Design Research and a minor in Anthropology from the University of North Texas.
An entrepreneur and designer, he founded Limeology, a graphic/web design and marketing agency. In 2011, he founded tapthings, a company that develops applications for the iPhone and iPad. He also consults with several app startups. His interests include interaction design, service design, mobile app development and user interface/user experience.
2016 – Current
As UX Manager and lead experience designer, I lead and support teams within Capital One’s home loans division. I use agile methodologies and processes to drive teams supporting Capital One’s flagship mobile application on iOS and Android and responsive web.
2014 – 2016
As a lead user experience designer for Capital One’s Financial Services division, I lead teams of experience and visual designers that support Capital One’s auto loans and home loans divisions. We drive Capital One’s mission of changing the banking experience for good by using design thinking principles to solve wicked problems.
2012 – 2014
As Creative Director for the Division of Advancement at the University of North Texas, I led a team of copywriters, designers, and web developers to support our initiatives across online and offline channels. These included a spectrum of work streams, from website and social media strategies to printed marketing collateral and identity/branding for fundraising and development initiatives across the university. Notable projects included leading marketing communications related to the university’s first capital campaign, A Green Light to Greatness.
2011 – 2012
As Director of Communications for the College of Arts and Sciences, the University of North Texas’s largest college, I was responsible for leading marketing communications across web, mobile and print for over 13 different academic departments. Notable projects included an individual, yet holistic redesign of all academic departmental websites and strategic communications focused on donor relations, fundraising, and academic advising.
2009 – 2011
As the Visual and Experience Designer for the Toulouse Graduate School, I was responsible for leading design and development of the school’s website, including its conversion from static HTML to Drupal, a content management system. Additional projects included development of new functionality, including an online graduation application and social media outreach for current graduate students.
2009 – 2012
As the lead experience designer in this consortium, I led design-driven research between ITDS (Information Technology Decision Sciences), Applied Anthropology and Communication Design graduate research students. In this role, I functioned as lead experience designer on a number of research projects, including:
2007 – 2013
As the Director of Platform Experience, I led brand development, user interface and experience for this Atlanta-based iOS startup. Our work included apps on desktop and mobile platforms, including a suite of over 30 native iOS applications, games and utilities, including apps for iPhone and iPad.
2011 – Current
As Creative Director and Founder of this app startup, I’ve been focused on building engaging games and useful utilities based upon design research. Our first app, Dabo, is available in the App Store with others currently in development.
2001 – 2014
As Creative Director and Founder for Limeology, I’ve consulted with businesses to use design-driven solutions to achieve their strategic goals. In this role, I’ve led design and development across a wide variety of channels, from traditional media, including graphic design, branding and identity, web design, user interface and user experience design and video production, to emergent media including blogging, podcasting and social media.
2009 – 2012
Master of Fine Arts in Design Research
Minor in Anthropology
2007 – 2008
Master of Arts in Art & Technology
2004 – 2007
Bachelor of Arts in Art & Technology
As a curious individual, design for me is about seeking creative solutions for problems I encounter every day. These problems range from the simple, such as balancing a full time job with a social life, to the more complex. Across this whole spectrum, my own curiosity pushes me beyond conventional, everyday solutions, and towards solutions that are uncommon, unexplored and untested. I seek answers that others may not think of, answers that are considered too abstract or are unrestricted by artificial constraints like time or budget. To me, that is creativity. When I apply my own experiential knowledge to this creative process and allow those tried and true methodologies to come into play, that is design. This process occurs every day and all the time. To me, design is all around me. Design is anything and design is everything.
My whole design philosophy moves past the notion of just creating artifacts. The guiding principle of my life, I feel that my design philosophy broaches a topic that designers have faced and will continue to face in the 21st century — the necessity to clarify and explain the value of design to a wide range of audiences.
Based on my personal experience, design is perceived as an art of simply creating artifacts, such as signage, interfaces or fashion. While this is certainly a valid interpretation, what is missing from this definition is the overarching role that design plays. Design goes beyond simply creating these artifacts; the entire creative process used to create artifacts is essential. That process is what gives designers relevance beyond just designing isolated systems like signage. Designers are afforded the rare opportunity to not just apply their craft skills but also apply their knowledge of the creative process to find these uncommon, unexplored and untested solutions that non-designers simply overlook.
As designers, we must not become complacent in craft skills alone but must embrace the ideas of research and critical thinking that our scholarly academics of the hard sciences have clung to since the early days of the academy. The metric by which we are judged, this environment is not just the arena in which we play, but it also represents a vast landscape of untapped potential for designers. For the design industry to continue its growth and to gain more credibility in the rigorous academic environment, we must supplement our creative process and embrace the more traditional methodologies used by our peers in the hard sciences.
Within this realm, we must be mindful of where the industry is trending. Often times new designers enter the field without the tacit knowledge that comes from the experience of working in traditional art forms. The antithesis of this idea manifests itself in the concern that some traditional artists have difficulty keeping in tune with the emerging trends in design. As it represents a foundational skill of any true designer, the creative process walks both sides of this divide not only helping to build connections between designers themselves but also build connections with individuals from other disciplines.
The 21st century is a prime moment in our history for designers to assert their value to the world at large. Logic would suggest that for every unknown in the universe, there is an opportunity for an answer or solution. Creativity helps facilitate the process of solving for that answer; but for me, the journey all begins with curiosity.