Meet Valley Bank’s UX Lead
Learn about Brandon Mosley’s design philosophy, where he seeks inspiration and what impact he hopes to make at Valley
Can you tell us a bit about yourself Brandon?
Growing up in the ‘burbs of Westchester, NY, I became a curious learner.
I always had artistic inclinations (still do) and I was fascinated by the inner workings of machines (still am). Somehow, that led me to where I am today.
Like most designers, I started in print and web/UI design but progressed into UX. Throughout my career, I’ve worked in various industries including higher-ed institutions, start-ups, and digital agencies. I also worked with small businesses across music, entertainment, and non-profit industries as a consultant to keep my skills sharp. I’ll be coming up on 10 years in New York City soon, which still marvels me to this day.
Outside of work, I am a transit and infrastructure advocate, writer, family genealogist, and occasional artist. (I strive to have creative outlets outside of work.) Just a couple of months ago, I became UX Lead at Valley for a whole new story to be written!
You like the color purple. What’s that about?
I get asked that a lot! My answer is: why not? Everyone brands themselves with blues, grays, and greens. Black is even making a comeback, but I knew I wanted to be different. I chose purple because of its symbolic meaning.
In many nations around the world, purple represents royalty, nobility, power, and creativity — words I wanted people to associate with me.
How did you get into design?
I’m dating myself… When AOL took the world by storm during the mid-90s, I got my hands on its HTML editor called AOL Press. Throughout middle school, I taught myself how to code HTML and CSS. Before I knew it, I built websites about my favorite martial artists and video games. (I ran the video game website up until about 2007, if you can believe that.)
As people started to hear about my design and code skills, I ended getting a few freelance projects — a brochure or website here and there — throughout middle school. As I graduated into high school, I got a summer job designing and coding websites for Disney and other major retailers.
However, it wasn’t until I took a digital art class my junior year when I realized I could pursue a career in graphic and web design.
I went on to study digital and fine arts in college but maintained my side gigs to learn as much as I could outside the classroom. At that time, I mostly designed websites for music producers and DJs, which allowed me to dip my toe into the music industry. (That’s a long story for another time.) I digress! All of that work eventually helped me get my first design job out of college at a small liberal arts college. The rest is history!
Do you have a personal design, or specifically UX design, philosophy you live by or guidelines you follow?
In general, I strive to keep things simple and familiar with what people know. I don’t believe in reinventing the wheel, especially when someone else has already done that work. That said, it’s important to understand and empathize with who I’m designing for — whether that’s digital, print, or otherwise.
Having the capacity to put yourself in someone else’s shoes while designing goes a long way. Self-indulgent designing leads to disaster.
I believe in guiding users through a process and telling them what they need to know when they need to know it.
Always leave breadcrumbs to find help and follow UI conventions. (I’m a Bootstrap junkie in terms of their systematic approach to UI components.)
Are there any other philosophies that you live by that you care to share?
Being a UX designer is incredibly taxing, which I don’t think many people realize. To the outside world, what we do is often seen as fun and whimsical decorating. Perhaps part of it is, but in reality, we use both sides of our brains — all day, every day.
I’m a big believer in having interests or space outside of work to:
- Rest: Give yourself time to relax and think about nothing, sleep, or watch mindless TV. Find time to calm your brain waves so that you can go the extra mile when you need to.
- Exist: Pause and consciously enjoy the moment. Notice the warmth of the sun on your skin, the sound of birds chirping, or how you feel when you’re out with friends. Life is short.
- Explore: See the world, feed your curiosity, and learn something new. You never know what may support your next adventure.
Where do you find inspiration for your work in user experience design?
One of the major sources of inspiration for my work in UX design observation of what not to do. Having worked in the industry for so long, I’ve been able to watch the internet evolve from the early 90s to what it is today. Even though a lot has changed, there are still many underlying principles that haven’t.
For example, the payment experience at grocery stores drives me nuts. When you go to pay with your card, it asks way too many questions, like “is the amount OK?” Of course, it is! I wouldn’t have stuck my debit card in if the amount wasn’t OK! Then, most of these machines have the nerve to put the “Yes” button on the left and the “No” button on the right. UX 101 — place affirming, positive actions on the right. Always. Relying on experience and knowledge is my first step.
It’s also crucial to listen. What you can learn from user testing and feedback is inspiring in itself.
Essentially, designing for people — not personal preference or assumption — brings defined and strategic purpose to your work.
It’s also important to stay educated. YouTube is an excellent source for learning about how others think or design. Plus, the tools we use for design are slowly but surely changing for the better, enabling us to think bigger without getting caught up in pushing pixels.
What are the biggest opportunities you see as the UX Lead at Valley Bank?
One of the major reasons why I took the UX Lead role at Valley was because of the shifting culture toward customer experience (CX). The concept of design thinking is relatively new to the bank, but there’s a hunger here for user- and customer-driven experiences. Because teams are small or newly forming, there are opportunities to introduce processes early and shape what UX means for Valley.
The same is true for having an impact on culture. There’s a growing movement of diversity and inclusion for people of color, women, LGBTQIA+ members, and counting, which was important for me, since I fall in two of those categories. I’ve been working on extending that notion to accessibility conformance in the work we do.
For the past few years, I’ve pushed to have some level of designing thinking in my work, even if it’s a post-launch survey to help better understand and accommodate the user. At Valley, designing with empathy for our users in the stream of how we operate.
What are the biggest challenges you see as the UX Lead at Valley Bank?
One of the biggest challenges at Valley is our collective ability to move at the speed of the customer, specifically how that, in turn, affects the UX team. This could very well change, but as a financial institution, there are security measures and legacy business policies or mindsets that slow access to tools, data, and information. However, this means that there are plenty of opportunities to enable broader teams to work more efficiently, make decisions and improve business practices for the betterment of our customers. Trust me, conversations about this are already happening, a few of which I’m a part of. The future is bright, but we just have to get there.
Since product, UX, research and CX are fairly new concepts to Valley and all teams are growing, we’re in the early stages of determining how to best work together in terms of process.
One of my goals is to help define the hand-off moments between disciplines, so that we’re defining what we’re designing, understanding why we’re designing it, and sharing what we’ve learned.
Do you have any advice for someone interested in pursuing one of the open roles at Valley Bank?
Since our team is small (as are others across the bank), you’ll find opportunities for high-level thinking beyond the normal day-to-day. In terms of the UX team, I’m hoping to be process-driven, organized, consultative, and efficient. The best thing someone can do is bring a body of work that’s backed by conscious decisions. Telling the story of how you got from Munchkinland to Emerald City, and what you’ve done, learned, and presented along the journey of the yellow brick road will stand out. (No wicked witches here.)
If you are interested in joining the team, we are hiring Sr. UX Designers and Sr. UX Researchers!