Employee Spotlight: Daniel Sandoval

Dani, rockstar

Meet Daniel Sandoval, UX + BS Designer/Developer

Please give a brief description of yourself

[in Mrs. Doubtfire’s voice] I’m a hip old granny who can hip-hop, bebop, dance til ya drop and yo yo, make a wicked cup of cocoa. For real though, I’m just someone who loves computers and helping people.

What is your role at Discuss.io?

My official job title is “User Experience and Business Systems Designer/Developer” which is a really long phrase that basically means, “I do user research to understand our customers’ needs and design our software interface and infrastructure to meet them.”

What is your background in?

I received my undergraduate degree in Human Centered Design and Engineering (HCDE) from the University of Washington last year. While I was there, I studied the user-centered design process, information visualization, co-authored a paper on the use of social media in disasters/crises, and prototyped A LOT of products (including a VR desktop!). My senior thesis was on how the textbook industry could evolve to meet the needs of its users and target stakeholders as technology envelops academia.

I’ve also done my fair share of coding – developing one-off apps and services at hackathons, for classes (1,2), and for the companies I worked at during my academic career. Before starting my work full-time for Discuss, I spent my free time designing and developing for social justice-related events including:

  • HackTheCD’s Cultural Innovation Conference (Volunteer, July 2015)
  • Seattle’s Social Justice Hackathon (Co-Coordinator, November 2015)
  • SRLN’s Pre-Conference to the ABA’s Equal Justice Conference (Co-Coordinator, May 2016)

What do you like about working for a startup?

I’ve been working for Discuss for over 2 years now. First as an intern, then as a part-time employee, and now full-time in my current position. Throughout my time spent here, I’ve found that working for a startup gives you the opportunity to work on projects that would have been inaccessible in any other environment.

In a startup, there are no politics or organizational restrictions on who gets to work on what. Instead, whoever can do the job gets to do the job. I have learned a lot from working in contexts where I had no previous experience. The startup culture demonstrates that if you can learn it, you can do it. And you can learn just about anything.

What gets you excited about the future of Discuss.io?

Mass adoption. As a user researcher, I am excited to see how onboarding a variety of users into our platforms will shape the way that we build our product. The more users ask of us, the better their experience will be. As customers react to new features, we learn more about the tools that they need to do their job well. I am a qualitative researcher who is helping build a tool for other qualitative researchers – so making the tool is what gets me most excited.

What do you like to do for fun?

I play a lot of guitar. I’ve been playing for over a decade now and every day I feel like I learn more about the instrument. I also spend my nights and weekends making fantastic home-cooked meals with my girlfriend and playing with my puppies, Mikey and Puddles. I also spend a lot of time at VR events and am pretty involved in the community, online and IRL.

What’s your hidden superpower?

I am able to slip into a deep meditation in seconds. Nothing beats a 5-10 minute session of eyes-closed thoughtlessness. During the day, if I ever feel like a design is too challenging or a problem too complex, I’ll take a short walk or sit. It’s relaxing and surprisingly effective!


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