Software Development
Design / Real estate / Web development

How ab+c designer Jason Cockerham got hooked on UX

Cockerham tells us about the collaborative culture at ab+c and (shhh) the one design and dev shop whose work always blows him away.

Jason Cockerham, ab+c's UX designer. (Courtesy photo)

When UX designer Jason Cockerham is sitting at home with some free time on his hands, his attention is immediately drawn towards his RSS feeds. In the morning, after work, on the weekends — whenever he has time to spare.
“The  list of sites that I go to is ridiculously long,” said Cockerham, who heads up UX at Wilmington marketing agency ab+c. “It’s interesting to me, so I don’t feel like it’s working when I’m reading an article about user experience testing or something like that.”
Like many in his burgeoning and increasingly critical sect of design and development, it’s how Cockerham keeps on on the trends. But Cockerham was on the UX train before it blew up. When the Delaware native graduated from Wilmington University in the mid-2000s, he joined up with a small dev outfit in Dover as lead designer/lead front end developer.
“That was before the big UX praise, before everything got into about the user and about the experience,” said Cockerham.
He moved on to a gig with Drexel University in Philadelphia, working as webmaster for the university’s College of Medicine.
“I did a bunch of the design and development, then started into UX,” said Cockerham. “That’s how I first dipped my feet into the UX realm and started shifting my perception away from a nicely designed site to something that was based around user feedback and interaction.”
Cockerham joined ab+c in 2011, where he found his appetites for both the technical and creative amply satiated. Cockerham said the culture at ab+c is tight-knit and family-oriented. More often than not, Cockerham, is up and working with other designers, art directors and copywriters.

“Some of the more corporate jobs I’ve had in the past, the devs were kind of stuck in their corner,” he said. “This is a lot more collaborative, which is great, because sitting behind a computer screen all day can cause somebody to go crazy.”
But staring at a screen layered with lines of code is still sometimes just part of the job.
“Because I have that split left brain and right brain, I can go code for a day or two and be focused more on the analytical and code side of the site, then switch gears and stay in Photoshop or Sketch or Illustrator and design different modules or pieces of the site or the look and feel of a certain section,” he said. “It allows me to jump back and forth across that line of design and development.”
Cockerham is high on his team — but admitted that not many can play the UX game better than New York/San Francisco-based shop Fantasy Interactive.
“They are amazing at what they do,” he said.
Flashy, yes. But with ab+c, Cockerham has done some pretty significant work for the state. His agency was responsible for Choose Health Delaware, the state’s online service implemented to help residents better understand and choose healthcare plans under the Affordable Care Act.
“It is a site that gets used exponentially more than a lot of the projects I was used to dealing with in the past,” said Cockerham. “The feds are looking at how different states are implementing this program and Delaware was part of a smaller group they were keeping an eye on to maybe build or use as a model for other states to help them implement this type of program, which was really cool to see that come into fruition.”

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