How do I get a design interview? Do a quick critique

Sharpen your design skills while targeting design positions

I have been interviewing a lot lately. A lot.

Most aspiring designers can relate to this struggle of generic not-enough experience responses to applications, or going through to the very end of the interview process to hear you’re not senior enough. These responses get to me, every single time.

Seriously bro, don’t act like you didn’t know I was young. You had my resume all along

A tactic I have started to use, and I find very effective is simply doing a quick critique of a portion of the company’s website/app to show them what you can bring to the team. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, it doesn’t even have to be your very best. All you have to do is show them your value before you even arrive.

I have an example below, but full disclosure: I didn’t do this specific one entirely unsolicited. My interviewer had asked me to send over some thoughts on the current iOS app, and as I started to put together a small snippet of thoughts, I decided to throw in some suggestions too.

TripAdvisor’s iOS app critique

I started out by going through the app in general, clicking around at random. I had a slight advantage because I had never used their iOS app before. As I was doing this I started noting down quirks, things that didn’t work the way I expected, what I was expecting instead, general thoughts and curiosities.

I had a couple of ideas, but also didn’t have a lot of time to spend. So I shortlisted a couple things, and categorized them (which you’ll see shortly). This is what I came up with


Top Navigation

Navigation redesign suggestions

The overall iOS app has great branding throughout. The TripAdvisor green is recognized by most.The top navigation can be extended to deliver a more immersive full-screen experience

Call to Action Buttons

CTA button suggestions

The key call-to-action buttons throughout the app lack some nativity. They sometimes make the app seem like a mobile site. A native grouped cell navigation can be used instead. While the white (center), appears more native, if the yellow has proven to yield higher conversion rates, the entire row can be made yellow.


Headings & Font Sizing

The font sizing and headings are inconsistent throughout the app. For example, the categories on the search/home screen of the app are 12px, however, the same list, when displayed in the context of a place, have a larger font size — 14px.

Navigation Labels

The navigation labels for back are inconsistent throughout the app, some screens have a simple chevron, and others have the label as well. Further, iOS guidelines suggest having the label describe the previous page, i.e. Results, as opposed to Back

Colors

The green tab for bookmarking a saved place is a great addition to the top nav, however, there is a slight inconsistency in the colors used. The top navigation green is different from most of the other green assets, and the tab bar for some other screens within the app


Action Areas & Dexterity

There are several areas in the app where the primary call-to-action is on the top half of the screen. As the thumb-zone heat map suggests, the natural area that is in reachable distance of the thumb is in the lower half. Bringing these CTA’s to the “natural” area can prove beneficial both from an experience standpoint, as well as for business

Taking a closer look by overlaying the thumb-zone heat map on existing screens

Native Interactions

The tabbed view in the hotels page afford a swipe-to-switch screens interaction, where swiping left would lead the user to the Nearby and swiping right would lead the user to Photos. This same interaction is afforded by the sorting options for the flight search results

The photos are missing the key snap-down interaction to close the image and returning to the grid view. This interaction is seen in several native apps such as Photos, and iMessage media, as well as in popular apps like Facebook


If you look closely, you’ll notice that this isn’t a lot of work at all. They’re mostly screenshots, with some modifications, and thoughts. It took me about 2 hours to have this done (including downloading, clicking around, making notes, and the presentation). I strapped all of this into a Keynote, and off it went to the design team.

Note: this was done in June 2016, the app has since changed, and some parts match these suggestions 😉

Hiring? Please feel free to reach out to me!