Switching from graphics to UX: how I’ve changed as a designer
Last summer I decided to take a bit of a career sidestep, and switch from graphics to UX. I landed my first full-time role as a UX Designer at Vitamin London, and I’m almost coming up to the end of my first year. It’s definitely been one of those blink of an eye moments that you get more and more of the older you get.
Previously I worked as a graphic designer for a museum and exhibition design company. There are many overlaps between graphics and UX, but what attracted me to UX was how human-centred it was.
More testing with the user — the user is THE most important part of the design process.
I loved the idea of dedicating more time to empathising with people to design real, meaningful changes in people’s lives. As to be expected, I’ve learnt many lessons! Here are some things that are now integral to my creative process:
Centre my designs around the user
Perhaps the most important lesson for me was to keep the user at the centre of everything I do.
What motivates and frustrates my user? Does the product/service I’m designing meet their criteria? What devices would they be using? Is my user going to be using the product/service at different times of day and in different environments? What other brands are they already aligned to? Etc. etc.
Sooooo many questions that help capture the details of a user.
It’s not that I didn’t think about who would be using, looking or experiencing my designs previously. But delving into this level of detail helps to construct user personas and journeys that is a foundation to all my later design work. Focusing on the user has pushed me to design in a way that aligns with people’s needs and aims to bring not only practical but delightful value to their lives.
The importance of story
In my designs, I want to bring people on a journey. To captivate them with a story. The power of the story is evident in every corner and crevice of human society; you don’t have to dig very deep to find examples of it embedded in our culture visually, orally and theatrically (among many other forms). We are compelled by stories.
Good storytelling is satisfying, educational, inspiring, life-changing…I used to think of narrative and design as more separate, influencing one another, but essentially being different departments. But in truth, storytelling goes hand in hand with designing. Now I think of them as one; I think about both with equal weighting and I don’t create anything without considering how my user flows through my design and the journey they are about to embark on.
Interactions and animations
This has been a fun part of going into UX and is very much a part of storytelling (above point).
In my previous job as a graphic designer, I never designed any type of movement or interaction — this was either done by someone else or not included at all. Now, it’s a major part of my creative process and it has really changed the way I think about my creations. I think about how buttons might transition, whether there’s ambient movement if an image transforms when a user interacts with it. All these things aid the flow of the user experience in a dynamic and interesting way.
The end designs are often a collaborative effort — a mingle of multiple designers’ and developers’ creative ideas to bring something to life. It’s super rewarding to be part of a talented team and see a seed of an idea progress and materialise like this.
Prototyping and viewing in context
The value of testing my designs through prototyping and elevating it beyond static wireframes is enormous. My colleagues have taught me so much in this area. For digital products, creating a prototype has allowed me to scrutinise movements, flows and use products as they are supposed to be used.
Its value also really shines when sharing the design with others, whether they’re colleagues or users. Prototypes go so much further than static wireframes, and give agency to the user rather than relying on me to tell them how something works or what they would be seeing.
Written by Sophie Cook, UX Designer at Vitamin London
Multivitamin Group is an award-winning digital product studio with teams across the UK and Europe. Built to change industries for the better, Multivitamin partners with ambitious businesses to create truly effective solutions with a constant ambition to push the possible. Find out more at https://multivitamin.group/
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