There’s a saying that the first step is always the hardest. Deciding to try out User Experience (UX) / User Interface (UI) Design Internship instead of continuing with Graphic Design wasn’t an easy decision to make. But looking back, I can honestly say that it was one of the best decisions I have made this year.
My journey from Graphic Design to UX/UI
My background is mostly in graphic design. So far, I have been to three graphic design internships in different Design, Advertising and Media Agencies in Estonia. But at some point, I felt that being a graphic designer might get a bit too commercial, and after a while, won’t be much of a challenge.
I wanted to level-up and try something new and exciting. User experience (UX) / User interface (UI) Design caught my eye mostly because of Dribbble. Mobi Lab’s UX/UI Design Internship seemed like the perfect opportunity to try out whether UX/UI design is the right way to go for me.
The four key take-aways
Internship at Mobi Lab taught me a lot about UX/UI, the software development industry and of course, about myself. I wrote down the four most important lessons I learned and will address these take-aways from a graphic designer’s perspective.
Bigger scope means more challenges
One thing that differentiates UX/UI design from graphic design is that the projects usually have a much broader extent. A single project in Mobi Lab (i.e designing and developing a mobile application) may last for months, sometimes up to a year. Compared to a poster or brand guidelines, which usually take from a few hours up to a week or two.
Broader scope means more design decisions and more in-team and client communication. There are many things to take into account: Client’s needs, user’s needs, user’s emotions and expectations, user stories, usability, accessibility, and so on. Not to mention correctly naming and organising every design component and keeping in mind that someone is going to code it all. How to keep it simple enough for developers to handle while designing the application visually pleasing, high-end looking and intuitive to use?
Team & environment makes the 9 to 5 okay
Before the internship, my biggest fear was that I couldn’t stay productive and creative enough for a whole day from 9 to 5. That was mostly from my previous experiences as a graphic design intern where I usually felt quite drained after workdays.
However, during my internship in Mobi Lab, I felt productive and creative throughout the whole day. I think these were the main reasons:
First, I always had tasks to do. And mostly the tasks were nice chunks — not too big, not too small. Whenever I felt stuck, I would poke my fantastic mentor Margit, and she would help me get back on track.
Second, I was part of the team, rather than being just another intern. Usually, companies don’t give interns important or difficult tasks. That’s understandable, but it often brings the motivation down. In Mobi Lab, I was a valuable asset to the team. I was trusted with relevant and challenging tasks from day one.
Third, Mobi Lab’s environment is growth-oriented. For example, every day, the designers shared their progress via Standuply, a bot for Slack. Sometimes they also shared screenshots of their work — it was almost like scrolling Dribble in awe because the designs were amazing. It’s very motivating to see what the other designers are doing. Viewing their fantastic work made me want to create more astonishing designs.
Letting go of the designs
One thing about agile development is that everything can change at any time during the project. As I started designing, a lot of questions popped up one after another. Some of them were answered and decided right away, some not. I had a few instances where some of the application’s features were changed, then changed again, then deleted altogether, and then added back.
I knew I shouldn’t take those changes personally, but a tiny “But..but I worked so hard..” still popped up in my head once in a while. I found it difficult to delete some of the app views cold-heartedly. After all, what if something changes again and I would need those views?
So instead of removing the declined frames, I moved them a bit further away from the approved frames to an area called The Graveyard. But then The Graveyard started to grow bigger and clutter my page.
At some point, Margit created another page inside the Figma project and called it “Obsolete”. Moving The Graveyard views over to another page made it easier to let go of my designs while still not completely erasing them.
I admired the way my fellow designers are incredibly adaptive to changes. Luckily, designer Marie assured me that this would come with experience.
More design, less art
I tend to “Make it pretty”. This applies to everything from decorating my breakfast plate to creating presentations. Making everything visually attractive is a big part of graphic design. And of course, this was difficult to let go of when making wireframes. There shouldn’t be anything pretty in wireframes. They’re supposed to be rough and straightforward.
At some point, I also found it challenging to explain some of my design decisions. Because well, I hadn’t thought them through enough. I understood that in my design decisions, I focused more on the looks and feel, rather than the usability. In that sense — I should have been doing more thinking and trust my intuition less. More design, less art.
Thanks, Mobi Lab!
Internship at Mobi Lab was just amazing. I am very grateful to the whole Mobi team for their warm welcome.
Special thanks to Veiko, Piret and Elmo for giving me the chance to do my UX/UI design internship at Mobi Lab. To Kristiina, who helped me a lot with onboarding. To the project manager, Faisal, who was always there to answer my questions and discuss logic problems. To the Design Team, for wonderful lunches, chats and feedback. And to my fantastic mentor, Margit for the tools and suggestions, explained feedback and constructive critics. I would have been lost without her being there to guide me.
Thank you for inspiring and introducing me to the world of UX/UI Design!