So here it is, my four-month internship at Mobi Lab comes to an end, and it’s the best time to look back and reflect upon what I have learned and whom I have become.
Even though I have already finished the first year of Human-Computer interaction Master program at Tallinn University, watched tons of videos on the internet about UX design, Design thinking, etc., I have never had a REAL experience. So this was the most frightening part. I am alone in another country, unfamiliar city, 60+ new people to work with under one roof, real client and real project.
Well, what I can now honestly tell, this was the best working experience I have ever had. And the main reason for that, are great people at Mobi Lab, who were always ready to help and answer any questions. And trust me, there were tons of questions from my side. But in the end, I can clearly say that I have learned way more than I could imagine.
Here I want to share the key things I have learned during my internship. I will focus on the general aspects of workflow, rather than on specific tools and technology.
1. Communication is the most important part of the job
“Don’t be afraid if you don’t understand some concept or idea behind certain decisions”
UX is all about questions and answers. You have to ask devs about the tools they use in the company, possibilities, and limitations of specific platforms. Ask devs and other designers about their previous projects, issues they faced in the past and solutions they come up with. This might be helpful, as you will probably have the same things in your project and knowing about possible outcomes in advance will save much time.
Another knowledge pool is the project manager who has experience and vision, so don’t hesitate and ask any question that you might have. They are usually closer to the client and can better translate their ideas and requirements. Don’t be afraid if you don’t understand some concept or idea behind certain decisions — when it comes to discussions, everything has to be clear and no questions left unanswered. So grab a coffee or a glass of water and prepare to talk and chat a lot, using every possible channel: slack, phone, SMS, WhatsApp, Skype, Google Hangouts and more.
2. Think ahead
Being a designer is not an easy task. Moreover, responsibilities are very high. The way you do your job affects how others do theirs and eventually the final result. The price of a decision can be high, as developers will have to reopen the issue again, every time you come up with a better idea. So what I have learned is to think ahead as much as possible. Even if the first MVP doesn’t have specific functionality, try to imagine and sketch out how it would look as if it was there. Developers will later say you thanks, for not spending time on unnecessary work of moving elements or screens back and forth.
3. Know your tools
“Go ahead and scan your project for similar things and see if they need a revision”
Tools are your best friends and greatest enemies. Sadly, there is no easy and lean solution. You have to know how it works and where it fails. Developers will help you here, pointing out some of the elements in InVision inspect that are unreadable, missing or inconsistent. By trial and error, you will quickly realize what works and what brings frustration to devs when they check your project. So go ahead and scan your project for similar things and see if they need a revision. And this leads to another big thing I have learned:
4. Keep it simple and clean
It’s very straightforward to work with Sketch. Lots of libraries, cool freebies on the web and other stuff that makes your life easier. It would be so if the goal was to make a good image and post it on Behance or Dribbble. Unfortunately, if you dig deeper into all this, you will find out that happy moments of quick and fun designing are gone, and a hell of optimizing it to readable format is ahead. So keep your file clean, get rid of unnecessary items, organize your symbols library and exportables. Here I can suggest a convenient plugin for sketch, that, unfortunately, I found quite late. With this plugin, you can clean your the Sketch document from unused groups, hidden layers, organize layers in a consistent manner and many many more. So go ahead, install, try it out and let me know if it helped.
5. Make notes during the meetings
“Next Monday you may realize, that you don’t remember not only what happened after beers on Friday evening”
It’s nice to have good grooming meetings, discuss the design and solutions. However, next Monday you may realize, that you don’t remember not only what happened after beers on Friday evening, but also issues you discussed with the team. So keep making notes during those meetings. I prefer using Trello for this, as it allows you to easily create separate cards for the tasks and keep track of what is done and what is not.
It feels like these four months have passed faster than a weekend spent in the bed. I have met many great people, had a chance to work in two cities in a multinational and experienced team. I have visited London and learned about service design and chat-bots. Had the countless amount of coffees and meetings. But most importantly, I have had an unforgettable time. Big thanks to all the people from Mobi Lab.