This summer, I’ve had the opportunity to work at QuarkWorks as a UI/UX intern. I first stumbled upon this field freshman year of college when I was looking for career paths that combined both my passion for design and technology. As a journalism student, the core belief of “learning by doing” became ingrained in me and I realized that I needed to start doing, because no matter how many articles you read or YouTube videos you watch about a potential field, you’re never going to know if it’s actually meant for you!
So, without further ado, here are the top seven lessons I’ve learned during my summer internship at QuarkWorks.
1) Design Systems
Starting the list off with a technical skill, I became familiarized with two design systems: Google’s material design and Apple’s human interface guidelines. Fortunately, I got to work on projects that dealt with both of these design systems and because of this, I am more attuned to noticing the subtlest of design elements and updates on the apps I use daily.
2) Human Centered Design
My experience in design has come from a more graphic/print background, where the focus lies on aesthetics and making things pretty rather than designing with the intent of serving user needs first. I learned how to incorporate human centered design into my work to design better functioning apps.
3) Feedback Sessions
An important part of my internship was leading design feedback sessions. I received constructive feedback from clients, stakeholders, fellow designers, and developers who knew what would and would not work — all super valuable information to me as a designer! Aside from learning how to conduct these types of meetings, I learned how to listen to each person and the feedback they had to give. I learned how to read between the lines of what they wanted to say, what types of feedback to place emphasis on, when to agree to disagree, and how to advocate for my ideas.
4) Design as a Process
A thought that I had this summer is that design is always progressing (or regressing). Just when you think you can’t make things any better, there’s a way to make it better. I think design is all about iterating until you come to the next best thing. Then, you do it all again.
5) Communicating Design
The biggest area that I was challenged in during my internship was communication. I quickly learned that design is half the challenge — communication is the rest! UI/UX designers have to focus our attention on the users for whom we create, but we also have to take into consideration another equally important audience: the clients and stakeholders. I learned how to convey, sell, and articulate my designs (and still have a long way to go!).
A valuable skill that’s hard to come by in a traditional classroom setting is professionalism. During the first week of my internship, I was invited to what seemed like a plethora of meetings: team syncs, project meetings, one-on-ones, etc. Each meeting had a different agenda, but served the same purpose of ensuring that everyone was on the same page and that solutions and decisions were being made and executed. Both in and outside of the conference room, I learned how to conduct myself in a professional manner as well as how to speak professionally during meetings.
7) Lingos and Abbreviations
On a less serious note, to finish off the list, here are some terms, sayings, and abbreviations (because you can never have too many short cuts) that I’ve caught onto thanks to my co-workers!
- Shimmer UI: A temporary animation placeholder when loading app
- Edge case: A problem/situation that occurs at the extreme level
- Eating your own dog food: An organization using its own products
- W/E: Whatever
- WFH: Work from home
- LGTM: Looks good to me
- TIL: Today I learned
- NSFW: Not safe for work
- IIRC: If I recall correctly
- WIP: Work in progress
A huge thank you to QuarkWorks for the opportunity to intern as a UI/UX designer this summer and a special shout out to Miranda, QuarkWorks’ lead designer, for training and mentoring me in all things UI/UX. I’ve learned more than what I could have outlined here in this blog, and I am grateful to have worked alongside some of the most talented, hardest working group of people I know.
As ever, QuarkWorks is available to help with any software application project — web, mobile, and more! If you are interested in our services you can check out our website. We would love to answer any questions you have! Just reach out to us on our Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.