A day in the life of a… Digital Designer

Our “Day in the Life” series takes an insider look at a variety of Apadmi’s roles – today we’re focussing on life as a Digital Designer.

 

From initial sketches and wire-framing to defining the user journey alongside developers, the job of a Digital Designer is a highly-skilled and diverse position.

Whether you’re interested in starting a career in UX, or you want to understand more about how this role forms part of a mobile project, our design specialist Jigz will help give you an insight…

Jignesh Lad, Digital Designer for Apadmi

digital-designer-Jigz

Jigz has been a member of our design department for 5 years, after working on freelance web design and company branding projects before joining us.

He’s played a critical role in the development of some of our biggest client projects, such as the NHS Donorpath app.

We sat down with him to discuss what life is like as a Digital Designer at Apadmi…

What gets you into the right frame of mind for the day?

Caffeine – I always start by making a brew, putting on a Spotify playlist (Childish Gambino right now) and checking out what’s going on in the design world.

I always check Designer News first-thing; it’s an international design community with a combination of news and wider design discussions. It stretches across a multitude of different mediums too – web, UX, print – and it gives you the latest industry developments, tools, product updates and news stories for companies like Adobe and Sketch.

Are there any other design sites that you check each day?

Muzli for design inspiration, Abduzeedo if you just love cool design topics (like photography, architecture, etc) and I always keep an eye on the UX Design Community channel on Slack.

What does a typical day look like?

That depends on the stage of the project I’m working on.

If we’re at the beginning, I’d be sitting down with a project team to outline key features, end goals, user flows and setting a UX direction. Then we’d work towards fleshing out wireframes from sketches to a digital version.

If we’re mid-way on a project, I’d usually be evolving those original wireframes, adding branding and thinking about interactions and animation before it hits the development team. 

What really happens in a design workshop?

We’ll sit down with the client and set out objectives: what do they want to achieve? What does their product need to do and why? We’ll write out a list of features that they want, prioritising them into three categories for development: must-haves, could-haves, nice-to-haves.

This is where we’ll agree the key functionality, and designers sketch out some screens to demonstrate ideas there and then, helping the client see how things will work in practice. That list determines what features are included in the MVP, future project phases, and ultimately what the brand’s mobile roadmap looks like.

What’s the best project you’ve ever worked on and why?

The NHS – I loved the strong role that UX played in this project. Because of the brand and the app’s user base, we couldn’t make it overly visual, but we still had to have a big input on how it would work. It had to be simple to use, but without becoming tedious.

I also loved the heavy focus we put on user testing – it’s important to every project, but we got an insight into organ donation from the Specialist Nurses that we wouldn’t otherwise have had from those in the NHS who make the decisions on the app. It was invaluable.

How do you stay focussed throughout the day?

I try and keep a balance between screen work and discussion. I usually structure myself so I’ll do two and a half hours of working at a computer, and then I’ll take a “break” to talk things through with developers, bounce ideas around the department, or give my input and expertise on other projects.

Do you think work should be left at work?

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with thinking about work outside of the office. I’ll often get my laptop out at home and try things that spring to mind. I’m not the kind of person that can sleep on things, I have to try it there and then.

How do you unwind at the end of the day?

It starts with the drive home – listening to relaxing music or podcasts – and then I’ve always found cooking to be a great way of winding down.

Do you think it’s important to work on your skills in your spare time?

I do – this industry is fast-paced and the last thing you want to do is start falling behind. If you want to dabble in animation or front-end design, it won’t do any harm to try them – it can only widen your skillset making you a greater asset to an agency. Plus, it means you can try things that you normally wouldn’t be able to on a project. On the flip-side though, don’t do this to the detriment of your core skillset as a Digital Designer.

What’s been a turning point in your career so far?

Freelancing after university really opened my eyes to the fact that being good at what you do isn’t enough – you need to establish yourself in the industry, build a reputation. Plus, I realised that branding and graphic design could only get me so far – UX was where I saw the sector really growing, and having a strong skillset in it opens you up to far more opportunities.

What’s the biggest misconception about being a Digital Designer?

That we’re super creative 24/7. There are always client restrictions, brand guidelines or even just projects that require a lot of thought processing. For many clients, animation just doesn’t work and would make a product unusable. That’s where you get to channel your creativity into the user journey – like we did with the NHS. It’s a side to UX that often goes over-looked.

What do you look for most when hiring a Digital Designer to join the team?

  1. Thought process – if a designer can show and explain their idea all the way through to the end product, that’s key for us. Wireframes, feature gathering, prototypes, visual designs – there has to be a rationale there that makes sense to the user.
  2. Personality – we’re a social company, and we want to hire people that are a good fit for Apadmi
  3. Self-improvement – Finding someone who’s always looking to learn and develop their skill-set is a biggie. We’re open to designers who want to try new tools and make a positive impact on how we carry out our design projects.