Transferable skills: moving from graphic design to UX

One of our top digital designers Lizzie Astles, chats about her move away from in-house marketing design and how she honed her transferable skills to suit UI & UX.

I never considered moving toward the more technical area of design until an opportunity arose within our internal design team – 9 months in, I’m pleased I made the change!

After college I went from an Art and Design Foundation Degree, to a Graphic Design BA at the University of Salford. At the time, I toyed with the idea of doing a degree in Advertising, but decided to keep things broad and specialise later.

I had a few internships during my degree and after graduating, I joined a start-up content marketing agency as a Designer before moving to Apadmi as a Marketing Designer in October 2015. Fast-forward two and a half years, and our Head of Design Marcus Duffy approached me for a digital designer vacancy.

I was hesitant at first. I’d always envisioned myself working in marketing or advertising – it’s where all of my previous experience was. I also love designing for print and wasn’t sure I’d get the same satisfaction from solely working with on screen pixels!

But with technology becoming more ubiquitous every day, digital design has become something that every designer needs to have an awareness of, at the very least.

I realised that changing departments didn’t negate all my other skills and experience – it was simply an opportunity for me to add another string to my bow.

Dealing with new challenges

The move was a huge learning curve.

I’d been involved in the redesign of the Apadmi website (although mostly from a brand perspective) which, along with one module of web design at university, was the sum of my previous digital design experience. I’m an avid app-user, but had never been involved with making one, and I hadn’t worked in a client-facing role since my previous job.

Despite all of that, I found myself settling in to my new role really quickly. A lot of that was to do with the incredible support from the rest of the design team. We have a really collaborative environment and there’s always someone willing to offer help or advice.

Asking countless questions, reading as many blogs as possible, and regularly attending some of the great events held across Manchester, I have learnt a lot and gained a lot of confidence.

“I realised I had a lot of transferable skills – I just had to figure out how to use them”

I’ve had to learn a lot of new things, but I realised I had a lot of transferable skills from my previous design experience – I just had to figure out how to use them to suit the new projects.

I could still draw on my creativity – working on more technical projects just meant applying my existing skills in a different way.

It was an adjustment moving from working on in-house projects (which could be quite last minute and changeable), to being client-facing and having to work to strict deadlines and set requirements.

But I’ve really enjoyed the challenge.

I’ve realised just how important it is to develop internal openings for staff. For me, it’s meant I developed an interest in a career pathway that I’d never previously considered, along with building my repertoire of skills which has helped me to grow as a designer.

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