I’m Hannah and I started working at Kainos as a Trainee UX Designer straight out of university – I quickly realised that I still had a lot to learn! I want to share with you some of the lessons I’ve learned in my first 6 months on the job.
1. Knowledge sharing is awesome!
One of the best things about starting this job has been how open everyone is to sharing knowledge. It really doesn’t matter what the issue is- another UX Designer, User Researcher or Content Designer has seen something similar or has some advice to share.
Knowledge-sharing sessions at Kainos have been so helpful to me. Take the ‘Friday Sessions’, for example, where employees share knowledge from projects they’ve been working on. It has been great to contribute to these talks and also learn based off the experiences of others. It has also helped me feel more prepared to create great design work!
2. Learning is an investment (and I’m not talking about money)
A lot of the online courses that I have been taking to improve my skills have been a real investment of time and energy. Unfortunately, I have a bad habit of quickly working through the first few lessons of a course and struggling to complete the rest!
What helped me to stay motivated has been trying to complete a little bit of the course every day. This suits my schedule, but for you it might be taking some time out once a week, once a fortnight or even once a month.
Also, try to keep the reasons why you started this course alive in your mind for the whole course. One of the online courses I completed was the Interaction Design Foundation’s “Accessibility: Designing for All” because I’m really interested in diversity and inclusion in design. I was motivated to complete this so I could create better designs that consider all potential users. By investing my time and energy into learning more, I was rewarded by becoming a more knowledgeable and skillful designer in the area of accessible design.
3. Learning about psychology is incredibly useful for UX Designers.
Psychology tells us why we do what we do. When designing experiences for people to use, it is important to know how people interact with the world around them.
Working towards filling this gap in my knowledge has given me a new focus on how we design interfaces and products! I found it so interesting to learn about how the short-term memory can directly affect how a user interacts with a product. I would definitely recommend that UX Designers learn a bit about the psychology that influences the decisions of users as it has helped me better understand how to design easier to use products for users.
4. Every experience is an opportunity to learn.
New experiences, like joining a new company, can be daunting for almost everyone! There are so many new ideas, new skills to learn and we are almost guaranteed to make mistakes. I think we are all a little bit scared of failure- the only real failure is not learning from our mistakes!
I have learned so much about creating interactive prototypes to show to clients by jumping in, learning as much as I can and learning from the mistakes I have made along the way!
It is important to keep in mind that all the experiences you are going to have, whether good, bad or challenging, are going to be opportunities to grow your skills.
5. Step away from the computer.
The internet can make it so tempting to gain most of your knowledge about a topic from online courses, but I have also found taking in-person training courses to also be very helpful. Attending workshops and courses can give you opportunities to learn and ask questions in a way that online courses don’t offer.
Thanks to funding from Kainos, I had the chance to take the brilliant customer journey mapping essentials course, run by Gerry Scullion from Humana Design. This course brought so much more practical experience about creating journey maps than an online course ever could! I am now far more confident in my knowledge about customer journey maps and know the value that they bring to a project.
6. No one knows everything, but everyone knows something.
Sometimes when you’re starting out as a designer, it can feel like you need to learn everything possible about design. This can feel so overwhelming.
When auditing the edX course “Introduction to Web Accessibility” as part of my learning, one idea stood out to me: You can’t know everything, but you can start by learning something and expand your knowledge from there. I think that this can definitely be applied to design in general (and life, probably!).
You are never going to know everything there is to know about a subject as massive as design. However, you can learn a lot about certain subjects and use this unique knowledge-set to create better designs, products and user experiences.