Where are you now working, and what is your job title? I work at The Office of Experience as a UX Architect.
Tell us briefly about your company. What do they specialize in? What does your team look like? The Office of Experience is an experience design firm in Chicago. Founded in 2014, OX’s design-driven philosophy and multidisciplinary approach integrates strategy, design and technology to help organizations rapidly bring new experiences, products and messages to market. In an era of unprecedented disruption, OX is designed to transform.
Team sizes change on different projects but are relatively small, and usually include UX designers, graphic designers, developers, a project manager, and a content strategist.
Tell us briefly about your job Since I’m at an agency, I work on a variety of projects requiring different tasks. Some projects require the creation of wireframes for websites and documenting technical and functional requirements. On other projects, I conduct and synthesize research. I recently got involved in strategic and digital transformation planning. I also make decks and data visualizations for client presentations. At the end of the day, we’re always working with clients to solve problems, create a better user experience, and help them evolve as a business.
What did you do professionally before you started at Designation? And where did you live? I lived in Champaign, IL and worked at a video game company called Deep Silver Volition, which released titles including the Saints Row series, Red Faction series, Summoner series, and The Punisher. I worked as a quality assurance tester for art, co-op, and gameplay testing on multiple platforms. Definitely check out their latest games!
How did you hear about Designation? And why did you decide to attend? It wasn’t until I worked at Volition that I learned about user experience as a career and what role it played in the workplace. I felt that some of my education and previous job experience could be applied to UX, and wanted to get into the field as soon as possible, so a bootcamp seemed like a better option over a graduate program. And I’m originally from the Chicago suburbs, so the location worked out well.
Designation had the program I looked for, in addition to good reviews from past students. When I was deciding, I ran into one of my friends and he was considering Designation too. That helped seal the deal.
How would you describe your Designation experience? To me, the best word to describe the Designation experience is intense. There’s a lot of work and what seems like not enough time, but it’s good practice for the real world. I think the most important thing to understand is that Designation gives you the tools and resources to succeed, but what you get out of the program depends on how much work you’re willing to put in. There’s so much information and knowledge to consume, and you have to try to grasp as much as you can in a limited time. If you miss something, make a note to come back to it later.
What was your favorite part of the Designation experience? The people, both the students and instructors. I felt that the instructors were genuine. Not only did they spend extra time helping out students when asked, but they were all passionate about their practice as well as teaching it. I also found it reassuring that students were equally dedicated to learning and improving, which creates a great environment for the fast-paced nature of the program. I made some great friends and still keep in touch with my Lavender cohort.
“Designation gives you the tools and resources to succeed, but what you get out of the program depends on how much work you’re willing to put in. There’s so much information and knowledge to consume, and you have to try to grasp as much as you can in a limited time.”
What did you find was the most useful skill, tool, or experience from your time in the program? Understanding and learning different UX methods and terminology was probably the most beneficial. It’s a must in the field to know when interviewing and talking to coworkers and other UXers. The more methods you understand, the more adaptive you can be when solving different problems. It’s also helpful when collaborating and explaining the reasons and benefits of your process to those who may be unfamiliar with the work.
What’s your favorite thing about being a professional designer now? All the different UX practitioners I’ve met and learned from. When resourcing for a project, we occasionally hire additional UXers, who all have their own methods of working and presenting information. There’s always something new to learn, and that different way of thinking always comes in handy when solving a problem or creating a better user experience.
What advice can you give to someone trying to start in the design industry? Ask questions! Questions about anything, questions about requirements, questions about any previous work done on a project, and most importantly, “why?” Why is something designed this way? Especially when the nature of the work can be ambiguous. Questioning allows you to better understand the problem and what other factors are involved when trying to solve it. I believe people with curiosity and the desire to understand a situation do best in this industry.