I still think of that moment as the key moment of my career. I didn’t start that job without any experience. I had freelanced for years before that. But I was told that I needed to get a degree and a proper job so that I’ll earn enough money. So I got a degree in economics because there’s no design course at any of the Slovenian universities, and got that high-paying job at the bank. It was a ”proper” job that everyone kept telling me I needed. It wasn’t really a design job either, I was a business process manager. I basically designed software solutions for business processes which is basically what UX designers do.
I was presented with this opportunity in the summer of 2015. Until that point, I had spent two years living in Germany and working for an early-stage startup in Luxembourg. It was the job that I moved abroad for. Now, I finally had the chance to move to London and kickstart my UX design career there. Or so I thought. The gut feeling that I ignored was right. I joined the London-based startup which described the role in the contract as just “designer.” I found it odd at first, but then I consoled my self with something like: they probably see designers as generalists, that’s why they didn’t use UX designer or Product designer to describe the role. Being self-taught and having mostly freelance and early-stage startup experience at the time, I had already considered myself as a generalist. So I deluded myself that calling the role just “designer” was actually a good thing.
53 percent of designers who responded to my survey were UX/Product Designers, around 17 percent were graphic, 9 percent web designers, 6 percent design generalists, 6 percent UI and visual designers, and around 4 percent were design managers. I have to admit that I’m surprised by these numbers as I didn’t expect such a large chunk of UX and Product designers.
It would take me years to find out that the open-plan offices suck. It would take me even longer to understand that a designer doesn’t need to be collocated with the team they’re working with to do their job well. Working remotely doesn’t hinder collaboration. Ok, that’s only partially true. Let’s dig deeper into this.
We won’t ask you how many golf balls fit in a bus or how many times a day a clock’s hands overlap – nothing like what Google became famous for. While there’s some value in seeing how candidates react to curve-ball questions, they don’t really add much to a 45-minute interview. We also won’t ask you to attend an all-day session with a series of interviewers.
I come from a small, seaside town in Slovenia. By the time I finished high school I had already been designing and building websites for a couple of years. There was no digital design course in any of the faculties in Slovenia at the time so I decided to sign up for the Computer Science course in Ljubljana—Slovenia’s capital. I didn’t know what to expect but shortly after I started the course I realized that it wasn’t for me. Looking back now, I think I just wasn’t mature enough to see the potential in learning Java and stuff. So I dropped out.
Yesterday I read the 6 things I hate about your design CV article. I found myself on the hiring side numerous times already and although a bit disrespectful, the article genuinely offers good advice for designers that are just starting out. Finding and hiring good designers is hard and yes, companies get all sorts of applications. There’s simply a lot of it to get through—many people out there trying to start their design career.
Compared to them, I felt mediocre and I was frustrated because of it. You see, I never specialised in anything. Since I was a child, I had a habit of putting things together and create something out of that. I saw things differently from others. Where everyone else saw a cardboard box, I saw a cool military jeep that I could create out of it.
“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses” is a quote attributed to Henry Ford. It’s a quote that many people use as an excuse not to do user testing. Because designers and product managers are supposed to be these geniuses that pull ideas out of thin air. Steve Jobs was one of those design/product gurus. All the designer and product manager wannabes have a quote or two from Steve that they hold close to their heart so they feel more secure about themselves. But neither Steve or Henry became famous for their ideas because they would be original. They weren’t. Steve didn’t make the first computer and Henry didn’t make the first car (he made the first car assembly line).