As far as job fields go, UX/UI Product Design is a rather new field of work when you look at the grand scheme of things. However, over the past few years it has picked up an insane amount of traction amongst digital lovers and specialists. As a result of this, thousands of people and their Nans have begun branding themselves as “UX Specialists” in my area alone! Therefore it’s inevitably become a super competitive marketplace. The doors to a career in product design are becoming smaller and smaller each year that goes by and with only a handful of internships floating about it seems nearly impossible to break into the commercial world of product design.
So, if it’s really this hard, then how did I accidentally become a UI/UX Product Designer?!
Let’s rewind a few years. I bit the bullet, got through sixth form and secured my place at university to study I.T. Whilst at Uni, my ADHD was getting in the way of lectures and I eventually stopped attending entirely. I decided to try my chances at game development in the hopes that I’d be able to drop out of university and pursue a rich and lavish lifestyle creating hit mobile games. However, my game did not become a hit and only managed around 10,000 downloads across iOS & Android. Luckily, being an IT student, I was able to create a case study around the game and base my dissertation on it so I suppose it wasn’t a complete waste. Improvise, adapt, overcome am I right?!
University ends, somehow I managed an Upper Second (I’m still convinced there was a mistake somewhere), but I kept my mouth shut nevertheless. Once university was over, I began to develop an interest in mobile apps and the way they were designed. I began learning how to use design software and invented case studies which I could use to design mobile apps. I began obsessing over design and decided it’s what I wanted to do in life since I could see myself in that career. I'm outgoing, creative, confident and collaborative - and so the job search began. This is the point at which I realised how competitive the industry was and that no one would hire me unless I had commercial experience - the barrier most of us get caught up in.
Eventually, I end up getting hired by an airline as a Graduate Junior Product Owner Executive. I know… the lowest of the low. But this is where things begin to get interesting. I am put in charge of the airlines mobile app, an app which I despised the design of. Word then comes around that the airlines website is due a re-design and that the agency we were going to hire to complete that re-design was in fact the same agency who designed the mobile app. Over my dead body. I call a meeting with my manager and the Head of Digital, show them my previous just-for-fun case studies and manage to persuade them to let me complete the re-designs.
Six long months of working 2 jobs side-by-side, evenings and weekends included, the re-design was complete and it was awesome. Everyone in the team loved it. The Head of Digital and I have a meeting and agree that my job title should be changed to UX/UI Designer (we all agreed that I was a rubbish product owner). I haven’t looked back since.
Up to this point, I’ve worked with various businesses, including travel companies, e-commerce businesses and even parcel shipping businesses. I’ve created my dream life as a freelance product designer and I get an incredible amount of satisfaction helping businesses realise their visual potential. I only have Monarch Airlines and my team to thank for being so supportive and trust-worthy.