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Q&A with Orla McAvinue – Professional Diploma in UX Design graduate

26 October 2023
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Take five with Orla McAvinue, Creative Director at True Story, the Dublin-based, independent brand consultancy firm. In this Q&A, Orla shares her experiences as a graduate of Design Skillnet’s Professional Diploma in UX Programme in partnership with the UX Design Institute and gives us some insights on how it impacted her role, her communication with clients as well as stakeholders and ensured the team always approach every project from a customer’s perspective.


  • Tell us a bit about yourself and your career background.

I am a Creative Director in True Story, having graduated from TU Dublin in 2002. I have worked in both Dublin and London across diverse sectors such as hospitality, tourism, banking and the arts. Since 2018, I have been working almost exclusively in the food and beverage sector, with some of Ireland’s best-known brands. I have a huge amount of experience, enthusiasm and love for this sector. (I occasionally get to dip my toe back in the corporate world too, which is always gratifying.)


  • What kind of work does True Story specialise in and what’s your day-to-day flow as the creative director?

True Story creates brands for corporate and consumer clients that are built to last, designed to be loved, and have at their heart a story that is both delightful and true.

As a creative director, it is my job to wear many hats, be agile and on it at all times. No two days are the same, but essentially I work closely with the rest of the management and strategic teams, leading our designers to ensure we are creating memorable work that benefits our clients. 


  • What led you to take the Professional Diploma in UX Design?

All of our projects have a digital component. I wanted to hone my skills and ensure that I could guide our digital team as effectively as possible. The course has helped cement a digital-first mindset and provided me with the additional tools required to communicate with key stakeholders and to brief and review with clarity and intent.


  • What was your previous experience in UX?

Mostly on-the-job experience with a healthy dose of instinct. Keeping up with insights, learnings and best practise, but nothing as structured as the UX course provided. We work with highly skilled digital experts so I would lean on their knowledge and expertise, learning as I went. 


  • Why is UX Design an important asset for designers to have in their skillset?

UX Design provides designers with tools and a strategy and to attack a project with intent and gusto. It ensures designers approach a project from a customer’s perspective. UX keeps designers focused and offers a map to return to, ensuring a project keeps on track. Critically, it also reminds designers to work as a team and the importance of this, and how it will always elevate the end result – and provide a much richer, rewarding and enjoyable experience. 


  • What did you enjoy most about the Professional Diploma in UX Design programme?

It was a tightly honed programme with no filler. I particularly appreciated how practical it was, not just theoretical. And the flexibility of course. I could fit it in around my day job.

But one of my key takeaways is definitely that I hadn’t expected to find UX so interesting!


  • What impact has the completion of the programme had in terms of your day-to-day job and your progress in your career? 

Ultimately, it has meant that I approach all digital projects from a user-first perspective: what do the end users need…what is going to benefit them? We then layer the experience and design aspects on top of this base requirement and return to it to ensure we keep the project on track.

Having a university qualification in UX Design also signals my commitment and intent. Great to have it under my belt.


  • What are the benefits to users and consumers of UX design ideals and principles being applied to a product?

It brings a rigour to the process. It brings key stakeholders into the process at an earlier point, meaning there are fewer surprises from a client’s perspective. It’s a win-win.


  • How has the UX design idea and approach impacted and benefitted True Story’s design approach of “there is a story to tell behind every brand”?

Our strength is in joining together deep strategic thinking and inspiring creative brilliance. So UX works hand in hand with how we approach every project.


  • Would you recommend the Prof Diploma in UX Design to others and why?

Absolutely. It will reinforce what you already know instinctively as a designer, and provide you with the tools to ensure you can implement changes to how you work and how you guide your clients to better and more effective digital solutions. 


  • What advice/encouragement would you give someone considering the Professional Diploma in UX Design – in terms of personal, as well as professional, growth?

It’s always a good idea to push yourself out of your comfort zone and fill the gaps in your skillset. It’s incredibly rewarding and leads to a renewed sense of enjoyment in your day-to-day job…or can indeed provide new options for your future path. Go for it.


You can get in touch with Orla McAvinue via Linkedin.

Find out more about the Professional Diploma in UX Design.

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