Kettle on for a chat with David Stanley, Head of Digital at Red Dog and graduate of Design Skillnet’s subsidised Professional Diploma in UX Design in partnership with the UX Design Institute. Learn a little bit more about him and his experience on the programme.
- Tell us a bit about yourself and your career background.
I’m a designer with a focus on digital design and development in particular. My background is in visual communication which I feel has given me a strong foundation for the work I do now. I’m currently Head of Digital in Red Dog, a role that means I’m responsible for the Digital output of the Studio and ensuring that the digital side of all of our projects is as strong as it can be.
- What kind of work does Red Dog specialise in?
Red Dog is a design agency which has traditionally specialised in identity and print design. Over the last number of years, our focus has increasingly become much more digitally focused. Whether that be introducing motion design, web development or digital-first reporting, we are really growing in this area and it is one of the reasons I’m in the role I am in today.
- What’s your day-to-day flow at Red Dog?
Typically my day-to-day flow varies quite a lot. It can range from running UX workshops, building prototypes or writing code, to working closely with our design team in the studio on polishing a UI. Then there can be days that are spent dedicated to business development and writing proposals. It’s safe to say there’s plenty to keep me busy!
- What led you to take the Prof Diploma in UX Design?
It really came about after a discussion with our Design Director, Susan, who suggested it. We recognised the gap in our knowledge in this area and a real need to improve and get a much better understanding of UX Principles. We both felt the user-first way of thinking, which is so foundational to UX Design, could inform so many aspects of our day-to-day work and didn’t just have to apply to website design. We knew there would be great value in up-skilling in this area.
- What was your previous experience in UX?
Previously, I had experience working with numerous tools that are part of UX that I had acquired over years of working on different digital projects but I lacked that foundational understanding of the UX process and what it means to really create a useful product. The goal of completing this diploma was to bridge that gap.
- Why do you think UX Design is an important asset for designers to have in their skillset?
In my opinion, many designers of all types can be guilty of designing things with too much focus on the aesthetic qualities of the piece and can get too wrapped up in how something looks rather than how it works or how it’s intended to be used. UX Design is important as it gives you a more rounded perspective and makes you think about how something will be useful for the end user. It can still be beautiful, but it should also be useful. Think ‘form follows function’.
- What were your key takeaways from the programme?
The main key takeaway from the programme for me was really learning to shift my focus from the very beginning of projects and go into them ready to learn and to really get under the skin of the problem we’re trying to solve, rather than jumping too far ahead too quickly. It has highlighted the importance of a solid foundation and of the research and discovery phases of each project I work on.
- What were your favourite aspects of the programme?
The learning setup and how flexible it was. The format (short 3-4 minute videos) made things much easier to digest and follow. I’d struggle to find the time to sit through hours and hours of lectures and this format meant I could dip in and out when it suited me. I’m super busy most weeks so it was reassuring to know I could learn at my own pace.
- What impact has the completion of the programme had on your day-to-day job? Have you implemented any of your new knowledge into your practice?
It’s had a great impact on my day-to-day work and we’ve already introduced some of the tools learned on the programme into our process toolkit that we can draw on for each project that comes in. For me, it’s improved our end product as well as our workflow.
- What does it mean for you to have a university qualification in UX?
It’s been something that has been on my list for a long time that I just haven’t gotten time to do, so I’m delighted to finally have the qualification.
- What were the benefits of learning with other designers and creatives? Did you find the Slack group useful? Was it a supportive environment?
Learning with other designers and creatives always yields better outcomes. Feedback is so important and it can be so reassuring to know you’ve got that support whenever you need it or if you’re not sure of something. The Slack group facilitated that and ensured I could reach out whenever I needed.
- Did you see a return on investment from the programme? Has your career progressed since the completion of the programme or have you carried out important projects involving UX?
Yes, we’ve built-in many of our learnings into our day-to-day digital processes and it’s made for more efficient and better project outcomes. It’s also expanded our toolkit in this area and given us new ways to solve design problems that we may have struggled with before.
- Describe your experience on the course in just 3 words…
Oh, this is tricky; informative, flexible and engaging.
- Would you recommend the programme to others and why?
Absolutely, it is a great way into the world of UX, particularly if you’re already working full-time (as I am), as the flexibility lets you do things at your own pace.
- Finally, what advice would you give someone considering the Professional Diploma in UX Design? Any tips apart from doing it…?
Get as much feedback as you can, everyone (both lecturers & fellow students) are so helpful and will always give constructive feedback and be on hand to answer any questions you may have. Don’t work in a vacuum, asking questions will only help you and make for a better outcome.
Find out more about the Professional Diploma in UX Design or sign up for our incoming information session on October 20th.
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