Product Designer, Sense Talent Labs
I was born/grew up in: Bracebridge, Ontario
I now live in: San Francisco, California, USA
I completed my training/education at: I did a bachelor of Graphic Design at the Ontario College for Art & Design (OCAD University)
Describe what you do at work.
My main responsibility is working with other engineers to make sure our software is functional, easy to use and navigate, and visually appealing.
There are a few steps in the process of designing a product. First, we talk to our customers and get their feedback as to whether an idea for a feature will be useful and helpful for them. After that we will sketch out (with pencil and paper) a couple ideas in terms of flow (which is how a user navigates screen to screen). From there we will use design software such as Sketch or Adobe Creative Suite to create design mockups. Once finished, engineers will code up the designs into the functional website. I will help them with CSS coding which is the language that you use to style website elements.
The type of problem solving we do is looking at how we can use design and technology to solve specific problems for people. Since there is often no “right” answer we often discuss potential solutions as a group. When we come to a conclusion together we will pursue that direction.
When I was a student I enjoyed:
How does your job affect people’s lives?
One of the coolest things about technology careers is that you have the opportunity to affect millions (even billions!) of peoples' lives. Technology can provide a means to give access to information or things some people who wouldn't necessarily have. It also connects people globally which opens up doors for so many. Technology is also an industry that is constantly changing and evolving so you always get to learn and experiment with new things.
What motivates you in your career?
I love learning new things, which is why technology has been such a good career for me. I've met lots of interesting and new people through my job all over North America. In terms of being a designer, it's very rewarding to hear from people who use software you design, saying how much they like our products, and how easy it is to use.
The other thing I love about my job is how it's very collaborative. A product team has engineers, designers, researchers, and project managers who all put their heads together to solve a problem. It's very rewarding to see your ideas come into fruition at the end, as we typically will have a real working product at the end.
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
Describe your career path to this career.
When I was in high school I loved being creative (art and photography) but also liked math and science. Tech has been a great way to combine those two interests together. I did one year of school at York University where I learned web development. I tried to transfer into their graphic design program but got rejected which was a bit of a setback. I applied to OCAD University that year as well and they accepted me right away. In the long run it worked out since OCAD is right downtown Toronto so I was exposed to lots of cool things through school.
Since web and app design are a relatively new field, we didn't really study it much in school. Tech is where a lot of design is needed these days so naturally I fell into it after graduating. I learned a lot on the job since we didn't study web design. However most of the design theories from regular graphic design can be applied to web design.
What activities do you like to do outside of work?
I do a lot of photography in my spare time. I also like to draw which I do sometimes for work but mostly I do it for fun. I grew up in Northern Ontario so I love to snowboard and ski, and I love to hike and do outdoor activities to relax.
What advice or encouragement would you give others seeking a similar career?
Keep an open mind, if something doesn't go the way you planned keep trying with another direction!