As part of an assignment for my Advanced UXD class, I had to interview a UX professional. Since the majority of my interest in UX goes beyond the realms of formal information institutions such as libraries or museums, I decided to get in touch with a designer that works in advertising creating digital branding experiences for an array of products and companies. I had the pleasure of interviewing a Senior Experience Designer from the award-winning agency VML, a digital ad agency, whose name I’ll keep undisclosed in respect to his place of work. But he provided great insight into UX in advertising, his responsibilities as a senior designer, especially when dealing with clients, and the various departments he has to keep consistent communication with to deliver a digital product. Below are his responses to my questions. The prefaced and closed caveats were included by him.
Caveat: These are my personal view and might not reflect the views of VML and/or anyone within the organization.
What organization do you work for?
VML – Global Digital Advertising Agency
What is your job title?
Senior Experience Designer
How many years have you had this job?
2 years and 4 months
Could you please describe your typical day? What are some of your routine activities/responsibilities?
No day is the same but I’ll list out some of my responsibilities to give you an understanding of the XD Field:
- I attend a variety of meetings in which I express my expertise of the XD field. In these meetings, I’m the ambassador for the end-user.
- I question everything, especially on how digital solutions add value for end-users
- I present solutions to clients and discuss feedback with them
- I travel to create personal relationships with clients to increase the successfulness of our collaboration
- I perform user-tests to ensure that our solutions are user-vetted
- I design wireframes and prototypes that illustrate functionality and user-value
Who do you primarily work with within the agency?
I collaborate daily with cross functional teams to create digital products. This means working with a variety of people from the creative, technology and client engagement fields.
What kind of technologies/tools do you work with on a daily basis?
The main tools I utilize for my XD responsibilities include:
- Design and wireframe tools
- Prototyping tools
- Testing tools
- And presentation tools
I can’t specifically name the tools because these are part of our proprietary process but our organization is never married to specific tool. We use the tools that optimizes our workflow and provides us the most value.
What are some of the most satisfying elements of your work?
The most satisfying part of my job is when I get to design digital or non-digital solutions that truly simplify or add value to a person’s life.
What are the challenges you/your company face?
The most challenging part of my job is asking the right questions when a request comes in. Instead of just producing a wireframe, I analyze the request and then ask questions to understand why certain things need to be changed.
What are the relationships between you/your company and your clients?
I personally am in contact with our clients on a weekly basis. We continuously send emails, chat and present to our clients. Presentation skill are important for an XD professional because you often have to convince clients about your ideas and designs.
How do you assess the needs of your user community?
As an Experience Designer, you always have to be curious. I continuously ask people around me about their behavior and what they would think if they encountered X. These are just low level observations but we also conduct primary research to truly understand the needs and behaviors of our target market. This often means that we go out into the world to ask our target market specific questions about their behavior.
Do you have a formal degree UX? If not, what is your education/training in?
Below is my education background:
- Associates in Computer Science
- Bachelors in Communication and Multimedia Design
- Masters in Business Administration
What is your perspective on the current job market for Experience Design professionals? [Are you optimistic, pessimistic]
I couldn’t be more optimistic about the field of Experience Design. It is true that the field is changing rapidly and – as professionals in the field – we have to adapt to it to stay relevant. But not matter how much change is happening in the field, the need to understand the holistic experience between human, digital and non-digital experience is not going anywhere.
How would you say the field of UX has changed in the past few years? Where do you think the field is heading?
There are very few industries that change as much as the field of Experience Design. Think about the new technologies and best practices that have been developed over the past years. As experience designers, we have to adapt to these new technologies and identify how they fit into people’s lives. You have to stay curious and develop an interest in new technologies, while always keeping user-value in mind.
6 to 8 years ago, experience designers were heavily focused on interfaces and how people interact with them. I believe that we’re currently in a stage where XDs have to consider the experience as a holistic journey that our users go through. This will become even more important in the future now that voice and AI are becoming more important. It’s not enough anymore to think about one specific point in time because brand interactions are spread out throughout time, locations, and devices/technologies.
Caveat: my response above is based on my specific responsibilities within the organization, which means that they are more tactical in nature.