Diving into the digital deep end
My first months at Frontend.
Growing up I had a list of careers I thought would suit me. Good, solid job titles. Then I entered university and was utterly daunted by the myriad of possibilities. When I graduated last year I had no list, no obvious career goal; just one certainty - I wanted to make people's lives easier through design.
Slight problem - I had no idea how to do this on an everyday basis or how to convert it into a sustainable income.
I was starting to believe this goal of mine was going to be a hobby. Something I would get around to after I finished the next job that came in. Weekends and evenings were normally busy so I never got around to it. Cue. Frontend.
Since starting here, my little goal outta uni is an everyday focus. We are improving digital experiences and putting the user first.
So as the wide-eyed rookie who had a completely blank slate of digital experience, I thought I would share the key things I have learnt thus far.
1. File management!
I need to come clean - my previous practice of file management is a popular process known as ‘lazy’. You may have your own term for it but we all know what I’m talking about, those files chucked haphazardly in a folder, titled “dksbfsbfsehb”, ‘final’, ‘final2’, ‘finalfinal’ and ‘pleasepleasebefinal’.
At Frontend the first thing I learned was their process of file management. It blew my mind. The versioning system, tied with the document setup and notes means that anyone in the project or needing to get involved has an immediate and up-to-date understanding. I have since applied similar methods to my personal work. I no longer suffer from the headache that a desktop full of mislabelled projects used to cause.
2. Iterate, iterate, then when you think you’ve nailed it, iterate.
Previously I would spend time on three/four different concepts, work really hard on them, develop one or two, and so on. I would come out of it with liking most aspects of the piece, but often coming back awhile later would be ‘over it’. At Frontend I am learning to work quickly to get ideas up and try new things, creating a lot more output to discover what is working.
3. Don’t assume. We all know what happens when you assume.
Turns out I never knew how many assumptions I made. Users don’t all behave in the same way, or have the same knowledge base. Therefore we should never assume to know how they will use a product. This is why user testing and re-iteration are so important. Otherwise you will spend tonnes of time on something you think is awesome, the client thinks is fantastic, but no-one actually wants.
4. It’s in the details.
That is not entiiiiirely true. Big ideas are important. Ideas get pushed to the brink, we challenge what can and cannot be implemented and our brains start buzzing with excitement of something new. However it is the nitty-gritty where we really make things better. The way the button behaves when clicked, the kerning of the type increasing readability and the little interactions that are barely noticed by the user’s eye, but subconsciously make them comfortable in their digital environment.
5th and final. It’s not as scary as it seems.
I had this preconception of digital as a big scary place with rules and conventions that I had to completely understand before daring to add a single pixel to a file. Yes, there are conventions, and yes there is so much to understand. There’s also infinite room to play and problem-solve in this ever-changing space and that’s what makes the challenge so enjoyable.
Accepting that I will never know everything there is to know has given me the confidence to try things anyway. It’s encouraging to throw an idea out there, knowing that the team will take it seriously and put full consideration into it.
TL;DR. Frontend is challenging, my brain is on overload, and I love it.