Design Engineering
Showcase

Else London

Student
Jessica P-Powell
Team
Design Team
Supervisor
Dr Mazdak Ghajari
Role
Interaction Design Intern
Sector
Consultancies

My Industrial Placement as an Interaction Design intern at ELSE studio aided my professional development, providing insight into the use of strategy, user experience and design thinking within the digital industry.

Despite my title, I was exposed to numerous departments within the company and worked on multiple projects which required a variety of skills. These projects included creating the design style and guidelines for professional company content, conducting landscape research, and designing assets for different interfaces. I was introduced to new software such as Figma, Sketch and Miro, and deepened my knowledge on many areas of business and website development.

 — Else London

Demonstration of Design Engineering Thinking and Skills

Design Thinking

I believe the most valuable lesson learned so far is understanding the importance of the design process. Although already using the double diamond design process in my design engineering career, the incorporation of new techniques within this process such as establishing design principles, design takeaways and aligning project work to the corporate tone of voice principles has allowed me to create work truly fit for purpose.

 — Else London

Learning new skills and software

ELSE is a company whose ethos of continual personal and professional development aligned with mine. Therefore, prior to beginning my placement, I was aware of the roles available at ELSE and aligned them to the professional skills I wanted to develop pertaining to my 5-year professional plan. While on this placement I have completed 3 personal development sessions with my line manager where I was able to review my current performance, state my goals for the nature of work I wanted to be involved in, the skills I wanted to develop, and set actionable changes for how to achieve those goals. In addition to this, my line manager and I kept close communication and had weekly informal check-in meetings to review my placement experience.

Each week, I was entitled to 2 hours of learning & development (L&D) time to keep up to date with the newest innovations in technology or develop my professional skills. I was aware that I struggled with communicating my ideas verbally and presenting with confidence. Therefore, I attended virtual workshops hosted by ‘You Can Now’ (YCN) which were aimed at professional development including skills such as presentation and ‘storytelling’ to improve communicating concepts with customers and clients.

In addition, I used LinkedIn Learning as a platform to learn new software and fundamental practices of UX/UI design such as multidevice design, and recently began a ‘web developer’ pathway to help deepen my knowledge on the backend of web design. As a fast learner, this was an effective way of picking up new skills when assigned a new project I wasn’t familiar with.

This experience has made me comfortable assessing and discussing my professional skill set and future goals which I hope to continue doing throughout my career.

Project planning/Management skills

I was in charge of setting the visual identity of ELSE videos and providing a style guide which stated the design principles to move the project into production. Being given responsibility over this project meant I was in charge of defining and managing the direction and pace of the project. In this project I took responsibility for setting weekly tasks and further breaking them down into daily minimum viable achievements (MVAs). MVAs were discussed every morning in team ‘Daily stand-ups’ on zoom and provided an opportunity to discuss project blockers and arrange collaborations on tasks.

The skills developed surrounding brand identity and development at the first half of my placement enabled me to identify its necessity in proceeding projects. Therefore, while working independently on this project I conducted landscape research to compare the effectiveness of previous videos produced by the studio with industry best practice and constructively discuss the shortcomings of the current offering with members of my team. Following this, I was able to adjust the project brief to better serve the company.

Since producing work alone, it was important I identified when an ‘informing’ stage was reached in order to review the work I’d done with my support team before proceeding. Therefore, during the development stage, I arranged and led 2 meetings per week with my Project head and weekly meetings with the support team where I presented varying design solutions in order to receive feedback on the preferred design direction. The main methods used to achieve this was by: i. showing the completed work in its original workspace (often Figma) or, ii. creating a Keynote presentation to highlight my findings. I then held discussions on the ideas and reached an agreement with the project head on the next steps for the project. This was to ensure there was a constant stream of communication to help me correctly direct the project to the desired goal, in the quickest amount of time.

I believe the attention given to effective project management methods at ELSE has given me the tools to confidently take on a project management role in at least 1 group Design Engineering project in my master’s year.

 — Else London

Role and Contributions

I am Jessica Powell, I completed my placement as an interaction designer at ELSE London Studio. Despite my role, I was exposed to numerous departments and developed a wide range of skills; I worked for 5 different clients on 7 differing projects and carried out roughly 20 varying tasks during my placement. Being able to identify the entry point of the double diamond work process and the corresponding tools required for each project was an invaluable skill I developed while working at ELSE. The projects I was involved in spanned across stages of the double diamond and developed my skills in both front and back-end development.

Strategy

I had the opportunity to work with the strategy team as a researcher in the discovery phase of their project with a reputable gaming company. The aim of the project was to help the client better understand their audience, in order to improve their service offerings. In this project, I conducted user research; this included holding a user interview, reviewing materials on the audience, and conducting landscape & internal research on the gaps in the client’s knowledge through an audience insight audit. This task helped inform the strategy team to develop user personas and archetypes.

Design

Taking part in ongoing projects for an asset management firm saw me entering to help in many different stages of the design process. I worked as a designer within the legal department to help ensure the solutions being provided by the design team were legally compliant. I was engaged with evaluating current design solutions, conducting competitor research, presenting solutions for displaying legal copy for investors and making design changes to website pages to ensure they met the legal standard within its industry.

Business & Marketing

A large number of projects I worked on were within the ELSE internal workspace and were assigned by the business and marketing team. As ELSE operates a business-to-business model, the main goal of these projects was to improve the quality and frequency of ELSE’s social presence for communication with potential clients, and reduce the time and energy taken to create the materials. My main internal projects all focussed on helping the company have a stronger brand image through creating or developing branded materials for different media outlets. I was therefore in charge of defining the design style and motion graphics of future ELSE campaign videos, which in turn required me to define its tone of voice, design and mood principles.

 — Else London

Developers

Joining in the delivery stage on an international travel planning site, I worked closely with an interaction designer to oversee the new website rollout. In this project, I was responsible for recreating website modules to ensure they could be replicated in build by the website developers. As the work is now in its building stage, I also had the opportunity to conduct a quality assurance audit on the built components to ensure they operated as intended and all of the modules matched their design specification. The high engagement of this project meant I learned a lot about the process of website development and its importance within the design stage.

Misc.

Gaining confidence presenting was another soft skill which I expressed the desire to strengthen upon starting this placement. Being given regular opportunities to present work in progress to my colleagues was a great way for me to become comfortable speaking about my work with confidence. Giving a thought-provoking presentation at the ‘start the week’ briefing meeting on “Digital Activism” gained positive feedback from many of my colleagues and raised interesting conversations which are rumoured to be continuing to this day.

 — Else London

Summary

As this placement has helped me solidify my career goals, my elective master’s modules focus on human-centred and strategic design thinking with the intention to steer my work into digital solutions to further my experience.

Advice:

  • If fortunate enough to know your career goals
  • Create a 5 year plan of the skills and roles you’d like to pursue
  • Steer DE3 projects/roles to serve your interests
  • Inform employers of your professional goals
  • Remain engaged; there’s always a learning opportunity!

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