Building a career in experience design

By Owen Hughes, Inviqa
Owen Hughes experience designer at Inviqa

We recently had a chat with one of our experience designers, Owen Hughes, and learnt about his personal story, how he came to choose a career in experience design, and why he loves working at Inviqa!

Hi Owen! First things first, can you tell us what your job is and what it involves?

Hello! 👋I’m Owen, an Experience Designer here at Inviqa. I work on a range of projects from research through to UI. I endeavour to understand people's needs through conversation and research and use that insight to craft great digital experiences for our clients and their users.

What did you study at school/university?

I studied Graphic Design at Blackpool and the Fylde College (part of Lancaster University). At the time, it was mainly print based design with little to no digital. When I applied to universities there were hardly any experience design courses available, only a few, smaller modules on IT based courses. This was the campus in Blackpool on Palatine Road where I was based (the corner closest to the centre of the image on the top floor was actually my lecture studio). A 15 minute walk from the tower, iconic comedy carpet, and nightlife that makes Blackpool infamous. Blackpool was a surprisingly inspirational place for design students- we were surrounded by signs demonstrating how not to use typography, which made us all strive to do better than the  bad B&B signs!

Blackpool and The Fylde College
B&FC University Centre campus

What made you decide to become an Experience Designer?

It wasn’t something that I originally planned to do, it happened more by accident. While in my second year at university, I interned for a digital agency in Liverpool for 3 months in the summer.. During the internship I was exposed to lots of different projects, though my focus was on ecommerce websites for fashion boutiques and designers. One of the highlights of that experience was working on websites for the designers of costumes that were used at the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony. It was this internship that really got me interested in experience design. Luckily I kept in touch with the agency and a year later, they were looking for a designer and offered me the job!

London 2012 opening ceremony with dancers
Dancers at London 2012 opening ceremony

How did you come to work at Inviqa?

I’d heard of Inviqa before working here- it was always an agency that intrigued me. A couple of years before I joined, I worked with a friend at another agency in Liverpool. He ended up moving to Inviqa and was based at the the Liverpool office. He later recommended me for a position here. 

What is the part of your job that you most enjoy?

Immersing myself in different sectors and industries. Since working at Inviqa I’ve worked on projects for train franchises, financial services, subscription kids bikes, auction houses, and much more. I also love talking to people and seeing how they use the different products that we are testing. 

What do you value the most about the Experience Design team?

The team is full of incredibly smart, talented people and they are all keen to help and offer support when necessary. One of the coolest things about this team is that no matter how ‘out there’ the topic is, someone has read a book on it!

Graphic with XD team

How would you describe the Inviqa culture to a newcomer?

Everyone is super keen on developing and improving both the products and themselves. We have ‘Friday Skills’ where we listen to talks in the morning and in some cases offer feedback to the speaker. We also have skill swaps where we get together to learn about something new or build on the knowledge we already have.

What does the Inviqa value ‘together’ mean to you? 

We work better as one and collaborate to make digital experiences better.

XD team in park

How do you continue to learn and grow in your role?

I find I learn best by throwing myself into the deep end and engaging in new projects rather than watching other people do it and repeating what I already know. I also read a lot of blogs and articles from a variety of sources. 

How do you process feedback- both positive and negative?

This is probably a bit cheesy, but I think a good way to interpret feedback is to take it all as positive. It just comes from different places and emotions, but the common goal is to improve.

What advice would you give to someone looking to get started in XD?

Put simply- go to events and talk to people at them. I know of individuals who were looking to get into the industry, decided to attend local talks and events on experience design, and made a real effort to speak to other attendees and demonstrate how willing they were to learn. Some of them were later offered roles in the city because they met a hiring manager at an event and built a rapport. It seems like a simple thing to do but you’d be surprised how few people actually go and do it.

If you could give one bit of advice to your younger self, what would it be?

Because my university didn’t offer many digitally focused projects, I would tell my younger self to do a lot more side projects and explore experience design through them. And never build furniture out of Argos catalogues for student digs- it's very laborious! 

How do you maintain a healthy work/life balance?

As we’re working from home more the past year, I have set up a dedicated room to work in which I close off when I finish for the day so there is a physical barrier and i'm not tempted to dip in again. 

What’s your favourite slack channel at Inviqa?

Without a doubt - #pet-photos! Seeing everyones adorable creatures always makes me smile!

Greatest lesson learnt in lockdown?

Don’t underestimate a good home office set up. 

And lastly...what’s one of your pet peeves when it comes to design and UX?

I loathe pop sockets! So much so that I wrote a blog on it (coming soon!). They look awful, and are an obvious indicator that phone experiences (physical & digital) aren’t perfect yet. 

 

If you are interested in joining Owen and the rest of the wonderful Inviqa team, head over to our career page now and check out the roles we are hiring for!