According to a mate of mine, I make ‘badges’, to which he actually means, I design logos, but even that’s only a small part of the job. When asked about what I do by friends and family, some people really have no idea. What does a designer actually get up to? Hopefully, I’m about to enlighten you.
One of the best things about being a designer at Website Design Ltd is the variety of tasks we’re assigned. Repetition is rare; there are always new and different clients and projects. The possibilities are almost endless. Yes, ‘Website Design’ is in the company name and that fundamentally is what Richard and I will usually be doing, cracking open Sketch and designing websites for our awesome clients.
Our tasks don’t stop at designing websites though and if they did, there’s a chance we probably wouldn’t enjoy it as much as we do. Logos, brand assets and guides, illustrations, print design, business literature, and stationery, we get to work on a variety of formats. Any website project will also likely include us creating an interactive wireframe, which, simply put is the blueprint for the website design. I could delve into the world of wireframes in detail, but that’s not what this blog is about. If you fancy learning a little more about it, Richard has put his Shakespearan skills to use and written a great piece.
Typically, the tasks Richard and I work on will fall into one of four categories:
Our main bulk of work comes from website projects. This could be for a new or existing client, including a project kick-off meeting, interactive wireframing, website design and the presentations that go with them. Our input doesn’t stop there, however, as we’re involved in the quality assurance (QA) of the website build. On occasions, projects won’t just be website focused. Working with our clients to create branding, social media designs, and display ads; creating everything they need for a digital presence and defining their brand image is always a pleasure.
Referred to internally as ‘small jobs’, these would be tasks we’ve quoted that don’t quite meet the scale of a project (where Elliot would use our Discovery process). A small job could be anything from a logo to business stationery or a brochure design; it’s usually a single task that doesn’t need direct input from a developer.
Similar to ‘small jobs’, support tickets come in as and when a client needs design input. Tickets usually don’t amass to more than a couple of hours of work. A designer’s work on a ticket could be the whole job, say image editing, or updating a business card design with new details. On the other hand, we might only be helping a colleague, providing a design asset or some styling direction.
Ask Jeeves, remember that? What a throwback. Unfortunately, we don’t have anyone called Jeeves. Instead, in our chat system, we have ‘Ask a designer’, ‘Ask a developer’ and the like. If any member of the team has a question for another department, they’ll usually sling it in there and a member of the said department will answer them. I wouldn’t consider this to be a task as such, often a written answer addresses any query, but our colleagues could be asking for design assets or thoughts on how they should display something. In some cases, we’ll then need to set aside some time to create anything that’s been requested.
Wake up, do Wordle… don’t worry I won’t go into those details. Instead, I’ll just detail a typical day at Website Design Ltd. As my colleagues have mentioned earlier in our ‘Day in the life’ series, we have the option to work a 4-day week, through compressed hours. Now, if it’s a work-from-home day, I’ll be online by 7am and then I should be ending my workday at 5pm. If I’m working at the office, though, I’ve got to fit a commute in and I still need my beauty sleep. That usually means a 7:30am start and 5:30pm finish. So, what happens on an average Monday?
7:00am – Coffee in hand, I’ll start the day by dealing with my inbox. It tends to be busier during the week and as Vernon Dursley says “no post on Sundays” (a little Harry Potter reference for all you muggles). Once I’ve been through my emails, I’ll check the Production Schedule, which Daniel will have sent round last thing on Friday, detailing the tasks everyone has for the day. Even when we’re in the middle of a project, this is always worth checking, as we may be given smaller tasks to manage too. Once that’s been ticked off my list, I’ll either check any QAs I’m on or begin working on the tasks in my schedule. While I can’t speak for everyone, I’ll usually get the smaller jobs done first.
8:30am – This is when we have our weekly design team meeting, featuring me, Richard and our Creative & Marketing Lead, Andy. We’ll discuss what work was finished last week, what’s been carried over and what our schedules are like for the week.
9:00am – Working through the tasks of a designer, usually project work.
10:30am – On Mondays we have a team meeting, sharing good news and thanks and as a team we go through the schedule.
11:00am – Every fortnight, we have our design and marketing IDS (Identify, Discuss, Solve) meeting. This lasts an hour and we aim to deal with any issues the department is facing.
12:00pm – Back on to the project work and dealing with requests and tickets as they come in.
1:00pm – The best part of the day. I’m kidding, although it does come close on Fridays, the street food in Colchester is impeccable. Friday usually brings that week’s fantasy football deadline too, where I’ll make reckless decisions and probably Triple Captain someone destined for a red card (cheers, Emmanuel Dennis), much to Andy’s amusement.
2:00pm – Back to the desk, probably with a tea (preferably not in the giant Sports Direct mug Rich). The first thing I’ll do is check my emails and address any QAs; these could be for work I’ve completed or ones I’m on that need to be checked by a designer. I’ll then continue with the project work for the day.
5:00pm – Hopefully I’m ready to wrap things up and finish. At the end of the day, all of the production staff summarise where their tasks are at in their individual project chats, letting our project manager and department lead know how work is progressing.
The design mindset doesn’t stop when the workday ends. Design is everywhere, whether it be at the golf club (Richard) in the cinema (me), on social media (with great respect for Richard, that’s also a me thing) or seen through a browse on Behance, we’re constantly seeing pieces of design, taking screenshots or photos for future inspiration, we’re a bit strange like that.
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