Our summer design intern shares 5 things she didn’t know before working behind the scenes on websites with us. Shira is currently studying to be a Graphic Designer at York University.
1. You Don’t Have to be a Developer to Design Websites
While it’s very helpful to have basic coding skills when designing websites, I learned that you don’t have to know how to develop a website in order to design one. In my web design class at school, we always had to build the websites we designed which meant I was focusing less time on the design and more time figuring out how to code it. At Leverage I saw that, the process of building a website can require different people with specific skills.
2. Try Different Software
While there isn’t one program that can accomplish everything, there’s usually one that is the best suited for your needs. Before interning at Leverage I had basically only stuck to Adobe Illustrator. Trying UXPin for the first time was amazing and forced to me to get out of my comfort zone. It blew my mind that you could create an almost completely functional website prototype. You don’t realize what is possible until you explore all your options. Once you are aware of what’s out there, you can weigh out your options affectively. Also, getting out of my comfort zone with web design design software encouraged me to try other design software and broaden my skillset.
3. It’s Important to Take Steps
When I would get a new project I immediately would want to jump into designing, but I learned that it’s crucial to really take your time in the beginning to process what the requirements are first. Pencil and paper is the most effective way of getting all your ideas down during the wire framing stage of a project. By quickly being able to sketch different designs, you narrow down what works and what doesn’t. Even when I was ready to start designing digitally, I learnt that it’s best to start out really basic without colours and specific fonts. One of the skills interning taught me to work on is patience. Yes, you eventually have to call a project finished, but you want to take it as a far as you can, which inevitably takes time.
4. Ask Questions
Asking questions and clarifying that you have all the information correct before starting a project can prevent unnecessary mistakes later on. I also learned that making mistakes is important as well and it’s part of how you learn. The best way to learn from your mistakes and move a design forward is to get feedback on it. Getting another, more knowledgeable perspective on a design shows you what might have missed and can prompt ideas that you may not have had otherwise.
5. Everything is a Learning Opportunity
Not only did I learn so much from the projects I was given at Leverage, but also from the conversations I had and the meetings I sat in on. I had never seen the inner workings of a business before and the different roles that are required to run a web design agency. I saw that communication, especially when working across different time zones is key for everyone to be on the same page and for the process of building a website to run smoothly. I learned what working as part of a bigger team feels like and got to use Slack to communicate with coworkers in and out of the office. Getting to work on client projects was also an amazing learning experience because in school, I’m mostly able to design projects how I choose rather than taking into account another person’s preferences. Designing with a client in mind really forced to me to think about what would work best for them rather than what I wanted.
Being able to work at Leverage, in a creative environment this summer was everything I had hoped for and more. While school can teach you specific skillsets, it was great to be able to try new things that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I was given the opportunity to create posts for social media and learnt how to navigate UXpin and WordPress. I got to meet new people who I learned a lot from and was able to experience first hand working in an awesome and creative environment.