Doreen upskilled in visual design to validate her knowledge and become more confident in her role.
In this piece, learn how she stayed motivated throughout the course and how the visual design qualification has benefited her career so far.
Describe your role.
I am the digital brand manager with Laya Healthcare. Originally, my job would have looked at social media strategies, search engine optimisation strategies and PPC campaigns but over the last couple of years it’s evolved into how to make the experience better for our users. I’ve taken on large projects rather than day-to-day campaign activity. Last year, for example, we consolidated five apps into one app which was a huge project.
What was your motivation for studying visual design?
I think the certificate was very useful because it really validated my knowledge. Design is so subjective that it’s really good to be able to outline the reasons why a particular design has been chosen or why you support it. I find people listen to me more since I completed the course.
Having a lot of on-the-job experience is one thing but knowing you actually have the theory and the knowledge to back it up is a great validation.
You learn an awful lot from working with designers and developers all the time, but it’s great to have that academic qualification as well.
What was the course content like?
I really liked the video format because it meant you could dip into something and do it at your own pace. It’s was really useful because I could revisit particular lessons. When I was stuck on a particular task, I could go back and look at an earlier video for guidance. Then at the live webinars, you could hear from other students and have your work critiqued by the mentor.
Was there a part of the course you particularly enjoyed?
Because I’m a marketeer, I loved all the brand pieces. I loved brand tone, personality, image, and how to present your designs. On the other hand, I struggled with some of the application of the design; the gutter margins and those elements. Because I’m not a trained designer, I didn’t have that knowledge base to begin with, so I found those more difficult.
How did you stay motivated during the course?
There were times when I considered giving up but I persevered and the support from the student success team was great. My course manager was really good, she made me these explainer videos to help. I used to spend a lot of time looking up YouTube videos to try and understand how to use some of the tools.
As I’m not a designer, I definitely had to push myself but earning the certificate in the end made it worth it.
Did you use the Slack channel much?
Yes, it was very useful. People’s experience level varied a lot so there was a real mix of questions being asked in the channel. Even though I had no background in design I had experience in previous communications roles so I could contribute advice from that perspective.
It was nice to be able to see people’s different backgrounds and motivations, and what they found interesting from a design perspective. I really learnt a lot from that. It’s also nice to know that people are struggling with the same things you are – that you’re not alone!
Do you feel more confident after doing the course?
Yeah, I definitely do.
The course gave me the language to express myself confidently. Sometimes you can recognise something about design but struggle to articulate it.
With the theory from the course, you have the vocabulary to say, “This needs more padding here,” or, “let’s look at the hierarchy here.” You learn good design practices and it gives you more of a curiosity about design.
What was the biggest benefit of the course for you?
The course helped me approach design in a different way. It gave me the skillset to really dig into a piece of work and evaluate it. Presenting designs decisions and being able to front foot issues or questions has also been great. Instead of just discussing a wireframe, you’re taking people through the journey and explaining what decisions you made and why. That’s a really useful piece to take with you.
Any advice for students?
I would say definitely do the homework along the way because that does help with the assignment at the end. I would also suggest breaking the modules down and trying to set yourself a deadline.
Thinking of the qualification at the end really kept me motivated.
Would you recommend the Professional Certificate in Visual Design?
Oh yeah, 100 per cent! Definitely for anyone who’s currently working as a designer or a graphic designer. I think it’s useful for marketeers as well, anyone who’s working on search strategies or digital projects would find it very useful.