Daniel Guy was one of the very first graduates from our Professional Diploma in UX Design. In his 2019 interview, he discussed building his UX portfolio. In this piece, he describes how much his career has advanced since graduating.
Learn how he’s taken a big step up financially, become happier in his career and started a new role where he’s making a positive impact on the world.
How has your career progressed since you’ve graduated?
I’m quite surprised with how fast my career has progressed since graduating.
My previous employer really began to take me more seriously; there was a definite change in how conversations went and how people actually took my advice. They were also happy to give me a significant pay rise as a result of the extra qualification I had gained.
It also presented me as a strong candidate for my current role as an interaction designer with the Ministry of Justice UK. It was the best interview I’ve ever done. I was confident talking about the UX process and showing how I work on a day-to-day basis. Getting that role was a massive step up the career ladder for me and the course was a huge part of that.
Are you more satisfied with your career now?
I feel more fulfilled every day because I’m doing things that I really enjoy. My old boss encouraged me to go down the UX route, which I’ll always be grateful for. UX is a really interesting area that’s so satisfying to work in.
It was important for me to move into the public/non-for-profit sector because I’m passionate about those kinds of problems.
I like the idea of trying to improve the world in some small way, and make users’ lives better. Designers have an ethical responsibility to get that right as it will really affect the end user.
In my previous role I was doing research, analysis, designing and prototyping as a single UX professional. Although I liked doing research in my last job, it’s not necessarily where my strengths are. I’ve come to UX more from the point of view of a graphic/web designer.
I’ve really enjoyed moving to interaction design, which is a focused area that sits within UX design. Now, I’m working closely with user research and content design to do rapid high-fidelity prototyping. I love focusing on front-end web interactions and working closely with other UX professionals.
What’s your current role like?
UX is split between a few roles like interaction design, user research, content design, and sometimes service design as well at gov.uk.
I work across three teams, each team has an interaction designer, content designer, a user researcher, a number of developers, a product manager and a delivery manager.
I’m the main interaction designer for digitising the Lasting Power of Attorney service. If someone is about to lose mental capacity, they need to put some things in place so that somebody can make decisions on their behalf. There’s a steady move towards digitising these types of services across gov.uk. We’re streamlining the Lasting Power of Attorney service so you don’t have to do this through post, you can just do these interactions online.
How important is a portfolio in the job hunt?
It’s important to put your best foot forward and have a strong CV and portfolio. It takes a lot of work, iteration, and tailoring to get the job you want. It’s something that you’d really want to get right.
The diploma helped me put together a strong portfolio, which I could add to over time.
Sometimes you’d want a slightly more UI-focused portfolio, other times prospective employers don’t care about the interface so much, and want to see your process and thinking. It can be hard to know how to pitch it, I’ve definitely wrestled with that. It’s helpful to have both kinds of projects but it also depends on what you want to do in your UX career.
What’s the move to UX been like?
I’m sure many designers will empathise with me when I say that sometimes it can be so subjective. People will give you throwaway comments without any substantive reasons.
I really liked how UX has more of an empirical take on things, you’re measuring your designs. If you do some usability testing or run some analytics in UX, you can actually see if it’s a good design or not.
I think there’s definitely transferable skills from graphic design to UI design. The user research side of UX is quite a big jump though. While there are some transferable skills, I was adding a whole new set of skills to my utility belt.
Do you have any advice for students looking for their first UX role?
Over time, you learn what you like. My values have certainly changed over time and it’s helped me to know what I’m looking for. A couple of years ago, I wouldn’t have necessarily known where I wanted to be or what kind of company I wanted to work for.
I think initially it’s very hard to be picky about where you work, find a job where you can learn. You’ll be able to be more selective the next time you’re job hunting, and hopefully you’ll find a job that you’re very satisfied with – like I am now.
Would you recommend the course? To who?
I would definitely recommend the course to others. It’s probably the best decision I’ve made in my career so far. It empowers you with the skills you need and the confidence to do it.
It’ll be quite hard to break into it UX if you don’t do the course. It’s a no brainer to me. I’d just say definitely do it if you can.