It has been a little over two years since I first started at Inflection as a visual designer. Back then, Inflection had a brand director and a couple of front-end developer-designer hybrids, but no one fully dedicated to visual design. The challenge of being the “first” in your role at a company is that you have to carve out your own niche, while making it known to your team what your strengths are and what you can help with, but this is also a huge opportunity to add value to the entire structure and output of the company. I used to ask people if they needed any help on projects. I don’t have that problem anymore: there’s always more visual design to be done.
Unless you work at tech company, or you’re a visual designer yourself, you might not know what I actually do during the day. Some people might think that I sketch pretty picture all day, adding splashes of color to everything. That sounds fun, but that’s also a far cry from what I actually do.
Here’s what a day looks like in my life as a visual designer at Inflection:
6:15am Alarm. Snooze.
6:30am Second alarm. Shower.
7:00am Coffee. Traffic for 1.5 hours.
8:30am Coffee and potato chips for breakfast while I read emails, organize my priorities, and create a to-do list for the day.
9:30am Daily status meeting. This is where the teams I work with check up on the status on all the moving parts of our current projects. We review updates and what needs to get done.
10:00am I open up all of my design-related programs and start designing away. Usually there are at least two or three projects in progress that I alternate between on a given day. When a few go out for review, I begin working on a new project. Requests that come back for revisions or final assets, and then I’ll switch back to those.
11:30am I get the familiar and creepy feeling that someone’s watching me. Slowly turning my head, I see the outlines of — a product manager! Uh oh. There’s a project kickoff meeting that I have to run to! Sometimes I get so focused on designing a page that it takes a few minutes to snap back to reality. I grab my pen and paper before we head into a cozy room for a meeting. There, we talk about the goals we want to accomplish, strategize, wireframe on whiteboards, and make a lot of gestures with our bodies to get our ideas across. The important thing here is to get people to think outside of screenshots and pixels. This is the time when new ideas emerge.
12:15pm It’s “Feed the designers” time, a.k.a. lunch.
1:00pm I must be popular. I come back after feeding time to find two or three instant messages. Usually, they are requests for graphic assets like logos, hex values for colors, or thoughts on interior decoration for the office (Finding the right clocks to hang on the reception wall was a challenge—not traditionally a part of a visual designer’s job description, but a much welcome break. Plus, I got to use my hammer!)
2:00pm More coffee. Look up fonts, research some new interaction solutions via blogs, and design forums. Put on my mental helmet and start designing again. Ignore a few instant messages and alerts. Continue designing until my eyes get dry. Occasionally call over the other designers into a huddle to ask for feedback. We offer much needed encouragement and feedback to each other about design principles, legibility, and composition while staying away from subjective comments about personal likes and dislikes.
3:15pm Check emails again. Prepare comps for a design review in a few minutes. Run to the meeting room ten minutes before it starts to pull up files onto the screen. Then lament the sad fact that not all screens are Thunderbolt monitors, and everyone reviewing the new designs will see a sub-optimal view. Woe is me! More despair washes over me as I attempt to navigate the Microsoft Windows operating system to find the files.
4:00pm Walk back into my office and stare at the monitor. It takes a while to remember what I was working on before the meeting. I decipher the notes that I just took in the design review. I close what I was working on earlier and sketch out some ways to add in the new features and content that were brought up in the meeting.
5:00pm Turn my head 90 degrees left. Check up on Mariam, the most recent addition to our design team, and see if she needs anything. Review her open projects and check out a few interesting and inspirational web posts together.
5:30pm Head back into traffic.
Does this sound like something you’d like to do? Apply here.