Jonathan Andrade has been a MID student for some time now and managed to transition to UX Design in less than 1 year.
He tells us how he organized his studies and how a MID exercise helped him get his first job in the field.
In addition, Jonathan talks a bit about the differences between the routine of an Art Director and a Product Designer.
Jonathan, please tell us a little about your background
I majored in advertising, and since my first internship, I have worked with creativity.
But I used to develop basic projects, like business cards and company badges, and there came a time when I didn't want to do this kind of work anymore. Mainly because I was talking to other people in the area, and they were working on logos, visual identities, and websites.
And I decided that I wanted to do that as well. I left my first job and joined another agency that was more specialized in branding, and I really enjoyed the field.
But it was only in another agency that I had my first contact with interfaces. In this job, I worked with a developer who taught me a lot!
He showed me how to think about the development of an interface. Instead of doing it in a rush, he taught me how to draft my ideas and plan what I wanted to do in advance.
From that point on, I started to look at interfaces differently and began to research and study more about the subject.
Was it at this moment that you got interested in pivoting to UX Design?
Actually, it was at this moment that I started to understand that this area existed.
But I still kept working as an Art Director and was even invited to be a business partner in an agency.
And it was at that time, when I had my own company, that I started to read a lot more about UX and UI Design, and, in fact, I was already following you – Felipe – at Choco la Design.
So, I was reading about UX, Usability, and User-Centered Design, and I wanted to implement these processes within my agency.
But it was very difficult because the dynamics of an agency are completely different. The deadlines are all tight, and there is no time to plan; there is only time to act. And this really discouraged me.
Then one day, I got an email from you, from Choco la Design, with a very interesting question:
"How are you doing in your profession? How are you seeing yourself? What do you really want?"
That email was like a snap in my mind, and I started reflecting on what I wanted and my career.
From that moment on, I decided that I would enroll in Aela's Mastering Interface Design (MID) program to go further in my studies and get more knowledge about the field of UX and UI Design.
How did you organize your studies?
I've always loved having routines, so balancing my studies with my work at the agency wasn't that complicated.
In that sense, I set myself the goal of studying about 3 hours a day.
So, my routine was to come home after work, have dinner, take some time to cool down, and go back to my studies.
This was my ritual during the week. On weekends, I would dedicate the whole day to my studies. I would wake up, eat breakfast, turn on the computer, and only stop at 6:00 pm.
Despite this more intense study routine, I would set aside at least once a week to not even open the computer. I think we need to take the time to clear our minds in order to maintain this consistency.
Also, something that helped me was to understand that some days you will be very productive in your studies, while others are more difficult, and that's okay!
The important thing is to maintain consistency and if one day you are not managing to get some practical exercise done, read some materials, watch a video, or plan your studies for the next day.
Not every day will be productive, and that's okay! We shouldn't blame ourselves for that.
After this intense period of studying, how was the search for opportunities in UX Design? Do you have any lessons or tips to share?
I was juggling my studies with work at my agency.
When I really decided to look for opportunities, I decided to leave the company to dedicate myself 100% to UX Design.
From then on, I could dedicate myself more to building and improving my portfolio, and it really made a big difference when looking for jobs and opportunities.
When recruiters saw the Wikipedia project – one of the MID exercises – they got very curious and eventually called me for interviews.
Speaking of my current job, the recruitment process was very simple, in 3 steps. One of them involved a whiteboard challenge, and it was really cool, I had never done something like that before. I did very well in this stage and they hired me.
What are the differences between your routine at the agency and now in Product Design?
The main difference is the planning.
Product Design planning is much more defined and focused. The whole team knows the goals, the objectives, and the business. This way, the team can work together to deliver value to the company and to the user.
Now, talking about processes, I had a surprise. Although we have well-defined processes, we often fail to follow them to the letter.
For example, in the usability testing processes, we have to adapt the various forms and tools for each project. To understand if it's better to use wireframes or high-fidelity prototypes. You won't always be able to use the tools you would like.
So this was a great learning experience for me. It's important to have well-defined processes, but it's also essential to be flexible to handle each project in the best possible way.
Reading Tip: The Importance of Psychology in UX Design
What about the personal side? How are you feeling working with UX and Product Design?
Oh, I am so happy!
The company where I work has a very good structure and UX maturity.
And this only became more evident when the pandemic and quarantine chaos started.
I hardly felt any difference between the way I worked before the pandemic and now. We are working very well from home. The only change is really the face-to-face interactions.
I'm happy because I realize that the company also values continuous evolution and learning.
What was your biggest challenge in this first year working as a Product Designer?
I believe that the biggest challenge was to understand the market in which the company is.
The focus of our work is on legal practice. So, for an advertiser to start working with this was quite different and challenging!
Because it's a very complex market, it required a lot of research on my part to better understand how things work.
I had to study a lot, and learn technical terms, processes, and a lot of other things.
Actually, I still need to study! (chuckles)
Because there are always new things to learn, so we have to stay up-to-date on what is going on and constantly research.
What advice would you give to Jonathan from the past?
Wow, I would tell him to just dive right in! That he can stop what he is doing and start pursuing this dream because he has the necessary capacity.
I see many people who are competent but don't believe in their own capacity.
This was one of my greatest lessons learned. If I had more confidence in my abilities, I could have transitioned earlier to UX Design and I would have been in the area longer and with more experience and knowledge.
Before I started, I had this hesitation, fear, and insecurity about the future.
If there is something I can say to those who want to pivot to UX Design is: go for it!
Work hard every day, go for it, and dive in because, in the worst-case scenario, you will learn something new, and that in itself is a very positive thing.
What are your plans for the future?
I have always wanted to build an international career, no matter in which area or market.
I believe that exploring new places and cultures is important to expand your mind and knowledge.
So, one of my goals is to become an international designer, work in a company outside of Brazil, and also to get certified by NN/g.
But these plans are for the future. Right now I think the company I work for is excellent, and I am very happy where I am.