This time last year, I didn’t even own a smartphone. I was using the same cell phone that I had been using for three years, watching as everyone around me played with the newest and most exciting devices. Although I wished that I too could use that technology on a daily basis (rather than only getting the chance to try an iPhone touch screen if a friend needed me to type in my phone number), it was just more convenient for me to stick with what I had. While my peers struggled to find service in order to navigate the subway system, I continued to rely on my dad’s trusty booklet map of New York City.
For the last four years, I was in college studying new media design (choosing to focus a lot on mobile), somehow getting through all of my classes without ever actually using the technology I was designing for. And although I did just fine, there came a time when that wasn’t enough. I needed to be playing with, touching and experiencing the devices that interested me so much in order to fully understand them. I knew that the world out there was moving really fast, and as much as I loved holding onto my old devices, I needed to start keeping up with the times.
When I came to Prolific, I was looking for a way to really enhance my design skills and expose myself to the core of product design. This career field is very multi-faceted, requiring not only visual design skills, but knowledge of UX and strategy as well. I was drawn to product design because of the broad range of skills needed— designers are challenged to consider not only the visual appearance of the apps, but also the functionality and reasoning behind every detail. This type of work was something I dreamed of doing, since I wanted to be more than just a visual designer. There’s something really exciting about designing an experience for people.
Although I had designed apps for class projects, I had never done so professionally. Because of this, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I started at Prolific a month ago as a Junior Product Designer. I knew that my first assignment was to be designing an iOS app, but the only Apple product I own is an iPod nano circa 2009. Needless to say, I was a bit nervous.
Always Looking Ahead
Despite my insecurities, I made it through my first month. In that time, I have learned so much about design and gained understanding of the functionality of designs. At Prolific, there is a strong focus on becoming immersed in technology, from attending development and design conferences, to bi-weekly company show-and-tells and team meetings in which we discuss recent topics relevant to our fields. This has been a great experience, especially for someone like me, who is still new to the nuances of mobile technology. I have had the opportunity to use services that allow me to view my designs on iPhones and iPads and create rapid prototypes, which has been instrumental in developing my workflow. Now I feel very comfortable with designing for iOS, although I know there’s still so much more to learn. Thanks to the resources and guidance I’ve been provided at Prolific, I can’t see myself designing for mobile in any other way.
Every day, I’m faced with a new challenge and a new opportunity to grow as a professional product designer. One aspect of design is a strong focus on improvement, and I’m seeing both myself and the company improving constantly. It’s fun and exciting to be exposed to up-and-coming technological advances and consider how those will impact our mobile apps. I find myself pushing to keep looking forward, rather than taking the easy route and standing still. I’ve developed a new appreciation and passion for mobile technology, and working in this environment will only continue to feed that passion. However, I must say—I use apps much more often now, but when navigating NYC I’ll probably always prefer that paper map. That thing is almost 20 years old and still works like a charm.