#ExpertiseEditions: Becoming a designer, 3 tips for success by Alexia Rivera
June 2, 2021
This time last year, in June 2020, I was embarking on a journey to become a Product Designer.
I spent four years working in Sales in the Tech industry and during this time, I experienced first hand the difference that good (and bad!) design can make - and ultimately, how it affects a business. This insight encouraged me to get involved in designing products that customers love and ultimately contribute to achieving businesses goals.
At the time, my knowledge of Product Design was, of course, very limited. So, I started a course to learn the basics of UX & UI design, hoping to change my career and pursue something I was genuinely excited about.
Only six months later, I joined Birdie as a Junior Product Designer to help build a platform that supports care providers to offer better care so that older adults can live longer in their own homes.
Starting as a new Product Designer (with no prior design experience) in a fast growing start-up on a mission to reinvent care is a steep learning curve, but it's also been a great opportunity to learn something new everyday.
I will be talking more about what the team is working on in future posts, but for now, I thought I'd share a few tips for any new designer (or anyone changing career!) out there.
A lot to learn doesn't mean nothing to contribute
As someone who comes from a non-design background, I often feel like a fraud (Hi, Impostor Syndrome!) and have to remind myself that having a lot to learn about Product Design doesn't mean my contribution is not valuable.
My background in Sales has proven very useful to build great relationships with customers, lead research calls, being comfortable seeking customer feedback... Having led teams in the past also helped me form successful working relationships with engineers, product managers and fellow designers.
No matter what your background is, simply being new to the field means you're naturally more curious, eager to learn and willing to take risks - after all, at this stage, you have far more to gain than to lose!
Share, share, share
Get out of your comfort zone and share your work as often as possible with as many people as you can. Design is a collaborative discipline; great ideas come from everywhere, and other people in the team (regardless of their role) can provide valuable feedback.
It's easy to wait until the next 'weekly design critique' to share work, but you'll miss an opportunity to get feedback earlier and iterate based on this feedback. Work that is shared with the team doesn't have to be perfect; the earlier you share your work, the quicker you'll learn and improve.
Perfection is a journey, not a destination
This is one of the values of the Design team here at Birdie. While we all strive to develop the best possible solution, we have very ambitious goals and we have adopted a 'build fast mentality'. We recognise that we'll never have 'enough' time (to pour into research and design the perfect solution) before launching new features, so we aim at getting our ideas in people's hands as early as possible to gather feedback from real users, learn and iterate quicker towards a better solution.
Changing career is daunting, but it's been one of the most rewarding experiences. Joining Birdie and working on products that can radically improve the lives of older adults has made the adventure so worth it for me. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for the Design team and me here at Birdie!
Written by Alexia Rivera - Product Designer at Birdie
If you think that could be you - and you’re excited by the prospect of beating one of the greatest challenges of our time - we’d love to hear from you so we can talk about how you can be part of the Birdie team as it enters this next chapter.