The world of design is a pretty all-encompassing place. It ranges from web design to graphic design to home and decorations. There’s even “design” in the abstract: something being well planned, patterned and executed is a form of design. Having the skills to create any of that is something valuable, no matter what job you have.
Fortunately, I’ve completed three major design projects. Here are the details of each and what I’ve learned from being in the world of design.
For the month of December 2018, I set myself the goal of interviewing five different startups about their marketing process and composing it into an eBook. I’m in a program called Praxis, where professional development projects like these happen fairly often. It’s the main focus of Month 2, and this eBook was my project for that month. I learn so much more than just how to design a book cover: I got an introduction to the planning side of the world of design. Not only did I get to learn a lot about marketing through this project, but I also learned quite a bit about interviewing. There are a few tips I would like to share with you.
1. Understand who you’re interviewing.
Whoever you’re requesting an interview from, remember that you are at their mercy. They could agree to help you or not. If you really want to have success and get a “yes!” from them, make sure you actually know who they are and what their company is about. Research what their company does, how they market to their demographic (and whatever the focus is of your interview), and what this particular person does in their job position. It seems obvious, but if you don’t know who you’re interviewing, you won’t have any idea what to talk about. And if you don’t know, neither will they. Which leads to point 2.
2. Pick out good questions.
Understand how the business works. Know what this person actually does and how it contributes to the company. Think about what you could learn from them and phrase that into a question. Have a few basic questions — What do you do? How did you get here? What advice can you give me? — and then tailor the rest of the interview to the person you’re speaking to.
This is an interview, not a conversation. You’re there to listen, not talk. Be relatable, but don’t talk about yourself too much. That’s all well and good — healthy even — in normal conversations but this isn’t normal. This is a grilling. A nice, formal grilling, but a grilling nonetheless. Let the interviewee talk way more than you, and rejoice every time they ramble: that’s when the good stuff comes out.
Don’t just soak up the information. Figure out how to ask a good question, listen to the answer and have a good follow-up. Pick up on the personality of your interviewee. Some need a lot of fun comments, smiles and laughs to feel comfortable. Some want near-constant silence; too much noise and they’ll get annoyed and feel like you’re not listening. Social skills come from experience and you’re gaining both here.
Last of all…
5. Don’t worry.
You will probably forget to ask a question. You’re going to think of a good follow-up question alter. Maybe you were grumpy right before you started the interview and though you didn’t say or do anything rude, you felt like you were stand-offish and uninterested. Yes, I’m speaking from experience. Chances are the other person didn’t notice. Even if they did, if you followed the advice of listening way more than speaking, it won’t matter too much if you were a bit off that day. And worrying about what you did isn’t going to help. You’re here to learn and you’re not going to be tested on it. You’re just going to gain experience on how to do it better next time.
I set out with the goal of writing a book. What I gained was far more valuable and I want to take these words with me wherever I go. This was more than a project. It was a lesson in how to proJECT yourself and your skills. I have gained much from the experience. I designed the If you’re interested in reading what I learned, here’s the link to where you can buy the eBook on Amazon.
Green Apron Board for Starbucks
I currently work at Starbucks. It’s an amazing place to work. They’re performance-driven, through the lens of humanity. The values of Starbucks are:
Delivering our best in everything we do, holding ourselves accountable for the results.
Acting with courage, challenging the status quo and finding new ways to grow our company and each other.
Making every moment right for our customers.
Being present, connecting with transparency, dignity, and respect.
Creating a culture of warmth and belonging, where everyone is welcome.
All of these values we have on little note cards, called Green Apron Cards, that we can give to our fellow baristas whenever we feel they have fulfilled them. We can either give them in person or we can place them under their name on the Green Apron Board. My manager asked me to make us a new Green Apron Board (the old one had outdated names still on it and was wearing out). I jumped at the opportunity. Here was my thought process behind it.
I wanted to showcase our values, especially creating a culture of warmth and belonging, where everyone is welcome. This is the value that speaks the most to me and I wanted to prove that. I wanted the board to show off all of the wonderful people that I work with but still be practical.
I shopped at Michael’s for all of my craft materials and spent about three and a half hours making the board. The idea I had was that we’re all coffee beans, falling out of a Starbucks cup (a nickname I’ve heard for new baristas is “green bean”, so I thought beans was a nice touch, also especially since we serve coffee and all). I used rainbow clothespins to add a splash of color to the board. The cards all fit perfectly underneath everyone’s names. I’m quite happy with the result. This was a different side of the world of design and I’m glad that I got to have some fun with it.
It’s important to showcase what you stand for with creativity and beauty. I feel I have accomplished that with this board. It’s one of my favorite accomplishments in the world of design.
I spent well over a month designing this website. I used WordPress and (initially) BoldGrid to build it. At first, it was a plain, static one page. Now, look at how it has grown and changed. I’m proud of what I’ve created. Everything I chose for this website was with a purpose: the colors, the design, the style. Everything represents me. This is my personal website where I can share my thoughts with the world and market myself. Everything I do on here has thought behind it. I think that this project was a good first introduction to the world of design.
What have you designed recently?