Can you tell me how you got into coding?
Websites piqued my interest in high school and I “made” my first website when I was fourteen years old. Although it was a no-code website (even then, aesthetics interested me more than code), I got curious and decided that my follow-up studies would have to include interface design and development. I always got bored quite easily and found the combination of both design and development incredibly fascinating.
Can you tell me more about the company and what you will be working on at the project?
I’ve been working at Royal HaskoningDHV since May. It’s an independent, international engineering and project management consultancy with over 6,000 employees working in offices spread across the globe. They are active in aviation, buildings, energy, industry, infrastructure, maritime, mining, rural, urban development and water.
Currently I’m the only designer working here, so I’m simultaneously working on multiple projects. The main goal of every project is to digitalise every aspect as much as possible, in order to become more efficient and optimised as an organisation. We do this by creating easy-to-use applications that allow us to decrease the workload and thus eliminate unnecessary activities.
What is the biggest difference between working at the project and working at Competa HQ?
I would say that the biggest difference is working hardcore Agile. At Royal Haskoning, design and development are practically intertwined and I do not finish the design of a whole application before it is build, but instead it is broken down into valuable functionalities, which makes the whole product much more flexible. Besides that, I’m still working closely together with multiple development teams, but their level of professionalism is on a more senior level (compared to interns).
I’m assuming you are coding right now, can you tell me a bit more about what you’re working on?
Ha, I haven’t written a single line of production code yet. But I’m not supposed to, since I’m working as a fulltime UX/UI Designer. I am responsible for the design of practically everything. My main focus here is to design applications that provide a great, professional experience whilst guarding usability and accessibility. It’s quite challenging to make sure nothing is being overlooked, but it’s a great challenge to broaden my view on the market and its users at the same time.
A couple of my projects include tools for asset management insight, office space planning, rail wear analysis, parametric model hosting, and other areas. All these need a fitting and aesthetic look and feel. However, due to the status and nature of our (yet to be released) projects, I can’t tell you too much about them in detail.
Which techniques are you using?
Since a lot of projects have only recently started, I (luckily!) get to interview stakeholders often before I even get to design anything. I’m also planning to do card sorting sessions and user testing with actual clients, but for now it’s mainly designing wireframes in order to gather feedback. And, of course, designing develop-ready interface screens with Sketch for more refined applications, which is by far the most enjoyable.
What is one thing you have learned at your project so far?
Planning, prioritising, executing. Since there are so many projects with multiple teams depending on one designer, it is vital for me to be able to quickly identify which issues are the most important and quickly come up with solutions. Communication is also very important, because of the number of to-do’s, teams, product owners and other stakeholders. And besides that, I always have to be sharp and critical about the feasibility of their proposals, so going to bed early is a must!
What does your average week look like?
My days aren’t that different from other Competa developers, I assume, apart me switching between stand-ups with the teams and having meetings with stakeholders. Sometimes I have to travel through the country to attend meetings and interviews, but most of the time I’m sitting at my own workplace together with one of the teams, where I can make sure to keep the product owners and users happy with the designs and make sure that the developers have enough interfaces to develop, haha!
What skills do you need to have in order to work for a client like yours?
In my role, the most essential quality is the ability to listen carefully. Communication is key here, because you have to be able to ask the right questions. From there, you can let your analytical side run and identify issues whilst thinking independently, because you have to deliver thought-out decisions that you have to be able to defend. And another great trait, besides being empathic and having an eye for detail, is your willingness to always keep learning.
How do you keep in touch with your Competa colleagues?
Definitely Slack to communicate with other developers, to see how they are doing and check interesting articles – and share them myself. I also go to meetups with colleagues, which I enjoy and find interesting. Also, Competa organises company dinners, which are a lot of fun!