ixd302 week 07 Guest Lecturer reflection

Guest Lecturer – Ronan McKinless – digital designer

“What kind of designer?”

Part one

Job roles in the industry

What kind of designer do you want to be?

All your different skills apply and can transfer. Part of your job is to learn the intricacies of the different mediums you’ll be working in.

Skills & Medium

UI vs UX

UI as a term came around with digital; developers bringing in someone to make things look better. There’s a distinction made between form and function: that form follows function.

Form is function: Your job is about communication, your reasoning. You must be able to articulate your thoughts and vision. You have to be able to hold your own in this industry

“You’re not here to make things pretty, you’re here to make things work”

Form follows function


Part Two

Places to work

Small agency or large agency

Small agency

  • Tighter group of people
  • Smaller agencies charismatically lead
  • Apprenticeship lead
  • Good if you know what you want
  • More things that are focused

Large agency

  • Will be a piece in the process
  • Be surrounded by more designers
  • Quicker turnovers
  • Work with bigger brands/companies

In-House or Out?

Start up or Slow down?

Always go into the job details. Don’t take ‘job role’ as gospel.

There can be very fast-paced workplaces. A young start-up will stretch you as much as it can. By the time a start-up has seed funding and junior staff it can be more healthier working environment.

Being close to customers in a start-up is vital

Start-ups can be interesting but difficult to work

Large companies have more design culture

Think about what you want.

Social entrepreneurship: You can get a lot of exposure quickly.

Part Three

How you work – full time, part time, no time

Don’t let large companies fill your plate (overtime) unless you’re interested

It’s up to you how much time you spend on it, it’s tough, but you must learn and adapt

Burnout happens!

New tax law IR35 affects freelancer working with contractor. You lose 20% of your profits as you’re deemed to be an employee

Working remote

  • Working remote is nowadays much more common. You lose a big aspect of the culture.

Ronan’s email if you want to contact him with any job/placement questions. Or for portfolio reviews



Some advice I found helpful to keep in mind during listening in to the Q&A

Working remote

  • Look at companies that have been working remotely for a long time. There are very good processes for working this way. Look at the companies who have had remote working in from pre-Covid. Look through a lot of their documentation in the foundation and culture of their companies. They use Miro and Sketch boards.


  • Apply to places you don’t mind not getting into.
  • If a company won’t put their video camera on during an interview, that’s a red flag.
  • Mock interviews are coming up.

Long term Projects and Work Culture

  • If you’re starting longer projects and pushing through. There’s a difference between a long project which is slow and steady – larger organisations, many stakeholders needing consulted. It can be soul-destroying when the organisation can’t be changed, and these places are not good for young designers.
  • If you’re in a start-up early, you know most people’s names. At 60-80 people, bubbles start to form.
  • If you don’t have a good working culture, that can be a red flag. I would try to get to where there’s lots of designers you can learn from.

Reflection on Guest Lecture

I found today’s lecture to be very interesting, as it was honest and real. Ronan spoke about both the bad and good of different aspects of the industry. The reality of it. I found this to helpful as it’s easy to go into the industry blind, not knowing what is expected of you. I found this lecture to be a real eye opener of how the industry can be, and the difference between bigger agencies vs smaller agencies. I listened in on the Q&A as I had no questions at the time. I find it more useful to listen and take in different inputs and answers. From this session I have taken into account and noted some advice that I think will help me further down the line.

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