All things placement

So I will be using this post to organize and sort all my posts relating to placement and career boosting – make it a little bit easier to find my work amongst my organized chaos.

Me trying to sort out my work LOL

Placement prep and research

Talks and events I attended

Company research

Placement interviews

  1. FinTrU interview – this was the 1st stage of the interview process.
  2. Global Payments interview – This was the first interview stage.
  3. FinTrU interview – part 2
  4. Rapid 7 UX interview
  5. ESO interview with MT

Proposal research

I decided to start my research into design proposals, how to write one and how best use them. I read the book ‘A project guide to UX design’ I read chapter 3 ‘Proposals for Consultants and Freelancers’. It was an interesting read and it was were I got most of my information from.

What is a proposal?

A design proposal is a way to outline the work you expect to do and the time you will need to complete the client design brief. In this document you also highlight what the goals or aims for the project are and what the client expectations are for you as a designer. It can sometimes be used as a way to apply for a client brief when competing with other designers.

Do I need a proposal?

Yes! you should always write a proposal when working with clients. Not only are they a legal contract but they are also a way of protecting you. Promises can be broken on either side of the project so this is a way of ensuring that the work that is promised to take place, along with the payment is completed. The proposal will also ensure you as the designer are provided with the time needed to complete the project without being unnecessarily rushed.

A proposal also allows you to define terms that protect both sides in the event that something changes. If the client does not provide you with timely access to their resources, your timeline may slip; you need to make them aware of their obligations to the project’s success. If a client loses funding and kills the project and you do not have a proposal or other form of contract in place then you may run the risk of not getting paid for work you have already completed. Always write a proposal.

What should I include?

The sooner a proposal is approved and signed, the sooner you can begin work and-most importantly begin to get paid for the work.
The core components of a a good proposal are as follows:

1- Title page: This is what introduces your document. A typical title page consists of the following elements:

  • Client company name
  • Submission date
  • Client company logo (if you have permission to use it)
  • Proposal authors
  • Project title
  • Project reference number
  • Document type (proposal)
  • Cost
  • Version of proposal
  • Confidentiality

For your first proposal, include everything, except the client’s company logo, the cost, and (potentially) the project reference number. Why not include these elements on the title page? Includes things such as: client company name, project title, submission date etc.

It’s a good practice in general to send a link rather that an attachment so that things don’t get lost in the inbox.

Below is an example of a title page.

Next, on the first page inside I could include an introduction in the form of a short letter.

2- Revision history: This would be the amount of iterations made before getting to the final version.

3- Project overview/objectives: This would need to give a clear and solid overview of the project to be undertaken and the goals expected.

4- Project approach/my process: This is where you tell the client what your design process is like and how you will be completing their design brief. Here I could include client expectations, deadlines (my timeline)

5- Additional costs/fees and project pricing: Here you can break down the pricing into smaller segments. It is important to structure your pricing will pretty much define your relationship with the client.

For example: besides the logo design, you also list other items like: brand strategy that precedes logo design, and also stationery design or a style guide that follows logo design etc.

Keep in mind that it is easier to ask for a higher price and then lower it than it is to do the reverse.

A good practice is to give the client either a price range (if you charge a flat rate) or you can estimate hours (if you charge per hour).

6- Scope of work: This is where you say what aspects of the brief are your responsibilities or the clients.

7- Assumptions: Here you state what your expectations as a designer are of the clients.

8- Deliverables: Here you specify what kind of work your client can expect from you.

9- Ownership and rights: Copyright, ownership and how much or how little the client can use the work you produce for them.

10- Payment schedule: This depends on personal preference you could either have the client pay for a deposit before hand or they could pay you in instalments.

11- Acknowledgement and sign-off: This come at the end of the agreement were the client now has to sign the contract.


Invoice design

So as part of our personal branding and for the design proposal we had to design an invoice template. I was not sure what to add so I started off by doing some research to know what I should add.

I found this website to be very helpful when researching invoices. I also found this blog post by William Simpson to be super helpful also.

What is an invoice?

An invoice is a document that you send to your client after they purchase goods or services from you, both as a means of recording the sale and of requesting payment from them.

Specifically, an invoice declares in writing what exactly the client purchased, when they purchased it, in what quantity and at what price.

What is their purpose?

They create a binding agreement between you and your customer that obliges the customer to pay the agreed price. As a result, invoices can be used when taking more formal actions, especially in the case of overdue or missing payments.

That’s because, in addition to stating the total amount to be paid by your customer, invoices also identify the payment terms, including when the payment must be made by and what, if any, the potential penalties are for late payments.

How to make a good design invoice

The invoice should look clean and it should be easy to read. It shouldn’t overwhelm the client with too much information but should include everything that’s important for your records and for them to understand your charges. When you’re creating the invoice, pay attention to the layout and consider how you’re going to bill for your work.

Your business logo, address, and other information they might need such as your phone number or email address ,must be included. Include your website if applicable. You’ll want to include your client’s name and information, an invoice number, and the date of the invoice. You’ll also want the invoice total to be in an easy to spot location.

Layout for a Design Invoice

  • Logo and information at the top, where it’s easy for the client to see.
  • Client name – middle
  • Date of the invoice – middle
  • Other important information. – middle
  • Break down the project and the costs.
  • Break down your project into subcategories that make sense for the project and include descriptions as needed.
  • Provide the cost based on how you’re billing the client and the total price for each section of the project.
  • At the bottom of the invoice, total the services, include any tax as necessary, subtract any amount they’ve already paid, and show the final amount they owe for your services.

How to Bill for Design Projects

You’re generally going to choose based on a set fee for each part of the project or hourly for the amount of time you spend on each part of the project. If you’re planning on charging clients set fees for various parts of the projects you work on, break down the invoice into those parts and write the cost for each one, then add them together to get the total. If you’re planning on charging an hourly price, write down which part of the project you worked on, the number of hours you spent on it, your hourly rate, and the total cost for each part of the project.

Your invoice reflects your business and should look fantastic yet be easy for you to fill out when needed and provide to your clients. 

Visual research

I started by doing some visual research. Here is a link to see it.

Here are some of my favourite ones:

I really like the simplicity of these 2 designs, it includes colour and personality without taking away from the important information.

I really like the colour scheme of the Invoice above especially because it is similar to my own colour scheme. The writing size is a big too small though – it is a bit hard to read.

I really like how they used blocks of colour to create a sort of structure to the information.

Here is a link to my Figma design file.

My Invoice

Emily Ussher Invoice pdf

I had a lot of fun making the invoice and I am pleased with how simple I was able to make it. I do think that as time goes on and I mature as a designer this aspect of my brand will also mature.

Getting ready to smash my first interview

Ok so in all seriousness, I have my first interview with Global Payments on Monday 22/11/21 at 11am. I am more excited than nervous but I would still like to be prepared so I decided to put all my key research and information that I think might help me here. I will also add an evaluation at the bottom of the post of how my interview went. 🙂

Who will be interviewing me?

  • Stephen Picton (Director, Technical communications)
  • Jordan Hamilton (UX designer)

** They were both so very lovely **

Things I know about the company

I reached out to Gemma Ferguson on LinkedIn to get some insider information and some tips on how to do well in my interview. That along with the Global Payments talk I had earlier in the year helped me pinpoint the things I would need to mention during my interview to leave a positive impression.

  • ACCESSIBILITY – in the US it is law – since they work at a global scale this is a big thing for the company. Make sure to mention how important this is to you as a designer.
  • User-centered design.
  • Focus on integrated payment solutions.
  • Sites/offices across the world.
  • Allows users to manage account, invoices, credit card, etc…
  • 24,000+ employees.
  • Dominic was a placement student last year.
  • Belfast and Foyle sites accounts for 80% of the revenue for the company.
  • They want to know about your design process and how you approach design problems.

Interview tips

  • Practice on someone in the design field and someone who’s not. The person interviewing you may not be a UX designer, so you should be comfortable answering in terms that will still make sense to a non-designer.
  • Be ready to share your screen. Whether you’re interviewing in person or online, you may be asked to share your UX design portfolio on your screen. Close any unnecessary windows, and practice navigating to the projects you want to highlight.
  • Don’t be afraid to stop and think before answering (especially for design challenges). Talk through your thought process out loud—this demonstrates your ability to think through problems analytically.

Possible questions

I started off by brainstorming on paper

I then looked up some articles that were recommended by my tutors to better understand what the employers will ask me and what they are trying to find out by asking me the questions. I read a great article on coursera that offed a lot of insight and helped me form my answers. I also used this article on Carerfoundry that was super helpful.

I found other articles that not only had possible UX questions but also had some suggested answers. I used these also to help me form my questions and answers. One of these resources was an article by Toptal that was great for breaking down what the question means and what the employer wants to hear.

1- Tell us about yourself

As explained in this article by coursera what they’re really asking you with this question is what makes you the right person for this position? why should they invest money and time in you? Are you worth it?

It sounds like a simple get-to-know-you question, but there’s more to it. This is question is my get-way into explaining my journey with UX design.


  • Why are you interested in UX?
  • How did you get started in UX?
  • Tell me a little bit more about your background.
  • What sparked your interest in UX?
  • What experiences did you have in your previous jobs or coursework that inspired you to pursue a career in UX design? – here I could talk about some of my part time roles in the service industry and how this helped me improve my communication skills, improve my time-management and taught me how to better deal and communicate with people.
  • Express what excites you about the role you’re applying for.
  • Why do you think you’re the best candidate for the job?

I plan on talking a bit about how my multicultural background informs my design solutions and how I found a love for intuitive and user friendly design through art when I moved to this country as it offered me a respite from the language barrier and allowed me to express my frustration, emotions and in a way communicate with the world. This translated into a love for facilitating interactions and communications for everyone.

2- What is UX design?

Other ways the question may be phrased:

  • What’s the value of UX design?
  • Why should we hire a UX designer?

What they’re really wanting to know is if you understand the value of the role. The interviewer is not looking for a simple dictionary definition of UX as they are most likely trying to figure out your understanding of the role—how it brings value to both customers and the business. I think that for this kind of question it’s very much about relating it back to the user and explaining what makes UX design special.


  • UX design is all about championing the user.
  • Empathy and user-centered design create value.
  • Talk about the ways in which you keep the user at the center of the design process: user research, personas and user journey maps, and usability testing.
  • Why should we hire a UX designer?
  • What’s the value of UX design?

3- Give me some of your favorite examples of good UX

This question is more about figuring out if you understand the elements of good user experience. Knowing why good UX is important is one thing. Knowing how to design good UX is another. This question digs into your knowledge of UX best practices. So think of apps in terms of usability, accessibility, how engaging and interactive they are…


  • What elements of the product, app, or website make the user experience enjoyable?
  • How is the design user-centric?
  • How do you think that impacts the company’s bottom line?

My examples:

  • Instagram – for its usability
  • Apples web store – so smooth, simple, and intriguing, it draws you in
  • Pinterest – intuitive
  • Spotify – great personalization

4- Give me some of your examples of bad UX

Here I would also talk about the importance of UX as a bad experience will stay with a user and it will make achieving their task harder. It also reduces their trust and patience for the product or service.

  • Translink timetables – will not read outload past the title (not accessible). Clunky and awkward to use
  • Ryanair booking platform – I like to think of it as sneaky UX, it makes it complicated and confusing to trick you into spending more money. Opposite of user first design. You can tell that it is about the bottom line for the company.

5- What is the difference between UX and UI?

Do you understand what UX is and isn’t (and how it fits into the bigger picture)? This is a hard but clever question as more often than not the terms UI and UX are used interchangeably or simply lumped together, they represent distinct roles in the product development process. Make sure you can communicate the difference between a product looking good (UI) and working effectively and efficiently (UX).

Designing for the user interface often plays an important role in the work of a UX designer, but it is not the only function.


  • UX considers the users needs and how to make a digital product accessible to its users.
  • UI design is concerned with the effective layout of visual elements on a user interface, UX design is ‘people first.’ It’s about what motivates them—how they think and behave.
  • How to get the user from A to B as simply as possible
  • Talk about the freelance branding you did and how you had to act as the Graphic designer, UI and UX designer all at once and how you had to continually justify your design decisions.
  • UI design is only one slice of the UX design process ‘pie’, and only one of many different disciplines that reside under the UX banner. These include, but are not limited to: a user-centered design strategy, core user demographic definition, persona creation, user research, information architecture, content strategy, interaction design, visual design and usability testing.
  • What’s the difference between a UX designer and a graphic designer?
  • How is UX design different from visual design?
  • What sets UX apart from other design disciplines?

6- What is the future of UX?

This is a fun question as you can really delve into the innovations that excite you in the industry and the things you would love to explore.

I found an article that really helped me to inform my answers, click here to read it.

Possible talking points:

  • focus on ease of use through motion design and gestural interfaces
  • Voice commands for minimal to no contact interfaces
  • AR/ VR – Corporations like IKEA, Target, and Home Depot are already incorporating augmented reality into their online shopping experiences. And let’s not forget when Pokemon Go’s AR technology took over the globe.
  • Ilya Kroogman, Lead UI/UX Designer and Founder of The Digital Panda stated that “The future of UX design is in a combination of intuitive/predictive AI as well as quality voice/chatbots. Being able to interact with technology in a natural Human-like manner will accelerate technological adoption and increase user satisfaction.”

7- What are your weaknesses?

8- Why do you want to work for Global Payments?

I remember when you came to give us a talk you mentioned that UX is the heart of the development process in Global Payments, this is something that really attracted me to the company as the more you elaborated on this the clearer it became that the customer comes first and that important elements of design like accessibility and creating user centered designs are at the forefront.

9- Walk me through your workflow/your design process

Other ways the question may be phrased:

  • Describe your design process and what methods you follow.

  • Describe your design process for us.

What they want to know is what is your thought process is when it comes to solving problems?

This question is all about analyzing your critical thinking and problem solving skills. It is key to choose a successful project you’ve worked on in the past and walk through the steps you took. Structure your answer much like the design process itself by mentioning how you researched, designed, and validated your design decisions. Avoid the temptation to answer this question in general terms.


  • A deep curiosity and a constant desire to learn.
  • understanding of both user and business goals.
  • Competitive audits, stakeholder interviews, user research involving interviews and surveys, content audits, information architecture, user personas, business model canvases, mood boards, storyboards, empathy maps, use case scenarios and user flows, customer journeys, wireframes, mockups, and prototypes.
  • Applying these UX methodologies and learning directly from users.
  • Walk me through your portfolio.
  • What’s your design process?
  • Tell me about a project that challenged you. How did you work through the challenge?

10- What kind of research methods do you use?

What they’re really asking: How do you validate your design decisions?

User research is a key part of the UX design process, so interviewers will sometimes want to gauge your familiarity with the process and methods.

You can approach this question in a couple of ways. Be sure to walk through any user research methods you’ve used in the past (this can include research you conducted as part of a course or degree project). Talk about the benefits and limitations of each method.

If you have limited experience in UX design, you can also frame your answer in terms of research methods you’d like to try and why.

  • Have you conducted user research in the past?
  • How do you decide which research method to use?

11- How do you respond to negative feedback? 

What they’re really asking: Are you a team player?

Part of the interview process involves figuring out what you’re like to work with. Can you work collaboratively? Are you able to incorporate different ideas and viewpoints into your designs? Do you trust your team members with your work?

UX design is a highly collaborative process. Take this opportunity to talk about a successful collaboration. This could be a group project or a team effort in a previous job. No matter the example you choose, remember to point out the role you played in the group, how you overcame any challenges, what you learned from your teammates, and how the finished product benefitted from the collaboration.

  • Do you work well as part of a team?
  • Describe your ideal work environment.
  • How do you hand over your designs to developers?

12- Tell me about your most/least successful UX design project.

What are your biggest strengths or weaknesses?

Getting asked about the design project you’re most proud of is your chance to showcase your strengths. Outline your contributions to the project, then go into a little more detail about what made it so successful. As you prepare for this question, see if you can tie in some of the qualities listed in the job description for the role.

The negative version of the question is another way to ask you about your weaknesses. Be honest, but keep the focus on what you learned from the not-so-successful project and what you’d do differently in the future.

No matter which version of the question you get, take it as an opportunity to define how you measure success (hint: tie it to the user).

  • Walk me through your portfolio.
  • What is your biggest strength/weakness as a UX designer?
  • Tell me about a design problem that challenged you.

13- How would you improve the UX of our product?

Have you done your research?

It’s always a good idea to read up on the company you’re applying to ahead of your interview. This demonstrates your interest in this company and this role as opposed to any other UX designer job.

Take some time to explore the company’s products. Browse their website. Use their app if they have one.

Think about what works and what could be improved. Pick one or two examples, and come up with a sample plan of action. Remember to mention the company’s target users and the type of research you might conduct when enhancing an existing design.

The point here isn’t to bash your potential employer but to offer a preview of the value you’d bring to the company.

  • Tell me about a bad user experience you’ve had. How would you fix it?

14- Where do you find inspiration?

Are you passionate about UX design? Are you a lifelong learner?

Interviewers are generally looking for a couple of things when they ask a question like this. First, they want to know that you’re genuinely interested in the industry. Second, they want to know that you’re staying on top of trends. Third, they want to see that you’re always looking for ways to learn and improve.

There’s no right or wrong answer here.

You could discuss a design book you’ve read recently, pointing out a tip or two you gleaned from it. You could talk about a UX podcast you listen to, or a trend you read about in a design blog. How could that trend contribute to this company’s success? Maybe there’s a UX designer you follow on Twitter who always inspires you with new ideas.

If you’re not regularly consuming UX design media, now’s the time to start. Here’s a list of UX books, blogs, and podcasts to get you going.

  • What do you think is the next big trend in UX design?
  • What inspires you?
  • What inspires your work?

15- Do you have any questions?

Are you engaged and curious?

This question closes out many interviews, and it’s important that you come prepared with your own thoughtful questions. The main point of an interview is for a company to determine whether you’re a good fit for a role. But that goes both ways. This is your chance to explore whether the company is a good fit for you.

Demonstrate your interest in the company and the job by asking two or three questions. You can prepare some questions ahead of time, but don’t be afraid to ask questions that may have come up during the interview process. Topics to inquire about might include the company culture, team structure, and business goals.

16- Describe a recent project you were particularly challenged by and how you approached the problem.

Here they want to see what your design process is and how you tackle issues. It is essential to have a clear strategy to facilitate an end goal.


  • What did you find challenging and why?
  • How did you set out to come up with a solution?
  • did you gather extra user-generated data to help solve the problem/brief? – collecting data using analytics, testing the design on a specific demographic in a format that makes the most sense.
  • Testing wireframes or interactive prototypes on users to either validate or reject hypotheses.
  • Sending a survey to a wider demographic to better understand product market fit.
  • Did you employ remote moderated user-testing, or some kind of remote research methodology in order to listen to users and arrive at better design solutions?
  • Readily share enthusiasm about how you approach problems.

17- The Whiteboard Challenge

How do you perform under pressure? Can you back up the skills listed on your resume?

Many UX designer interviews include a hands-on design challenge. Sometimes this is a take-home project that you turn in later. More commonly, it’s a whiteboard challenge, where you’re asked to design a solution on the spot while talking through your process.

This can be intimidating, but keep in mind that it’s more about seeing your process in action than the final result. Break this down into a few steps:


1. Ask questions to clarify what the challenge entails. What are the expected outcomes? What factors should you consider?

2. Ask more questions to help you build a user persona.

3. Create a user story. Outline what the user would need to solve their problem and the steps they might take.

4. Draw a few critical wireframes on the whiteboard. Explain what you’re including and why.

5. Discuss some alternatives or other use cases.

6. Respond to any feedback with improvements.

7. Ask if there’s anything else you should iterate on.

Practice the process with a real whiteboard ahead of the interview. Here are a few sample challenges to practice with:

  • Design a child-friendly app for a store that makes custom teddy bears.
  • Design a mobile app to help singles safely find a roommate in a big city.
  • Re-design a popular dating app to make it more useful during the pandemic.
  • Design something from the Designercize prompt generator.

So in a nutshell I think that UX design interview questions tend to fall into a few categories:

  • All About You
  • All About Your Work
  • All About Your Process
  • What Makes You Tick?
  • What Are Your Goals?

Questions I have for the end of the interview

  1. What staff development programs do you have?
  2. During our placement program will we be given mentorship and if so how often
  3. Company culture
  4. Team structure
  5. Business
  6. How many projects will I be working on durin/ project opportunities
  7. Opportunities to work in orther areas
  8. What have you learned over the year on how to improive ypour designs
  9. Would you be willing to give me some feedback on how I was able to articulate my answers and describe my design process.



Core systems

Core – Transforming lives together

Core Systems (NI) Ltd – North Belfast


  • Roisin – Product delivery manager
  • Ellie (Placement student)

About Core systems 

  • Focus on the criminal justice sector
  • 200 thousand users using their products across Australia, USA
  • Challenging
  • How can they help the prisoner while they are incarserated.


To utilize technology to make life better for individuals in the criminal justice system.

For the victim, the workers and the imprisoned.

The problem:

  • Reoffending – within 3 months after release about 50% of them go back.
  • Nothing is being fixed so they try to give them tools while in prison to make sure they do not re-offend.
  • Some come from disadvantaged backgrounds and their needs are not meet before or after prison
  • The average reading age of prisoners is of a  8 – 10 year old.

The solution:

  • Communication with friends and family while in prison to prevent reoffending.
  • Self-service modules (doing things for yourself and not relying on other people) teaches them tools they need for when they are released.
  • E-learning.
  • Shop ordering (Helps them to budget)
  • Meals selection (makes them responsible to make sure they get the food they like).

By allowing them access to these key skills the aim is to help them improve upon themselves and keep up with technology so when they leave they are not alienated.

  • Avoid causing frustration or anger when creating the software to avoid fights or irritating a prisoner.

Working at Core systems

What they need from their people:

  • Curiosity and imagination
  • Creative problem solving
  • Teamwork and collaboration
  • Analytic and critical thinking
  • Initiative and entrepreneurialism

Come forward with your ideas, they appreciate it all.

How they work:

Agile practices – this allows them to develop products very quickly.

What does the flow look like? Is it technically feasible?

Meet every other Thursday to agree on what they will be working on and then spend 2 weeks developing.

  • Product development level
  • Marketing and graphic design
  • Opportunities to work in UI and UX
  • Working on a live product being delivered to customers.

Skype and teams – working remotely atm. Then they will have a hybrid working model by early next year.

Things you get to do:

  • Loads of prototypes to take to people to ensure it is correct. Great way to get feedback
  • Get to work with product rebranding team – Varied role
  • Get to work on UI and UX

Ellie – placement student

  • Been there 4 months
  • Working to create designs for product pathways
  • Working towards a set of existing UI standards
  • Considering the user when doing UX
  • THE USER!!!!!! they have a low level of education so the language, text size and visual element has to be very carefully considered.
  • Working as part of a bigger team
  • Creating prototypes
  • Consistency for better user experience
  • Saves documents with quick description for developers
  • Worked with the business team creating designs for them for marketing
  • Variation in work
  • Her first project was creating a core banner


  • Colour
  • Logo
  • Imagery
  • Get brief and look at previous designs then get some feedback, make some changes and other options then get the final outcome

Creating an e-Book

Web design

The design team is relatively small so you get a lot of design freedom and your input is appreciated.


1- Working from home

  • Was in the office for a few weeks to be introduced.
  • People who were not in the office even messaged her to introduced themselves.
  • She slowly transitioned to working from home.
  • Loads of support to remote working transition.

2- Consider their audience. When they went into prison was even something as old as Facebook a thing?

3- Cortney is working there atm (final year student)

4- What impresses them:

Empathy, understanding the user, creativity, feedback, user research

4- How many placement students can you take on?

Only 1.


02890 722044


  • Interview to get a feel for you
  • December – January

Content strategy

Content strategy focuses on the planning, creation, delivery, and governance of content –

Basic principles

  • Alternative elements: How do you present the content in a more engaging way? Think of how to organize it and present it in a very interesting way

A good example is Spotify’s dashboard and how they organize their content. They have overviewing, different playlist, album covers.

The premise for all music apps can be the same, you start with a grid and then move onto a list.

Think of BMW and how they take the user through a brochure like exploring process to show the user the available options; once you select a model you are then given the information on the car which is not given originally as to not overwhelm users. Think of it as levels of information. They don’t just show you everything at once, it is like peeling back an onion if you will.

Good content is user appropriate – how much and when it is shown is very important. Content is appropriate for users when it helps them accomplish their goals.

Personal behavior content: These are the things you must consider

You must provide context to your content. You can do this by creating user personas

Idea: you could tie the periodic table to jobs.

Content planning for physical factors:

  • Gender
  • disability
  • Device type
  • Geolocation
  • Time
  • Segmentation potential.

You then have to think of how the UI would work in for example a kid friendly clunky tablet

Learning factors:

  • Familiarity with content
  • Reading level
  • educational level

Good content is useful. A good book for research would be – how design makes the world.

Ask yourself

  • What are you trying to improve?
  • Who are you trying to improve it for?
  • How do you ensure you are successful, throughout the entire project, at improving the right thing for the right people?

For example

“Sell product” vs “Sell this product” vs “Show how this product helps nurse practitioners”

Notice how it goes from incredibly vague to directed to the target audience so you can be more user centered.

Good product is user centered

  • The user can figure out what to do
  • The user can tell what is going on

Good content is clear

  • In a language they can understand
  • Is layout in a way they can understand

Good content is consistent

  • Sometimes when you design a product, you have to design for different audiences eg an app for doctors, patients and insurance providers would have to interact with each user very differently as the language used (complexity and some career specific language) could be different.

Good content is concise

  • Sometimes the nice things to have eg animations, images are nice to have but are not necessary. Audiovisual dust bunnies
  • Think how can I make my content concise.
  • Sometimes you can write a ton of content when a video would do a better job.
  • Redundant documentation

Good content is supported

  • Must be supported across diff devices
  • User support – eg a chatbot

The craft of content strategy

Information architecture, Visual design, being able to work with investors, engineers, creative directors, content writer, content strategist. It requires planning. The content strategist has to make sure the content is ready at the ideal time

The content should work for the user.

You have a fickle audience.

Use a readability test tool to ensure the best experience

Stories matter

  • Content people use these stories to help you navigate and sell the products.
  • You must figure out what is the most important  information the user needs then the supporting details and finally the general information (This is the order of importance).
  • The content strategist has failed the user if the site is near impossible to use due to never ending adds.
  • Users are people too

Information architecture

  • This brings order to the chaos.
  • This can be done by creating sitemaps, user flows, content audit, wireframing to better understand the necessary structure.
  • You can’t show everything at the same time – you have to funnel the information.

image of examples here….

  • User flows show how the user would navigate the site. These are incredibly useful.

You need to

  • Evaluate – Think user
  • Design
  • Execute – workflows, sourcing and organizing content, etc…

You also need to execute…

  • Usability test
  • User personas
  • User research findings
  • User research plans
  • Competitor analysis
  • User scenarios
  • Visual representation recommendations
  • Wireframes
  • Taxonomies
  • Quantitive and qualitive content audit and findings
  • Example content
  •  Content style guide

Understanding your users

Using user personas

  • We are not our users. We need to design for them
  • Look up Alan Copper

“Here at Silicon Valley, we forget how skewed our population is, and we should frequently remind ourselves how abnormal we really are. The average person who uses a software based product around here isn’t very average”

– Alan Cooper

How do we build better products?

If we design for everyone we make no individual happy but you can design for specific users.


This is a way to model, summarize and communicate research about people who have been observed or researched in some way. I previously researched this when I was working on my website.

Talk about them as real people – it will feel a bit like method acting but it helps see the world through the users perspective.

Components of goal-directed design that support personas

  • End goals
  • Scenarios – what they are trying to do/achieve

How are personas created?

  1. Interview and/or observe an adequate number of people.
  2. Find patterns in the interviewees’ responses and actions, and use those to group similar people together.
  3. Create archetypical models of those groups, based on the patterns found.
  4. Drawing from that understanding of users and the model of that understanding, create user-centered designs.
  5. Share those models to other team members …

What are they used for?

  • Build empathy
  • Develop focus
  • Communicate and form consequences
  • Make and defend decisions

How do personas work?

  • Narrative practice: This is the ability to create, share and hear stories
  • Long-term memory: This is the ability to acquire and maintain memories of the past (wisdom) from our own life experiences, which can be brought in.
  • Theory of mind (Folk psychology): This is the ability to predict a users needs and wants.

Identify your users

  1. Persona A (A child 8-10): What are they interested in? Is this to do with teaching? Is it fun?
  • Games
  • Bright colours
  • quick lessons – not drawn out.

2) Personal B (Undergraduate 18-22): A different kind of person, different kind of needs. This person might

Think about what you would ask them

  • Ask primarily open ended questions (What games do you like to play?)
  • Ask participants to show more than tell.
  • When possible, ask for specific stories, especially about anything you cannot observe.

Getting access to users can sometimes be difficult.

Spaghetti sauce TED talk

Speaker – Malcolm Gladwell

“Tipping Point” author Malcolm Gladwell gets inside the food industry’s pursuit of the perfect spaghetti sauce — and makes a larger argument about the nature of choice and happiness.

He starts of by introducing the maker of spaghetti sauce in America – he suggest that by profession he is a measurer. He talks about how asking the right question is vital – eg instead of asking what is the perfect product you should be asking what are the perfect products – There is no perfect product but there are perfect products. By varying the products he was asked to improve by different factors and collecting the data he found that the user (Americans) would fall into 3 categories: plain, spicy and extra chunky spaghetti sauce. This increased profits and brand recognition – this was a great incentive in starting to give customers variety (Ragu now has 36 different spaghetti sauces). Howard changed the way the food industry makes the customer happy. They would have focus groups over the years yet they never came to the conclusion of needing more variety. The mind doesn’t always know what the tongue likes if you will. They were trying to find a product that would suit everyone universally – this is kind of impossible, especially with something as personal as taste.

The user does not always know what they want, it is your job to help them figure out how best to serve or in my case design for them.  Give them something to aspire to. There is no good or bad or perfect solutions, just different solutions or options that suit different people. Variability is essential to good design.  By embracing the diversity of human beings you can find a way to make users happy through your design solutions. This is why understanding the user is so important even if you don’t know what the right question is; just chat with them, the information you will get from this will be invaluable.


Speaker: Andrew  McCrea – head of delivery

Topic: UX design placement opportunity #placementwithfathom


  • One of the leading companies in Ireland for UX design
  • Kyle holds the company in great regard
  • Andrew has 16 years industry experinece in digital/\design/UX
  • Ux certified by NN/g —> LOOK UP

Performance through insight

Use analytics, usability testing, design thinking to get better more accurate information based on user needs.

They invest heavily on training for their long term employees and interns.

Go to they run this – as an intern you get to do this for free otherwise it is £1000

They are part of something bigger now, they joined with – Low&behold

They are still very local (office in Belfast) they use a hybrid work experience they are active in NI and Irish UX societies and clubs.


Previous students:

  • Jim
  • Kelsey
  • Pujith
  • Christine – now full time
  • Matthew – current intern.

They all extended  their stay with them after their 2nd year.

What is human experience design?

This is how they see the world of design. How can you make design for the benefit of the people, the business and for technology? Through human experience design they help companies …

Don Norman – founder of Norman group (NN/g) video:

  • Focus on the people, all the people.
  • Finding the right problem – solve the fundamental basic problem and then the small resulting symptom problems will resolve themselves.
  • Optimization – think big picture.
  • UX isn’t always the most important component. The journey the user takes to get to the end result is the most important part.

When Fathom thinks of UX they think of what the end outcome will be, thinking things as a system, how to choreograph user journeys to best serve the user. Think about who the user are and what they need so they can design the correct thing for them.

Russel Ackoff – “….The righter you do the wrong thing, the wronger you become….”

Good design is focused on people not aesthetic. Thinking about people inclusively. Inclusive design is a big thing for them.

They consider impairments like:

  • Visual
  • hearing
  • motor/dexterity
  • motion/vision
  • cognitive
  • speech

as 1/5 people have some kind of impermeant.

Situational impairments: what are people circumstances in the moment so how can you make the interface easier and clearer for them to use?

  • baby
  • cold day
  • gloves

Fathom is the bridge between technology and people.


  • Pets at home
  • NHS
  • Translink
  • AIBank – they reimagined their customer end-t0-end mortgage application process, involving online, offline, digital, phone and branch experiences and the relationship between them. They looked at customers and the user process and how often a customer looking for a mortgage wont just jump in and get one – they will come and go do more research and then maybe decide.

Research methodology:

  1. Workshops, branch visits, call center visit
  2. Heuristic analytics, analytics review, usability testing, affinity mapping (Take all of insight and put it in teams)
  3. Comparators (other banks and services and compare it to your project), Competitive testing, Desk research
  4. Workshops/focus groups, one to one calls, personas


  • Thinking and feeling
  • timeline
  • Future process
  • Touchpoints

Interface design

  • They move through iterations of design
  • Low and then high fidelity prototipes
  • UI

Case study example

In 2018 they worked with BBC what is now BBC Discover – a digital archive.

  • Content and placement of support information was very important here as there was a lot of recording from the troubles and therefore sensitive language that coulf cause issues.
  • Test categories: Perception and understanding, sensitivity to content, ….
  • Usability test report

Research is Design

They love to see research.

Their fundamental tool for them is the double diamond: problem and solution

  1. Discover
  2. Research
  3. Analyze
  4. Synthesize
  5. Refine
  6. Definition
  7. Develop
  8. Prototype
  9. Test
  10. Refine
  11. Solution

Linear view:

They also do contextual studies to better understand who the client is and what their needs is. EG for visually impaired people the screen to speech bus timetable does not work properly, it does not read the times for them.

You get experience out in the field and also designing in house, you get to do contextual observations (How well does the company you are helping analyze information)

Maybe give someone screens and video them/the screen as they use the app to see how well they interact with it and the issues they face. Usability testing!!!!!!!!! As the designer we are more tech-savy – this will most likely not be the same for the user.

They keep up to date with emerging technologies – Augmented Reality, smart tech.

Placement opportunity

  • 1 yr placement but this can be extended
  • Part of the Fathom/L&B team to work and learn from others
  • 2 days of UX Training in first quarter
  • Placement training budgeted circa £1k
  • Mentorship throughout monthly 1:1
  • Library learning resource

What you would do

  • research and discovery
  • Analysis and a synthesis
  • Recommendation and ideation
  • Usability testing
  • Wireframing
  • etc…

What they are looking for:

  • Maybe give someone screens and video them/the screen as they use the app to see how well they interact with it and the issues they face. Usability testing!!!!!!!!!
  • Has an eye and aptitude for analysis and research
  • Recording of usability studies
  • Invest time in learning through secondary research
  • Time management
  • A focus on human needs and interactions
  • Self starter
  • critical thinker
  • empathetic
  • problem solver
  • Good communicator

What they can offer:

  • Training
  • Onboarding and resources
  • Responsibility
  • Process and culture
  • They will train as best as they can – they are investing in you if they think they could keep you.

How to apply

  1. email:
  2. Tell him a bit about yourself and what might have appealed to you about us.
  3. Tell him about your ambitious in UX
  4. Attach and include a link to your CV and portfolio and anything else you feel is relevant.
  5. Deadline 19/11/21

FOCUS on research blog.

They will make their decision in January.


  • You need to post more – currently I am in the red zone – not good
  • Good examples of other students are Lauren Gilmore and Kezie Todd

What kind of designer?

Guest speaker: Ronan McKinless

His experience:

  • 17 years experience.
  • Worked for large and small companies and startups.
  • Currently working for himself. He has worked within agencies, startups and now freelance.

I found Ronan’s talk to be very helpful, afterwards he has a Q&A session, now this is what helped me the most. Here are pictures of the notes I made:

Ronan was also kind enough to give me his email so I could send him my portfolio for him to review and give feedback on.

Overall this session was very helpful.

How to design for everyone

Hosted by: UX Belfast (online).

Guest speakers: Regine Gilbert and MT McCann.

Topic: Universal and inclusive design.

What is the difference between accessibility and inclusion?

“Accessible design focuses on the outcome or end result of a design project. … Inclusive design is closely related to accessibility, but rather than an outcome, it’s a methodology for how to approach design. It’s a process for creating a design that can be used by a diverse group of people ” – Cameron Chapman.

Intercultural communication

This is a discipline that studies communications across different cultures and social groups, or how culture affects communication. This is something we must think of as we are now dealing in a global scale as designers.

Culture and language

  1. Identity management: This is the way individuals make sense of their multiple images concerning the sense of self in different social contexts.
  2. Culture: This is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior and norms found in human societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, customs, capabilities and habits of individuals in these groups.
  3. Self reflexivity: This is a process of learning to understand oneself and one’s position in society.
  4. Learning about others: The study of culture is the study of people. Be user centered.

Discussion questions

How do electronic means of communication (e-mail, internet, social media, etc.) differ from face-to-face interactions?

  • No body language
  • Less cues
  • Easier to be distracted
  • Misunderstanding
  • Tone of voice
  • We can communicate without actually talking
  • People are less inclined to step up

How do these communication technologies work?

  • Some cultures send emails in a very brief and to the point others more formal and detailed.
  • Harder to be more nuanced.
  • We should try to suppress cultural norms as we don’t know hoe they will be perceived.

Universal design

Coined by Ronald Mace and a team of architects, product designers and engineers in the 90’s. Originally designed for buildings but is now applicable to the web.

Seven principles of universal design:

  • Equitable use color contrast.
  • Colour contrast is the number 1 problem in the web and its something that we as designers have total control over – be mindful!
  • Flexibility in use – basically a way the user can expand or find what they are looking for and allow them to focus in a specific area. This is our job as designers. WTF = What is the focus.
  • Tolerance for error – allowing users to undo and redo. We don’t want to let users get stuck.
  • Low physical effort- think forms and how tedious they can be. Make forms that don’t require more information than is needed.
  • Size and space for approach and use – think of all your possible users, they could be anybody.

Temporary, situational, permanent disabilities – you need to consider all of these.

Web accessibility

Why is it needed? To ensure that users with disabilities can view the material like everyone else. It’s basically a basic right in our day and age.

Tools and preferences:

  • Assistive technology: these are software and hardware that people with understanding and viewing information.
  • Adaptive strategies: techniques that people with disabilities use to better access digital information.

Think about who is viewing or using what you create: think of ability, age, gender, ethnicity, etc…

The problem with the slide is that the contrast is too low, many people may not be able to even see it! what even?! The text is very hard to read due to the low contrast and therefore it is not accessible.

Good accessibilities practices

  • Left align text
  • Avoiding using all caps
  • Adding alternative text
  • Incorporation of inclusion and accessibility from the start of your project.
  • Get to know who you are designing for.

Who is accessible design for?

Do not think that thoughtful design is just for the elderly, or the sick, or the disabled, it is for everyone – think of for example of people who are less educated.

It is good to try and keep things as simple as possible, don’t use language that is too specific with your field of work. Keep things as simple as you can, so everyone can understand.

Thomas Logan (started equal entry and a11y design meetup and accessibility meetup in New York) He  helped designers gain a better understanding of the issues faced by people with disabilities.

America on tech is an organization that helps black and brown youths learn technological skills and gain internships whilst at highschool.

UX Belfast ESO

speaker: MT McCann

How and why she is putting a large emphasis in putting accessibility into eso

Their mission is to make a difference – to improve community health and safety through the power of data.

Ted Lasso is an inspiration for MT.

“Life might not be fair, but that doesn’t give you any excuse not to be.” – Elizabeth Jackson

We as digital technologist have a very serious responsibility to make the web accessible to everyone; don’t contribute to making anyone making feel left out.

The main focus of the design team at ESO is the humans that use the software (user centered).

The design is large and clear so that it is easy to tap with gloves in the field, moving ambulance. The interface is clear and easy to analyze.

Disabilities can be

  • Permanent: Colour blindness (This is particularly important for eso), hard of hearing, hurt in the course of their job. if the software can not function for people with permanent disabilities then they could loose their job.
  • Situational: Bumpy ride, lights on, sunny day reflecting off the screen.
  • Temporary: Required to retain a lot of information whilst in a tense situation is incredibly difficult so the software has to be appropriate to the situation the user is in.
  • Designing for our future selves: Our abilities naturally deteriorate as we get older.

Who’s job is it? – Everyone’s!

We NEED to create a culture of accessibility across the web to make sure everyone who works on, delivers or supports the services and products is part of the strategy.

Design system

Three specific motivations for upgrading to an accessible design system, now:

  • Efficiency
  • Onboarding
  • Scale

ESO Accessibility strategy

  • Design team training.
  • Make our design system accessible.
  • Implementation of inclusive designs (new documentation and annotation artefacts).
  • Run internal education accessibility sessions (Cover SDLC areas).
  • Encourage wider software development team training.
  • Create an internal champions team which has a wide variety of people from across the organization who are in the know.
  • Have a tactical and strategic plan of which products to tackle first and how deep to go
  • Hiring for accessibility skills.
  • Get marketing teams on board, ensuring our materials are designed with accessibility in mind.
  • Review our response in tenders.
  • Training and implementation teams and materials (Help content).
  • Support teams ~tag with accessibility issues.
  • Due diligence with 3rd party software purchased (WalkMe).
  • Inclusive design research methodologies and planning and recruitment of people with disabilities.
  • Reporting and governance eg. Accessibility issues found over time, hires with accessibility skills, internal sessions held.

Tips to get started

  • Get training so you can internally educate confidence.
  • Big orgs move like supper tankers not speedboats, focus on small wins.
  • Convey the risk you can carry to your legal team by being inaccessible.
  • Get senior support as aircover.
  • Run internal sessions early to convey the benefits and build internal advocates.
  • Push to get accessibility skills added to your hiring specs.
  • Start crafting your wider strategy.
  • Keep fighting the good fight.

Great ways to learn and get certified:

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better” – Maya Angelou


Speaker: Jason from Instil is the head of design at Instil.

Lessons he wishes he knew at the start of his career:

  • Play exploding kittens they do it – Good team building exercise, it would also be a talking point for an interview.
  • Think of your career like a game.
  • Don’t be a control freak.
  • Being a designer is about convincing the people in the room that your ideas and concepts are the right one.
  • Everything is a remix (Talk by Kirby Ferguson) talks of imposter syndrome and inspiring yourself constantly. We put pressure on ourselves to design in a vacuum when in reality this does not tend to work. Gather inspiration from every aspect of life and bring it into your designs. Ample ( has an inspirational blog), it’s about documenting your inspiration. Hot potato by Brad and Dan Frost is another great blog for inspiration.
  • Have a creative outlet – a project that you are passionate about outside your 9 -5. Think of how you get sick of the food in the place you work at. You need to mix things up. Jason’s creative outlet is his blog fathers father.
  • Your career development is a game, so have fun.
  • You will not be able to control everything if you can’t control it – move on, don’t sweat it.
  • Leveling up – know your worth.
  • Cheat codes – you do, you. Look up other designers work and get inspired. Steal my dear. Work in whatever way works best for you.  Don’t take your feedback so personally, find people in your life that understand good design and that will tell you if your design is rubbish when it is.

Instil the company

  • 16 yrs old.
  • They are a holistic product based company.
  • They have a design team of 2 and external help.
  • Consultancy – get to work with clients in a long term basis eg 2yrs.
  • Room for moving and improving different skills eg UX and also improving UI.
  • Website is a work in progress engineering one not a design one.

IDEA: design a few ideas for new ideas for their website for their interview.


  • Split time with marketing and project work – agency and product experience.
  • Small company.
  • Paid placement.
  • Can be offered a job before leaving placement year, if get a 1st honors then get £5000 bonus when starting.

Soft skills they like

  • Empathy
  • Shared interests
  • Think big picture
  • Being able to articulate design as you will be in a room full of engineers – you need to make them understand why your idea is the best for meeting their needs.
  • The blogs will be seen as part of your written communication skills as the case study area in your portfolio is only a snapshot of your work.
  • Why is design necessary? think of building a house but not involving an architect – it simply would not work.
  • Read tragic design – this book has some great insight for inexperienced designers.
  • is his email – they are happy for us to reach out to them and have an informal chat about the company.


UX placement opportunities 2022 – 2023

Speaker: Damon Rodgers (UX designer)

Who will be conducting the interviews?

Andrew Rossborogh (Lead UX/UI designer)  he will interview for the role; he is a good mentor and was in Kyles university class.

What does he want to see?

Research –> Analyze (crazy 8s) –> Design –> Prototype –> deliver, test and reflect.

Who is FinTrU

  • Finance and security.
  • creating solutions for Investment banks that will be used throughout the world.
  • employer and company of the year.
  • Mental health support.
  • Hybrid working.
  • Coffee bar.

What we get

  • How to combine UX thinking with design execution.
  • Planning and running user tests.
  • Designing and prototyping elegant solutions for complex problems.
  • Supported by an assigned mentor.
  • Employee assisted program – they will fund you to study after degree.
  • Performance related rewards.
  • Training and development.
  • Competitive salary.
  • 23 days and 10 bank holidays off.
  • Can skip 1st year graduate program.
  • Comprehensive health and wellbeing strategy.

Placement students

  • Patrick Boutilier

Who are they looking for?

  • User research (survey, interview and usability testing).
  • Passion for quality.
  • Prioritize and plan your work.
  • Attention to detail.
  • Figma.


  • Examples of work including screen designs/prototypes.
  • How you can frame the problem you were trying to solve – research.
  • The process – decision making.
  • Ability to talk through your portfolio with confidence.
  • Ability to reflect on what you learned and how you grew.

How to apply:

Go to FinTrU website and apply there – apply to portal – then they select who they interview – then look at portfolio.

Interview question

  • Can you tell us your UX process relating back to your portfolio.

I also attended a career talk given by FinTrU; here are the notes I made: