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//Explore a Career as a Product Designer | James Bowman

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Can You Have A Career In Design Without A Design Degree? Yes, you can!
01.

Explore a Career as a Product Designer | James Bowman

James Bowman tells his story on how he came to make his way into the field simply led by passion, making mistakes, taking leaps of faith and some portion of good luck. After working with companies like Skype, he today he works as a Product Designer at Perforce.

In this Xpert Talk you’ll learn how you can upskill in design with free tools and also how to start building your first design portfolio. James also shows us a passion project in visual effects that you don’t want to miss. He turns a parking garage into a space operation. Our jaws dropped! Fast forward to the end of the interview to check it out! ⏩

Can you work in design without having a design degree?

James: Yes, absolutely. So don’t get me wrong, there absolutely is value in formal education. And there have definitely been times in my career where I wished I had that formal education in user experience design, for sure. Because otherwise, you are left to the point where you have to go out and figure out what it is you don’t know. The thing is, you don’t know what you don’t know. And that’s really, really tough. So sometimes you’ll be caught off guard by a new concept or a certain method that you haven’t heard of before, that you probably would have, if you’d have had that formal education.

On the flip side of that, our field is changing all the time, especially around technology. And there’s new technologies coming in all the time. When I was in high school, the term user experience design was really first used in the 90s by the godfather of UX design, Don Norman (Director of The Design Lab at University of California). He coined that term, but just the term, the practice of it had been going on for centuries. It’s just it was never formalized into this nice little package of tools and methods that you can apply.

And that’s happened over the last few decades. So you couldn’t actually go to university and study user experience design when I was about to go to university, so that was tricky.

But right now, there’s a lot of resources out there Skillshare, Domestica, Coursera. They’re either inexpensive, or if you look on YouTube, you can get so much knowledge for free at the moment. Now, it very much depends on the type of person you are, and how well you take on knowledge and how willing you are to kind of get stuck in and start using that knowledge. That’s the important bit. You can read, you can watch courses and stuff, but unless you start putting it into practice, that is not really going to stick that well.


Do you have any tips for how we can make that knowledge stick?

James: What I would say is make yourself a test project. Pick a problem to solve, and apply the methods and tools that you’ve learnt about to solving that problem. And try and get it to the point where it’s a final product.

Now, I don’t mean coding it, or anything like that, you don’t have to actually build the final thing, but get it to a prototype stage. The tools for doing that are free, such as FigmaAdobe XD. And they’re incredibly powerful pieces of software. So you can actually create a pretty decent fidelity prototype with that.

Then you document your entire process, from start to finish. Starting with the problem that you’re trying to solve and who you are trying to solve it for. Then every step along the way that leads up to the final thing, because that’s a great thing to have, as a case study on your portfolio.

Now, as somebody who has hired designers, I’m not necessarily interested in only the final product, I want to see how somebody works, which is why documenting the process is really, really important. When I’m looking at a portfolio, I don’t just want to see what you have made, I want to know how you got there and what you were thinking. So we generally would do a test task unrelated to anything that we were working on at the company. But usually a simple task that just showed how the person approaches a problem. So get your thinking cap on, do the research, dig into the data, and apply all of that thinking into getting a final product.


Timings of the video:

1.10 min – Tell us a little bit about your role as a Product Designer at Perforce Software?

8.00 min – Can you work in design without having a design degree?

15:00 min – How do you think your job will change in the next 5 years?

18.56 min – Do you have any advice for anyone looking to get into the field?

21.36 – How did you source your own internship back in your high school years?

26:55 – Final words! Follow your passion, even if it doesn’t end up as a career! + James shows us a visual effects project he has created!

Nexgen Careers Host Cecilia

I'm Nexgen Careers Head of Content.

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