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Ask DN: Is your work "assigned" by developers?

6 years ago from , Designer @ SAP

Hi all. I'm a student designer currently doing an internship. Here's what I feel confused about my work, and I hope to get answer from fellow designers.

So I'm working as designer to develop a software, which is like a collaborative tool. All my work are "assigned" by developers. For example, some developer wants a button on this page, then he'll email me to design this button.

Same thing happens on my another project. My client sent me this interface, said he want me to redesign part of the page. I then send him my drafts with different ideas. Then I get his email back which he says "developers have specific things in ming..." and ask me to do another draft based on "developer's draft".

For both projects, I'm fairly confused. I was hoping I can have more input to the product, but seems like I am now allowed to say anything about the design. I'm just the photoshop guy, that's all. And even I get a good pay, I'm still not happy. I was looking forward to do more.

Is this how most designers work?

20 comments

  • Daniel SamuelsDaniel Samuels, 6 years ago

    Sounds like you need a UI Kit which contains all of the UI element that the project requires, that way the developers just refer to that and pick out which bits you need. You shouldn't need to mock up every single change, it doesn't make any sense.

    7 points
  • mewo a, 6 years ago

    Mostly no, however it does depend on the project who's end client it is. Ideally it should be a collaborative back and forth kind of workflow with a developer. Since you're a student and you mention you're earning ok coin I wouldn't stress too much about it yet. Think of it as practice and do a good job. Focus your attention on your own projects and school until you get more of your own clients.

    6 points
    • Tori Z, 6 years ago

      Thank you. I just really wanna have more input into the design process. But like you said, I better leave it off and focus more on my own projects.

      1 point
  • Victor TranVictor Tran, 6 years ago (edited 6 years ago )

    Fellow intern here!

    I feel the same way sometimes, and it might just depend on the company.

    I don't mind doing production work either, nor do I feel the need to always give my input on the product direction. However, I do wish I would get more exposure to design strategy and the entire process rather than just receiving the end of it. I would like to understand why a product or feature is being built—the research, planning, and rational behind all of it.

    You should bring it up with them. They might be open to giving you more shadowing opportunities and allow you to partake in some of the decision-making.

    I usually just ask a lot of questions, which allows me to understand their process and sometimes even slip in a bit of my input. Specially, I ask "why?" and compare their reasoning with the way I would have approach the problem or design-decision. If I feel I have a more valid point, I respectfully try to point it out. Rather than just blurting it out, I use questions: "Would it make sense to do it this way? Is it possible to do it this way?"

    Are you getting mentorship? If you feel you aren't learning, your internship is as good as them exploiting you for your cheap labor. Though, money is cool too. It's also something for your resume.

    2 points
    • Tori Z, 6 years ago

      Thanks a loooooooooot! Money is cool, sure, but I wanna go beyond that. I don't just work for money :( Mentorship... not so much for now. For the place I'm working, everyone is like SUPER busy and if I want to talk to someone, I need to book an appointment and it would be like 3 days later. I'll try to adjust it. Thanks for your advice, I'm totally gonna ask more questions.

      0 points
      • Victor TranVictor Tran, 6 years ago

        That place doesn't sound like a great learning environment :( Keep a look out for better opportunities with more mentorship and autonomy.

        I've had an internship where I had too much autonomy, more than I could handle. Then one with less, not as bad as your situation though. I think what we need is just more of the mentorship.

        You can refocus your energies to side projects, where you have full control.

        Where are you from? We should be friends.

        0 points
        • Tori ZTori Z, 6 years ago

          I've tweet you already :) More friends is always good thing! Do you have any suggestions on getting a job with good mentorship? I'd admit I'm really bad at picking clients/companies.

          0 points
          • Victor TranVictor Tran, 6 years ago

            Hmm. My experience has mostly been with early-stage startups, so by nature resources are limited and everyone is overworked. Mentorship is limited. Haha.

            I would look for companies that already have a strong, experienced in-house designer or team of them. I think it shows that the company values design, and you have designers to learn from. Secondly, I would look for companies that are well-funded because they can afford to allocate some resources (time and money) to training me.

            The job with the most mentorship I got was through networking at a design event and speaking directly with the designers. I guess meeting actual designers and finding opportunities that way is most effective. lol

            0 points
  • Charlie McCullochCharlie McCulloch, 6 years ago

    This is definitely not the best way to make usable digital products. At the very least you'll know what questions to ask about the design process the next time you interview somewhere.

    2 points
    • Tori Z, 6 years ago

      Thanks. Definitely. I guess for the next time I'm going to ask if designers actually have the chance to design, not just photoshoping.

      1 point
      • Charlie McCullochCharlie McCulloch, 6 years ago

        Unfortunately there are plenty of people out there in the world who think those are the same two things.

        Here are some things I'd ask in your position: - At what point in the product development process do the designers get involved? - Who has ultimate responsibility for design decisions? - What is your User Experience process?

        0 points
  • Matt FeltenMatt Felten, 6 years ago

    To answer you question, no. That's not how I work. I've had to work in those conditions, but it's been my experience that good design work comes before of development, not after. It's usually been a lot smoother after reordering the process.

    Are there any other designers at your company? If not, which is my guess, they probably don't know how to work with you. So they're putting you off until the very end as a "clean up" step.

    1 point
  • Wes OudshoornWes Oudshoorn, 6 years ago

    After 4 years of working for different companies, I have found one thing to be true: If you feel like you or the company is wasting time on not doing the greatest work you could be doing, you are right.

    Design is figuring out how stuff works best. They want a colorpicker. These are two completely different things.

    Money is never a factor in doing the right thing. You don't kill for money, so don't do bad work for money. Be driven by values, the money will follow.

    Everyone that tells you to take the money and accept the fact that you're "just the intern" should go and be ashamed of trying to keep you "small". Of course, be humble, even if you're not an intern. But a good idea is a good idea, no matter if you're Jonathan Ive or the cleaning guy.

    Good luck!

    1 point
    • Tori Z, 6 years ago

      Thank you! That's what I thought and like I said that: Even this job pays me well, I'm still not happy, because I don't get to do what I want. I'm just gonna be very careful next time when I get a job.

      0 points
  • Bowen LiBowen Li, 6 years ago

    This is not always the case. It sounds like you've ended up at not a great company or team. Some companies want designers to work this way, some will give designers a lot of freedom. The key is to figure out which type of company you're joining. Since you're at an internship, I wouldn't let it bother you too much and just learn next time to research the work environment carefully.

    Also, continue to draft your different ideas! You can't let a bad job get in the way of your career. And you can't always wait for permission from the people who tell you not to do something. Working through different ideas is crucial for a designer and even if the engineer doesn't end up using it, you've hopefully gained more experience doing the design.

    1 point
    • Tori Z, 6 years ago

      Thank you .I'll definitely watch out next time. Every time when I did the interview being asked "Do you have any question for our comapny?" I always say no. Now I know what to ask about.

      0 points