Amy Eaton RGD interviews Lauren Moggach, Founder & Design Lead at Cream + Sugar Creative, on her transition from a senior graphic designer to a UX expert.
How long did you work in graphic design before you started transitioning to UX? Why the switch?
In November 2010, 5 years into my career I accepted a position as a Senior Designer working with the incredible agency Klick Health and it was there that I was first exposed to a user experience design process and set of methodologies. Klick has a very talented UX team that collaborated with the design team which I was a part of. This is where my first on the job learning opportunities took place. It wasn’t until about 3 years later that I officially moved into a role that focused on leading user experience design for a SaaS (Software as a Service) platform.
I had been working in the digital space for 8 years, at this point, designing digital touchpoints — websites, emails, apps — so the switch was a natural progression in my journey. I no longer wanted to just be a designer, I wanted to be a part of the business decision conversations from the beginning. Being a part of the process from the start enables me to effectively manage relationships and streamline a design process that comprises multiple disciplines. I feel much more confident and empowered about my design decisions when I am part of those initial requirement gathering and ideation phases.
Are there any skills that are transferable across the two disciplines? Did you have to leave any skills behind?
I can't say I’ve had to leave any skills behind but rather built upon and grow the foundation of my creative thinking and graphic design skills throughout my shift in focus on UX. I am continuing to work in many different areas of graphic design with my studio Cream + Sugar. Visual design and creative thinking skills are some of the top transferable skills when it comes to UX. A solid understanding of design principles and theories, plus an eye for aesthetics can help you understand why a user might be experiencing a particular problem, come up with solutions to test and play into building prototypes. Industry standard processes and tools are also easier to pick up. Once you have mastered one piece of design software or process, learning a new one tends to come more naturally.
Did you study to be a UX designer or did you learn on your own?
It has been a mix of learning from my peers, mentors, various thought leaders in the field and self-education. My journey has been self-propelled so to speak, where most of my learning has been while I’m in the thick of it trying to meet deadlines and business requirements while still maintaining sight of what the actual problem is that I am trying to solve and, more importantly, what the customer needs.
What kind of work do you do on a day-to-day basis?
I am involved in a variety of projects at any given time. I have a client list with Cream + Sugar Creative, the design studio I own and run, as well as contract projects with a product design and development shop called Duck Labs. Each day varies given how priorities shift, but my day-to-day could be distilled down into collaborating with designers, developers, QA analysts and client partners to come up with valuable design solutions that solve problems.
I am working on wireframes in my sketchbook, mapping out user flows on my whiteboard or documenting different task flows and scenarios for a given product feature. I am researching existing mental models for interactions or reading new articles on human psychology or the latest trends in technology. I am editing photos in Lightroom, building an app UI in UX Pin or designing a webpage in Figma. I am scouring websites for the picture image to use in a mood board or working with colour palettes. I am meeting with my teammates and clients, writing proposals and invoicing clients. Honestly every single day is unique.
How do you measure success in UX design?
Success depends on a number of different variables in any given project. The idea, the users, the research, the client, the business goals, the time frame, the budget … I could go on. With that context, I tend to lean on frameworks that use quantitative data to define what is successful.
User Success Rates are easy to understand and represent the UX bottom line. They measure users' ability to successfully complete tasks. This is the type of usability test I run the most with users because they are easy metrics to collect and a very compelling statistic. When running a study with multiple users, reporting consists of the success (or task-completion) rate, the percentage of users who were able to complete a task in a study.
AARRR aka Startup Pirate Metrics, proposed in 2007 by Dave McClure, focuses on company growth and helps monitor user engagement throughout the customer lifecycle using 5 steps:
- Acquisition: where / what channels do users come from? (e.g. # of app downloads, click-through rate from pay-per-click ads)
- Activation: what % of users have a “happy” initial experience? (e.g. Sign-up rate, subscription rate)
- Retention: do they come back over time? (e.g. Monthly active users)
- Referral: do they like it enough to tell their friends? (e.g. # of new sign up through referral)
- Revenue: can you monetize any of this behaviour? (e.g. Conversation rate)
Do you work with other disciplines? How do your projects overlap?
Absolutely, I would not be where I am in my career without a strong focus on collaboration and building partnerships with my peers who work in other disciplines. I strongly believe it takes teamwork to make the dream work as cliché as that may sound. I have had some of the best design ideas come out of working sessions with developers where their technical approach has helped inform or spark a pathway of thinking I hadn’t considered before. I’ve worked through some of the toughest user problems with Quality Assurance Engineers, whose job it is to break things and show me where the gaps exist in the design.
One last fun question, what is your favourite time of day and why?
I love those last magic hours of daylight. I’m a big fan of chasing sunset and capturing beautiful imagery around this time of day, especially deep in the mountains of Alberta or British Columbia. In my work day it’s usually a time when I am able to take some time for myself and relax.
Lauren Moggach is a creative leader with 10+ years of UX and Graphic Design experience. Based in Calgary, she applies her understanding of marketing and communication strategies to create innovative design solutions to help organizations exceed their business objectives. Lauren has worked across multiple design mediums throughout her career, but focuses on digital product design, specializing in crafting instinctive, engaging and valuable user experiences.
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