Please share a summary of yourself and your career "in a nutshell" to help introduce you to the community.
I am a French UI/UX designer currently making cool projects at Ultranoir while freelancing for brands such as Mercedes-Benz. Formerly product design intern with the awesome UENO team in San Francisco and product designer in a London based startup.
In The Beginning:
1. Can you remember who or what gave you the idea to begin a career in design?
Long story short, I first studied electronic engineering but... let's just say it wasn't for me. Then I moved to Montreal, Canada to be an intern for a TV channel. I still don't know why but I needed something new, I was looking for a career path. I didn't know where to turn or what I wanted to do yet. Even if it wasn't the point of my job, I started playing around with Photoshop and other tools when I was there. Then, I got into HETIC, a French web school and started in the web industry as a developer. And I fell in love with the web!
I taught myself how to code because I was fascinated by building things that would work. At some point, I ran out of ideas about what to build so I started designing on the side just to code it. I quickly fell in love with design and, without really taking a decision, I stopped coding to become a web designer. Yes, I know, it's less sexy than « I wrote computer programs and was always attracted by the internet world since I was a child and it was obvious for me » kind of story but that's the truth about mine.
2. What was the first website you were involved in designing and / or developing and how well did it go?
I designed and developed an e-commerce website for one of my cousins' friends. It was kind of hard because I was learning as I was doing it... so it took some doing but I did it eventually and it was fully operational! Even now, I always love to do different sorts of projects just to learn something new.
3. How would you describe your career thus far? Is it all going to plan or is there no plan?
I'm young and kind of new to the web industry but I would say... so far so good. I didn't have a plan, it was more of a goal: spend two years working hard, build a portfolio to get a good internship and put a step into this industry. It was, for sure, the two hardest years of my life so far. I worked without any break: after school, during the night, the weekend and even full time on holidays. But I have no regrets.
It was awesome because I was learning so much every day. Do you know the feeling when you can't sleep because you are too exited about what's coming the next day? I was lucky enough to have that feeling every night! And hard work always pays off so I was thankful enough to get a dream internship at UENO, a web agency in San Francisco. I'm in love with this field because hard work really pays off even if you know nobody (and that's a huge difference compared to some other fields where your work is sometimes not rewarded nor noticed). It's simple, if you build something good, you'll be able to reach out to any people, anywhere on the planet and show them your work.
4. What career advice would you give to yourself if you could send yourself a "temporal text" 5-10 years into the past?
Don't listen to what people are saying about career opportunities, just do what you love and do it the best way you can! Last thing: take some rest, enjoy spending time with your friends and get ready because you'll work hard in some years ;)
1. What are your favorite aspects about working in design?
My favorite aspect about working in design is that I can have an idea and bring it to life. Crazy isn't it? I love building products starting from pen and paper all the way to an interactive prototype. I can now play with something that I had in mind and share it with the world, that's mind blowing. Another thing that I love is the people in the design industry. You can reach out to any designer in any company and actually get an answer from them. That is awesome for me when I compare this to other industries where you have to know someone who knows someone who is friend with the brother of someone that works where you want to work. Simple right? The vibes in a good web agency/company is something you can't see in any other industry: the people are just passionate about doing good work in the best condition possible (I'm not just talking about free lunch here! But still... free lunch! How cool is that?)
2. If you could pick only one favorite project from your experience thus far, which would it be and why?
I had the chance to work on a lot of projects but if I had to pick only one, it would be my portfolio: robin-noguier.com. This project allowed me to step into the web industry and it was the end of a 2 years marathon that lead me straight to the UENO folks. Furthermore, I got shortlisted by Net Awards in the top 5 « best online portfolio of the year », won some awards including one CSSDA and received some job/internship inquiries. I still get some freelance work thanks to it. So I can say that building a portfolio can change your life! By the way, thanks again to Dorian Camilleri, my developer friend who built my portfolio.
3. What would be your favorite trend in web design and development from the last 5 years?
I'm not sure it's a trend but prototyping is for me a great skill to have as a designer. You can quickly try and figured out if what you had in mind works or not.
4. Are there any favorite trends you would like to see more of in 2016?
I would love to see more of what we call the « Invisible apps ». All these apps without an interface where you can tweet, text, email to make some awesome stuff like booking a restaurant, monitoring your bank account, schedule a meeting and so on.
Even if recently the picture of Mark Zuckerberg at the Samsung conference scared a lot of people, I'm really exited by the virtual reality. I'm fascinated about how it can impact our life on a daily basis.
1. Did you always want to work in the creative industries or did you consider any other career options?
As I said before, I first studied electronic engineering and considered a career in this field but I wasn't passionate about it and moreover I was not even sure to be good at it. I then thought I would like to join the TV industry but somehow it lead me to the creative industries. I'm so thankful to be that passionate about my work. Hey, what time is it? it's quote time! As Confucius once said « choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life » : that's totally true for me.
2. Do you have a good work and life balance or is it a work in progress? Any tips?
For more than two years I dedicated myself to work. Since I returned home from San Francisco, I have been trying to reduce work a bit and enjoy life more but it's not that easy cause I'm freelancing after work and during the weekend. So I would say that it's a work in progress. If I may give some tips: First of all, try to not work in the same location/room than where you live. It will be easier to take a break and find the perfect work/life balance.
Secondly, allow some breaks to clear your mind. Just do something you love whether it's sport, painting or whatever! I'd advise you do to something off screen though. You'll loose some time, that is true, but you'll come back fully energized, full of fresh ideas and motivated about your work.
3. What advice would you give to younger professionals wanting to find success in design?
I won't talk about success because its definition depends on the person... Is it working in a big agency? Having a big salary? Have a good work/life balance?
If you wanna become a designer though, my advice would be just do it! Work hard, post on social networks, get feedback and improve your skills. You don't know what to do? Everyone has a dad's friend who needs a website to sell his product. Do it! Take this project and for free it's even better. « Oh, so I should work for free?! ». You aren't working yet, you are learning. Without any money involved, you'll be able to take your time to build this website yourself and take risks if you have to. If you really know nobody who needs a website, just do a concept redesign... but please keep in mind the business goals of the company you are redesigning.
Once you have some projects, build your portfolio. I think that you should do your portfolio on your own without asking for any feedback. Do you know why? Because it's YOUR portfolio. You want to design something that reflects you, your portfolio is who you are not what some people told you to be. Take your time but don't procrastinate, it's too easy to take years to make a portfolio because it's not perfect. It won't ever be! Once it's done, launch it, apply for an internship and be a good intern (which is an other debate).
4. If you had all the money you would ever need, what would you do with your life?
Good question... I wouldn't quit the design industry for sure because I'm really passionate about it. I would lie if I would say that having all the money in the world won't change my life but I honestly think it won't change it that much. I think I'll travel around the world with some friends. In the morning I'll build the side projects I always wanted to build and learn new stuff each day. In the afternoon I'll be the perfect French tourist carrying around my bread, my wine and my beret. This is a perfect work/life balance isn't it?
1. What type of projects and what industries do you prefer to work in?
I prefer working on products because we really care about users and business goals. I don't really have a favorite industry if the idea is good and it solves a problem. I won't be cliché to say that I want to « make the word a better place » but my dream is to help people and to see them walking on the street using a product I made.
2. What memorable challenges or highlights have you experienced from the projects you have worked on?
For one big project I made with the talented folks at UENO, I've seen some memorable challenges. For example, we had to think of a design to cater for 40 languages so it shows new problems like: how the design will work in arabic as people read from the right to the left?
For each freelance project I made, the challenges were to send my work on a daily basis to my client so I'm not losing too much time in a wrong way. Thanks to that, I'm able to deliver the final product on time which is, for me, a key part to being a good freelancer.
3. What are your, or your company’s, greatest strengths?
I think my biggest strength is my hard work capabilities. It might sound cliché but I think that with hard work everything is possible. If you don't know something, just learn it! I will say that my other strength is my willingness and passion to learn. I'm always looking after my favorite designers like Haraldur Thorleifsson, Brijan Powell, Claudio Guglieri (and so many others) and I always want to learn and improve, not to be like them of course, but a bit closer step by step.
4. What is the latest project you worked on or what are you working on right now?
I'm working in an agency so I can't share what I'm working on because of the NDA, same thing for my freelance work. But I can share one prototype I made just to learn framer. I want to prototype more and framer is, for me, the best tool to do it and it allows me to code as a designer which I miss a little sometimes!
Thank you for sharing an insight into your world. Any last words?
A big thank you to any of you who scrolled that far down and to the CSSDA team for allowing me to write a bit about myself, I hope it wasn't too boring. Please feel free to reach out on twitter @Robin_noguier to tell me what you think about this interview, if you want more information or strongly disagree with something I said (I'm totally fine with that :) )