A photo of Alex Carr answering a question while sitting with Gorham Palmer.

From Graphics to UX

AIGA Boston lecture.

In late 2018 I was offered the opportunity to speak about digital design through AIGA Boston. Conversations with the AIGA Boston President Chiranit Prateepasen led to the idea of how we can help early-career and experienced designers make the transition to digital product design.

I've spent a lot of time discussing what makes a good Digital Product designer while directing the team at Maark. Product Designers have to not only be strong visual designers, but they have to be strong researchers, be well versed in what makes a great user experience, and have a deep understanding of technology. Fortunately, graphic designers already have much of the design portion down—the next steps are translating those design skills to interactive experiences and developing new skills in those three other areas.

The cover slide for the talk with text that reads 'From Graphics to UX, Making the Transition to Product Design. Alex Carr, Creative Director at Maark.' A selection of six slides from the talk.
Selection of slides from the talk.
Interaction illustration highlighting the idea of intersting moments and opportunities for feedback.

Part of the stories I told during the talk included the path other designers had taken to become Product Designers. Speaking with multiple friends that had made that transition revealed that the majority of product designers are a result of their timing—they grew with the industry after leaving traditional graphic design educations.

That wasn't going to be an option for the designers I was speaking to. For them, I focused on highlighting resources to start learning the new skills, insight into what a creative director or product manager is looking for when reviewing portfolios, and an assignment designed to stand out in a portfolio. The goal was to help them get their foot in the door at a company where they can continue to grow.

The final project was positioned as designing a real product that fixes a real-world problem and gives them an opportunity to touch all points in the product design process. Just over a month later, I got the chance to sit down with 15 designers from the talk to see what they had put together and give feedback. It was exciting to see their ideas come to life. The executions were creative and the breadth of ideas was inspiring.

After my talk, I sat down with Gorham Palmer, Principal Designer and Group Creative Director at IBM iX, to answer his questions and take questions from the audience. Topics included what we look for when we review designer portfolios, the wide array of digital designer job titles, and the future of digital design in Boston.

A copy of the deck I presented is available to download.