What it means to be a designer at White October

People think being a web designer is only about making things look good. I often joke about that stereotype myself, but the reality is being a designer involves a lot more than that and can be really hard work, especially when you focus on UX.

Recently a Project manager colleague told me that UX is hard. I felt so happy in that moment. Why? Because being a designer is challenging and is often underestimated.

Here in White October UX is our priority. Obviously, you want to make sure your products are usable in the best possible way.

White October and me

So what does being a designer at White October means to me?  A lot. I still remember my first day in this office. It was scary, hectic and exciting at the same time. What has changed since those 16 months? Almost nothing and almost everything in the same breath. Well, it’s not scary anymore but it’s definitely exciting every single day. I could write a lot about the culture, days out, trips and celebrations etc. But it is not the same as to experience it yourself. It’s people around you that make you love your job.

At White October I have the opportunity to be a part of some amazing projects, from small simple sites to big and complex applications. So what is it that makes White October designers different?  

Our process

Our project process forces us to constantly review and improve based on what we learnt from project to project, for example getting the design in sprint working well.

Team structure

It is the collaboration you find in cross-disciplinary teams, being there for each other and giving constructive critique all the time.

Regular design reviews

It is our design guild meeting where we try to find out what we need to focus on and what we need to improve even more. Also, our regular fresh eyes reviews and project catch ups are a great example of this.

We’re social

We make a conscious effort to spend time together, be that different activities like design day away days, team lunches and or our very own supper club.

We know what our strength and weaknesses are and support each other in and improve them to make the whole team stronger.

How does this play out?  

So what it means to really be a designer here? In short:  Be prepared to challenge and be challenged.  All the time.

To challenge

  • yourself, by understanding the problems and providing the best possible solutions all the time
  • your clients, to make sure they are making the best possible decision and putting their users first (sometimes it can be hard to remember that it is all about the users)
  • your colleagues, for constant improvement (and sometimes to have fun too)
  • every single solution you came up with to make sure it is the right solution for the  problem you’re trying to solve

 

To be challenged is the harder part

  • It means learning, improving things and making products better, constantly.
  • It is accepting the products challenges and constraints, technology, time and budget limitations and still providing the best solution/ design and ensuring clients fully understand what is happening and why
  • It is being a part of a great team where problems are dealt with by the team rather than be individuals
  • It means being flexible, adapting and revising your design all the time. I believe working in an agile agency provides you with the space to do that.
  • It is being a part of a great design family, which is very involved in the wider design community in Oxford, from Digital Oxford to Glug events.


Being a part of the White October design team is definitely great experience, probably one in a lifetime. Are you a part of an exceptional team too? What do you do to make your team stand out?

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