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Where do UX/UI Designers (And Their Ideas) Come From?

The Adage UX/UI Design Team is deeply involved in nearly every project. On a redesign, you’ll find them in the initial kickoff meeting, then leading strategy workshops, stakeholder alignment and design concept production; they’ll stay with a project all the way through QA testing and go live. With projects in a maintenance state, UX/UI designers review existing work, unearthing optimization opportunities for our clients’ digital experiences.

They are truly experts in the field, delivering great work and infusing the company with a passion for UX/UI design. With that endpoint in common, the path to the UX/UI Design Team varies widely. Our UX/UI designers wield various backgrounds, professional experiences and sources of inspiration. So how do you catch lightning in a bottle like they do?

We asked our UX/UI designers directly where they draw creative inspiration, how education shapes their work and what other experiences drive their people-first approach. Read further to find out what they had to say.

Degrees and Higher Education

At Adage, designers are required to go beyond creating things that are visually pleasing. They are challenged to think about how certain choices impact functionality and a user’s ability to complete a task.

The foundational tools needed to create successful designs – like a solid understanding of color and typography – are crucial in the creation of any basic user interface kit. However, user empathy and a focus on the end-user is not unique to the field of design. In today’s digital world it’s less important what degree one possesses and more important that they can explore, adapt, contribute and enjoy the work.

The UX/UI Design Team at Adage boasts various degrees, which strengthens the team as a whole. Bringing different perspectives and studying various creative practices (design and otherwise) leads the team to celebrate cross-functional teamwork and value teammates who are interdisciplinary. Their “atypical” design backgrounds enrich their impact on projects and positively impact how they serve clients. Their varied experiences influence how the team can visualize solutions and empathize with users.

“I took a unique path to the user experience field,” says Molly, Lead UX Designer. After undergrad she entered the world of fine arts, working at several galleries and art publications. Then, as the economy took a downturn, she went to graduate school to fortify her skillset, studying Library and Information Sciences at Pratt Institute. “I was introduced to user experience and quickly fell in love,” she recalls, “because of my information sciences background, I tend to approach UX from a unique perspective, looking at content and interaction as deeply interconnected.”

Mekael, a UX/UI Designer, graduated with a B.A. in Architecture which he says molded him greatly as a UX/UI designer. “As an architect, I was trained to shape the built environment around user needs,” he says, “I did this in iterative cycles that were constantly subject to client and peer feedback. Focusing on user needs and using iterative feedback cycles are pieces of my architectural background that I use every day in my job as a UX/UI designer.”

“With a B.S. in Industrial Engineering and M.S. in Engineering Design and Innovation, I take a more process-oriented approach to problem solving,” says Ruizhi, a Lead UX Designer. “My graduate studies put a heavy emphasis on user-centered design thinking, and that has carried through into my daily work,” he says.

UX/UI Designer, Jenn, holds a B.A. in Theatre, and says her involvement in the theatre world continues to shape her perspective of UX/UI work. “My training focused on new play creation and development, which requires the adaptability to listen, adjust, and learn on-the-go,” she says, “for me, this drives a continuous learning process so that my design work doesn’t stagnate or suffer from being isolated or siloed.”

Past Professional & Personal Experiences

The individual paths and diverse experiences of our Design Team provide unique perspectives. They have acquired a rich skillset built on their unique opportunities and lessons learned along the way. Lessons like understanding the intrinsic and extrinsic value in the world of fine arts, the importance of collaboration, finding the true intention of stakeholders and managing budgets and timelines.

All of these experiences shape how the team operates today, and their shared expectation of people-first design.

“My experience as a freelance designer has really reinforced my mindset of client-first design, says Kara, UX/UI Designer. “I think that being able to work independently with clients’ wants and needs has challenged me, but also pushed me to grow as both a person and a designer.”

UX/UI Designer Amanda started in industrial design and says the process compared to user experience design is similar; the main differences are the tools and the perception of value. “It’s still rare to see companies that are willing to provide the resources and time necessary for an industrial designer to really make a difference,” she says “comparing that environment to where I am today, it’s night and day. At Adage, UX designers are encouraged to tackle larger problems, cross-disciplinary training is a must, and the companies we work with understand the importance of design.”

Forms of Inspiration

The UX/UI Design Team consistently delivers passionate, exceptional work, so how do they stay inspired day after day?

“Visually, a lot of my inspiration comes from typography – especially international typographic style,” says Will, Lead UX/UI Designer. “Type and language are the architectural structures of all of my designs and I find that they are almost always the clearest ways to present information in comparison to images, iconography, or video. I am consistently referencing works by Otl Aicher and Josef Müller-Brockmann as starting points to build strong typographic systems and grids and then finding ways to translate those to flexible web compositions.”

“I draw a lot of inspiration from visual art, from visiting a museum to photography,” says Jenn, “technology is now such an integral part of so many kinds of art, and I find that to be an exciting starting place for approaching UX/UI design – grounded in choices about functionality and aesthetics, patterns and originality.”

“As a designer, I draw inspiration from a variety of sources and most of the time they come from unexpected sources,” muses Mekael. “Some of my latest inspirations include the movie Isle of Dogs, using the productivity app notion and even how bees create honeycombs. Inspiration for me comes from anywhere and often times if I am stuck on a solution I seek inspiration from outside of the office.”

The team cites continued education, museums, environmental factors and other designers as sources of inspiration. They strive to observe, experiment and exercise various functions of the brain to create an inspired moment.

If it had to be boiled down to a process, the team draws inspiration from everyday life – interactions with people and their surrounding environment – then, finds the thoughtful, digital counterpart to the intuitive, real-world experience.

Well-balanced UX/UI Team

The Adage Design Team’s experience, degrees, and inspirational techniques amplify their focus on people. This increased empathy for our clients and our client’s audience results in creative solutions and high-quality work. Have a question for a designer? Reach out. You can also check out some of their work below.

Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra



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