Things I've learnt at DNA in 2015.

Being the start of a new year, and returning to work, I thought I should take a moment to ponder upon a couple of highlights from my seven months at DNA in 2015.

  1. The transition from being an in-house designer to an agency designer was massive, and I loved it. Gone are the days where I was absolutely sick of seeing the same brand colours and same typefaces every hour of everyday. Having to change gears instantly is so much more stimulating and exciting, especially in situations when I’ve been working on a design for AMP, then suddenly an URGENT job for Skinny comes through with a deadline of 1 hour.
  2. User-centred design, user-centered design....user-centred design. Oh, how everything always roots back into the Synthesis and Empathy part of the design process.
  3. Working with highly-skilled people in all areas. I love the team at DNA so much. Yes, we are a young team, but there is still a plethora of experience and knowledge to be passed down and shared with the younguns/newbies. Nico always has strong opinions and wisdom to share and say, Matt always has strategies in place to express, Romain just knows everything, ask and you’ll get an answer, and take Steve our Principal and Creative Director , I could easily spend most Thursday afternoon drinks listening to his stories of travelling, living overseas in Scandinavia/Canada/UK, and life and design experiences.
  4. Working overtime can be quite enjoyable. It’s often just Steve left in the office in the evenings after 6. We don’t really talk when we work. It’s heads down, nose in screen, and the music is PUMPIN’.
  5. It pays to be a hawk-eye. It pays to be meticulous. And it pays to proof a hundred times. The struggles of digital banners has taught me that all too well. Worst case of the year was when the print packaging of Grin toothpaste had a spelling error even though it had been through at least 10 people! “Manuka Oil” had been misspelt as “Mankua Oil.” Yikes.

Now, for things I can improve on in 2016:

  1. Man up, jump into challenging projects that I’m not confident in and ASK QUESTIONS. Prime example: the project with ASB last year, it was my first ‘sprint’ and I had no idea how sprints worked, let alone trying to get my head around what we were doing for ASB. I was too embarrassed to say stuff in front of the older men and I was thinking to myself, “I’m such a waste of time and money right now.” If only, I had asked what my role was, what was expected of me and what I was meant to observe.
  2. Ideate more. One struggle with working for big companies with strong identities, is that I’m so used to following branding guidelines. I feel I’ve lost some ability to create from scratch. Watching Phil our Wellington Design Director is so inspiring. He’s the type of the dude that wakes up at 3am and comes up with these absurd but genius ideas. I’m the deepest sleeper so I know that will never happen with me, but just to research, read and doodle more. To think more outside the box and increased the ability of ‘connectedness.’ Joining dots and merging ideas together.
  3. Ben the new UI is due to join the team in a few weeks. I hope to learn more design stuff from him as Steve is pretty pressed for time spent with me.
  4. Increase my understanding in UX and applying it forward.

Quotes of the year from Steve
One of the first critiques I received in my first few weeks:

“You could run a bus through that leading!”

On the topic of remember to put text inside boxes, rather than layer text boxes over boxes:

“I don’t want to have to tell you that one more time.”
Crystal Lin