Karol Tylke, Information and Interface Design
That’s what has surprised me about design. However unsurprising that might seem. Indeed, when I read back the title, it looks like the most obvious remark ever written. But it still surprised me. And here’s why.
During two years of uni, we have done a lot of projects. Most of them I’ve done either in pairs or small groups, some I’ve done alone. When they were a product of collaboration, there was always the issue of who does what. And it sometimes is a problem. In a course where everybody learns about UX, ideally everybody would do UX. And learn something about it. But there is graphic design to do, coding, and other things that could be required for a project to be successful. Sometimes, everybody in the group wants to do the same thing, and there is no good way around it.
Uni group projects are also interesting from the perspective of a single member. In some cases (like mine), a member would be inclined to do all the work, because they are interested in a couple of certain aspects of the project. And they either can’t decide what they want to do, or they get all snooty about other people’s work, which is less than ideal.
What I’m trying to say is, that division of labour can be a real hassle in uni projects. And while I should’ve realised this ages ago, now I say that everybody should really play to their strengths if they want a project to be successful, instead of trying to do everything themselves or, even worse, doing nothing. It’s important to match with someone who can do what we can’t, and who wants to reach a similar outcome. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t (because, for example, I want to work with my besties).
While working as a UI Intern at Ticketmaster, I realised how far from reality those uni briefs were. Don’t get me wrong, uni is great, and all the projects we do there are important. There might even be work settings in existence that resemble uni lifestyle. But those certainly are not huge corporations.
The first thing that ambushed me after starting my internship was how complex the product is. Everything I had been imagining after hearing “Ticketmaster” in the past was the ticket-selling platform. What I didn’t know about was different platforms directed towards different markets, various versions of the mobile app, enterprise products… you name it. The very website that was the essence of the brand for me is just a tiny portion of what that company is actually doing. And all of that needs people who design it, code it, manage it, manage those managing it, explain it to customers and deal with their complaints. Me, a UI intern, is just a tiny part of it, tiny cog in the complex corporate mechanism.
That’s why teamwork matters. Because in this environment, there is no arguing about your role; everyone has one, based on what they do best. Nobody can afford to be the guy that doesn’t show up until the final presentation. Nobody can afford to change the concept halfway through.
Am I okay with being a cog? Yes. While this metaphor that’s often used to describe corporate work is quite appropriate in its literal meaning, it also takes away the human factor of the equation. As long as I’m surrounded by other, highly qualified cogs, that I can learn a lot from, the watch that I am placed in has a ping pong table and free drinks every month, and most importantly, I care about that watch performing well, then I’m more than fine with being a cog. Because you can’t build something that complex alone, and you need people from various environments to make it work.
Before I started working in Ticketmaster I was very afraid that the work would turn out to be boring, monotonous or that I would get lost among all the people that make up the company. But after a couple of months I can safely say that it was a good decision, and I have both learned a lot and found great people, which was a pleasant surprise in itself.