Season 3

|

Episode 1

How to land your dream role as a Junior Designer

Perry Wang

Product Designer @ Discord

Oct 5, 2023

Oct 5, 2023

|

39:17

39:17

music by Dennis

About this Episode

This week's Deep Dive features early-career designer, Perry Wang. Previously at Google and now working at Discord. This Deep Dive is a masterclass for junior designers looking to jumpstart their career. We cover a lot👇

  • How his design portfolio went viral

  • How he landed roles at Google/Discord

  • What junior designers miss when looking to land a job

And more… Enjoy 🤿

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Show Notes

Deep Dives

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Insights + resources from top designers 👇

Lauren LoPrete

Director of Design Systems @ Cash App

David Hoang

VP of Marketing and Design @ Replit

Adrien Griveau

Founding Designer @ Linear

James McDonald

Designer @ Clerk

Femke

Design Lead @ Gusto

Join 10K+ designers

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Deep Dives

Get our weekly breakdowns

Free lessons from 👇

Lauren LoPrete

Lead designer @ Netflix

David Hoang

VP of Marketing and Design @ Replit

Adrien Griveau

Founding Designer @ Linear

Femke

Design Lead @ Gusto

Join 10K+ designers

HC

HC

HC

Deep Dives

Get our weekly breakdowns

Insights + resources from top designers 👇

Lauren LoPrete

Director of Design Systems @ Cash App

David Hoang

VP of Marketing and Design @ Replit

Adrien Griveau

Founding Designer @ Linear

James McDonald

Designer @ Clerk

Femke

Design Lead @ Gusto

Join 10K+ designers

HC

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Transcript chapters

Day 1 of going viral

Perry: Yeah, I mean, that first, like, I woke up in the morning and had one of my friends share the Twitter link that you posted out, and I was like, oh, this is really cool. Um, I didn't really think it was like a big deal or anything just yet, but pulled up my Google Analytics on the website, and the, like, graph went straight up.

I was like, what is happening? Um, but, I mean, at a highest level, it was like, it was like a nice, pleasant surprise. Like, um, the past few months have been pretty stressful after being laid off. And so, it was kind of like a moment where I could just stop after all that grind and just like kind of soak it in.

Um, kind of understanding that like the hard work kind of paid off in that moment. Um, and it was really awesome because people started reaching out to me personally, talking about like, oh, we love your website, we love your portfolio. And they're calling out the details that I didn't think anyone would notice.

Um, so that was like a nice kind of pat on the back. But, um, honestly it was just like a really heartwarming moment, um, for me. It's the ability to kind of share the work, share the hard work. Um, yeah, honestly, just [00:01:00] don't really have words for that. It was just like a, no way, that type of moment, you know?

Ridd: I mean, hard work is definitely what came through to me. Like the first time I'm scrolling this thing, it's just amazing. The amount of attention to detail and how you thought about the borders and the nested containers, and even just to hover States on these portfolio cards. Like I started immediately taking screenshots to put in my own.

Inspiration folder. And I'm sure like a lot of other people did as well. Like a lot of people have saved your website somewhere to refer back to, which kind of makes me wonder, like, what were the main sources of inspiration that you were using when you first set out to create the site?

Perry: Yeah, um, there's, there's a lot. Like, like you mentioned, the whole portfolio folder of inspiration. I had that going on, um, countless different portfolios that I've saved across the years. I'm just kind of like pulling small parts from that. Um, I will say, like, A lot of free time I had. So I just like spent a bunch of my days and nights just browsing portfolios and like, Oh, there was a good moment or like something really liked in [00:02:00] that portfolio.

Day 1 of going viral

Perry: Yeah, I mean, that first, like, I woke up in the morning and had one of my friends share the Twitter link that you posted out, and I was like, oh, this is really cool. Um, I didn't really think it was like a big deal or anything just yet, but pulled up my Google Analytics on the website, and the, like, graph went straight up.

I was like, what is happening? Um, but, I mean, at a highest level, it was like, it was like a nice, pleasant surprise. Like, um, the past few months have been pretty stressful after being laid off. And so, it was kind of like a moment where I could just stop after all that grind and just like kind of soak it in.

Um, kind of understanding that like the hard work kind of paid off in that moment. Um, and it was really awesome because people started reaching out to me personally, talking about like, oh, we love your website, we love your portfolio. And they're calling out the details that I didn't think anyone would notice.

Um, so that was like a nice kind of pat on the back. But, um, honestly it was just like a really heartwarming moment, um, for me. It's the ability to kind of share the work, share the hard work. Um, yeah, honestly, just [00:01:00] don't really have words for that. It was just like a, no way, that type of moment, you know?

Ridd: I mean, hard work is definitely what came through to me. Like the first time I'm scrolling this thing, it's just amazing. The amount of attention to detail and how you thought about the borders and the nested containers, and even just to hover States on these portfolio cards. Like I started immediately taking screenshots to put in my own.

Inspiration folder. And I'm sure like a lot of other people did as well. Like a lot of people have saved your website somewhere to refer back to, which kind of makes me wonder, like, what were the main sources of inspiration that you were using when you first set out to create the site?

Perry: Yeah, um, there's, there's a lot. Like, like you mentioned, the whole portfolio folder of inspiration. I had that going on, um, countless different portfolios that I've saved across the years. I'm just kind of like pulling small parts from that. Um, I will say, like, A lot of free time I had. So I just like spent a bunch of my days and nights just browsing portfolios and like, Oh, there was a good moment or like something really liked in [00:02:00] that portfolio.

Perry’s inspiration sources

Perry: I kind of like, stop, reflect on it and then kind of see where I can integrate that in my work without necessarily trying to copy it. Um, like, I don't want to say if I like a huge piece of inspiration is definitely like the whole linear websites going on the whole like gradients glow vibes. I really love that, even though it was like it feels so overused now.

I feel like there was some nuances I could try to pull from that. Just kind of give it that.

Um, I think that was just from a visual design standpoint on the portfolio itself, but I think the case studies, um, I wouldn't say it's like a source of inspiration, but a great reference for me was an article written by Aaron James about how to make a standout portfolio, and he was just going through, like, your portfolio should be kind of a highlight reel of your best hits.

And so just really driving that principle down in my work as I was developing it.

Ridd: What are some of the ways that you think that influenced how your site actually took shape? This idea of it being like a highlight reel of the best hits.

Perry: Yeah, [00:03:00] so I guess for me, since I was so pretty early on in my career, I didn't have that many hits to begin with. So it was pretty easy to select what work to put on it. Um, I Google I had a chance. We're going to really awesome projects. And so those definitely had to go in the in the portfolio, um, for better or worse, because Um, the projects were cancelled.

I was able to share a lot more content into them and kind of go into detail. Um, so I didn't, I wasn't kind of locked behind the NDA situation there. So, I guess I'm grateful for that, but at the same time, it was also a bummer to have that project cut, but I guess it balances out in the end.

Ridd: Were there other visual directions that you were exploring? Like, did you have kind of a spread or did you really know that, Hey, this is the vibe that I want to create from the get go,

Perry: Yeah, um, for me it was like trying to make sure my projects were always at the forefront, and the portfolio was just kind of like, like a dish that carried the food. Um, the food being the projects and so for me, it was just like, try to keep it as simple as possible. Um, and then if I had time in the end, like add that visual flair.[00:04:00]

Um, that whole like Mac OS window type of aesthetic, just be fun with it. Um, but I wouldn't say nothing too crazy. Um, just keeping it simple layout. Um, it was kind of like a adaptation of my previous portfolio that I had last year. And just kind of building on my work from last year to kind of accelerate that, augment that for this version of my portfolio.

Ridd: I think that's an interesting. Idea that I hadn't really thought about actually since looking at the original diagram website, when that launched, where the layout of the page itself is super, super straightforward. It's, Text paragraph and cards, but when you can really pour like love and appreciation into those cards to make them stand out and master all of the details, it goes a really long way without.

Creating something that feels like overkill on a site with all these different scrolling animations and things coming in from the sides, like it's familiar and yet still really impressive. And I think in a similar way that Marco was able to accomplish [00:05:00] that for the diagram website, you did so in the land of portfolio pages, like that's kind of what it reminds me of a little bit of how that worked.

And then also the, do you know, lazy, uh, have you

used their product yet or seen that? Yeah. There's a visual style of that. Your website reminds me of as well, which is also a compliment.

Perry: Yeah, I do. I do think that was part of the mood, the mood board as well. Um, but I think like you mentioned, like keeping the layout super straightforward and not letting it be distracting. And then just adding those small, tiny details like the flares, lens flares, the reflections, the gradients. Those are just like the nice touches at the very end.

But I think what carries the portfolio and like those websites, like you mentioned, why they're so great is just foundationally. They're just You know, alignment is great. All the fundamentals are met, and there's nothing too crazy going on aside from the kind of visual design details at the end.

Perry’s inspiration sources

Perry: I kind of like, stop, reflect on it and then kind of see where I can integrate that in my work without necessarily trying to copy it. Um, like, I don't want to say if I like a huge piece of inspiration is definitely like the whole linear websites going on the whole like gradients glow vibes. I really love that, even though it was like it feels so overused now.

I feel like there was some nuances I could try to pull from that. Just kind of give it that.

Um, I think that was just from a visual design standpoint on the portfolio itself, but I think the case studies, um, I wouldn't say it's like a source of inspiration, but a great reference for me was an article written by Aaron James about how to make a standout portfolio, and he was just going through, like, your portfolio should be kind of a highlight reel of your best hits.

And so just really driving that principle down in my work as I was developing it.

Ridd: What are some of the ways that you think that influenced how your site actually took shape? This idea of it being like a highlight reel of the best hits.

Perry: Yeah, [00:03:00] so I guess for me, since I was so pretty early on in my career, I didn't have that many hits to begin with. So it was pretty easy to select what work to put on it. Um, I Google I had a chance. We're going to really awesome projects. And so those definitely had to go in the in the portfolio, um, for better or worse, because Um, the projects were cancelled.

I was able to share a lot more content into them and kind of go into detail. Um, so I didn't, I wasn't kind of locked behind the NDA situation there. So, I guess I'm grateful for that, but at the same time, it was also a bummer to have that project cut, but I guess it balances out in the end.

Ridd: Were there other visual directions that you were exploring? Like, did you have kind of a spread or did you really know that, Hey, this is the vibe that I want to create from the get go,

Perry: Yeah, um, for me it was like trying to make sure my projects were always at the forefront, and the portfolio was just kind of like, like a dish that carried the food. Um, the food being the projects and so for me, it was just like, try to keep it as simple as possible. Um, and then if I had time in the end, like add that visual flair.[00:04:00]

Um, that whole like Mac OS window type of aesthetic, just be fun with it. Um, but I wouldn't say nothing too crazy. Um, just keeping it simple layout. Um, it was kind of like a adaptation of my previous portfolio that I had last year. And just kind of building on my work from last year to kind of accelerate that, augment that for this version of my portfolio.

Ridd: I think that's an interesting. Idea that I hadn't really thought about actually since looking at the original diagram website, when that launched, where the layout of the page itself is super, super straightforward. It's, Text paragraph and cards, but when you can really pour like love and appreciation into those cards to make them stand out and master all of the details, it goes a really long way without.

Creating something that feels like overkill on a site with all these different scrolling animations and things coming in from the sides, like it's familiar and yet still really impressive. And I think in a similar way that Marco was able to accomplish [00:05:00] that for the diagram website, you did so in the land of portfolio pages, like that's kind of what it reminds me of a little bit of how that worked.

And then also the, do you know, lazy, uh, have you

used their product yet or seen that? Yeah. There's a visual style of that. Your website reminds me of as well, which is also a compliment.

Perry: Yeah, I do. I do think that was part of the mood, the mood board as well. Um, but I think like you mentioned, like keeping the layout super straightforward and not letting it be distracting. And then just adding those small, tiny details like the flares, lens flares, the reflections, the gradients. Those are just like the nice touches at the very end.

But I think what carries the portfolio and like those websites, like you mentioned, why they're so great is just foundationally. They're just You know, alignment is great. All the fundamentals are met, and there's nothing too crazy going on aside from the kind of visual design details at the end.

Getting feedback and iterating

Ridd: I noticed in some of the comments on LinkedIn that some people were responding and mentioning how they love to [00:06:00] see the ways that it evolved over time, and maybe they were involved in some kind of like a feedback process. So can you share a little bit about how you got feedback on some of the early concepts and maybe how the site evolved over time?

Perry: Yeah, so those folks on the LinkedIn, on your LinkedIn posts, uh, they're very close friends. They've supported me throughout, I guess, my early career, even though my career is still pretty early. Um, and they're, I consider them as mentors and friends at the same time. And so, when I was first kind of, when I first got laid off at Google, and I was kind of like, okay, time for a new portfolio.

I just threw together some stuff and kind of just posted it and, um, sent it to them over and like, hey, what are your thoughts on this? And just got their gut check on it. Um, I really appreciate how they're the type of people who will give you just like, uh, the no BS type of feedback. Like, okay, this is not going to work.

Um, try something else. And that kind of guided me to a direction that, you know. At the end, ultimately it worked out. Um, and so it was just multiple feedback loops after that. Like, okay, this doesn't work, let's try this version. And if this doesn't work, [00:07:00] maybe I combine two versions together. And then this ultimately was the approach that I went for.

Ridd: Do you have an example of something that you changed based off of feedback you received?

Perry: Yeah, I think, this is like a really minute thing, but, um, on the mobile version of the website, I was exploring this concept of like, Essentially mimicking, like, uh, a mobile browser interface to wrap the entire website. Kind of similar to the desktop version, how it's like a macOS window, but a piece of feedback I was getting was kind of, it was just boxes within boxes within boxes, it was just getting too complicated.

Um, and so, kind of just stripping that all back and again, focusing on just, kind of, good typography, good spacing, good layout, and highlighting good projects, I think ultimately carried, um, the project, uh, the portfolio to success. Versus trying to, like, Uh, copy like a safari window or something on a mobile device.

Um, getting too, too, too much in the details too early on. Um, it was time to kind of focus on the projects before kind of worrying about those details.

Ridd: I love that you have the network in place, you know, early in your career, like people to be able to give you that kind of feedback. [00:08:00] Were they people from Google or how did you even build this network? And I'm specifically thinking of the friends page on your website that really stood out to me, especially for someone who's only been doing this for, you know, two, three years.

Perry: Mm hmm. Yeah, so, I am so grateful for the people around me. Um, I think that they've shaped who I am. And, again, I think just being able to have access to them every day, not only as friends, but like as family. Career mentors has been so awesome and I guess how I stumbled upon them was just completely by accident.

Getting feedback and iterating

Ridd: I noticed in some of the comments on LinkedIn that some people were responding and mentioning how they love to [00:06:00] see the ways that it evolved over time, and maybe they were involved in some kind of like a feedback process. So can you share a little bit about how you got feedback on some of the early concepts and maybe how the site evolved over time?

Perry: Yeah, so those folks on the LinkedIn, on your LinkedIn posts, uh, they're very close friends. They've supported me throughout, I guess, my early career, even though my career is still pretty early. Um, and they're, I consider them as mentors and friends at the same time. And so, when I was first kind of, when I first got laid off at Google, and I was kind of like, okay, time for a new portfolio.

I just threw together some stuff and kind of just posted it and, um, sent it to them over and like, hey, what are your thoughts on this? And just got their gut check on it. Um, I really appreciate how they're the type of people who will give you just like, uh, the no BS type of feedback. Like, okay, this is not going to work.

Um, try something else. And that kind of guided me to a direction that, you know. At the end, ultimately it worked out. Um, and so it was just multiple feedback loops after that. Like, okay, this doesn't work, let's try this version. And if this doesn't work, [00:07:00] maybe I combine two versions together. And then this ultimately was the approach that I went for.

Ridd: Do you have an example of something that you changed based off of feedback you received?

Perry: Yeah, I think, this is like a really minute thing, but, um, on the mobile version of the website, I was exploring this concept of like, Essentially mimicking, like, uh, a mobile browser interface to wrap the entire website. Kind of similar to the desktop version, how it's like a macOS window, but a piece of feedback I was getting was kind of, it was just boxes within boxes within boxes, it was just getting too complicated.

Um, and so, kind of just stripping that all back and again, focusing on just, kind of, good typography, good spacing, good layout, and highlighting good projects, I think ultimately carried, um, the project, uh, the portfolio to success. Versus trying to, like, Uh, copy like a safari window or something on a mobile device.

Um, getting too, too, too much in the details too early on. Um, it was time to kind of focus on the projects before kind of worrying about those details.

Ridd: I love that you have the network in place, you know, early in your career, like people to be able to give you that kind of feedback. [00:08:00] Were they people from Google or how did you even build this network? And I'm specifically thinking of the friends page on your website that really stood out to me, especially for someone who's only been doing this for, you know, two, three years.

Perry: Mm hmm. Yeah, so, I am so grateful for the people around me. Um, I think that they've shaped who I am. And, again, I think just being able to have access to them every day, not only as friends, but like as family. Career mentors has been so awesome and I guess how I stumbled upon them was just completely by accident.

Building a personal network

Perry: Um, I think it was like I was still in school in my like fourth year about to graduate and I just kind of posted my portfolio on Design Buddies. Uh, we have a portfolio feedback kind of form there. Um, and that kind of caught some traction with some of the mentors on Design Buddies. Um, and so that kind of was a tipping point between like I'm a nobody versus like, Oh, this, this person has, Potential to be a good designer.

And so I, I reached out to them from that and then everything's kind of [00:09:00] Kickstarter from there. Um, so I, I think like it wasn't like an intentional thing where I was just trying to network like cold, cold call people on LinkedIn or something, but, um, focusing on my portfolio first to kind of have that as a piece of visibility to in a way, I guess, trying to motivate these people to want to mentor me was what I did.

Um, I'll be accidentally, but super grateful that it worked out in the end.

Ridd: And even just having. The flip side perspective, or maybe the opposite end of the table. I was having an interaction with someone on Twitter a couple of days ago that sent me their portfolio and asked for feedback and. The message itself was, was really good because I get a lot of them and you don't have time to respond to every single one of them.

But as soon as I shared some piece of feedback, they immediately came back with, Hey, here are the three different ways that I thought about implementing this. And it was kind of cool to see people take action and actually care about what you're sharing and the feedback that you're giving. And so. I don't know.

I just wanted to share that because as [00:10:00] someone who is kind of on the opposite end of the table, it's a really fulfilling thing to see people, not just take what you say and run, but actually come back and show, Hey, this is how I thought about acting on what you said.

Perry: Yeah,

Ridd: well done. And also it's, it's cool to hear design buddies come up in the conversation again.

We just talked with Grace Ling

a few weeks ago and. Yeah, the more that I pay attention to her on the internet, the more I see that she's the common thread between a lot of people. So Design Buddies is definitely doing something special. If you haven't checked out that community yet and you're listening, you definitely should.

Perry: Yeah, it was definitely a great resource for me. Um, it blew up during the pandemic and that's when I joined as well. And so, yeah, honestly, it's a great community to be a part of. Um, I'm kind of like quote unquote mentoring there now. I'm like hovering in the different channels. If there's a question I can answer, I'll try my best to answer it.

Um, but yeah, overall, it's a pretty good community.

Building a personal network

Perry: Um, I think it was like I was still in school in my like fourth year about to graduate and I just kind of posted my portfolio on Design Buddies. Uh, we have a portfolio feedback kind of form there. Um, and that kind of caught some traction with some of the mentors on Design Buddies. Um, and so that kind of was a tipping point between like I'm a nobody versus like, Oh, this, this person has, Potential to be a good designer.

And so I, I reached out to them from that and then everything's kind of [00:09:00] Kickstarter from there. Um, so I, I think like it wasn't like an intentional thing where I was just trying to network like cold, cold call people on LinkedIn or something, but, um, focusing on my portfolio first to kind of have that as a piece of visibility to in a way, I guess, trying to motivate these people to want to mentor me was what I did.

Um, I'll be accidentally, but super grateful that it worked out in the end.

Ridd: And even just having. The flip side perspective, or maybe the opposite end of the table. I was having an interaction with someone on Twitter a couple of days ago that sent me their portfolio and asked for feedback and. The message itself was, was really good because I get a lot of them and you don't have time to respond to every single one of them.

But as soon as I shared some piece of feedback, they immediately came back with, Hey, here are the three different ways that I thought about implementing this. And it was kind of cool to see people take action and actually care about what you're sharing and the feedback that you're giving. And so. I don't know.

I just wanted to share that because as [00:10:00] someone who is kind of on the opposite end of the table, it's a really fulfilling thing to see people, not just take what you say and run, but actually come back and show, Hey, this is how I thought about acting on what you said.

Perry: Yeah,

Ridd: well done. And also it's, it's cool to hear design buddies come up in the conversation again.

We just talked with Grace Ling

a few weeks ago and. Yeah, the more that I pay attention to her on the internet, the more I see that she's the common thread between a lot of people. So Design Buddies is definitely doing something special. If you haven't checked out that community yet and you're listening, you definitely should.

Perry: Yeah, it was definitely a great resource for me. Um, it blew up during the pandemic and that's when I joined as well. And so, yeah, honestly, it's a great community to be a part of. Um, I'm kind of like quote unquote mentoring there now. I'm like hovering in the different channels. If there's a question I can answer, I'll try my best to answer it.

Um, but yeah, overall, it's a pretty good community.

Building in Webflow

Ridd: One more question on [00:11:00] your actual portfolio website. Can you walk us through the tech stack? How'd you build it and what were the tools that you used?

Perry: Yeah, so I use Webflow. Um, I think, me personally, it was a choice between, I guess, like, I really wanted the menu control over everything. Like, uh, I was using Squarespace on my, like, original website at the very, very beginning. Um, and it just, it just wasn't able to, Dive into the like the small little details.

I want to control it. I want to align this thing to this specific thing. Um, and so I came across Webflow. Oh, this is this is great. It gives me the control I need. Um, granted, it was a huge learning curve just like understand the principles of like this fundamental web design. Um, but after just like going through the tutorials and everything, um, it kind of became like riding a bike.

And I think learning Webflow has been like the best return on investment for me. Um, not only in building that website, but kind of how I work today with engineers and Even, like, just having a fundamental understanding of how the web works has translated so well into how I design things and how I hand things over and how I communicate.

[00:12:00] Um, and for me, the, uh, the website itself was kind of mainly Webflow and, like, a mix of, like, custom code here and there to get those special effects happening. Um, but aside from that, um, yeah, kept it pretty straightforward, just, uh, basic Webflow stuff.

Ridd: Basic Webflow stuff as the page like shimmers on load and all this thing. I do like your point about how Webflow really does kind of teach you the foundational mental models behind HTML, CSS, even a little bit of JavaScript animations and things like that. And I often wonder what the impact will be of Framer becoming more popular because when I look back on my own learning journey, I can kind of pinpoint this inflection in my own skillset based off of when I really wrapped my head around Webflow, because it truly teaches you how to think about front end foundations and you don't really get that with different tools when you're not having to like use that UI.

That's really just oriented around CSS.[00:13:00] so for people unfamiliar, you were actually an architecture major and then made this transition to UX design and you landed some pretty high profile roles pretty early on, uh, at Google and most recently at discord. Can you take us back to that point in time, maybe right before you, uh, Ultimately started working at Google.

What were you doing to get that opportunity?

Perry: Yeah, so there was like a point in my I guess studies where I just kind of knew I didn't want to architecture anymore as a profession. Um, like I really loved the discipline, um, and the academic practice, but just learning more about the industry was like, Oh, man, I don't think I have the patience for this.

Um, and so I was just looking at different opportunities where I could still make things and hopefully try to find like a parallel for kind of what I was already doing. Um, and like graphic design was always something that was in my back pocket. Like I was doing some volunteer work for like a school club.

Um, just making [00:14:00] graphics and things, but then, um, came across this random UX thing, um. I think I think it was the Adobe creative jam, like design competitions that they were doing during the pandemic. And so I was like, oh, this is this is great. Um, so enter it, you know, looks pretty easy. You're just putting buttons everywhere.

No big deal. Um, grabbed a couple friends worked the weekend on the project and we came dead last and on that competition. So it was like, oh man, this might not be it. Um, this is like an aside, but I think I remember they posted the PDF of like all the results on that. We just kept scrolling, scrolling, scrolling, look for a name on that.

It was like the very bottom team, Perry, friend, a friend B. It was like, Oh, darn it. and so at that point it was like, maybe I should not, I should just give up. Uh, but there was like a month between this competition, the next competition that they were hosting and, um, it was summer as well. So it was just like using LinkedIn learning that our school gave us access to.

Building in Webflow

Ridd: One more question on [00:11:00] your actual portfolio website. Can you walk us through the tech stack? How'd you build it and what were the tools that you used?

Perry: Yeah, so I use Webflow. Um, I think, me personally, it was a choice between, I guess, like, I really wanted the menu control over everything. Like, uh, I was using Squarespace on my, like, original website at the very, very beginning. Um, and it just, it just wasn't able to, Dive into the like the small little details.

I want to control it. I want to align this thing to this specific thing. Um, and so I came across Webflow. Oh, this is this is great. It gives me the control I need. Um, granted, it was a huge learning curve just like understand the principles of like this fundamental web design. Um, but after just like going through the tutorials and everything, um, it kind of became like riding a bike.

And I think learning Webflow has been like the best return on investment for me. Um, not only in building that website, but kind of how I work today with engineers and Even, like, just having a fundamental understanding of how the web works has translated so well into how I design things and how I hand things over and how I communicate.

[00:12:00] Um, and for me, the, uh, the website itself was kind of mainly Webflow and, like, a mix of, like, custom code here and there to get those special effects happening. Um, but aside from that, um, yeah, kept it pretty straightforward, just, uh, basic Webflow stuff.

Ridd: Basic Webflow stuff as the page like shimmers on load and all this thing. I do like your point about how Webflow really does kind of teach you the foundational mental models behind HTML, CSS, even a little bit of JavaScript animations and things like that. And I often wonder what the impact will be of Framer becoming more popular because when I look back on my own learning journey, I can kind of pinpoint this inflection in my own skillset based off of when I really wrapped my head around Webflow, because it truly teaches you how to think about front end foundations and you don't really get that with different tools when you're not having to like use that UI.

That's really just oriented around CSS.[00:13:00] so for people unfamiliar, you were actually an architecture major and then made this transition to UX design and you landed some pretty high profile roles pretty early on, uh, at Google and most recently at discord. Can you take us back to that point in time, maybe right before you, uh, Ultimately started working at Google.

What were you doing to get that opportunity?

Perry: Yeah, so there was like a point in my I guess studies where I just kind of knew I didn't want to architecture anymore as a profession. Um, like I really loved the discipline, um, and the academic practice, but just learning more about the industry was like, Oh, man, I don't think I have the patience for this.

Um, and so I was just looking at different opportunities where I could still make things and hopefully try to find like a parallel for kind of what I was already doing. Um, and like graphic design was always something that was in my back pocket. Like I was doing some volunteer work for like a school club.

Um, just making [00:14:00] graphics and things, but then, um, came across this random UX thing, um. I think I think it was the Adobe creative jam, like design competitions that they were doing during the pandemic. And so I was like, oh, this is this is great. Um, so enter it, you know, looks pretty easy. You're just putting buttons everywhere.

No big deal. Um, grabbed a couple friends worked the weekend on the project and we came dead last and on that competition. So it was like, oh man, this might not be it. Um, this is like an aside, but I think I remember they posted the PDF of like all the results on that. We just kept scrolling, scrolling, scrolling, look for a name on that.

It was like the very bottom team, Perry, friend, a friend B. It was like, Oh, darn it. and so at that point it was like, maybe I should not, I should just give up. Uh, but there was like a month between this competition, the next competition that they were hosting and, um, it was summer as well. So it was just like using LinkedIn learning that our school gave us access to.

Getting started in UX design

Perry: And just like. Kind of duct taping my way through to different courses and tutorials on YouTube. I could find on like what [00:15:00] UX was Ended up entering the next competition and we're very fortunate to have come in second place this time out of a thousand teams So it was like, okay, this could be like an actual thing.

I could do for a job. I wasn't gonna do architecture And so I just kind of pushed forward on that and just like kept doing these courses kept watching these tutorials and just kept applying to these competitions and kind of these competitions became Like those projects in my first portfolio. And kind of just, you know, I think it was around my, my third year in the summer, um, I heard that, like, you can apply to internships for these things, and so I was looking around and was able to find an internship at one of the big banks here in Canada, um, and got the internship, so that was awesome, and that's kind of where I was trying to just get some professional experience under my belt, um, granted, these projects were probably never going to get public visibility, but for me, it was, like, just asking around senior designers, like, hey, what is this, what is that, and just, like, kind of, Um, lurking in like design reviews just to see what the vibe was.[00:16:00]

Um, and so that was like an awesome experience, uh, and just having worked around actual professional designers in this kind of new design profession that I've never heard of before. Um, I think after that, um, went back to my thesis year just to finish it out. Uh, it was, it was a wreck. A lot of all nighters.

Um, I, I didn't really enjoy the work I was doing anymore because I knew this wasn't what I was going to do. And so, like, on my free time after class, I would just work on my, my new portfolio. Um, so what I did was just take my competition projects and just, like, We did them from scratch because I felt like the internship taught me a lot of experiences that I didn't know before and I could apply these to these previous projects that, um, were pretty interesting, but like not great anymore from what I've learned at the internship and just made that portfolio.

The second portfolio version just kind of applied away at a bunch of different jobs. Um, just kind of cold applied. I think I replied to 70 80 positions. But around 2022, and I think the only company that got back to me was Google and it was [00:17:00] like, okay, this is kind of cool, but it was like all eggs in one basket type of thing.

So I just like pour all my effort into like this portfolio presentation, like practicing interviews. Um, thankfully was able to get through that. That really long interview process. Um, And, yeah, I had a really great time at Google, really enjoyed it, loved the people there. Had some really cool projects to work on, uh, on Stadia.

Getting started in UX design

Perry: And just like. Kind of duct taping my way through to different courses and tutorials on YouTube. I could find on like what [00:15:00] UX was Ended up entering the next competition and we're very fortunate to have come in second place this time out of a thousand teams So it was like, okay, this could be like an actual thing.

I could do for a job. I wasn't gonna do architecture And so I just kind of pushed forward on that and just like kept doing these courses kept watching these tutorials and just kept applying to these competitions and kind of these competitions became Like those projects in my first portfolio. And kind of just, you know, I think it was around my, my third year in the summer, um, I heard that, like, you can apply to internships for these things, and so I was looking around and was able to find an internship at one of the big banks here in Canada, um, and got the internship, so that was awesome, and that's kind of where I was trying to just get some professional experience under my belt, um, granted, these projects were probably never going to get public visibility, but for me, it was, like, just asking around senior designers, like, hey, what is this, what is that, and just, like, kind of, Um, lurking in like design reviews just to see what the vibe was.[00:16:00]

Um, and so that was like an awesome experience, uh, and just having worked around actual professional designers in this kind of new design profession that I've never heard of before. Um, I think after that, um, went back to my thesis year just to finish it out. Uh, it was, it was a wreck. A lot of all nighters.

Um, I, I didn't really enjoy the work I was doing anymore because I knew this wasn't what I was going to do. And so, like, on my free time after class, I would just work on my, my new portfolio. Um, so what I did was just take my competition projects and just, like, We did them from scratch because I felt like the internship taught me a lot of experiences that I didn't know before and I could apply these to these previous projects that, um, were pretty interesting, but like not great anymore from what I've learned at the internship and just made that portfolio.

The second portfolio version just kind of applied away at a bunch of different jobs. Um, just kind of cold applied. I think I replied to 70 80 positions. But around 2022, and I think the only company that got back to me was Google and it was [00:17:00] like, okay, this is kind of cool, but it was like all eggs in one basket type of thing.

So I just like pour all my effort into like this portfolio presentation, like practicing interviews. Um, thankfully was able to get through that. That really long interview process. Um, And, yeah, I had a really great time at Google, really enjoyed it, loved the people there. Had some really cool projects to work on, uh, on Stadia.

Landing a role at Discord

Perry: Um, obviously as the project was shut down, it was like, the perfect timing for the whole layout conversation. And then, um, essentially the entire team ended up getting cut. Um, got laid off within, like, the first eight months of my job, which is kind of a bummer. Uh, but just kind of used that time to relax a little bit, went to Japan for a couple of weeks, that was really cool. And then just kind of hopped right back into another portfolio grind. Um, and then that kind of led to where I am now at Discord. So, it's been like a rough journey, a lot of up and downs, a lot of like, forced stress I feel like didn't need to be there, but I think at the end of the day it was like a great motivation aspect at the end of the day to like, push me to where I am now.

So, whether I wanted it to be [00:18:00] like this or not, I guess I'm glad that it ended up this way.

Ridd: Yeah, I mean, it's really inspiring because the main thing that's coming across to me is like, you've had at least a couple pretty downer moments, you know, you came coming dead last or getting laid off in your first role. And I think it would've been a lot, I think it would've been easy for a lot of people to. Check out or have decreased motivation and you're definitely someone that has a history of persevering, which is really cool. Can we talk a little bit about that second application process now? So you have a little bit of work under your belt. You have some real portfolio projects. You have this new website.

How did you approach the application process and what were those early conversations with discord like?

Perry: Yeah. So for discord, I think it was definitely a question of network. Um, not networking in the case of like reaching out people linked in. But it was because of something I worked on at Google. [00:19:00] Um, it caught visibility from one of the design direct, uh, one of the directors on stadia who really loved that boots with project that I worked on.

Um, it was like a nice way to send off the product as it was kind of getting shut down. Um, and he ended up knowing someone at Discord who happens to be one of the design directors there. And so that was kind of like the igniting conversation piece to kind of get me that first interview. Um, and then once that conversation went through, um, went through like a pretty traditional design interview process with a portfolio review and a bunch of interviews after that, um, and Yeah, I think I guess it was very similar to the interview process at Google as well I guess I'm most tech companies too.

So For me, it was just having done good work to begin with was kind of what led me to this opportunity and this conversation happening

Ridd: For people who hear this phrase about, you know, it's a similar tech interview process, but maybe they're just gearing up for their first round of interviews, or they're just about to start applying to different companies. Can you shed a little bit of light into what that [00:20:00] experience was like and maybe any advice or ways that other more junior designers could effectively prep for those conversations?

Perry: Yeah, so the general framework for these interviews We don't when you're applying for a design role at tech companies for the most part consists of I think Fundamentally, the core aspect around it is the portfolio presentation, where you're kind of given like 45 minutes to an hour to just go through your work, um, in like a deck format, um, and kind of just like talk through it as if it was like a story, and kind of presenting your work and your artifacts, um, in more detail than what would otherwise be on your website, and following that would be kind of like a traditional behavioral stuff, like, you know, tell me about a time where you did this, What do you, when, when there was a conflict with someone on your team, how'd you resolve it?

Um, and then you have like a, maybe one or two technical interviews that usually revolve around like a take home exercise or a whiteboarding exercise. Um, it varies depending on company and sometimes they change it up based on the candidate too. But, um, that's generally how the framework looks like. Um, and you might have an [00:21:00] additional behavioral one, uh, here and there with like a cross functional partner like an engineer or a PM.

Um, but for the most part, like across the board, it's pretty similar. Uh, Um, as long as like those three kind of areas are met.

Ridd: You're staring at like a blank. Figma page, presumably, and thinking about how to tell that story and what your deck should ultimately look like. How'd you know where to go from there?

Perry: Yeah, um, that was tough because I, I, so I guess my, my approach for this was like, you know, this is why I like my case studies. I feel like we're super long. Um, that's one thing I'll go back and fix. It's kind of just shortening it down a bit, but I felt like I knew how to make a deck for this either way.

So like, might as well just put as much information as I could on the website case study. Um, I guess for me approaching it. As a story was more so trying to like push the design artifacts as like an underlayer kind of like a supporting thing for the story versus like me presenting the artifacts is like that is an artifact at surface level.

Um, so just give you an example, like the Bluetooth [00:22:00] project, um, for me, like, yes, I was trying to solve a problem for like making these controllers actually useful when the product shut down, but the story aspect I was trying to push through was like, we had like thousands of people on Reddit. And, like, different communities just pushing us to, like, please enable blues on these controllers.

So I thought that was, like, a really cool, kind of, story aspect of it, like, you know, this is the right thing to do by our users, like, this project is not gonna drive billions of dollars of revenue for Google or anything, but at the end of the day, it was, like, a rare opportunity for us designers to be able to, like, do the right thing, you know, agnostic of these business, kind of, objectives.

So that was just really fun to kind of walk through and kind of, you know, have a little bit of, like, a moral story behind everything.

Ridd: So you're now roughly three months into the role of discord. Is that right?

Perry: Yeah, just about.

Landing a role at Discord

Perry: Um, obviously as the project was shut down, it was like, the perfect timing for the whole layout conversation. And then, um, essentially the entire team ended up getting cut. Um, got laid off within, like, the first eight months of my job, which is kind of a bummer. Uh, but just kind of used that time to relax a little bit, went to Japan for a couple of weeks, that was really cool. And then just kind of hopped right back into another portfolio grind. Um, and then that kind of led to where I am now at Discord. So, it's been like a rough journey, a lot of up and downs, a lot of like, forced stress I feel like didn't need to be there, but I think at the end of the day it was like a great motivation aspect at the end of the day to like, push me to where I am now.

So, whether I wanted it to be [00:18:00] like this or not, I guess I'm glad that it ended up this way.

Ridd: Yeah, I mean, it's really inspiring because the main thing that's coming across to me is like, you've had at least a couple pretty downer moments, you know, you came coming dead last or getting laid off in your first role. And I think it would've been a lot, I think it would've been easy for a lot of people to. Check out or have decreased motivation and you're definitely someone that has a history of persevering, which is really cool. Can we talk a little bit about that second application process now? So you have a little bit of work under your belt. You have some real portfolio projects. You have this new website.

How did you approach the application process and what were those early conversations with discord like?

Perry: Yeah. So for discord, I think it was definitely a question of network. Um, not networking in the case of like reaching out people linked in. But it was because of something I worked on at Google. [00:19:00] Um, it caught visibility from one of the design direct, uh, one of the directors on stadia who really loved that boots with project that I worked on.

Um, it was like a nice way to send off the product as it was kind of getting shut down. Um, and he ended up knowing someone at Discord who happens to be one of the design directors there. And so that was kind of like the igniting conversation piece to kind of get me that first interview. Um, and then once that conversation went through, um, went through like a pretty traditional design interview process with a portfolio review and a bunch of interviews after that, um, and Yeah, I think I guess it was very similar to the interview process at Google as well I guess I'm most tech companies too.

So For me, it was just having done good work to begin with was kind of what led me to this opportunity and this conversation happening

Ridd: For people who hear this phrase about, you know, it's a similar tech interview process, but maybe they're just gearing up for their first round of interviews, or they're just about to start applying to different companies. Can you shed a little bit of light into what that [00:20:00] experience was like and maybe any advice or ways that other more junior designers could effectively prep for those conversations?

Perry: Yeah, so the general framework for these interviews We don't when you're applying for a design role at tech companies for the most part consists of I think Fundamentally, the core aspect around it is the portfolio presentation, where you're kind of given like 45 minutes to an hour to just go through your work, um, in like a deck format, um, and kind of just like talk through it as if it was like a story, and kind of presenting your work and your artifacts, um, in more detail than what would otherwise be on your website, and following that would be kind of like a traditional behavioral stuff, like, you know, tell me about a time where you did this, What do you, when, when there was a conflict with someone on your team, how'd you resolve it?

Um, and then you have like a, maybe one or two technical interviews that usually revolve around like a take home exercise or a whiteboarding exercise. Um, it varies depending on company and sometimes they change it up based on the candidate too. But, um, that's generally how the framework looks like. Um, and you might have an [00:21:00] additional behavioral one, uh, here and there with like a cross functional partner like an engineer or a PM.

Um, but for the most part, like across the board, it's pretty similar. Uh, Um, as long as like those three kind of areas are met.

Ridd: You're staring at like a blank. Figma page, presumably, and thinking about how to tell that story and what your deck should ultimately look like. How'd you know where to go from there?

Perry: Yeah, um, that was tough because I, I, so I guess my, my approach for this was like, you know, this is why I like my case studies. I feel like we're super long. Um, that's one thing I'll go back and fix. It's kind of just shortening it down a bit, but I felt like I knew how to make a deck for this either way.

So like, might as well just put as much information as I could on the website case study. Um, I guess for me approaching it. As a story was more so trying to like push the design artifacts as like an underlayer kind of like a supporting thing for the story versus like me presenting the artifacts is like that is an artifact at surface level.

Um, so just give you an example, like the Bluetooth [00:22:00] project, um, for me, like, yes, I was trying to solve a problem for like making these controllers actually useful when the product shut down, but the story aspect I was trying to push through was like, we had like thousands of people on Reddit. And, like, different communities just pushing us to, like, please enable blues on these controllers.

So I thought that was, like, a really cool, kind of, story aspect of it, like, you know, this is the right thing to do by our users, like, this project is not gonna drive billions of dollars of revenue for Google or anything, but at the end of the day, it was, like, a rare opportunity for us designers to be able to, like, do the right thing, you know, agnostic of these business, kind of, objectives.

So that was just really fun to kind of walk through and kind of, you know, have a little bit of, like, a moral story behind everything.

Ridd: So you're now roughly three months into the role of discord. Is that right?

Perry: Yeah, just about.

Early days at Discord

Ridd: Okay. So what's that been like so far? Can you take us into those first few days, even what were you feeling? And what were some of the ways that you were getting like plugged in and assimilated with the team?[00:23:00]

Perry: Yeah, so first couple of days was just like relief that I got a job finally in this market. I'm just very grateful. It's definitely tough out there for juniors. So it's, I don't know, it was like a moment of relief almost for the first couple of days. Um, and then just like a traditional onboarding stuff.

Like, you're not really expected to do much yet. Um, but for me, it was like I was laid off for. I don't know, like three, four months now, and I haven't really quote unquote design anything beyond my portfolio. So it's kind of itching to work on something. And so for me, it was just trying to like. Where can I poke my head in?

Like, is there any, like, small design tweaks I can fix up? And so just me here and there poking between different teams, um, trying to, like, loosen those muscles a little bit after not having done much work for a little bit. Um, and kind of just learning how they work internally, the design systems, um, and everything like that.

Um, but it's definitely been a lot more fast paced than where I was at. Previously. Um, the team is a lot leaner, so you're able to see everyone's face. That's really cool. Um, at certain points, you're even kind of talking with like. The C suite level people who are super [00:24:00] close to the product, which is like something that I didn't experience at Google since it was just a behemoth of a company.

Um, but I think I'm really enjoying it for sure. Um, even three months in, it feels like I'm starting to get more ownership over a project. Um, and just being able to talk to designers, um, a lot more closely since the team is a lot smaller is definitely a plus.

Ridd: Can you share a little bit more about what you're working on?

Perry: Uh, not really, not yet. But, um, the team I'm working on is the premium products team. So it's the Nitro experience. So we're getting some pretty shiny new features for that, which is like super awesome, because before I was just like finding myself on a bunch of like enterprise internal projects. But now it's like the exact opposite.

It's like pure delight, um, super user facing, which is like kind of exactly what I was aiming for. So, super awesome.

Early days at Discord

Ridd: Okay. So what's that been like so far? Can you take us into those first few days, even what were you feeling? And what were some of the ways that you were getting like plugged in and assimilated with the team?[00:23:00]

Perry: Yeah, so first couple of days was just like relief that I got a job finally in this market. I'm just very grateful. It's definitely tough out there for juniors. So it's, I don't know, it was like a moment of relief almost for the first couple of days. Um, and then just like a traditional onboarding stuff.

Like, you're not really expected to do much yet. Um, but for me, it was like I was laid off for. I don't know, like three, four months now, and I haven't really quote unquote design anything beyond my portfolio. So it's kind of itching to work on something. And so for me, it was just trying to like. Where can I poke my head in?

Like, is there any, like, small design tweaks I can fix up? And so just me here and there poking between different teams, um, trying to, like, loosen those muscles a little bit after not having done much work for a little bit. Um, and kind of just learning how they work internally, the design systems, um, and everything like that.

Um, but it's definitely been a lot more fast paced than where I was at. Previously. Um, the team is a lot leaner, so you're able to see everyone's face. That's really cool. Um, at certain points, you're even kind of talking with like. The C suite level people who are super [00:24:00] close to the product, which is like something that I didn't experience at Google since it was just a behemoth of a company.

Um, but I think I'm really enjoying it for sure. Um, even three months in, it feels like I'm starting to get more ownership over a project. Um, and just being able to talk to designers, um, a lot more closely since the team is a lot smaller is definitely a plus.

Ridd: Can you share a little bit more about what you're working on?

Perry: Uh, not really, not yet. But, um, the team I'm working on is the premium products team. So it's the Nitro experience. So we're getting some pretty shiny new features for that, which is like super awesome, because before I was just like finding myself on a bunch of like enterprise internal projects. But now it's like the exact opposite.

It's like pure delight, um, super user facing, which is like kind of exactly what I was aiming for. So, super awesome.

Perry’s path for growth

Ridd: Have you been experiencing like any feelings of imposter syndrome or maybe you've even been like exposed to different workflows or other people's work that made you feel a little bit out of your depth?

Perry: Always, always, no matter [00:25:00] where I've been in my career, it's always been imposter syndrome. Um, I think what's worked for me is just accepting that no matter where you are, even if you're like a principal designer, you're still going to face imposter syndrome. Because I guess my approach to this is like, there's always gonna be something better than you and it is what it is.

Um, but for me, it's like, how can I leverage this feeling of imposter syndrome to, like, improve myself? Um, and at Discord, it's just, there's just so many talented designers here and they have. There's a lot of seniors here with like loads and loads of experience under the belt, and I'm just trying my best to like pick their brains.

Really thankful that they're all super open to like just messages here and there and me just asking a bunch of questions like, Oh, how'd you do this? It could be something as small as like, you know, how did you organize your Figma this way or something? But everyone's been super receptive and just kind of, you know, Making sure I pay attention to when they present at crits and things like that, and like kind of picking up the nuances and the order that they present their work.

I try my best to kind of pull from that and just put that into my own work as well. Um, and in ways trying to like pretend I'm a senior designer, to like, I [00:26:00] guess, see how I can perform at that next level. And if it doesn't work, um, it's okay, because I'm still pretty junior and mid level, so it's okay to mess up here and there.

Um, but yeah, at the end of the day, like imposter syndrome, always there. Um, definitely feels like I'm at the bottom of the bucket again. But, I think. It is what it is when you're first starting out, and there's always going to be someone better than you.

Ridd: It's a good place to be, honestly, like if you're surrounded by people that are clearly more skilled and experienced, that is definitely the easiest way to learn. And I like this idea of leveraging imposter syndrome to fuel your own growth. It kind of makes me wonder, are there areas that you've already identified where you really want to invest in growing your personal skill set?

Perry: Yeah, for sure. Um, I think as a junior slash mid, you're kind of expected to just produce a lot of things. Granted, I do love producing things. I'm more focused on just making as many things look cool as I can. Um, but, Um, from a business standpoint, like even no matter how crazy, like your concepts are, certain [00:27:00] things won't get through to like pipelines if you're, you aren't able to sell things properly and kind of have an underlying kind of narrative behind how this is going to generate the company money.

And so I'm hoping to like, you know, pick the brains of senior designers who've done that, um, who've owned projects from a concept to a launch, um, seeing what areas I can pull out and just being able to present my work a bit better. Not only as, like, design artifacts, but as, like, a product. Um, yeah.

Ridd: Explain that a little bit more. What do you mean when you say presenting work, not just as a design artifact, but as a product?

Perry: Yeah, um, I think right now a lot of my stuff has just been, like, making stuff and kind of convincing designers. But, you know, you're working with leadership whose primary objective is to generate money for this company. And even if, like, this design solution is, like, clearly the right design solution, um, it's not going to push through if it isn't.

A good return on investment for the company like it's gonna cost resources. This company to make this design change or to implement this new feature. [00:28:00] But if there's no like method or like road map for this feature to somehow generate money, it's not really going to go anywhere. And I think that's just that's just the nature of business in and of itself.

Um, and so trying to figure out a way to balance that, like convincing this is the best design practice versus like this is the best business practice and kind of mixing it to a little bit better is kind of what I'm primarily aiming to just get better at as I develop.

Perry’s path for growth

Ridd: Have you been experiencing like any feelings of imposter syndrome or maybe you've even been like exposed to different workflows or other people's work that made you feel a little bit out of your depth?

Perry: Always, always, no matter [00:25:00] where I've been in my career, it's always been imposter syndrome. Um, I think what's worked for me is just accepting that no matter where you are, even if you're like a principal designer, you're still going to face imposter syndrome. Because I guess my approach to this is like, there's always gonna be something better than you and it is what it is.

Um, but for me, it's like, how can I leverage this feeling of imposter syndrome to, like, improve myself? Um, and at Discord, it's just, there's just so many talented designers here and they have. There's a lot of seniors here with like loads and loads of experience under the belt, and I'm just trying my best to like pick their brains.

Really thankful that they're all super open to like just messages here and there and me just asking a bunch of questions like, Oh, how'd you do this? It could be something as small as like, you know, how did you organize your Figma this way or something? But everyone's been super receptive and just kind of, you know, Making sure I pay attention to when they present at crits and things like that, and like kind of picking up the nuances and the order that they present their work.

I try my best to kind of pull from that and just put that into my own work as well. Um, and in ways trying to like pretend I'm a senior designer, to like, I [00:26:00] guess, see how I can perform at that next level. And if it doesn't work, um, it's okay, because I'm still pretty junior and mid level, so it's okay to mess up here and there.

Um, but yeah, at the end of the day, like imposter syndrome, always there. Um, definitely feels like I'm at the bottom of the bucket again. But, I think. It is what it is when you're first starting out, and there's always going to be someone better than you.

Ridd: It's a good place to be, honestly, like if you're surrounded by people that are clearly more skilled and experienced, that is definitely the easiest way to learn. And I like this idea of leveraging imposter syndrome to fuel your own growth. It kind of makes me wonder, are there areas that you've already identified where you really want to invest in growing your personal skill set?

Perry: Yeah, for sure. Um, I think as a junior slash mid, you're kind of expected to just produce a lot of things. Granted, I do love producing things. I'm more focused on just making as many things look cool as I can. Um, but, Um, from a business standpoint, like even no matter how crazy, like your concepts are, certain [00:27:00] things won't get through to like pipelines if you're, you aren't able to sell things properly and kind of have an underlying kind of narrative behind how this is going to generate the company money.

And so I'm hoping to like, you know, pick the brains of senior designers who've done that, um, who've owned projects from a concept to a launch, um, seeing what areas I can pull out and just being able to present my work a bit better. Not only as, like, design artifacts, but as, like, a product. Um, yeah.

Ridd: Explain that a little bit more. What do you mean when you say presenting work, not just as a design artifact, but as a product?

Perry: Yeah, um, I think right now a lot of my stuff has just been, like, making stuff and kind of convincing designers. But, you know, you're working with leadership whose primary objective is to generate money for this company. And even if, like, this design solution is, like, clearly the right design solution, um, it's not going to push through if it isn't.

A good return on investment for the company like it's gonna cost resources. This company to make this design change or to implement this new feature. [00:28:00] But if there's no like method or like road map for this feature to somehow generate money, it's not really going to go anywhere. And I think that's just that's just the nature of business in and of itself.

Um, and so trying to figure out a way to balance that, like convincing this is the best design practice versus like this is the best business practice and kind of mixing it to a little bit better is kind of what I'm primarily aiming to just get better at as I develop.

#1 piece of advice for junior designers

Ridd: a lot of people in your shoes, maybe a year ago or 16 months ago where they're early in their career, just feeling like they have to fight. Tooth and nail for every opportunity and, you know, working really hard to get real work that they can show and are aiming to get that next real role.

And I want to make this conversation as practical as possible. So before I let you go. Is there a challenge or a next step that you can give someone that was in your position 16 months ago to help them reach that next tier in [00:29:00] their career?

Perry: Yeah. Um, I tell us a lot, um, for people that I've chatted with who we trust me for coffee chats. And I think the number one thing that doesn't get talked about enough. Um, when, like when you Google, like how to get a job in UX design is just the basis that design is a craft. Um, and so because it's a craft, you have to be really good at just making stuff.

And so that kind of leads the conversation of the importance of visual design across, um, I guess, junior designers, people just starting out. That feels like it's something that's lost in, like, the whole conversation between, like, UX, UI, the difference between the two. Um, in my opinion, I'd say block out all that noise and just really focus on, you know, if you're a designer, you gotta know how to design.

And so, I think, if you can, invest a lot of time and resources in just learning visual design principles. Um, having, trying to develop that good design eye for taste that will carry you so far. Um, I think... That's exactly what I did to kind of get to where I am. I'm just [00:30:00] focused on making stuff and then not worrying too much about, like the frameworks, um, you know, the whole user persona type of stuff.

Like, yes, those are important. But I think at the end of the day, no amount of process work matters if the end product just doesn't look good or it. It feels like it's unpolished. Um, I think that carries forward to a lot of things like a portfolio. Like if you don't have great final deliverables, no one's really going to read through your process work anyways.

Um, and so it's just kind of flipping the narrative. Like, yes, process work is important but so is the final deliverables. Um, that's something you should definitely focus on if you're just starting out.

Ridd: I could not agree more. And I agree that it also doesn't get talked about enough. I think that it's really easy to point to something like a Google UX certificate as the first step for designers. And I think it's great. It's helpful, but if you can. Spit out a bunch of UX theories and know how to write a great case study, but you don't understand the basics of layout and [00:31:00] typography.

I probably won't give your portfolio more than five, 10 seconds. And that's like a hard truth to hear maybe for people, but it's so, so incredibly true. And even. Thinking about the skillset that I would hope a junior designer would have when they come into a new role. This might be a hot take. I don't know, but I actually think it is much harder to learn very good visual design than it is to build up your intuition for what makes a great user experience, because a lot of that comes.

With time on the job, it comes with just being exposed to more problems. It comes by being immersed in a solid design team that is teaching you how to think about things. I think you just learn a lot of that with time. But if you can't be trusted to execute on the visuals, that's tough because then as someone who's maybe like a hiring manager or a more senior designer on a team, I kind of feel like I always have to be. [00:32:00] A little bit over your shoulder just to make sure like, okay, are we thinking correctly about just basic typography stuff? And so I definitely agree. Um, that is an awesome next step for. Any designer who's looking to get that next role or maybe how to improve their portfolio. Like there's almost always an opportunity to improve that visual side of the craft.

And it kind of then makes me want to learn a little bit more about what were some of the ways that you invested in your visual design skills early on.

Perry: Yeah. So for me, this was kind of just doing things over and over again. Um, and then as I was doing it, like Um, But like, over the weeks I would look back at the previous week's work and I'm like, this doesn't look great, like why doesn't it look great? Um, I think it's definitely a good sign for like, improvement, if you kind of look back at your old work and you're like, oh this is terrible.

Um, so what I used to do is just kind of like screenshot UIs of like apps I use every day and just like recreate them. But like, not blindly, but being very critical about how I recreate them. [00:33:00] Like asking myself, why is this thing spaced 8 pixels from this thing? Why not 12? Why not 16? Um, and then that kind of...

Passively taught me like, oh, it's because this thing needs to be close to that thing. You know, it's common association or something like that. And just just looking at a bunch of you eyes over time just helps train that I, um, like you said, it takes a lot of time. Like as a craft, like kind of like playing a sport, you know, I guess like if you're playing basketball, there's an aspect of game sense into it in addition to like your raw skill and game sense is like knowing when to pass the ball and knowing when to shoot the ball.

That comes with time. You can't really train that. Um, and so same thing comes to design. Like as you do things over and over again, you start just picking up on these small nuances and it kind of becomes like a second thought in a way. Um, and so I feel like that might be something that Um, puts people who have had like four years of formal design education above those at boot camps because they just had the time to go through everything they had, you know, an environment where it was very critical, um, a very curated set of students around [00:34:00] them and professors who are very focused on refining craft versus a boot camp where they're kind of just teaching you this design process as like a very generalized framework.

And there isn't much room to like perfect the craft. Um, and yeah, I guess for me, just, you know, Repeating things over and over again until I felt like this looked good. Um, and then just looking at stuff around me, uh, finding inspiration, being very critical about the stuff I use every day. Like, why do I think Google Meets does this?

You know, why do I think Gmail does this? Um, why do I think Discord does this? And, um, yeah, just, you know, flexing those muscles a little bit, training it, and just over time it develops kind of subconsciously in a way.

Ridd: I love the idea of game sense. It makes total sense. I do think a lot of it becomes. Intuition over time, just because you've went through this process. You've made that pass eight times. You've designed this style of accordion eight times or whatever it is. And. I personally [00:35:00] can't recite a single UX theory.

I don't, I never committed any of them to memory. I just designed a lot of stuff constantly and was asking myself, like, why do I think this works? What are the patterns that I noticed in all of these other products? And maybe I don't even know the underlying why, but you can see like, okay, this is an acceptable pattern.

And. It's something that I can start to rely on and I can add to my own personal tool belt. So I think that is very interesting. Your point on for your design degrees, I think I agree with, and yet here you are without one, you have this architectural degree and you've kind of fast track fast tracked that learning curve a little bit.

#1 piece of advice for junior designers

Ridd: a lot of people in your shoes, maybe a year ago or 16 months ago where they're early in their career, just feeling like they have to fight. Tooth and nail for every opportunity and, you know, working really hard to get real work that they can show and are aiming to get that next real role.

And I want to make this conversation as practical as possible. So before I let you go. Is there a challenge or a next step that you can give someone that was in your position 16 months ago to help them reach that next tier in [00:29:00] their career?

Perry: Yeah. Um, I tell us a lot, um, for people that I've chatted with who we trust me for coffee chats. And I think the number one thing that doesn't get talked about enough. Um, when, like when you Google, like how to get a job in UX design is just the basis that design is a craft. Um, and so because it's a craft, you have to be really good at just making stuff.

And so that kind of leads the conversation of the importance of visual design across, um, I guess, junior designers, people just starting out. That feels like it's something that's lost in, like, the whole conversation between, like, UX, UI, the difference between the two. Um, in my opinion, I'd say block out all that noise and just really focus on, you know, if you're a designer, you gotta know how to design.

And so, I think, if you can, invest a lot of time and resources in just learning visual design principles. Um, having, trying to develop that good design eye for taste that will carry you so far. Um, I think... That's exactly what I did to kind of get to where I am. I'm just [00:30:00] focused on making stuff and then not worrying too much about, like the frameworks, um, you know, the whole user persona type of stuff.

Like, yes, those are important. But I think at the end of the day, no amount of process work matters if the end product just doesn't look good or it. It feels like it's unpolished. Um, I think that carries forward to a lot of things like a portfolio. Like if you don't have great final deliverables, no one's really going to read through your process work anyways.

Um, and so it's just kind of flipping the narrative. Like, yes, process work is important but so is the final deliverables. Um, that's something you should definitely focus on if you're just starting out.

Ridd: I could not agree more. And I agree that it also doesn't get talked about enough. I think that it's really easy to point to something like a Google UX certificate as the first step for designers. And I think it's great. It's helpful, but if you can. Spit out a bunch of UX theories and know how to write a great case study, but you don't understand the basics of layout and [00:31:00] typography.

I probably won't give your portfolio more than five, 10 seconds. And that's like a hard truth to hear maybe for people, but it's so, so incredibly true. And even. Thinking about the skillset that I would hope a junior designer would have when they come into a new role. This might be a hot take. I don't know, but I actually think it is much harder to learn very good visual design than it is to build up your intuition for what makes a great user experience, because a lot of that comes.

With time on the job, it comes with just being exposed to more problems. It comes by being immersed in a solid design team that is teaching you how to think about things. I think you just learn a lot of that with time. But if you can't be trusted to execute on the visuals, that's tough because then as someone who's maybe like a hiring manager or a more senior designer on a team, I kind of feel like I always have to be. [00:32:00] A little bit over your shoulder just to make sure like, okay, are we thinking correctly about just basic typography stuff? And so I definitely agree. Um, that is an awesome next step for. Any designer who's looking to get that next role or maybe how to improve their portfolio. Like there's almost always an opportunity to improve that visual side of the craft.

And it kind of then makes me want to learn a little bit more about what were some of the ways that you invested in your visual design skills early on.

Perry: Yeah. So for me, this was kind of just doing things over and over again. Um, and then as I was doing it, like Um, But like, over the weeks I would look back at the previous week's work and I'm like, this doesn't look great, like why doesn't it look great? Um, I think it's definitely a good sign for like, improvement, if you kind of look back at your old work and you're like, oh this is terrible.

Um, so what I used to do is just kind of like screenshot UIs of like apps I use every day and just like recreate them. But like, not blindly, but being very critical about how I recreate them. [00:33:00] Like asking myself, why is this thing spaced 8 pixels from this thing? Why not 12? Why not 16? Um, and then that kind of...

Passively taught me like, oh, it's because this thing needs to be close to that thing. You know, it's common association or something like that. And just just looking at a bunch of you eyes over time just helps train that I, um, like you said, it takes a lot of time. Like as a craft, like kind of like playing a sport, you know, I guess like if you're playing basketball, there's an aspect of game sense into it in addition to like your raw skill and game sense is like knowing when to pass the ball and knowing when to shoot the ball.

That comes with time. You can't really train that. Um, and so same thing comes to design. Like as you do things over and over again, you start just picking up on these small nuances and it kind of becomes like a second thought in a way. Um, and so I feel like that might be something that Um, puts people who have had like four years of formal design education above those at boot camps because they just had the time to go through everything they had, you know, an environment where it was very critical, um, a very curated set of students around [00:34:00] them and professors who are very focused on refining craft versus a boot camp where they're kind of just teaching you this design process as like a very generalized framework.

And there isn't much room to like perfect the craft. Um, and yeah, I guess for me, just, you know, Repeating things over and over again until I felt like this looked good. Um, and then just looking at stuff around me, uh, finding inspiration, being very critical about the stuff I use every day. Like, why do I think Google Meets does this?

You know, why do I think Gmail does this? Um, why do I think Discord does this? And, um, yeah, just, you know, flexing those muscles a little bit, training it, and just over time it develops kind of subconsciously in a way.

Ridd: I love the idea of game sense. It makes total sense. I do think a lot of it becomes. Intuition over time, just because you've went through this process. You've made that pass eight times. You've designed this style of accordion eight times or whatever it is. And. I personally [00:35:00] can't recite a single UX theory.

I don't, I never committed any of them to memory. I just designed a lot of stuff constantly and was asking myself, like, why do I think this works? What are the patterns that I noticed in all of these other products? And maybe I don't even know the underlying why, but you can see like, okay, this is an acceptable pattern.

And. It's something that I can start to rely on and I can add to my own personal tool belt. So I think that is very interesting. Your point on for your design degrees, I think I agree with, and yet here you are without one, you have this architectural degree and you've kind of fast track fast tracked that learning curve a little bit.

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