UX/UI designers have the luxury of choosing the environment they want to work in – is it going to be an agency, startup, tech giant? Maybe they’re going to freelance? It’s really up to them. Because there are so many choices, sometimes it’s difficult to decide which of these environments will suit you, as a UX/UI designer, best. To narrow down your choices, I wrote this article as an introduction to the work of a digital agency, and how your role, as a junior designer, fits right in.
Before we get into this, keep in mind that every agency has its own way of working and I can only speak on the behalf of COBE, where I’ve been working for the last couple of months.
As a UX/UI designer, working in a digital agency means working with interesting clients, on various projects, for different industries. Sometimes you’ll work on several projects simultaneously, other times you’ll be booked for a long-term project and tackle that for a few months (or even years). If you’re wondering, there are benefits to working on long-term projects as much as for the short-term ones. It just depends on what you prefer.
Another thing your job as a designer will include is communication. Prepare for workshops, presentations, daily and weekly meetings with your team and with the client, and much, much more. It may sound overwhelming, but trust me, it’s not.
Now, if you don’t have any work experience, you might be wondering how and where to start. I was in your shoes not that long ago – I started my UX/UI journey a little over a year ago in a startup. A few months later I got a job here, in COBE and one thing I can with confidence tell you is that even though I’m here shorter, working in a digital agency brought me much more knowledge than I could’ve ever imagined.
Of course, there were challenges – especially when you’re a junior UX/UI designer, it’s completely normal. But just know that if you work in a digital agency, one thing’s for sure – you can always rely on the support of your team.
When you first start your job, you’ll probably be assigned a mentor – a senior designer that’ll introduce you to the project and guide you through everything you’ll do (hi Dražen 👋 ). As I mentioned earlier, other than designing screens for mobile and web applications, your job will include participating in lots of meetings – with clients, your team, project managers, developers, etc. That means a lot of communication, so if you’re a naturally shy person, or you feel like your English is not the greatest, this might present a challenge for you, at least in the beginning. But you will get a hang of it after a while, I have no doubt.
After working on various projects and gaining a certain level of knowledge and confidence, you’ll reach a mid/senior level. That implies having more responsibilities than a junior designer, participating in the hiring process of new designers, and being a mentor, just like you had one in the beginning. Even though I can’t wait to achieve that level, I still have a couple of years ahead of me, so for now, it’s more like this:
Every digital agency has its own rules, workflow, people, and set of benefits. As I mentioned earlier, my experience is based on COBE, but there are a few things I want you to pay attention to when choosing the agency you’ll work for.
Let’s kick it off with one of the most important things you need to think about when choosing your next employer – culture. There are lots of different meanings of the word culture, but for me, it means people. And even though there are a lot of different individuals in COBE, they all strive for the same goal – to deliver the best product possible, that will represent not only themselves but the entire agency. They are open-minded and always ready to offer innovative solutions, advice, and any help you need. They’ll also get lunch and sit down for coffee (or beer after work) with you – and that’s what I love about the COBE culture. For a young UX/UI designer, having a culture like this helps to easily fit into an agency.
You might ask yourself, does it get any better than this? Yes, it does – when you meet our design team. Eight extremely talented, friendly people that welcomed me into their team as if I was an old friend of theirs. Currently, the team consists of four senior, three junior, and one student designer. These are people that will jump in on any problem I face – whether it’s an issue regarding a project or it’s a private matter. So not only are they good friends, but they’re also extremely talented people who, in addition to UX/UI, are great graphic designers, illustrators, video editors, and much more.
Joining the design team at COBE, I also joined their monthly practices. One of them is Design weekly, a meeting we have once a week (as the name would suggest, duhh) where we discuss projects we work on, challenges we face, and current trends. We also have biweekly Design chats when we do one-on-one project reviews. Not only does this boost the relationships within our team, but it helps with the work too.
If you’re starting to feel like COBE is your perfect fit, continue reading, it only gets better. 😄
When you’re a junior designer, you know how important it is to have a team you can rely on. What if I told you that if you came to COBE, you wouldn't only have one design team to learn from but two? Yep, if you didn’t already know, we operate in two locations, Osijek and Munich. And guess what, our design team in Munich is just as talented as the one in Osijek. We often collaborate on projects, share knowledge and sometimes even visit each other’s offices. It’s nice to have the opportunity to visit Munich once in a while, right?
You want to work for a company that wants to see you grow. Education is so important, and you never really stop learning, especially if you work in IT. Luckily, lots of agencies recognize that importance. At COBE, they provide all types of education, from books and lectures to courses and conferences. And they always encourage us to take advantage of everything they offer. That’s how it’s supposed to be, remember that.
Whether it’s an internal or external project, you want it to be challenging and to teach you something. Every new project you encounter should bring a fresh start for you, teach you something, and introduce you to something new – whether it’s a new client, a different workflow, or a different team.
For me, this is the biggest advantage of working at COBE as a UX/UI designer – the diversity of the projects. You can find everything, from the automotive to the beauty industry, and that’s the beauty in it.
To be completely honest with you, working at COBE has formed me into the UX/UI designer (and person) I am today. I know it may sound like a cliché, but it’s the truth. I gained a lot of knowledge about UX/UI and more importantly, I learned what teamwork, motivation, passion, and supporting each other means.
So if you want to drill your UX/UI skills, gain a wide range of knowledge, and advance your career – a digital agency just might be the right fit for you.
If you still have any questions, feel free to contact me. And if you’re a complete beginner in the world of UX/UI design, get in touch and we’ll send you our COBE starter kit. 🙂