Meet Lea Rouhiainen. Lea is a visual designer who is passionate about her work. She always strives to create design material that is creative, thoughtful, and responsive to unique project and user requirements.
How did you get into the design field?
I was always interested in art, drawing, crafts, and I’ve always had a strong appreciation for learning. So, I felt it was important to seek out a career that was creative and had opportunities for growth and change.
I attended the University of Alberta and after a year of trying out different courses to figure out what I wanted to do, I eventually settled on the Bachelor of Design program with a specialization in social sciences. I felt this program was inspiring and helped me develop a design perspective that was not focused only on aesthetics or style, but also having empathy for the user. After graduating, I worked as a graphic designer, but I eventually wanted to expand upon that a little more.
I’ve always been interested in digital design and felt really drawn to the field of user experience design, so I really tried to build up my skills and knowledge in those areas. I recently completed my Akendi User Experience Certification —to formalize some of those interests.
What do you get up to in your free time?
I’m an active member of the design community, volunteering for organizations like Ladies Learning Code and currently serving as the treasurer for the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada’s Alberta North Chapter. You can also see me helping out with meetups like Intranets Edmonton and UX Meetup YEG.
What does a day in the life of a designer look like?
I don’t necessarily have a typical day, but generally I have a list of priorities or projects that I’m working on. Depending on what type of project I’m working on at that time, my day could potentially include meetings, check-ins, or workshops with clients or internal team members. I could also be assisting with usability testing, analyzing research findings and insights, preparing summary reports or presentations. In terms of heads down design work, I’m usually sketching ideas by hand, translating concepts of our research findings into wireframes, or preparing refined design mock-ups of static pages.
I was told when I first started working here that my role would bridge the definition and the solution development stages, and I feel that accurately describes what I do in a nutshell.
Do you have any favorite books, blogs, resources that are your “go-to”?
The nForm library is a great resource. A couple of the books I really enjoyed reading from our collection so far are:
- Visual Meetings: How Graphics, Sticky Notes & Idea Mapping Can Transform Group Productivity by David Sibbet
- Information Architecture for the World Wide Web by Louis Rosenfeld and Peter Morville
- About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design by Alan Cooper also makes a great encyclopedia on all things interaction and interface design.
Other than books, social media makes it easy to follow lots of different designers and UX practitioners, and there are so many blogs to go to for articles and inspiration. However, a few that I find I use the most are through UX Planet, Dribbble, Nielsen Norman Group, and Alistapart.
How do you find your “zone”?
Sometimes it can feel intimidating if it seems like I’m getting stuck on one idea. It’s important to find a way to force myself to consider other pathways before settling. So, that could mean something like setting a goal for myself to sketch a certain number of ideas in a certain amount of time. Also, I don’t worry about getting something right the first time. Sometimes it helps to just get an idea out even if I know it’s not quite right, so I don’t dwell on it, I just build off my original idea. It’s also good to ask for help or another opinion when I can instead of just staying in my own bubble. It can really help shake up my ideas when I ask for a second opinion.
If a new person were to join the design team, what advice would you give them?
Having an open mind is an important part of our culture, so I’d say take time to listen and don’t be afraid to take on tasks that don’t necessarily fit into your normal job description—you can be surprised by what you learn or gain from those experiences.