I started out learning how UI/UX currently exists at Contemi Solutions — Here I share my experiences of joining Contemi as a masters graduate and how I am now learning to steer the design helm.
Hi, I’m Caitlin
I’m a multi-disciplinary designer with degrees in Industrial Design and Technology (BA) & User Experience Design (MA). I have studied different design disciplines to develop the skills to create holistic product and service experiences. I was keen to pursue a career where I could apply design thinking with user research while remaining creative. Contemi took me on in February this year and I was plunged into the deep end, learning about their digital solutions for insurance, investment, asset & wealth management, banking and capital markets.
My role primarily consists of designing the best user experience for their Wealth Intelligence platform (WIN). WIN consists of wealth management modules developed from the ground up or replacing Contemi legacy technology with enhanced alternatives.
I thought I had left naivety behind, being a masters graduate and equipped with a range of design thinking and research skills, and was ready to apply all this knowledge to enhance user experiences at Contemi. Wrong. I have some tools but there is much to learn of the balance between UI/UX and the reality of what it takes for a team to create something that is going to make a difference. There is more to UX than just the experience of a digital product and more to UI than just making things look good.
Right away I was thrown into 1-to-1 meetings with each team lead. It was good to focus on building relationships as these were essential for product understanding and future project research initiatives. Design work was delayed so that I could prioritise learning about stakeholders and the role design plays in Contemi.
The first few weeks I tasked myself to be a pro-active sponge:
In hindsight, I am now very appreciative of this, because as much as I wanted to get into the nitty-gritty of the design work to showcase what I could do, my time was better spent absorbing information and taking an abundance of notes in all my initial meetings. I still refer to these so that I can present more convincing ideas and solutions.
In my first 2 months of shadowing the role, I learnt how Contemi keeps its users at the core of the product design development process. The primary focus is to understand what motivates both clients and users in wealth management. The platform’s interactive user interfaces are created to bring efficiency to clients and users with complex web-based applications that are simple and intuitive to use.
I got to work on the design basics and contribute to the design system library under supervision. These small design tasks built me up for the onset of the UI/UX designer role. I had time to learn the personas and how best to address their pain points. I even helped create the service blueprint of modules to learn how and when personas interact and with their touchpoints. Such tasks granted me the time to hone the user-centred process that I bragged about at interview and make prototypes to collaborate with different teams to test the waters. I began to see at first-hand how my philosophy would fit into the current design process at Contemi even if on a small scale to start.
The chance to work with senior practitioners and such a varied team was novel and I spent as much time as I could soaking up their industry knowledge. Length of projects can vary from sprint to sprint depending on the scope of what the module entails. Within each project team set up there are several roles:
I have always viewed design as a team sport and interacting with people from different backgrounds helps create a unique experience for an impactful product or service.
However, I had never worked in such a cross-functional collaboration and I had to develop empathy with non-designers while understanding the product strategy, growth and the market. I did say I wanted to bite my teeth into something big upon graduating...
While non-designers, who were not users, were foreign to me I understood each team member has a different contextual lens they use to view the problem at hand. I learned their needs and roles to understand their motivations of what they wanted to accomplish on each project. To effectively communicate design decisions, I used questions to deep dive into how each module works to benefit all the team rather than just myself:
It has been a steep learning curve and it took time to get a true appreciation of the types of people who use WIN and what instances they use the different modules. Imposter syndrome sometimes set in when I felt as though I took too long to learn, acknowledge the context or produce design work quick enough and suddenly my team would identify me as the weakest link. Goodbye.
I was wrong again! Designers are critical and it comes with the territory to question yourself while being surrounded by real talent.
I decided to flip the fear on its head and use my fresh eyes to be inquisitive about a product or a process. Management of my start to Contemi allowed me to realise the context behind product scenarios to help justify my evaluations to improve designs and workflows.
I have always had the mantra to follow where opportunity leads. Here at Contemi, they capitalise on all opportunity they come across to better their products and services. There are opportunities to work on different modules as projects are run in parallel with fast-paced turnarounds; varying from working amongst business analysts, developers and product managers to develop thoroughly thought out web designs.
You are surrounded by positive, bright and like-minded people who are genuinely interested in what is going on around them and enthusiastic about the work they are doing.
My experience of working at Contemi has been exciting so far and I continue to look forward to proving my credibility and making UX visible in the workplace. I owe many thanks to Jonathan Kokké, Matt Gunnell, Cal Lawrie, Shyam Bhalsod and Bryony Mills for guiding me through the products Contemi has to offer from a UI/UX, Developer and Management perspective.
Hopefully, this blog post has helped demystify the UX world and give you an insight into what it is like at Contemi. Interested in learning more about Contemi Solutions? Write us at email@example.com
*The original article was published by Caitlin on Medium.