Each month we introduce you to one of our Mentors and ask them a few questions about their career and thoughts on UX.
This month we talked to Martyn Reding…
Who is Martyn Reding?
I’m a UK based design leader. I specialise in setting up and running multi-discipline user experience teams. I studied graphic design and spent the first part of my career working in agencies. I worked with some small boutique agencies and some of the bigger agencies, often being the person who connected online and offline design processes. Then in 2010 I made the switch to an in-house role and now I’m Head of digital experience at Virgin Atlantic.
How did you start your career in UX?
What is a typical day for you?
I’m awake before 7am. I have a short commute to VHQ from my home in Brighton. I aim to get to my desk by 8.30am.
Every day for me starts by checking in on our user feedback scores and comments. My team reports on performance and watches out for anomalies in how happy our customers are. I’ll then smash the hell out my inbox by removing anything unnecessary and responding to anything immediate. From there I’ll check-in with my design, content and product teams to get a view of what’s developing and I’ll check-in with my scrum master to review burndowns – this helps me identify any areas I need to help with.
By 10.30 I’m free to start tackling my projects and initiatives. I work on a mixture of short-term projects and longer-term strategies that are all aimed at improving my team’s ability to produce good work and improving the experience for our users.
I do my best to get as much of a lunch break as possible. We have a lovely communal dining area at VHQ, where you can eat with friends and use the outside space on those (rare) sunny days.
A lot of my afternoons get filled up with project meetings and update sessions. I like to regularly meet with people from around the business to share ideas and look for opportunities to work together.
I wrap up my day around 5.30 with another inbox and slack clear out. Before I leave the office, I write a list of stuff in my head and things to do tomorrow.
What do you recommend to someone who wants to start a career in UX?
Start. Start now. It takes lots of practice, learning, time but mostly doing to hone your skills. So, start as soon as possible. Even if you don’t have a job or a project, just make something. I can’t recommend it enough. The beauty of digital products is that anyone with a computer can make them. So, generate a bunch of ideas and practice your skills.
I would also recommend joining everything and getting to as many events as possible. The UX community is amazing. All you have to do is reach out. Other than that I would recommend you have some form of web presence – a portfolio is ideal, but a LinkedIn profile or Medium account is something.
What is the best advice you have received in your career?
Be the person who presents solutions, not the person who presents problems. I found out that anyone can point out issues, but the people who point out issues and a way to fix them are the ones who go forward.
It’s a very simple notion that I’ve stuck to since the very early days of my career. When you look at the fundamental principle it is about problem-solving, so it’s great when UX professionals have the attention to detail to spot issues, but if they haven’t got an equal balance of creativity to solve problems then it never really moves forward.
What is the future of UX for you?
My personal view is that UX is not a discipline in itself, but a collection of component parts. At the moment content, design, research and strategy form the keystone components in creating a successful user experience, but over time these components are likely to change. With the continual merging of digital and physical products, I think there are amazing opportunities to bring in aspects of ergonomics and industrial design. I can also see specialisms within content becoming more critical as UIs start to move away from being graphic and more voice-based.