Welcome Sarah, our exceptional new Senior Experience Designer

Written by Lee Colbran - 21 Feb 2022

Experience design | 4 MIN READ

We caught up with our new Senior Experience Designer, Sarah Simpson, who recently joined us. During the chat, we asked Sarah how she got into design, what she likes about it and what she thinks will happen with the discipline in the future...

Humanising your users and bringing them to the forefront of your designs is an absolute must. Once you understand their needs/wants and user barriers, it brings about more solutions. Testing these possible solutions rather than relying on assumptions is invaluable and ultimately will create a more successful experience.

Sarah Simpson, Senior Experience Designer

Firstly, welcome Sarah, describe your career path to date and how you got into design?

I took my first steps into digital media working in the print industry, scanning and manipulating photographs in Photoshop for trade magazines, and designing and building very early websites.

I decided that 3D animation was the route I wanted to go. So I set off to study 3D Computer Visualisation and Animation, which led me to work for many years as an animator and designer, mainly in children’s TV, games and apps.

My career deviated when I took on a production role on a hit CBeebies TV show where I got to work with Jason Donovan!

I even dabbled as a fashion and product photographer with my own studio. I’m first to admit that my career choices up to that point were quite diverse!

But my love for experience design came about when I landed a job at a London-based tech-for-good agency. Here, I enjoyed the challenge of designing websites and platform experiences for charities, foundations, and not-for-profits, including Citizens Advice, Family Action, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Rhodes Trust, and The Big Give. In time, I became the company’s accessibility ambassador and realised that I thoroughly enjoyed designing for inclusivity and getting to know users wants and needs.

What made you choose Fresh Egg as the next step in your career path?

In the most rewarding projects that I have worked on, I have been able to get to know who will be using the product I'm designing for and see the project's impact.

Apart from the fantastic client list that Fresh Egg is working with – the expertise in customer experience and the design team's focus on experience design got me excited.

I still feel like I have a lot to learn, especially as the digital industry is changing exponentially. Working collaboratively and learning from other experts in the company, such as the Content, CRO, and the User Research teams, has made me realise that my design work won't stagnate. It's great to know I can validate the experiences I am designing with user testing and analytical data. For a designer, it's so good to see (and measure) the work's level of impact and outcome.

What would you say to any aspiring designers starting out in this career?

Do not be afraid to show your work to others. I have always said that fresh eyes on your designs are invaluable. You may not always agree with everyone's opinions (after all, design can be very subjective!). But what better way to learn from others and get a new perspective.

There are plenty of avenues out there to do this:
I have been a part of portfolio clinics in the past where other industry people and I will look over new designers work and give tips on what to improve to catch the eye of a potential employer. If you have the opportunity to do this, I would recommend putting your nerves aside and taking full advantage of this advice.

There are also plenty of websites like Dribbble.com where you can put together a portfolio to showcase your work and get feedback from your peers.

What do you think makes an excellent designer?

One word that I always come back to is empathy – being empathetic to the brand you are working with and, most notably, when designing, having empathy for the people.

Never mind the latest trends that design blogs are forecasting for 2022 - if you cannot get to grips with the wants, needs, fears and desires of the audience – how will you ever be able to design solutions that work for them?

I feel like this is more important than ever now that large swathes of the population have taken to interacting and buying online as a side effect of the pandemic. We're not just designing solutions for the tech-savvy, we are designing for everyone.

How does UX fit into your design principles?

I follow a UCD (user-centred design) approach where user experience is central to my design process.

I love getting to know who could be using the site I am designing. Hearing from users about their current frustrations and needs is crucial, whether as part of initial user interviews or reading through user insights post-interview.

Humanising your users and bringing them to the forefront of your designs is an absolute must. Once you understand their needs/wants and user barriers, it brings about more solutions. Testing these possible solutions rather than relying on assumptions is invaluable and ultimately will create a more successful experience.

After all, what use is the most visually appealing website if the experience is utterly confusing or inaccessible - customers will get frustrated and disappear off to the next competitor, leaving your gorgeous designs behind in a cloud of dust.

Tell us about the brand you think really excels at immersing their audience with great design?

This company has massively monopolised me in terms of my technology choices for many years, and it is a part of my day-to-day life - Apple.

Yes, I may have been ever so slightly annoyed by them bringing about the death of Flash. But has that stopped me from using their products and recommending them to everyone I know – no!

In my mind, they have produced technology solutions that ooze intuitive experience design. Their genius lies in their accessibility and simplicity of use. Both my 5-year daughter and mother can swipe, pinch and tap their way around the screen with no help at all.

And their website has always been a joy to explore. They have managed to keep their website (which has pretty much sold the same products year after year, albeit with many upgrades in technology) fresh, elegant and exciting.

Are there any prominent people in the world of design that you follow?

I have to be honest and say that there isn't a particular designer that I follow. But that's not to say that I don't appreciate the genius of some very prominent graphic artists – such as Noma Bar for his clever use of negative space.

I like to keep my eyes open for work across various creative industries – I find inspiration in illustration, photography, animation, and even interior design!

How do you keep up with trends in digital design?

I tend not to follow design trends. I'm not one for the dication of trends, such as Pantone colour of the year. It doesn't interest me in the slightest. I like to keep my eyes peeled for fresh ideas and keep up to date with new technologies instead.

I always try to design to suit the client and their audience needs and create something that stands the test of time. I prefer to do this rather than adhere to a particular trend that could make your designs look like everything else out there and may not necessarily bring about the best solution.

You can only use one tool to do your job, what is it and why?

I should probably mention design software here, but I’m going to go old school and say a good notepad and pen!

I’m not particularly good at remembering details by listening, but I have an excellent visual memory. So, you will often find me scribbling down notes and questions, as well as sketching up ideas as they pop into my head before I even attempt to replicate them on the computer.

If you could use only one website (or app) what would it be and why?

As much as I dislike the company’s ethics – I’m going to say Facebook. I have always said that if a more ethical alternative with a similar experience came along, I would jump ship. But for now, it is a gateway to some interesting and inspiring communities, information and brands that I may not have come across without it. Particularly during the pandemic, it was a fantastic communication tool and a great way to feel connected to friends and family who are much further afield.

In your opinion, what eCommerce platform offers the best design experience?

One website that I keep coming back to is John Lewis – they have created a clear and simple design that perfectly fits their target audience. The website is very intuitive to use, and there is always a feeling that it is a brand you can trust.

One thing that stood out for me during the pandemic was that they worked harder to offer more than just a faceless online sales experience for their customers and arranged webinar experiences with expert speakers.

There is also an opportunity for John Lewis to improve accessibility standards. That said, you can tell that they have tried to be as mindful of this as possible.

I have just read that H&M have one of the most accessible eCommerce websites – so I may well be looking to them now as my benchmark for accessible eCommerce experiences!

If you could design for one brand, what would it be, and why?

Most definitely The LEGO Group! I am a self-professed LEGO fanatic (or AFOL – Adult Fan of LEGO) and even run my own LEGO YouTube channel in my spare time!

I have a tremendous amount of admiration for LEGO. They have become a brilliant marketing machine. In recent years, they have altered their target audience from predominantly younger children to now selling many of their products to their “Adults Welcome” market. In nurturing and supporting the LEGO community, they have created a swathe of brand ambassadors who will happily shout from the rooftops about how amazing LEGO is.

As you can probably tell – designing for The LEGO Group, I would bring a passion for the brand and product knowledge to the table!

What are you most looking forward to about working at Fresh Egg?

Apart from working in the fantastic offices (when the world returns to some normality)? I am most excited about working with such a talented team and expanding my knowledge of experience design.

I have only been at Fresh Egg for a short amount of time and have already had the opportunity to work on projects for some amazing clients. I am excited to see who I’ll be designing for next!

What do your friends and family think you do for a job?

My family has never understood what I do for a living – it was worse when I was trying to explain how I did 3D animation! The concept of UI/UX design is a little alien to them. I tend to say that I make websites prettier and easier to use.

Finally, what is your favourite way to eat an egg?

I am a boiled egg and soldiers fan! It just reminds me of being a kid again. My daughter has just grown out of an egg allergy – I was over the moon when I found out she loves a good “dippy egg” as much as I do!

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