Do we rely on Designers to 'make it make sense'?

22 Jan 2023
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Written by:
Danielle Bowman

How to get my job is our podcast series on Youtube,  Linkedin and Spotify where we sit down with amazing people within the Design and Product industry and ask them how their careers started, evolved, and what advice they have for those coming after them.

In episode 6 of the series we speak with Eric Burman, a Director of Digital Product Design at Nike. Eric explains his journey from working as an Art Director in marketing and advertising to later channeling his creativity and curiosity into solving design problems for one of the world’s top leading sports brands.

How did you get your first job in Product Design?

Eric started his career in Marketing and Advertising and design wasn't on his radar at all. The show Mad Men had launched and he was living it - working late nights surrounded by creativity and napkins with half-formed ideas scribbled on them. After 5 years there was a sense of auto-pilot and he was experiencing burn out. During his search for something new, he started working on a website for a client when Direct-To-Consumer and User experience was in it's infancy and he found it fascinating. After doing a bit of research into these areas he realised this was where he wanted to be. He had little experience but decided to go for it and started putting his name out there and lo and behold Ticketmaster took a chance on him and saw the potential he had as a designer. He also knew at the time that despite previously leading a team, he may need to take a step back to transition into this world, so, he took an associate level role. He started getting more and more responsibility at the organisation and essentially 'faked it till he made it' and really took the time to understand the product and design space. This decision catapulted him throughout the rest of his career and got him to where he is today.

What are the most important qualities a Product Designer could have?

Having a deep understanding of craft is really important. Whether you're starting out in your career or at management level, understanding the baseline theories around design is a must. Having a sense of creativity is also important for design. Knowing to use your imagination and learning to think outside of the box will help to propel your work forward and help you bring forward innovative ideas. Analytical skills are incredibly important in Product Design. This quote from the Design Disruptors documentary by InVision really encapsulates what design is and the key role designers play in using analytical thinking and craft to 'make it make sense': 'Design is like a bridge that connects complexity to meaning'. Complexities being the technologies, the systems, the businesses you're a part of and the meaning being humans, and the design being that layer that connects the two.

Ultimately, the goal of a designer is to make sure you're bringing meaning to your end users and creating a positive impact on people.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever been given?

Having worked 15 years in this industry, Eric has realised that curiosity drives ambitious minds and people that are curious and are constantly wondering the following 3 questions tend to go on to have long-standing career and product outstanding design work:

  1. How does the world work?
  2. How can I make a positive impact on the world with what I do?
  3. What is the current impact of the things that we're doing and how can we make those things better?

Always asking questions and always being curious makes you, in many ways, go further in your career and drives some of the aforementioned qualities.

Watch full episode here

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