Kim Langstroth, Design

I'm Kim, and I'm a senior multimedia designer

Describe your job

I work at an agency that provides “bespoke learning journeys” for our clients, through both live events and digital platforms. We work mostly for automotive clients on strategies to educate and inform their workforce on relevant products and policies.

I work across a variety of projects for different clients. This means I need to be able to quickly switch my brain between different projects, while still meeting deadlines for each one. I must maintain in-depth knowledge of our clients’ brand guidelines so that everything we produce is fully on-brand and relevant to their organisation.

While I get to design a wide range of deliverables (from printed items and interactive guides to illustrations and animation), I primarily focus on mock-ups for e-learning courses. I use Adobe Photoshop (and, more recently, Adobe XD) to lay out pixel-perfect static page designs. I then hand these over to the programming team who use them as a blueprint to build the course using code.

Once the courses have been built, I am also involved in the QA/review process, to ensure everything looks and functions as it should. In a larger agency, this sort of work may be done by a separate team, but the advantage of working in a small company means I get to dip in to to multiple roles and be involved in the entire product creation, from conception to delivery.

What are the most important skills you need to do your job?

Comprehensive knowledge of the Adobe Creative Suite (especially Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign).

Understanding of UX Design and UI Design, to ensure users have an enjoyable and streamlined experience when interacting with our products.

An “eye for design”; including the ability to efficiently use white space and optical balancing to make artwork aesthetically pleasing.

The ability to not take criticism personally – clients can be brutal when they don’t like your work (and won’t always give you praise if they do like it) so you have to learn how to separate yourself and realise it’s not a reflection on you, personally.

I left school and...

After school I went straight to Uni (Reading) to study BA Film and Theatre. I loved it, particularly the film editing side. I had always been creative and enjoyed personal design projects (as well as working with computers), so I decided to re-train as a graphic designer, leading me to complete a second degree: this time BSc Interactive Digital Media. After graduating I landed a job as a Junior Designer and, after a few years, worked my way up to my current position as Senior Multimedia Designer.

I’m most proud of...

During my final year at University I won a design competition to have my artwork displayed on a note in the original series of Bristol Pound notes (yes, Bristol has it’s own currency!) – my note is featured in several museum collections (as far as Sydney) and an original print was even presented to the Queen.

In my current job, I was proud to spearhead an internal initiative to increase user engagement through “Gamification” of our training platforms. This combined my existing knowledge of User Experience Design (to analyse how users could be motivated to engage with content) with research into the psychology of Gamification and interaction styles, and was supported by my ability to create engaging visuals to deliver this concept.

Before I started my career, I wish I knew…

You don’t always get immediate feedback/appraisal at work like you do at school. It’s important to learn how to evaluate your own work objectively and not rely on others to tell you if they think it’s “good” or not.
Also, design is subjective – you must learn to understand the client’s needs, and prioritise those needs, even if it means having to abandon decent artwork.

A mistake I made which you can avoid repeating is...

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes – just make sure you learn from them.

Never be afraid to get a colleague to look over your artwork. Sometimes when you’ve been looking at something in detail for a long time, you get too close to it and can miss things that are glaringly obvious to a fresh viewer.

So, what’s next?

Right now, my primary focus is raising my two energetic small children, so my career goals have taken a bit of a temporary back seat while I balance home and work. While I don’t have specific timeframe-led goals, I want to promise myself that I will always try to work on projects that interest and excite me and my end-users. I would ultimately love to work on something truly innovative, that makes people think “wow, that’s new”!

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