University made me realize that true learning does not necessarily come from a typical classroom, but rather from experiences that allow me to fail in a growing environment, filled with people who can feedback me and support me along the way.
When deciding where this design learning journey would take me next, I automatically excluded any Masters or traditional courses.
I share The New Digital School’s values. I already have a diploma; I’ve already been tested on 90 minutes’ multiple-choice exercises; I want to get out of my comfort zone now; I want to be presented with concrete exercises where I can fail, learn and iterate; I want to get my hands dirty.
Right now, I could not go for a traditional educational method to pursue my path. It simply wouldn’t work, because I’ve already tasted what fighting for your goals feels like. I believe The New Digital School will offer an environment where I can foster my inner curiosity and willingness to learn.
I’ve already started to learn about designing digital products on my own - I’ll share my experiences a few pixels below - but I lack a real life experience with proper business constraints, for example. I lack some guidance and a more close support from a community that is both teaching and learning.
The definitions may vary from community to community, but my goal is to build digital experiences and interfaces that facilitate those same experiences. You can put it as a Product Designer, or a UX/UI Designer.
To craft meaningful and engaging products, I need to
• Learn more about design processes: and more than learn those processes, I want to put them to practice. This is the secret sauce I lack the most in my recipe and the main reason I want to enroll in a design sharing environment.
• Discuss design: even though I understand the importance of quality critiques, I am probably going to fail when giving proper feedback to the other person. By practicing, I want to understand how my feedback is actually adding value or hurting my colleagues’ work. Also, the way I manage feedback has lots of room for improvement.
• Have a better roadmap for myself: because it can be sometimes scary to wonder without a light at the end of the tunnel. I believe sharing my own experience and getting feedback from an ambitious class and mentors, it will be more clear the steps I have to take concerning new challenges opportunities.
• Improve my hardskills: after getting even more solid foundations, I want to learn from my peers what cherries they use on top of their cakes. There is so much I have to learn in terms of software, tools and resources when designing experiences.
After The New Digital School, I am not sure what kind of environment I would enjoy work in. Something challenging, most definitely. That is something I want to understand in 2018, to build my roadmap. But after a year in the school, there are somethings I am sure I want to collect:
• Much, much, much more knowledge and experience in design: which is never enough, but I want to be more comfortable when facing challenges that today would seem way too big for me.
• A smooth transition to working life: which I believe is an element that TNDS can provide, that no University can. I want my learning to be based fundamentally on hands-on experience and when going for a real job, I will definitely feel more comfortable dealing with real life constraints, requests, communication and business’ aspects.
• A community of incremental learners: that will never stop learning and experiencing. I want to surround myself with inspiring and ambitious people.
From day one I knew a lonely road would take me nowhere. I had to connect with people that could teach me, guide me, and share their own successes and failures. Therefore, I committed to attend as much meetups and meet inspiring people from the design industry as I could.
These were great environments where I have been able not only to learn new processes and skills, but also to think about my journey. Often I left these events reflecting on the work I was doing and how it would, in fact, contribute to my development.
At some point I felt the need of having someone that would support my journey more closely. We can call that person a mentor. I approached Ricardo Baeta with an odd invitation, which he accepted. We've been working in our relationship since April, sharing both our challenges and learnings along the way. It's been a crazy ride and we both expect much more from the future. Ricardo has helped me shape my perspective about design and I'm grateful for that.
As I got more and more excited about the design world, I knew I was coming to a crossroad where I had to make a choice. Keep digging the theoretical part, or get my hands dirty. I chose the latter.
Even though I’d be making mistakes, I decided to try a couple of gigs on a freelancing platform. But before starting, I defined what my approach would be: I would only focus on delivering quality work and stuff I could use in my portfolio.
Mobile app design, both for iOS and Android
Mobile app for iOS - improvements on the UI
Branding and stationary material for an industrial laundry
Well, things did not turn out as I exactly expected. That was OK, because my learning mindset was absorbing as much information as I could find useful for next proposals. I learned so much about defining milestones, giving quotes and picking the correct clients to work with. But also dealing with rejection, bad feedback, good feedback, lack of motivation, wanting to do everything in a single day, exhaustion and the importance of processes.
I did logos, branding guidelines, redesigned webpages, designed new ones, got introduced to designing for mobile devices and throughout all the mud, I can outweigh the negative aspects with the positive ones.
Taking such a challenge while still learning about digital products, finishing my Economics course and working as a Director of Marketing and International Relations in the University was definitely a challenge, but worth it. All the way.
I joined Upframe as a Designer in February 2017. The goal was to design a website that would gather as much informed applications for the pre-acceleration programme as possible. After an intensive month of work with my new team, we launched the website to the public, giving birth to a unique project powered by Startup Lisboa.
The redesign of MEO Music mobile app was a personal challenge. I wanted to step away from designing beautiful pixels and wear my solution-oriented mindset to solve real problems. I asked other designers for feedback on my process and started testing with users, analyzing data and iterating a prototype to solve verified problems.
The Motivational Task for The New Digital School application was a place where I wanted to share the reason why I truly connect to the school's purpose. And it is all about absorbing meaningful experiences that can help me lead my design education.
Many of my previous experiences - successes and failures - are also shared in ABSORB, as one of my goals is to get a Fresh Start scholarship.
Hi! I am João - 21 years-old and currently living in Braga. I am graduated in Economics at University of Minho and also Chairman of the AIESEC UMinho’s Board of Directors.
I love to ask questions, understand how people work and experiencing new things that scare me.
Here you'll find more about the reason I am applying to The New Digital School and what I've been doing so far to pursue my passion for design.
Back at University, I had the lifetime pleasure of joining AIESEC, a youth-run organization. The organization focuses on developing young leaders by providing cross-cultural experiences abroad. We believe that if you see the world, then you are one step closer to understand it in a different way and change it. I meet crazy, weird, and visionary people with whom I immediately identified.
Throughout my term my perception of the experiences we were providing started to change. It was not only about sending or receiving people from all over the world; I was having direct impact in one of the most important experiences of their lives.
Marketing campaigns, meetings with people interested in travelling to Egypt, dealing with VISA issues, solving problems with other committees from all over the world - it all played a part in people’s lives. Sometimes it could dictate how much they could take from the experience itself.
Honest design happens if the choice to acknowledge that design without a rationale is a mere aesthetic exercise is to be made.
— Ricardo Baeta
Stepping a few years back - way before joining university - I was already in contact with digital technology. Music, photography and web development did occupy a lot of my time back when I was a kid.
Somehow this maze led me to design websites in Wordpress. Even though these were not professionally built, they gave me an insight on how technology is able to provide concrete spaces that allow for the creation of experiences. Yet, back then for me design was all about making things pretty and sexy.
It was not until I came across the right people, insightful books and resources that I understood I was blind by the design stigma. There’s rationality and arguments behind design decisions. They are based in foundations and defy the way we connect and experience products. These are combined with creativity, technology, research, testing and a solution-oriented mindset to produce experiences that, in the end, can have a major impact in people’s lives.
Mixing both my past building life changing experiences with AIESEC and technology that introduced me to a whole new world, I found Digital Product Design.
The New Digital School's concept and values are aligned with the way I see the future of education. It is the place where I envision my own learning experience for the next year.
My vision and experience so far could not be what they are right now if it weren't for all the people that contributed - each in a very unique way - to my growth as a person and as a designer.
The impact design has on everyday experience is incredible. Don Norman makes this point very clear, as well as the responsibility designers have towards end users. The connection between designer and user behaviour is essential to create solutions focused on needs.
This book should have a disclaimer: you’ll get sick. You will not look at the world the same way you used to. If you have the sensitivity to absorb the content and apply it to the real world, you’ll start to see patterns. In the end, you’ll find yourself in a loop you cannot turn your eyes away from. Products will reveal the thought process behind them. Reasons for “why was this made this way?” will unveil.
This book played a huge role on changing my perspective on how to give critiques. Despite being focused on design, this can actually apply to any field of work.
When discussing any project, our eyes should strip any personal bias and be only focused on the functionality being discussed. Even though we’re often tempted to share ideas and thoughts, we can’t see (at first sight) how influenced we might be by personal taste and experiences.
I’ve been training my speech to create solution-oriented discussions, rather than opinion based ones.
It only took me 50 pages of this book to realize this would be one of the most important pieces of reading I would ever come across.
As someone new to a lot of subjects (design, development, business), this book has helped me develop awareness to the way I perceive things and learn new topics. Learning skills played an important role in allowing me to pursue my passions in the last year.
This book is eye opening at every imagined level. It gave me hope and reinforced something I’ve always believed in: you can learn everything.
After joining Upframe, I was advised to read Lean UX by Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden. It led to a shift in my mind from “prepare, deliver” to “prepare, ship, iterate, repeat”.
Aligned with the importance of user behaviour, Lean UX made me realize how crucial it is to ship products as soon as an MVP is ready, and learn from there. Because previous to that, you might as well be working blind.
In a world where change and technology allow faster iterations, it’s a very interesting strategy when creating experiences.
Using a very simple and relatable writing, Steve Krug introduced me to the importance of experiences that create a continuous flow.
With a great focus on mobile and web development, this book influenced the way I designed webpages when working as a freelancer. It allowed me to develop a different taste for how people connected and used my products. The less trouble for them, the better.
Something the author also alerts to is: you do not need to reinvent the wheel if it is already invented. Soon I started applying UX and UI patterns to my designs, taking advantage of already proven successful elements.
João is an extremely talented designer. His skills are tremendously broad and the way he thinks about design, with his age, it’s at least pretty much outstanding. Moreover, what makes him a hot shot is not about his skills, but rather his ambition, values, attitude, dedication, and drive. João is an inspiration to me. Most importantly, his future, is yet to be set in stone. I’m pretty sure that with this endeavour at the New Digital School all the dots will be solidly grounded and wisely connected. I have no doubts that João will make any given teacher very proud.
João is a self-taught designer with a growth mindset who never ceases to amaze me. He’s always reaching for the stars when working on any project. Also, he has great social skills that contribute immensely to nurture a great work environment. I wouldn't hesitate for a second to work with him again. Highly recommended.
I want to grow in a real environment, take ownership of my own roadmap and be in a place where it is up to me to decide how much I want to evolve.
I believe I match The New Digital School's student profile and I am applying for the 2018 class under the Fresh Start scholarship.