‘Have you got talents with design expertise, too?’ This is something we heard more and more often from clients and made us think: what if we added design experts to our Digital Innovators program? We spoke with Jelle te Lintelo and Duncan, two Digital Innovators with design expertise & skills.
Jelle, can you tell us a little more about how this new expertise at the Digital Innovators came about.
TTI has been working in innovation for a long time now. In the Digital Innovator projects we mainly focus on testing products and services for market success before launch, and we noticed that we often worked together with a designer within those innovation teams.
If you want to test something with a customer target group, whether that’s online or offline, it’s just great if you can give it some body. Think of a logo, corporate identity, or visual designs. Actually we saw that there was growing demand from the market. We often get the question: ‘Have you got talents with design expertise, too?’ So that’s when we started doing customer research.
And as it turned out, there was a growing need in the market for design expertise. Not only in innovation projects, but also within other fields. We started rolling out the program and recently hired our patient zero, Duncan, as our very first Digital Innovator with design expertise.
Duncan, you’re the very first Digital Innovator with design expertise hired by TTI. What’s it like so far?
It’s been awesome so far. Because the program is new, I get the chance to experiment and develop the whole thing. From Monday to Thursday I get to work on a design project for different clients. This project could be anything, from helping with a design sprint to UX research projects. On Fridays we come back to the TTI office to do courses and training. Whereas my colleagues have training focussed on innovation, I have more design focussed training.
What’s the difference in the kind of projects?
Duncan: I think my projects, compared to those original innovation projects, are more focussed on visual design. I often have to design an app or a visual. Also the approach is a little different. As an innovation expert you focus more on validating new propositions, whereas in design projects you also have the possibility to, for example, rethink UX-flows for existing products & services.
Jelle: Simply put: With our Innovation profiles we get hired for our innovation expertise, our designers will really focus on visual design and design thinking.
Which project was your highlight?
Jelle: When I started at TTI I went to Bucharest for ING for my very first project. I was working there for 3 weeks as a UX designer to test the new onboarding flow of an app. We started off with drawing the onboarding flow with post-its, after which I made a clickable prototype in a day. And then we actually interviewed Romanian people and tested the app with them. So that was a pretty awesome start.
Duncan: I think mine was a project for Nationale Nederlanden (NN). For a new product NN wanted to create an easy to understand road map to convince investors. I created this drawing and it was really well received. Another Digital Innovator with Innovation expertise is now developing the product in question, so it’s cool to see that the designers and innovators can work closely together with our clients.
Why should other designers join the Digital Innovator program too?
Duncan: You’ll get the chance to work for some really cool companies on very varied projects. I’ve only been working here for 5 months, but I can already put 4 awesome projects in my portfolio. Which, for a young designer, is a pretty awesome way to build a strong portfolio in a short amount of time. If I decide to work for an agency after this program, or go fully freelance, this portfolio will really help me.
What skills should you have if you want to apply as a designer for the Digital Innovator program?
Jelle: Firstly, you should be full of energy and willing to work hard. I also think it’s important that you know how UX design works but most importantly: you should be able to think customer-centric. Being able to think like the customer, researching them and the target group and including that in your design choices to ultimately present to the client.
Making really cool things should be your thing. Visual design experience will come in handy, and being able to test and validate visual elements and prototypes.
If you’re more into hardcore UX research, that’s also an option. I think an ideal designer for us is someone with an affinity for UX research, UX design, and also a bit of visual design.
Anything you both would like to say to someone who’s at the start of their career, and is still in doubt?
I was in that position myself 2 years ago before I started at TTI. I would say: this is something for you if you’re keen to keep on learning. If you want to challenge yourself and learn a lot in the next 2 years, both in hard skills as soft skills. How do you present yourself to a client? What are you good at, how do you actually find out what your strengths and weaknesses are? And in which fields would you like to develop yourself? In this program you’ll really get the chance to develop yourself. I’ve learned A LOT in the past 2 years, and I would certainly recommend it to anyone coming fresh out of college or university.
The organization culture is a big plus. You’ll get to work in a very nice team. Everyone is young and full of enthusiasm. Fridays are always a lot of fun ;) And in terms of work experience and personal development… There’s never a perfect step or perfect choice you can make, but if there was, it would be choosing this program.
More about this program!
There’s never a perfect step or perfect choice you can make, but if there was, it would be choosing this program.— Duncan Loraine