Meet Andrew Rajaram, the first designer in our new ongoing series featuring designers at UM.
Andrew started his career in the financial sector after completing his Master’s in Public Policy from the University of Edinburgh. After transitioning into digital, specifically user experience, Andrew landed at Usability Matters in a research focused role.
Read on to find out more about Andrew!
How did you get started in this field? What is your background in design?
After working in finance for a few years, I was finding that the most interesting projects to work on were the more technical projects. After wrapping up my last project I went back to school for interactive media and loved it. From there I went to work for a creative agency and eventually landed at UM.
What area of design or sector do you specialize in or enjoy working in the most?
I would say I like the more traditional, larger scale business sectors like financial or e-commerce. I find it helps to meld my previous experiences with my current career the best. The types of problems these organizations typically face also happen to be the ones I tend to enjoy tackling the most as well.
How do you incorporate or value design outside of your workplace?
I actually am very passionate about gaming outside of the office. And I would say this hobby has been the most affected by my career. Whereas previously I used to care most about the narrative elements of a good game, now I can’t help but analyse how a game’s interface and core mechanics have been designed. Particularly in the case of bad design, I’ll often find myself wondering how much testing went in or what informed the decisions that were made.
What has been your biggest learning curve as a designer or your most notable learning experience?
I would say it has been working on User Research projects with UM for my first few months. During that span we did a lot of user testing for a lot of different clients and I feel I really got to really appreciate why it is important to always be mindful of the end user when building digital products. I also gained a huge respect for my colleagues at UM. I had never seen an organization that was so serious about user testing and keeping the end user in mind and it really felt valuable to learn the UM approach to design.
What are your favourite types of projects to work on? And why?
In particular, I really love when a client comes to you with a really specific problem that they have been rattling their brain try to fix. I love these types of challenges because it allows us to be both creative in our approach while at the same time being thoughtful. These situations often require a much more tactical approach because the problems can be so granular. There is a certain satisfaction in learning a lot about a particular business or sector in a short amount of time and being able to make these types of tactical recommendations. I always walk away from those projects feeling I have learned a lot and am a better designer for it.
What is unique about working at UM as a designer?
The thing that really sets UM apart is that I feel like while most places are just starting to introduce real UX into their culture, UM has been practicing true UX for about 10-15 years. For a field many consider quite “young”, that really is a significant amount of time. You can feel the experience when you’re working with the more senior people here. The breadth of knowledge and experience is unlike anywhere I have ever seen.