Working for the WRU has been a great education for me. It has required a huge shift in working style and actually in workload. Looking back, university work has always been a walk in the park in comparison.
The first and most immediate change for me has been the timescale of projects. Whereas in university a project is outlined and a deadline of say a week is given. In our department, an entire project, for example the signage for an upcoming fixture or other event, might need doing by “the end of the day” and it could be early afternoon.
The major change in attitude for me is simply not to take any downtime. What I tended to in the past was mull over a project in my mind for a few days, possibly write down some notes and ideas and then all of a sudden the deadline would approach and I’d have to put my head down and work like hell to get it in on time. The only difference here is that you skip the mulling stage and just work like hell start to finish to get things done and sent off in time.
This really makes sense to me. Most companies cannot afford to give a designer a while to just sit around and be contemplative. If you’re going to be paid a decent age you need to produce as much work as possible to make yourself an asset to the company.
Organisation – Write.It.Down
While design is a very dynamic process where you might have flashes of inspiration midway into a project or realise that another format would be more appropriate for a given project, you cannot only rely on your holding all the information in your mind.
Every single thing needs to go down on paper lest you forget it and have your work suffer as a result. Highlighting key requirements in emails, noting the file extension where your work is placed, where elements such as relevant logos are held or riding previous versions of your current project to use as templates. There is always more to retain than, at least I, can hold in my mind.
The aim of the game is efficiency and speed. Wasting time scoring the server for a document of a .png is tantamount t self sabotage when you’re on a tight deadline.
Back everything up
Every item of work our department produces is categorised and saved on our local network with it’s own job number. So each file will begin with for example:
‘WRU1234 Rugby Document’
We have a shared Excel spreadsheet where we record the job, the job number, the extension in which it can be found and our progress 0% – 100%. This allows us to easily pick up work if for example a colleague is unwell.
Although it is a rarity, our network has failed a couple of times since I arrived and that makes all of our assets unreachable and so backing up relevant work is essential. I have every single document I have so far created or participated in, backed up on my computer with its corresponding number. Each piece is held in a folder which also contains every asset that pertains to it. This includes not only imagery and logos, but supplied documents like word docs with the text for the project etc.
While I’ve learned a lot about the job of being a designer, I’ve also learned some of the traditional skill sets for an intern. Ive gotten really pretty good at carrying half a dozen coffees and bacon sarnies without spilling a drop.