Brisbane, Australia 🇦🇺

Jason McLaren

Senior Product Designer

Hey! I'm Jason, a Senior Product Designer at MetaLab. I'm a work from home advocate and coffee lover.
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Where are you based as a UX/UI designer?

Brisbane in Australia 🦘 I'm just around the corner from Mt. Coot-tha, a mountain lookout and botanical garden. It's a nice blend of city and nature.

Photo credit Unsplash, Kon Karampelas.

What led you into UX/UI design?

I had always enjoyed using Photoshop growing up, and that turned into making things for friends, family, and friends of family. One thing led to another and I started studying Multimedia at school, which led me to making websites and doing graphic design for people. Eventually, I studied Interactive and Visual Design at Uni. It was at Uni that I realised my strong interest in how products and websites work, and that the intersection between making them look both amazing and work beautifully, was where my heart is.

Why are you a UX/UI designer?

A lot of the same reasons as above—I've always considered myself a creative person, and so being a UX/UI designer means I get to be creative for a living while doing what I enjoy. It's win-win-win!

What does a typical day look like for you?

I work from home and am a big work from home advocate. I make my own coffee and lunches. I am regularly jumping onto video calls with colleagues, which is usually when my cat, Honey, decides to jump up on my desk. I'm lucky enough to have a space outside where I can sit with my plants if I need a change of scenery.

I'm learning how to pour latte art––I'm no Zander, but here's a cup of coffee!

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What is your current desk setup?

This is my MVP desk setup 😂 I've got big plans for my desk in the future. First on the list is a standing desk. I still haven't decided whether a monitor arm or fancy smart lights would be nice additions 🤔 If you've done this and have any advice for me, get in touch!

And your Workstation setup across devices?

My digital workspace is constantly shifting and changing, but this is a glance of how it's set up at the moment. I use Figma, Slack, and Notion most. I have Zoom for face to face synchronous conversations. I think an underestimated tool for designers is their Calendar; which, without fail is always open.

I also regularly use Loom to record videos to update my team on work asynchronously. Since I'm working across timezones, I also find it handy to see the current time for my colleagues––I use Menu World Time for this, which is really handy.

Without fail, the number one tool I use on desktop is Alfred, a spotlight alternative. It's amazing! There's an endless amount of things I can get done quickly using it.

Lastly, one I couldn’t live without is ImageOptim, the best Image Optimising tool on mac in my opinion.

On mobile I try to be really strict about not bringing work onto my device, otherwise I find myself checking in on work when I should be dedicating quality time to my loved ones and personal time. I recommend Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky's book Make Time to anyone who wants a bit of insight into how to take control back in your days and get things done. So––to make sure I behave––I only downloaded Slack, which can't send me push notifications, Figma Mirror, and Proto on my phone.

What work are you most proud of?

I can't possibly choose between these two. Mychro and Hey Startup! are the two projects so far that have challenged me to grow and am most proud of.

Mychro is a genome browser for clinical geneticists and their patients.

Hey Startup! is an educational game for school students.

Which Product recently blew your socks off?

I'm seriously late to the game here, but I only recently started using Notion to it's full potential, and it's absolutely crazy. I could spend days optimizing my workflow in Notion to increase productivity; but, I suppose that wouldn't be very productive 😉

What challenges do you face as a UX/UI Designer?

I think one of the most important things in UX/UI design is getting to know your users. Sometimes, it can be a challenge to put the handbrakes on excited stakeholders to get the buy-in on spending time with users—but, it's critical to delivering a good product.

What tunes do you listen to whilst designing?

I don't have a magic one-size-solution when it comes to music. I have many playlists, but the go-to ones for me are ones I've named Zone and Drift. In Zone, the music is all high tempo, with a consistent beat to really drive you through your work. Drift on the other hand is soft, melodic music that allows you to daydream and think in tangents—which I sometimes find really useful for getting out of a creative block.

Three suggestions for budding designers?

  1. Learn Typography — Take the time and master type, the difference between designers who really understand type and those who stopped at the basics is astounding. It's an art form in of itself and it will make you a better designer. Side effects may include cringing at billboards and signage everywhere.
  2. Be Creative — Find something creative that is not design that you enjoy doing. Many designers I know enjoyed something creative before they started working in the field. Drawing, Painting, Photography––whatever it is, make time to do it. It's important to have a creative outlet where you have 100% creative control. It will free you from feeling like your UX/UI work is your creative expression.
  3. Learn HTML/CSS/JS — Just a basic course at least so you can understand how to help developers realise your designs at a minimum; and, at a stretch maybe even help craft some of the experience yourself. You don't have to make it your full time focus, but I know a lot of Product Designers who have frontend experience in their history, it can be really advantageous.

Thanks for reading my story!

Brisbane, Australia 🇦🇺

Jason McLaren

Senior Product Designer

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