Edinburgh, Scotland 󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

Luke O'Sullivan

Memorisely Bootcamp Teacher

Hey! I'm Luke, a Senior Product Designer at UserTesting and a Memorisely Bootcamp teacher. I joined the Memorisely team in August, and am thrilled to begin teaching!
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Edinburgh, Scotland 󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿
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Luke O'Sullivan

Memorisely Bootcamp Teacher

What is your role at Memorisely?

I'm proud to be a Design Systems and Interface Design Bootcamp teacher 😁

Where are you from? Where are you based?

I'm from Ireland originally, and am currently based in Edinburgh, Scotland. 󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

Here's a shot from a delightful 5 minute walk from my flat featuring one of the best views of the city 🥳

What led you to Memorisely, and how did you land a spot on the team?

I was fortunate enough to work alongside the one and only Zander Whitehurst briefly before he went full-time at Memorisely. Having seen the amazing company and community he was building, I tried my best to be involved and keep in touch as I saw Memorisely grow from strength to strength.

When the teacher roles were announced, I was beyond excited to have a chance to apply for, and potentially join an amazing team with such incredible energy. I think having been interviewed by Zander for the previous role mentioned above, where we worked together for a time, helped me feel comfortable and excited about the whole process.

Interviewing for a role like this was different to any product design roles I had interviewed for in the past — getting to work on some fake lesson plans, filming Loom intro videos, and, of course, running a Memorisely 'Lightning Round' class was all a tonne of fun. After it was all said and done (and my bribes secretly sent out to each individual team member... 😂), I was incredibly lucky to be offered a spot on what is genuinely one of the most friendly and inspiring teams I've ever had the opportunity to work alongside! 😄

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How has previous experience impacted you and prepared you for this role both personally and professionally?

I've had a variety of roles throughout my career to date. I started off in consulting which helped me become comfortable dealing with a wide variety of clients and stakeholders on a constantly changing array of projects and sectors.

From there I moved to a larger product design team where I learned from some really fantastic designers and mentors. I was also fortunate enough to land on an incredible team on a super exciting project which involved a complete app redesign and build from the ground up across both native and web platforms, which in the product world is a super rare opportunity!

After this, I spent some time in a small startup which got me used to working at a really quick pace, which brought with it both challenges and rewards of it's own. I finally landed my current role at UserTesting, where I get to work on user facing product work, as well as overseeing the design system — working on everything from refactoring all of our foundations and components, right through to planning how we're going to continue build a more scalable and user friendly system that not only satisfies the needs of our internal teams of designers and developers, but also helps contribute to a more delightful and user friendly product as a whole.

Talk to us about your experience working in a small, remote start-up environment?

It goes without saying that the last 2 years have been incredibly difficult with the effects of the Covid pandemic. So any positives to come out of this are few and far between. However, one thing I've been able to take from it personally is becoming more and more comfortable with working completely remotely.

Prior to Covid, I worked full time in an office environment which was great and had it's pros and cons like everything else. But once we were in the full grip of lockdown, like so many of us, I began working completely remotely. It was during this time that I joined an Ed Tech startup, and afterwards joined UserTesting. Both of which I was onboarded to completely remotely.

Joining companies this way is certainly interesting, and undoubtedly different to what I was used to in the past with the opportunity to actually meet my colleagues in person. But it's allowed me to grow not only as a designer but as a person, and also pushed me to work outside of my comfort zone, establishing new routines, habits, and ways of working. The opportunity to work in an industry that allows you to be fully remote and work from anywhere in this fashion is something I now see as a privilege, and don't think I can ever go back to a completely office based environment like I used to.

All of the above is what I feel has most contributed to my time onboarding with Memorisely, being such a pleasant and wholeheartedly enjoyable experience. Meeting all the members of this incredible team across the world and working alongside every one of them has made me more inspired than ever before, and I can only see that continuing as classes continue and I get to meet and work with the amazing Memorisely community in the coming months! 😄

Walk us through your typical day?

Most mornings start with getting up around 7am-ish, and going to the gym. Luckily, I live extremely close to my current gym which takes me around 5 minutes to walk to. This gives me a small amount of time to grab some fresh air on the way, and wake up as I'm really not a morning person 😅 I continued with at-home training throughout the duration of lockdown to help keep my sanity, but seeing the return of gyms has been a real God send lately.

After my workout, I head back home and get ready for the day. This involves freshening up after training, prepping some breakfast which is generally oats and a smoothie, and most crucially, brewing some coffee! ☕

Once I've got some coffee it's time to sit down and start the work day. Generally this starts with catching up on emails and Slack, followed by checking my calendar to see what's on for the day. As UserTesting has offices in the US, UK, and Norway I work with colleagues across multiple timezones. This also means most of my design work gets done in the mornings, with meetings in the afternoons after lunch.

At 12pm or 12:30pm, I like to leave my desk and head for a walk. This is a habit I picked up during lockdown, and I find that even a short stint away from my desk is super refreshing and helps me focus in the afternoons. Most days, I'll grab a coffee from my favourite local café, 12 Triangles, which I couldn't recommend more for anyone visiting Edinburgh. Oat Milk Latte is my go to 😍.

The most exciting or unique part of your day-to-day at Memorisely?

I thoroughly enjoy each part of my day-to-day working with Memorisely, but right now filming some reels for social media has been a tonne of fun! Learning from the master himself Zander 'Tarantino' Whitehurst has been extremely fun, and growing more comfortable on camera and learning to experiment while developing a bit more of a personality in my recorded content has been an exciting challenge 🥳

What's your best advice for overcoming challenges in the workplace?

As designers, we're certainly no strangers to our fair share of workspace challenges. From imposter syndrome, to creative blocks, right through to stakeholder management work can be tough at times. I think we're incredibly fortunate to do what we do on a daily basis, but that doesn't come without its fair share of obstacles to contend with and overcome.

One challenge I find myself consistently dealing with in my career, and am constantly learning to grow and adapt my approach to, is stakeholder management. It's easy to forget at times that not everyone spends the day in Figma like we do, drilling in to and considering the nuance of all aspects of a design. Ensuring wider stakeholders and team members have context to your work, why you made the decisions you did, and other approaches you may have taken along the way is absolutely crucial to work as a product designer.

Alongside this, you may often have to contend with contradicting opinions or decisions to your work. While it's easy to quickly become defensive or even sometimes insulted with people's comments, what I always try to do is assume positive intent behind what people are saying. As a designer, it's your job to listen and do your best to understand why stakeholders may be approaching a problem in a certain or different way to your solution, which can often be extremely valuable in landing on the ideal design.

Care to share your work space setup?

And your go-to or must-have apps?

I like to keep things pretty simple and only have my most frequent apps front and center. For everything else I'll pull down search and type in what I'm looking for 😅. My most frequently used app is absolutely YouTube, but outside of work I like to minimise my screen time and prefer using my Kindle to catch up on some reading! 😁

What product recently blew your socks off?

Not so much a product as a plugin — I was recently playing around with the Breakpoints plugin for Figma and it was awesome! I'm hoping to really incorporate this into my workflow going forward and help eliminate the headache of endless Frames for all the responsive versions of my work. 👌

Share your "can't live without" productivity tip or hack?

Not being afraid to say no to meetings, and prioritising time for design work 😅

In any business, it can become all too easy for meetings to consume your day. And while some are crucial or needed, I personally believe companies fall into the trap of becoming far too reliant on meetings, rather than adapting their workplace practices to better accommodate actually getting work done.

Because of this, I'm a big advocate for working on async practices and blocking out time for design work in my calendar. Quite often if people see empty space in your calendar they'll just assume your free and look to take up some of that time, so don't be afraid to control your own calendar and set the times when you are free for meetings outside of getting design work done! 😄

Try sharing your work accompanied with a quick Loom video, or even just annotate your designs in Figma with any feedback you may be looking for rather than just immediately having more meetings as your go to.

Name one thing you recently learned that surprised you.

Scotland's national animal is the unicorn.... who knew 😅

What's your favorite thing to do outside of the virtual office?

For me, it's either spending some time gaming. Or, when I want to step away from the screen for a while, you can find me doing some gym training or playing football. ⚽️🏋🏻

Share your current go-to tunes.

Since my time in University, Saint Raymond has been my go to. I just love his sound, and he's one of the few artists who's albums I've just loved on such a consistent basis 😅. His latest album 'We Forgot We Were Dreaming' has been an absolute banger, and I think I've pretty much listened to the whole thing through daily at this point... Highly recommend 'Wide Eyed Blind' and 'Only You' for some absolute vibes 🤟.

Three pieces of advice for breaking into the UX/UI Design field?

  1. Case studies are key. Recruiters and hiring managers not only want to see your work and end product, but also the thought process behind how you got there. So try to emulate real life products in your early days, learn their patterns, how they do things, and why to give yourself a good grounding in product design as a whole.
  2. Make sure you have a solid understanding of a wide variety of platforms and how they co-exist. Like many others, I started my career focusing primarily on the web. But soon after, began working on both iOS and Android products in addition to web. Each platform has it's own set of design patterns that are unique to it, and while there are commonalities across the board, spend some time becoming familiar with Material Design and Apple's Human Interface Guidelines.
  3. Accessibility today now has a greater spotlight on it than ever before. Companies all over the world, such as Microsoft and Apple, are highlighting how they incorporate it into their products and software.
  4. While it's always been important, accessibility has often had a tendency in the past to fall by the wayside, unfortunately. But I believe we are starting to see a shift across the industry where accessibility is now becoming a key factor integral to design and products as a whole. Spend time reading up on accessibility, its practices, and how it is taken into account in products, and this will give you a real edge when it comes to hiring, as well as make you a more well-rounded and considerate designer.

Thanks for reading my story!

Edinburgh, Scotland 󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

Luke O'Sullivan

Memorisely Bootcamp Teacher

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