London 🇬🇧

Rhys Merritt

Principal Product Designer, GetGround

Hey 👋 I’m Rhys, Principal Product Designer at a series A startup. I’m passionate about human nature and understanding how we interact with technology - I also love the 90s 📟
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Where are you from and/or where are you based as a Memorisely student?

I’m originally from Australia where I studied at Shillington College to become a Graphic Designer back in 2007. Five years later a friend invited me to London to work with him at a startup as a UI Designer - I’ve made a home for myself here in London where there is a fantastic tech scene.

Iconic piece of London, first port of call for visitors - you can visit Isaac Newtons grave at Westminster Abbey 🍎 ⛪

A little closer to my home in South London, this is Greenwich - beautiful park with beautiful views, and it’s right on the Meridian line!

What inspired you to pursue UX/UI and become a designer?

I’m afraid to say that it’s not as romantic as I’d like it to sound - I kind of fell into UX/UI Design without pursuing it intentionally. When I finished school I was a little lost and unsure of what to do with my life, so I packed my bags and made a spur of the moment decision to move to Sydney on my own, without a plan... It took me a few months of couch surfing to find stability in the form of a job and place to live, but once I found that I began having a hell of a good time. It was after a few years of good times that I decided it was time to get a little serious - this is when I studied Graphic Design after being introduced to Shillington by one of my close friends.

Veering into UX/UI Design from Graphic Design felt really natural to me as I was always a little bit “techie”. In high school (early 2000’s) I was almost expelled and facing criminal charges for creating a website that chronicled all of the stupid things we did, alongside our skateboarding on all kinds of private property. Teaching myself to build and host a website back then had me interested in tech from an early age - so Graphic Design + Tech felt like the right move for me.

Which Bootcamp did you choose to enroll in, and why?

I enrolled in the Design Systems bootcamp - it really came down to me wanting to go through some formal education on something I was already trying to do. When I first considered the course I had some reservations about whether I’d get any value out of it due to being a bit more senior. During the course I had my ego thoroughly flattened, and was shown just how little I knew about the foundations of a Design System.

I came in wanting to feel confident that I was making better decisions early on - and I left with a serious plan for how I’ll whip our existing system back into shape.

What's it like to be a student in Memorisely's virtual classroom?

As a first time virtual classroom learner I was a little apprehensive - but Zander immediately broke down any tension really early on by being super interested in every student. I had the feeling that every student felt like they belonged, which made me feel like I belonged right there with them.

I loved the fact that a few of my classmates were based in different locations as well, it was cool to be doing this alongside some American pals.

What has been your favorite part of Bootcamp so far? What's one learning that has surprised you in Bootcamp?

Favourite part so far has been how excited I’ve become to “get the basics right” on our Design System at work - I can’t wait to put what I’ve learnt into practice! I’ve already given one of my fellow designers a break down on some of the basics and we spent about 30 minutes chatting like a couple of kids on Christmas Eve, excited for Design System Santa to drop the goods.

What is the biggest challenge you face learning UX/UI Design?

Overcoming the feeling that I don’t belong because I don’t have a degree - this field can feel like a bit of a members club at times, and if you suffer from any imposters syndrome, having no formal training can be a bit daunting. I try to combat this by being “feedback obsessed”. I’ve found that if you reach out to people to understand how you can be better, 99.9% of the time you’ll be met with enthusiastic advice that you can decide what to do with.

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What does a typical day look like for you as a student?

My classes where in the afternoon, so I booked a bit of time out on my work calendar 30 minutes before class started so that I could finish up what I was doing and switch my brain to “sponge mode”. Switching to sponge mode sometimes meant shutting my eyes for 5 minutes and letting my mind run wild to unravel my thoughts, or sometimes sitting in my kitchen and having a cup of tea and a biscuit.

Our kitchen today - still a bit of DIY to finish up a few parts 🛠️ 🪚 ☕ 🍪

What is your current workspace setup?

I have a MacBook Pro for work with an external monitor - and my Mechanical Keyboards! It’s a bit of a work in progress, but my office is filled with some of my “happy things” like old VHS tapes and toys from my childhood. There is also a bunch of gaming consoles for good measure.

Working space

Playing space

What are your go-to or "must have" apps?

I’m actually a little bit boring here - I honestly use the bare-minimum to get the job done. I stick with Figma, Notion, and whatever my current workplace uses. I just don’t spend any time looking for ways to “boost productivity”... I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing

What (digital or physical) product recently blew your socks off?

AirPods Pro - the noise cancelling on these things is astoundingly good. When you put them in your ears it feels like the world is closing in around you and you are escaping to a void. Not the smartest thing to use while running or cycling out in public, but on trains, planes etc, it’s brilliant.

What tunes do you listen to while designing?

This honestly changes so often it’s crazy. I listen to a lot of film soundtracks, rap, electronic, jazz... I could go on and on - Usually if I need to focus I’ll switch to something without lyrics, or go to something like Massive Attack, Portishead, or Tricky. Since I have so many, maybe my “Daily Mix” will give you a better indication of what I listen to.

Share three pieces of advice for fellow and/or future students?

  1. This course is for you - no matter who you are. I feel confident that anyone can get great value from this
  2. Remember that there are a million different ways to implement a Design System, and each Design System has unique needs. There isn’t ONE single approach that is correct.
  3. Speak to people about this stuff you’re learning - we all love to hear someone talk passionately about something they love - you’ll undoubtedly keep learning if you do.

Thanks for reading my story!

London 🇬🇧

Rhys Merritt

Principal Product Designer, GetGround

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