Featured Studios

Carter Digital

June 2015

Today we chat with James Noble one to the Principles at Carter Digital in Melbourne. Carter is a crew of UX / UI savvy digital design HTTPsters. James tells us why you need to question the status quo, gives us insights into creating a successful digital portfolio and why its important to give back and get involved!

When did you fall in love with design and how did you get started?

A love of design came later. Wanting to understand how and why something worked or operated the way it did was the first thing to fascinate me. I have an inquisitive nature and that’s what fuels my creative thinking.

My childhood was filled with a fascination of Lego, it was mind blowing to me to be able to create anything you can think of with the same small blocks of plastic. It was up to you to come up with the idea and make it a reality. Realising that I couldn’t always get what was in my head into bricks, my grandfather gave me a carpenters pencil so I could attempt to draw these giant dragons, birds, monsters and buildings conjured up in my imagination out into the world.

Using a pencil is the most satisfying thing. I remember reading ‘never trust a designer that doesn’t sketch first’, its true. To this day, I still doodle my ideas before attempting to make anything. My ‘carry everywhere’ Moleskine is testament to this, filled with ideas for making furniture, designing shelves, desks, websites, apps, even (looking it through it now) a cartoon penguin character.

Design is in everywhere. From the food that you buy, to the chair you sit on to the building you’re in or looking at. Design is thought and its execution can be beautiful.

What has been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learnt along the way?

We all search for a sense of purpose in what we do. An evolution of ourselves, aspiring to being a better version of ourselves. What has been one of my biggest thrills, has been working with other like minded people. To learn from and nurture talented people. Mentoring and presenting at conferences, has been an eye opener and taught me to have self belief. Visiting these events, I found myself getting frustrated with the endless procession of pitches over process. This fuelled my drive to push through my fear, stand in front of an audience to give something back to my industry.

What have we learnt? Question the status quo. Just because its ‘always’ been done that way, doesn’t mean its the right way. Truth be told, there is no right or wrong solution if it solves a problem.

What have been some of your highlights since started out?

Since working in the creative industry, I’ve had the pleasure and education of working with some of the worlds biggest brands and agencies. All of which lead to the creation of Carter Digital. Some of the biggest highlights have been collaborating with people and organisations that help shape our delicate world for the better. Be it from better educating our society, making us more culturally aware, or push us to a more sustainable, social and environmental perspective.

Collaborating on an ambitious exhibition ‘Melbourne Now’ with the National Gallery of Victoria history was an honour and a big highlight. Partnering with the guys over at Broadsheet on the mobile site. Working on the user experience design for Culture Victoria, helping fellow creative show off there work on The Loop, or find a space to start working for themselves with Creative Spaces, to an Australian undies icon Bonds.

But personally working with organisations who are creating social good really strike a chord with me. Problem solving for Australian Cancer Council and The Royal Women’s Hospital, helping improve donations for some of the worlds most impoverished people with World Vision and creating an online presence for One Laptop Per Child. We get to make a difference, helping people see more than just pixels.

Whats your take on internships? and do you take interns now?

They are so important. Getting the chance to get real exposure and a sense of an industry you want to become part of is crucial. We’re alway’s interested in having interns in to help fuel that want. Like any industry, its not all sunshine and rainbows all the time. Having the chance to learn the processes, experience a studio dynamic and sit in with the teams that are actually working on an actual client project can be an eye opener.

Keep your eyes and ears open, listen in and pay attention to conversations being had. You’ll learn more than you think hearing two user experience thinkers discuss user-flows, designers talking about alignments and colour theory. Watch how they work to solve a problem or come up with a solution. What tools do they use, sites they visit, books they read, routines they have. If I can offer one piece of advice to live by your entire carrier: Always take notes.

What qualities and skills to you look for in a graduate?

Be bold. Stand up and get noticed. Put your best work, not ALL your work into a folio. If you are looking for a role in the digital space, have a digital folio, make sure its an extension of your folio. It needs to be responsive, use something a simple as Squarespace. The people reviewing your work for a potential interview are time poor and may see it first on a mobile, make it count. Its not all about doing it yourself, its about having the smarts and showing your problem solving skills not just the final work.

Its not just about the actual work, its about who you are as a person. I’m interested in the way you think. Show a little variation in your the projects that relate to what services Carter Digital provides as a UX agency.

What do you think the design community could do more of to give back?

Having the opportunity to teach from a position of experience is a privilege. To be part of helping the next generations of problem solvers, interactive, experience and service designers, and give business thinking creatives is crucial. We all should use our knowledge and experience to help not just the designers, but the design in every aspect of our lives and others get better. We can all give back sharing our experiences and knowledge speaking at conferences, talks, blogs and events and move on from ‘pitch presentations’.

The design community as a whole is thriving, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.






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