Alumni Interview: Grace Akotey

By

General Assembly London Alumni Grace Akotey

Meet Grace Akotey, a graduate of General Assembly London’s 12-week User Experience Design program. A self-taught designer, Grace is now a full-time web designer with Crystal Ski Holidays, working on UX related projects and a full re-branding of their website.

1. What led you to User Experience (UX) Design?

I’ve always been a visual person. As a self-taught graphic and web designer, I’ve tried many things – from fashion to working in the city to freelancing – but there came a point in time where I wanted to get to the next level. A UX designer I worked with planted a seed of curiosity, and from there I started researching the topic and reading blog posts, and ended up enrolling at General Assembly.

2. What excites you about UX?

I feel that UX can sometimes be overlooked because it’s not tangible – it has no physical attribute, you can’t hold it in your hands. So what gets me excited is actually knowing how much thought and understanding of the user goes into each part of an experience. The best websites end up being the best exactly because of that.

3. What’s an example of good UX you’ve seen in real life?

Think about an ATM. After you’ve put in your card and punched in your PIN, what does the biggest button say? ‘10 Pounds No Receipt’. Someone has worked out the most frequent choice people make. That’s good UX right there.

4. How do UX skills fit a web or graphic designer’s career path?

UX is such an in-demand skill today and it’s still ever developing. I definitely have more appreciation for what good design is now overall. Career-wise, getting to grips with UX helped me transition to a permanent role as a web designer. Because of my expanded skillset, my manager can now get me involved in a much broader mix of projects. Plus, I’d be lying if I said the prospect of how much more I could earn from doing UX work didn’t drive me. Overall, it just feels like a natural progression.

5. What is your advice for creative folks feeling stuck or looking to do more?

  • Always think about what’s next in your career, but also what feels natural. If you’re unsure, at least try to figure out what you enjoy doing the most.
  • Do your research. Look up the work of influential designers, search the #UX hashtag on Twitter, look for hands-on evening courses.
  • Learn from resources out there. Some books I recommend are Lean UX, Don’t Make Me Think and 100 Things Every Designers Needs To Know About People. Some blogs I recommend are Smashing Magazine, UX Magazine, Usabilla, and A List Apart.

UX is such an in-demand skill today, and it’s still ever developing. There are many ways to learn and get involved – you just need to be proactive in seeking them out.

6. What’s your guilty pleasure?

I can spend an entire Saturday just watching YouTube videos!

When Grace isn’t designing, she can be found strolling Southbank Center, building her mum’s restaurant website, or working on her recipe app that allows you to cook up a meal even if you only have a couple of cans left.