#TakeFiveWith Geri Reid
Could you tell us about yourself and your job role? And one hobby/fun fact?
I am a visual designer at Lloyds, the UKs largest retail bank. I’m currently the UI lead in a design systems team.
Fun fact? Outside of work I enjoy volunteering with children. I became a STEM Ambassador in 2014 and ran a Code Club at an Islington primary school. I realised how much I enjoy making stuff with kids and almost considered retraining as a teacher.
I’m now a volunteer at Design Club, where I run a weekly design thinking workshop at a secondary school. My group of mini 'future disrupters' are designing apps that solve problems for people they know. I'm blown away with their creativity and problem solving abilities. It gives me hope for the future!
What is a typical day like for you?
My team is building a design system across four of the Lloyds brands. We work in sprints so every day starts with a standup. After standup, each day is different depending on our team's sprint goals. This could be researching, designing and building a new UI component or bug fixing something from our existing library.
I've recently become the team's self-appointed accessibility champion. Prior to working at Lloyds I felt like it was a real gap in my skillset and I was keen to learn how to make my designs accessible to more people. It's been a steep learning curve!
Lloyds has a genuine commitment to making products that are accessible to everyone. I've had the opportunity to work with our vulnerable customers team and experts at organisations like the Digital Accessibility Centre and AbilityNet. The great thing about a design system of reusable components is that you have the potential to positively affect many journeys.
Could you tell us how you got into your role?
I've worked as a UI designer since graduating from UAL. I spent 9 years with two investment banks, then a few years with fintech startups. Lloyds is the first retail bank I have designed for. It's nice to be able to work on products that make a positive impact on people's everyday lives.
What motivates you to do a good job?
Working in a team. It took me years of working as a freelancer to appreciate how much better I work in a team. I'm an introvert and my default is to go it alone. Whilst working in a big team takes me outside my comfort zone, building a product with like-minded people is very motivating.
Always learning and trying something new also keeps me motivated. It's easy to fall back to the same processes, tools and ways of working. Learning new things keeps it fresh.
Finally, my kids are a great motivator. I have thirteen-year-old twin girls and I'm keen for them to do what they enjoy in life and not be held back by traditional stereotypes. It's tough for kids today growing up with the pressures of social media but I think parents forget it's also a great connector.
How do you learn at work?
As a team we are always learning. We run fortnightly show and tells, and a weekly drop-in clinic where folks come and talk us through the journeys they are building with our components. Seeing our design and code in action helps us to identify problems. Fixing these problems in a system ultimately helps everyone.
I learn a lot from other specialisms. I've been lucky enough to work with some excellent UX and Conversation Designers over the years who have taught me how to structure content and write in plain English. Working alongside developers has given me a better understanding of things like semantic markup.
I try to get out to a couple of meetups each month to see what's going on in the industry. My team also runs a quarterly design systems meetup. We get together with designers, engineers and product owners from other design systems to talk about our tooling, processes and current trends. It's always reassuring to discover that everyone else is facing the same challenges!
What are your aims for the next year? For example, if you work in accessibility do you have any plans to help make workplaces more inclusive? If you work in Learning and Development how are you going to promote workplace learning?
My aim is to make accessibility a consideration from the start of each project. Accessibility has historically been seen as a developers responsibility but it starts long before a product goes into development.
A considered structure, layout and thoughtful copy will result in a better end product for all users. Have you used a heading hierarchy? Is the navigation consistent across screens? Will copy reflow gracefully when resized?
As a designer, you often write placeholder copy without thoughtful consideration; button text, link text, headings. Even with a copywriter or content designer on the case these small bits of microcopy often carry through to development.
These all sound like small considerations but together they ultimately add up to a better product and a more positive experience for all your users.
YOU CAN LEARN MORE ABOUT LLOYD’S BANKING GROUP DIGITAL ON THE FOLLOWING PLATFORMS:
Lloyd’s Banking Group Digital website: www.lloydsbankinggroup.com
Lloyd’s Banking Group Digital Twitter Account: @LBGDigi
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