Alumni Update: Interview with Andrew Hernandez
Graduated 2011 | Graphic Design Major, Marketing Minor
Experience Designer for Accenture Project X.0
Why did you choose BGSU to study design and what made you leave advertising for user experience (UX)?
I just did my research, talked to some people and applied. Lucky for me the “design work” I was doing in high school and my weird cartoons got me through the portfolio review. UX has its place in both advertising and tech/product development. I was doing UX work for 5 of the 8 years I spent in advertising, but mostly for client websites and such. The shift to working in tech came about because I was getting bored of making websites and wanted to start doing different things in the digital space.
What skills did you learn from graphic design that still help you today in UI/UX?
All of them. The principles of design are 100% relevant, and my job is still very much a design-focused job. The UX part of my work deals with users and their needs, but the UI side is all visual design. I’d say 60% of my time is spent on visual design.
What does Accenture do?
Accenture has their hands in everything, they are a massive global organization, so I won’t go into a lot of detail there. Product X.0, where I reside, is focused on bringing together people in who work on software, digital experience, mechanical engineering, industrial design, research, etc. to build innovative products and solutions for our clients.
How closely do you work with engineers on a project?
It really depends on the project. The first project I worked on after starting at Accenture was a combination of engineering, industrial design and software because we were building a physical machine that was digitally operated. So for the duration of the project we were talking with those teams a few days a week to make sure the software and UX/UI work we were doing was in sync with what they were building.
What is the best part about your work?
Can I give a two part answer? First, I really love design, but part of good UX/UI design is knowing that what you’re creating is what your users actually want. So being able to discover what that is and test and integrate and test again is awesome.
Second, it’s an environment built on collaboration. I hate working alone, I’m a very social person and I like to feed off of my team’s energy and ideas. We have the opportunity to work on some really cool projects and being able to do it as a team, with all our diverse skills, makes it great.
What is the coolest project you have worked on / seen?
I wish I could answer this openly, but I signed an NDA for the coolest project I’ve worked on. Most of what I’ve been a part of at Accenture so far is proprietary. What I can say is that it did involve software, engineering, industrial design, etc. to build something from the ground up. Having that multi-disciplinary collaboration was really cool and totally different than anything I’d been a part of before. I helped facilitate the user testing sessions with the physical unit and seeing the way that people reacted was so cool. The shock and joy in the reactions and some of the things they said were super gratifying.
What inspires you and what gets you out of bed in the morning?
I hit up the blogs I follow and scroll through Instagram every day to keep my eyes on what the best of the best are doing, but sometimes its random stuff like something my kids say or a chalkboard sign out front of a restaurant. It kind of depends on what I’m working on; inspiration is everywhere.
Alarm #13. I sleep like a rock.
Really though, I’m happy to get up and go into work in the morning because I love what I do and I work in a place where I’m encouraged, not pressured, to learn and grow.
If you could design any app you wanted, what would it be?
Oh man, that’s a hard question. I’m really intrigued by autonomous vehicles, so something to do with that would be awesome to work on.
What advice would you give students currently in the program?
- Seek knowledge and inspiration every day! Bookmark some cool design blogs and follow your favorite designers/creators on social media. I usually start my day by taking 15-20 minutes to check in on my faves to get my creativity going.
- Collaborate with other designers and be open to feedback from all sources. Share your work and critique theirs. Feed off of each other’s ideas. Basically, try not to work in a silo, it’s hard to see the big picture without outside perspective.
- Keep up to date on new technologies. This is particularly important in the digital space as technology is constantly evolving. It’s not enough to just have a cool product or design anymore, consumers are expecting new functionality and connectivity in more and more places. Staying up to date on what’s possible to achieve will better position you for success.
- Have fun! It can be hard when you have deadlines looming, hit a creative roadblock or just simply hate the project that you’re working on. Just make sure you don’t let the day to day routine of work take away from your passion and enjoyment for your craft. A lot of my best work came out of making joke versions of whatever I was doing, or cracking jokes with my team that ended up sparking a real idea.
Interviewed by Lisa Criscione