Hi, have you met Keith and Michelle?

Keith CEO of Ecentricarts
Keith CEO of Ecentricarts

First off I’m back, back from three weeks of much needed rest during Christmas vacation and I’m glad to be back!

One of the first guests we had this semester ended up being two people actually! Keith Durrant the CEO of Ecentricarts and Michelle Claessens the Art Directer of Ecentricarts.

Keith started off the talk by telling us a little bit about what Ecentricarts is and what they do.

“A band of Misfits” – Keith Durrant

Ecentricarts was founded in 2000. Fueled by Keith and his business partners interest in arts and culture. When they first started they solely took on clients that where in the arts and culture sector but slowly begin to open the doors to others. They make a point to take on clients that they like.

At this point in-time they have around 350 clients!

Some of their clients include:

  • Canadian Red Cross
  • EONE
  • Bell Media
  • YMCA
  • Shred-it
  • The United Nations
  • The Canadian Bar Association
  • Scotiabank
  • Curbell Plastics
Michelle Art Director at Ecentricarts
Michelle Art Director at Ecentricarts

After telling us a bit about the company Keith introduced us to Michelle. Michelle is the Art Director at Ecentricarts she talked about how they are currently changing their workflow. In the past they worked in the “Waterfall” style of work, and have recently changed over to “Agile”.

Keith and Michelle told us that since Agile is so new to the design world everyone does it a little different from each other and Michelle broke it down for us the way they do it at Ecentricarts.

To explain the process in a board way, an Agile work flow works like this:

It takes the designers, developers, information gathers, etc and the client and keeps everyone involved but breaking every one up into self managing teams that will have one or two people from the same discipline (depending on project scale) and they will have a series of sprints (project completion points) with different deliverables. The teams will work closely with the client to insure that the end goal is achieved.

Below is Ecentricarts way of approaching Agile.

The Process:

The Design Sprint

Because Agile was first developed for developers and not so much designers, they start all of their projects off with a “Design Sprint”.

It works as follows:

  • it’s the first phase
  • it validates an internal design concept
  • it’s short and timed boxed
  • it involves entire project team
  • it’s before the regular sprint cycle

Next is the regular sprint cycle.

Sprints

All Sprints work as follows:

  • Researching
    • User intervies
    • Surveys
    • Personas
    • Journey Maps
    • Story mapping (this happens near the beginning of the research phase)
  • Brainstorming
    • Step 1: gather inspiration (this gets creative juices going)
    • Step 2: sketch (teams take 5 minutes to gather 8 different concepts of their big ideas without constraints.
    • Step 3: Refine Ideas
  • Designs
    • Sometimes the design will happen just before the build.
    • They will create an overall style guide that will drive consistency throughout the entire process and will build on as they create different pages during different sprints.
  • Prototypes
  • Testing (a&b testing)
  • Evaluate sprint and learn from the outcomes
  • Then you repeat the sprint process till completion

An important note: during this entire process the client is very heavily involved.

It was really interesting to hear how an Agile workflow is handled first had from a company that is in the process of switching over to it.

The more I learn about the differences between a Waterfall Style and Agile Style to more I understand the need for the switch to agile. It’s over all just a more efficient process that produces great results at the end of the cycle.

Michelle ended with a typical day in the life for her. Hearing the day to day of someone already in the industry is pretty neat, I get a chance to have a small glimpse of what I might be doing one day!

A Day in the Life of Michelle

Morning 

Coffee: Come in a little bit early to enjoy a quiet coffee and have a chance to organize herself.

Daily Scrum: they talk about what they did the previous day and what they will be working on today. This is a chance for everyone to be on the same page.

Work, work, work

Afternoon

Client Presentations

Speaking of Michelle had a little bit of advice for us; client facing personality is very important as a designer. You have to be able to talk to the client and explain why you made certain design decisions.

Longer Team meetings

We also got some good job hunting tips from Keith!

How to get a job:

Networking: talk to people, ask to go for a coffee, attend different meetups and even conferences!

Have a good looking resume, we are designers so our resume should reflect that.

Cover letters are awesome. They could be in the body of an email or as a separate document, but they give you a chance to show some personality and tell your perspective employer why you are different.

Show some personality in your resume.

SPELL CHECK, make sure your projects are spell checked too!

Portfolio

Show your thought process, include sketches, and wireframes. Make sure there is a good range of projects too, that way you can show the variety of your work.

Don’t be afraid to include any personal side projects.

Interview

Take some time and look at the companies website that you will be interviewing at. That way you will be able to ask them relevant questions.

Don’t be a afraid to ask them questions during the interview, but save a few for the end.

Don’t forget to show your personality, an interview is a chance for everyone (interviewer and interviewee) to get to know each other.

In the end we had a great Q&A. I was so absorbed in what was being said I didn’t take extensive notes, but one piece of advice stuck out to me. It was that you should be a “T” person. Meaning you have a single focus but you can also do other things. For example “I focus on UI design, but I can code, and take photos as well.”

Don’t be afraid to show your personality.

 


How to get in contact with Keith and Michelle

Keith Durrant – CEO of Ecentricarts

Michelle – Art Director at Ecentricarts

Keiths Linkedin: https://ca.linkedin.com/in/keithdurrant

Michelles Linkedin: https://ca.linkedin.com/in/michelleclaessens

Company Website: http://www.ecentricarts.com

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