Jun 1, 2017

A designer for a bank?

No thanks.

By Bryce Howard

There I was, having graduated from university with Honours in Design, harbouring big dreams of working for an agency designing slick, sweet looking things for the rest of my life. I began my working career at a small agency. It was creatively rewarding work, designing new brands, websites and advertising campaigns. Life was pretty good. I was getting paid peanuts but creating some beautiful, visually appealing things. Of course, it’s not all rainbows and butterflies (if someone tells you that then it’s a fib) because every job has its downfalls. Two and a half years blows by and I’m made redundant. So what do I do?

I talked to some friends and friends of friends about what I should do and where I should go, and through the networking and obligatory chit chats an opportunity at a BNZ popped up. The job ticked a few boxes for me; obviously job security was a big plus, as well as plenty of opportunity to learn and develop. But, who the hell wants to work for a bank? Not this guy! What sort of designer wants to work for a corporate? Is that seriously creatively rewarding work? Will I be able to “push the boat out” and create these visually appealing designs that have been my bread and butter? Probs not, but I entertained the idea and went to catch up with “The Bank” anyway.

I took along my portfolio and an attitude. I felt hella confident about my work and thought these guys are lucky that I’m giving them the time of day. I was used to making whatever I got given to work on look awesome, not really thinking about who was using this stuff, and to me BNZ was low hanging fruit. Of course it had to have some sort of a functional aspect to it, but I was pretty naive when it came to that side of things.

Into the interview I went, fielding questions like “talk to me about the decision behind structuring the website this way?”, “who are you trying to talk to with this communication?” and “what mind-set do you think these people are in when viewing this content?”. My internal answer; “I don’t have a clue, but damn I made it look good, AM I RIGHT?”. Honestly, I had never thought about that stuff before so naturally, I bluffed my way through it. What I didn’t expect, was for those questions to intrigue me. It was an aspect of design that I hadn’t paid much attention to before — I was a junior designer and hadn’t been privy to that type of thought process. It made a heap of sense to me, and my interest was piqued.

The team that I met were actually pretty normal; everyone joked around and no-one wore the pinstripe suit that I imagined a “classic banker” would wear. The team had diverse design backgrounds – from ad agencies and industrial designers to a physicist. I asked them about their day to day and what type of work I could expect when I was counter questioned (the ultimate power play) – “Do you enjoy understanding something inside out and end to end?”. My answer was “I guess so”.

What I pretty quickly learnt was that understanding is paramount to what we do here; putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and gaining critical empathy for the end user. That definitely caught my attention; I admit that I was tied up in the world of thinking that a visually unappealing website simply could not be good design, but the way that these guys thought had me hooked. Don’t get me wrong, they still saw the benefits of beautiful aesthetics but mainly from the perspective of the user’s clarity.

I took the job because of the way that this team thought. I never imagined that I would be looking at underwhelming visuals and think “shit, that really is great design”, but here I am. The only people I can thank for that perspective are BNZ Digital’s Design team and BNZ Digital’s way of thinking and working.

I’m not going to preach to you about how great the bank is to work for, how rad it is to be in a team who genuinely care about every step of a customer’s journey, the financial perks of working at a bank and not always fighting the client and feeling like you are genuinely backed 100% by your peers. I’m proud of working for this high performing digital team because now I GAF about this team – they opened my eyes and challenged me to form my own opinions, and to question myself and others as to why we are working on whatever it is that we are working on.

I truly believe we are delivering some real value in what we do. Sure, the visual aspect of design is fairly locked down, but solving usability issues has become far more rewarding since I jumped on the BNZ Digital bandwagon.★

Bryce Howard

Bryce Howard
Professional overthinker, fully unqualified veterinarian, fake doctor, Designer of experiences.

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The views expressed above are those of the author and do not purport to represent the views of BNZ. BNZ does not accept any liability for any loss or damage that may result from this publication. More information here.