Last semester, I worked at Creator Now - an entertainment startup - as a part-time, solo UX/UI Designer.
But first, let me provide some context.
Creator Now is a membership community built for aspiring YouTube creators. By joining, you can get connected with top-tier creators and resources to become a full-time creator.
Initially, every two months, Creator Now would invite 300 participants ($250 each) to take part in a six-week boot camp. Participants would be placed into teams to compete and get access to live workshops with top creators.
This is what the original boot camp page looked like:
But, before I joined, the startup decided to change to a subscription model. They wanted to build a platform.
You pay a certain monthly price. And you can get access to an array of useful features and tools.
From October to December, I created and handed off several major features of the platform. These included:
It was a lot of work. But, it was an incredible experience to design so much of the MVP platform.
P.S. If you’re in Creator Now, you might realize the platform looks different from what I show here. That’s because the team hired a UI Designer to refine the UI.
Now, I’ll share what I learned working at a startup.
This is essential for a startup.
For Creator Now, we had around six months to build out the entire MVP platform.
And this lesson brings me to my next learning.
Remember the standard, five step design process we learned?
Well, it doesn’t work like that at a startup.
Since speed is everything, a startup would prioritize execution and building more than research. We wanted to build a MVP as fast as possible so it could be tested.
This means that a lot of times, research will be sacrificed.
Wait… does that mean we shouldn’t do research at a startup?
Absolutely not! As a designer, you’re an advocate for the users, so you should definitely advocate for research.
But, what’s important is the depth and purpose of your research.
How much research do you want to do? Why do you want to do research?
This is where you need to be very intentional. Too much research equals more time. And research with no purpose equals wasted time.
It’s a delicate balance.
For example, when I first joined, I interviewed four creators because although the founders were experts in the space, I wasn't. Thus, I wanted to do interviews to get myself up to speed.
Yet, I did not do more interviews or further user research because
Let me reiterate my last point:
I became more confident in what I understood.
I realized that confidence in my understanding is a key criterion for moving forward. Doing research does not equal checking a box. It’s a way for me to confirm my hypothesis and become more confident in what I know.
Can I say:
It feels damn good to see our designs built & used by real people (creators)
One of the biggest benefits of working at a startup is that your designs can be shipped very quickly. Much, much faster than at a big company.
Thus, at Creator Now, all my designs were shipped. And on the day I’m writing this, it’s used by 735 creators.
This was a mantra of the founding engineer, Ricardo Bedin.
Don’t be afraid to communicate often with the team.
Thus, I shared design updates and got feedback on different ideations early on. This ensured that everybody was always in the loop of design.
It never hurts to quickly send a Slack message or record a video.
At Creator Now, I realized that I enjoy ideation work. I love to ideate different options, list out the pros & cons for each, then discuss with the team which one to go with.
As a part-time designer, I had to balance my time with school work, clubs, social, and life in general.
Not gonna lie - it was overwhelming.
As a result, I did not care about health as much. I barely exercised, and my sleep schedule fluctuated.
I don’t want this post to be all flowers. Studying while doing part-time is tiring. But, I don’t regret it at all. I made this decision, and I’m enjoying it thus far. I just need to make adjustments to time management.
Huge kudos to anybody doing part-time + school.
Here are some of the things I’ve noted:
This is one of the major realizations I’ve had.
Because at Creator Now, I don’t have a mentor.
Don’t get me wrong - working as a solo designer means I get full design ownership. That’s awesome. Yet, I couldn’t help but ask:
Are my designs up to the industry level? Are they actually…good? Am I in a bubble?
These are questions I could never answer without a mentor.
Thus, I realized that, no matter what industry you’re in, it’s all about the people. As a young designer, what matters is:
Who’s your mentor? Is your mentor an incredibly awesome designer that you can learn from?
Focus on people. And the rest will follow.
To preface: I will be returning to Creator Now in the spring. So, I want to share what I hope to learn at Creator Now as a designer.
Since the platform launched on January 2, I want to do user testing/interviews. This will help me assess my designs and improve them. Or, if I get too busy, at least use the feedback from the community to refine the designs.
I would say I want to focus more on quantitative data.
In the past, I have worked on projects analyzing qualitative data from user testing. Yet, I don’t have much experience extracting insights from numbers.
With learning comes improvements. Here, I want to share what I want to improve as a designer myself.
I’m an introvert (INFJ).
Thus, small talk is not my thing. Also, I don’t think that fast in a meeting. Also, I may be afraid that what I say won’t contribute to the conversation.
In general, I would rate my involvement in team discussions as…subpar.
Thus, this semester, I want to be more vocal intentionally. I won’t speak up for the sake of speaking up. I will speak up when I feel like I have something important to share. And if I don’t get the chance to, I can always process my thoughts and type them out as messages to the team members.
What matters is that I want to contribute and be helpful to the team.
I would have never imagined that I’ll be working at a YouTube startup.
But, when a good opportunity pops up, I take it.
Thank you for being awesome and reading this far! :)