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My week with Digital

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“I’m Martin, a motor claims advisor for DLG at The Headrow in Leeds. On a normal working day I help customers on their claims journey. It’s a rewarding job, knowing I’m making a difference to each person I speak to, but my passion lies in animation. I studied character animation at university, and I previously created bespoke customer-facing animations for a range of clients.

Not too long ago, I put my knowledge and skills in this area to use to create a short video for Direct Line that helped customers understand the processes involved in making a claim. Although it was never used externally it was picked up on by the head of design at DLG Digital, who asked if I’d like to spend a week working alongside his design team. Obviously I jumped at the chance, and headed down to Bromley as soon as I could to learn more about the department and utilise my animation skills.

Video designer Ke Nguyen took me under his wing on the first day, which I was very grateful for as I felt totally out of my comfort zone. I was initially concerned everyone would be too busy to spend any time with me, but I found the Digital team to be extremely welcoming.

Everyone I spoke to was filled with invaluable knowledge, not only about their own area of expertise, but also about different team members and their experiences and/or workloads. This showed me how close-knit the team was and how the sharing of knowledge and experience is prevalent within the Digital department.

This curious and insightful culture was evident every day, with team members taking part in stand-up meetings to explain what they were working on and the steps needed to reach the final stages of production.

The UX manager, James Sharpe, listened to how much I wanted to learn and grow my skills and set me a task. He asked me to produce an animation piece that showed how a customer would use their phone to find home insurance through their web browser. Working with programs including After Effects, Photoshop and Sketch I created a layout showing Direct Line home insurance appearing under comparison site headings, with an animated hand clicking the links. I also used the Sketch program to generate a home insurance website, then used After Effects to make it look as though the user was scrolling through the pages.

The closest program to Sketch that I had used before was Adobe Illustrator, and I found Sketch to be more intuitive and easier to use, meaning I found my way around the tools and shortcuts pretty quickly.

I also got to sit in on a user experience workshop. UX was an area I’d never been exposed to before, and the workshop proved a real eye-opener. It was incredible to see how the designers analysed the existing site that was to be reworked, and watch how everyone worked together to bring the most important information to the forefront.

It was great to see the work ethic of everyone involved, but it was also interesting how the workshop turned into a creative game, where the group was divided into two teams to work on a prototype of a site. This was basically a draft version of how each team thought the website should look and what information should be prioritised.

After this had been completed, both teams came together to show what they had created before choosing a section of the site they wanted to design. Then, everyone jumped onto their laptops to carry out the design work for each section.

Being able to view the creative process, as well as learning the steps taken to reach a shared goal, was such an invigorating experience and exactly the kind of atmosphere I yearn for.

I took away so much from my week in Digital. I began wondering how animation could be utilised in the department, but left realising that I have so much more to offer. I’m just sad the week had to end.”