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A Day in the Life of Pete Jobes, Lead Interaction Designer, Public Sector

A Day in the Life of Peter Jobes

Our name is intentional. "Kin" refers to family and "Carta" refers to maps. When together, we're Kin + Carta — a group of connected makers, builders and creators, who come together everyday to help our clients build experiences and plot a clear path forward in today's digital world. Carta is what we do, Kin is who we are.

Day in the Life is a series that brings the day-to-day experiences of working at Kin + Carta to light, all through the eyes of our Kin. And today, we're diving into the day of Pete Jobes, one of our lead interaction designers.

We’d love a quick intro from you!

I’m Pete, a lead interaction designer from Newcastle and I've been with Kin + Carta since August 2023. I work in a hybrid role, working between home and our Edinburgh office. I've been in interaction design and related fields since I graduated, and in recent years, I've seen significant growth in the amount of companies looking for these roles. I've always been drawn to interaction, primarily working in the public sector, including at places such as the Department for Work and Pensions. The potential to impact people’s lives with public sector work is compelling.

Can you break it down for us — what is your role?

As an interaction designer, my role revolves around shaping the user experience of websites or services. I focus on the user's needs and how they currently use the platform or service. This involves designing how pages are laid out, how users flow through the service, and ensuring accessibility for all individuals, including those with motor and sight needs. Inclusivity is paramount in my work, as I strive to ensure that every one who needs to can effectively use the products we create. My goal is to build with inclusivity in mind and actively involve our users in the design process.

What's a typical day like for you?

A typical day for me starts with some administrative tasks about half an hour before my first meeting. Our team's stand-up meeting is first, where we discuss our tasks for the day and recap what we accomplished yesterday. We address any quick questions and requests from the team. Sometimes, we have additional ceremonies right after to go over open tickets.

The rest of the day is more flexible, usually revolving around problem-solving. I sketch out ideas and take notes on the issues we're tackling, then translate them into prototypes using design software. We often incorporate some coding into our interaction design to facilitate user testing. Throughout a project, we work within two-week sprint cycles, ensuring we engage with users and update key stakeholders on our progress.

More specifically, what was yesterday like for you?

Yesterday was quite busy for me. I started the morning by analysing user testing data for two internal services aimed at civil servants. We're nearing the end of the delivery cycle for both projects, so ensuring they reflect user feedback is crucial. Later in the day, I participated in a Community of Practice (CoP) meeting where we discussed ways to improve and shared design techniques. In the afternoon, I focused on diving into the details, reading guidance on a legal process I'm designing for, and sketching out different ideas to see how they could work.

How do your days change as you prepare for the final stages of a project?

As we prepare for the final stages of a project, my days remain structured but agile, just like in the rest of the project. While the pace doesn't change, the focus shifts to more granular tasks, ensuring everything works as designed and the tiny noticeable things are as they should be. We conduct user acceptance testing, making sure that the service meets user needs. Though the type of work may change, the pace remains quite consistent until the end. Having a sustainable pace is an essential part of the agile methodology.

If you are looking at moving from the Public Sector to consultancy, why Kin +Carta?

If I was talking to someone looking to move from the public sector to consultancy, Kin + Carta would be my top choice primarily because of its culture. The company has a unique atmosphere where everyone is hired for their expertise and treated with respect. There's an expectation that you know how to do your job and can execute it to a high standard, which creates a supportive and empowering environment.

The team is not only brilliant but also incredibly supportive, making it an exceptional place to work. Being part of this culture has had a positive impact on my mental health, and I appreciate how much value the company places on individuals. The culture fosters strong bonds among colleagues, often blurring the lines between work and friendship as we choose to spend time together, not just on projects but also unwinding and getting to know each other better.

Pete running up Arthurs Seat Edinburgh
Pete running up Arthurs Seat, Edinburgh on his lunch break

What skills are necessary to do your role?

In my role as an interaction designer, I've come to believe that mindset outweighs specific skills. When I interview candidates, I focus on qualities like empathy and curiosity, as these traits shape how individuals approach problem-solving. While skills can certainly be taught, having a deep understanding of design thinking is essential.

It's not just about how things look, but also how they function and how they can be improved through design. Additionally, some proficiency in coding for prototyping purposes is beneficial, as it allows for the creation of basic prototypes that can be tested with users, facilitating iterative design processes.

What's it been like working in a public sector role for a consultancy?

Working in a public sector role for a consultancy has been a refreshing change for me. I've thoroughly enjoyed the experience, mainly because I get to dive into the work more and spend less time navigating internal processes and policies within the organisation. In a consultancy setting, the focus is on delivering results for clients, which means I get to be more hands-on and productive from day one.

Within my first week, I was already working on prototypes for clients, which felt incredibly rewarding. While the pace is manageable and sustainable, the absence of navigating large internal structures allows me to concentrate solely on delivering tangible outcomes—a healthy change that I appreciate.

What advice do you have for someone considering going into interaction design?

If you're considering going into interaction design, my advice is simple: go for it. While getting started might seem daunting, it's incredibly rewarding. I recommend reading "The Design of Everyday Things" by Don Norman to grasp the fundamentals of design thinking. Additionally, seek out opportunities to learn about Government Digital Service (GDS) standards and accessibility, especially if you're interested in working in the public sector. Accessibility and GDS service standards are paramount in this field, and having knowledge in these areas will set you apart.

Pete Jobes trail runnings in the mountains
Pete during a trail ultra-marathon

What's the most important thing you've learned at Kin + Carta?

The most important lesson I've learned at Kin + Carta is the value of broadening my skill set and taking on more responsibility. While I've always been involved in User Acceptance Testing (UAT), here I've learned to plan and facilitate it. This has contributed to my skill set becoming more "T-shaped," where I have a deep expertise in certain areas but also a broad understanding across multiple disciplines. I'm very conscious that our clients have invested in our expertise, so I strive to go above and beyond to deliver value in any way I can. This often means learning new skills or finding ways to improve processes to enhance the client experience. Overall, I've learned to constantly seek opportunities to expand my capabilities and deliver more efficiently for our clients.

And finally, in your day-to-day life, what inspires you?

In my day-to-day life, I'm inspired by individuals who push their limits, like those who participate in utterly bonkers ultra trail running. Witnessing people understand their capacity and push the boundaries of what's possible is incredibly motivating. I’ve done a few mountain ultras myself and seeing other people do amazing things makes me keen to challenge myself more.

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