I attended a recent Glug event at Cooper Hall, Sevendale House. It was informal, fun and great for networking. Everyone is very friendly at Glug events and you have a chat over a wine or beer (well, I had a ginger beer with my free token). I never once felt awkward and everyone on my table made conversation with me.
This is probably because Glug events are aimed at creative professionals or people who are interested in the creative industries. They are purposely made as informal as possible to encourage people to get to know each other and relax, what they call ‘creative notworking’.
This time, there were three talks, which focused on: User Experience for children, being a freelance creative, and the future of tech in marketing.
User Experience for children
Callum Peters is UX Designer at BBC UX&D (Children’s). He talked about how important it is to consider your user when you’re designing for children. Thinking about your audience is important in any design work, but especially for inclusive design.
For example, the BBC designed a game for deaf children using subtitles. During some user testing, they found out that their target users do not actually use subtitles. These children had been deaf since birth, so this made subtitles hard to read, and instead they used other visual cues to navigate through games.
It’s important to co-create with your audience and users. The BBC consulted children on designing the characters and buildings for one of their games, and came up with more creative ideas as a result.
Finally, for successful user testing, you have to tailor your environment. When you work with children, you have to make sure that you use tables and chairs appropriate for their size. The setting has to be fun and informal rather than set up like an exam. Children will take their cues from you.
Image: Me at Glug MCR, Cooper Hall
Jane Bowyer is an independent designer and illustrator who works with her clients to visually bring their brands to life. She also founded Women in Print, a Manchester-based project celebrating Manchester’s iconic women through print, to redress the fact that many female contributions to print design have not gained the recognition they deserve.
Jane talked about how difficult it is being a freelance creative and dealing with the “freelance blues”. This is because you spend a lot of your days working alone, and many freelancers are perfectionists.
You must navigate being commercially successful, and staying true to your original creative vision. Many clients will not be ready for an edgy, innovative design, and you have to be prepared to compromise. It’s also important to specialise the work you do for your clients, and not just say yes to anything you’re asked to do.
The key is not being too hard on yourself, and to forget about reaching perfection. Make sure you keep your spirits up by scheduling regular lunch dates with your fellow freelancers. And if you don’t know any, a Glug event is the perfect place to meet some!
It’s crucial to keep your own creative projects alive when you spend your working day on client work. For example, donating your creative skills to good causes, or creating a new project like Jane’s Women in Print.
The future of tech in marketing and branding
Anthony co-founded Noir Agency, a business built through a combined passion for branding, business and technology.
It’s always hard to predict the future, but many companies are focusing on creating better experiences for their customers. They do this using the latest technology, including Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality. For example, some companies have created their own chatbots to interact with their customers, or designed programs that can create virtual wardrobes for shoppers.
Some people are concerned that jobs may be destroyed by technology, but we’re a long way from that happening yet. Even though some software exists that can design logos, for example, it lacks the creativity and originality of human design.
Also, with advances in technology, more jobs will be created for those who can work with it or consult on changes. Computers are still a long way from reproducing the creativity of people.
Image: Watching Jane Bowyer give her talk
It’s always good fun going to Glug events. They bring together creative communities and provide me with vital motivation as a freelancer. Creative networks are not in a physical place, and people often work in very divergent industries, so it’s important to get out there and connect.
It’s even more important for freelancers to build their networks and participate in the community. Check out the Glug website for more information about their next event near you.
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Main image: Audience at GlugMCR, Cooper Hall