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How experience design made me a better creative leader

Now head of experiential design at R/GA London, Zoha Zoya’s career has been a rollercoaster of job titles as tech and UX have become more and more central to brands and organisations. Here she reflects on what she’s learnt along the way

Experience design, as a field, has been around for more than 20 years but in a number of different forms and titles. It has always been about creating human-centred experiences across any type of product, interface or space. Today, the discipline continues to grow with new challenges and responsibilities that can change the future of many industries.

As a designer, my job title and role has changed regularly as consumer behaviours have shifted and technology has evolved. In 2004, after graduating from university with a BA in graphic design, my role was to define the visual language and the way people interacted with brands in different media. I kicked off my career designing branded microsites and advertising banners across the web before moving to London to study an MA in what became called ‘interactive multimedia’. This was yet another opportunity to specialise in more digital interfaces and interaction design. Around the same time, Steve Jobs launched the first iPhone and the industry started to shift its attention to apps that could serve new customer expectations.

My role, in turn, switched again, this time to interaction designer, crafting micro and macro interactions. In this new app era, interaction designers could work in different sectors and, alongside the birth of social media platforms, brands started to voice more opinions and start conversations that could reach millions of people at a click of a button. I joined R/GA in 2014 as senior experience designer which was a unique title not that many agencies had at the time. What attracted me to it was the opportunity to be an important connector between strategy, visual design, technology and storytelling. In our roles, we became the glue between story and systems.

SENIOR DESIGNER

MANCHESTER