My IBM Design Bootcamp Experience— Lessons Learned

By Eytan Davidovits & Rachel Sibley

This is the final installment in a 6-part blog series by (and about)  Eytan Davidovits, a Visual Designer who joined IBM Design in December 2015. In January 2016, Eytan embarked on IBM Design Bootcamp, an intensive 3-month onboarding experience for early career design talent. Take a peek inside Eytan’s world; you’ll learn skills and practices at the heart of IBM Design Thinking. Eytan is one face of the future of IBM—and of Design itself. 

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Photo Credit: Eytan Davidovits

Design Bootcamp is over! It’s been a wild three months. Now, the forty-five of us are getting deployed to our respective locations around the globe. Below are the six main lessons I took away from Design Bootcamp.

  1. You can’t fully participate in design until you understand the design process of a company.

For my first month—before going to Bootcamp—I felt a little out of my element. I didn’t know how to craft Hills or give an effective Playback, and this held me back.  I had to build my own hands-on understanding our overall design practices, including our design language and our design thinking. Bootcamp enabled me to internalize these core elements, and I’m now able to contribute to my team much more effectively.

  1. Design begins long before the interface.

Before we look for the solution, we first determine the problem, and understand the domain and the user. We conduct interviews, create empathy maps, and map out stories. We understand pain points and aim to solve them. We ask ourselves fundamental questions like, “How could this be better?” From there, we develop hills to guide our efforts and generate many concepts. With these concepts we consider a range of solutions. Only then do we really begin assembling the best concepts into something that resembles an interface. Then we go back to our users for testing and work our way up to a high fidelity concept that is streamlined for the user’s needs.

  1. A design should live up to its intended purpose.

This was essential in our microproject. When tasked with making a “high level overview,” we immediately assumed the dashboard should be as minimal as possible in order to keep the design clean. However, interviewing users made it clear that they needed to see all essential information at once or they would lose valuable time. The purpose of this dashboard was not to look clean and pretty, but rather to make this person’s job more efficient.  Complex data systems may look busy to us, but to our user, it is exactly what they need.

  1. Welcome constructive criticism.

Honestly, I thought I was good at receiving feedback… But I couldn’t help but feel personally attacked when my designs got picked apart. However, after making the changes, I saw how the design improved and realized that it was in my best interest to separate myself from my designs and let that conversation happen. Furthermore, I became more comfortable with showing designs even when they were unfinished, so that I wouldn’t waste time working on something before being redirected.

  1. Communicating design is as essential as the design itself.

Playbacks are crucial. I learned how to tell a story, get the audience to empathize, then show what the future could be like. Learning to be a good storyteller in front of a room of people can be daunting, but at IBM Design Bootcamp we were forced to do it from day one.  As a result, I have become a much more effective communicator. I also learned that good ideas often require no explanation, because they were so clear and obvious to the stakeholders.

  1. We have different skills.

Many times I have thought to myself, “Wow that looks great; I can’t do anything like that.” That’s ok! Everyone has a unique set of skills and a unique look to their work. Learning to feel good about both your work and the work of the person next to you is a growing experience. Instead of being jealous, collaborate! You like someone else’s icons? Ask them to either help you design some or to teach you their process. You’ll both come out stronger on the other side.

Goodbye Austin, hello [again] San Francisco!

Keeping forty-five designers busy for three months takes immense planning and effort; thank you so much to everyone who made Winter Design Bootcamp 2016 possible!

If you are a passionate problem-solver, able to empathize with users and turn that empathy into design insight,  join IBM Design and help us create exceptional experiences.

Learn more about IBM Design Thinking

Connect with IBM Design on Twitter and Facebook.

Read previous installments of Eytan Davidovits’s IBM Design Bootcamp experience here.

Eytan Davidovits

Eytan Davidovits is a UCLA graduate and current member of the IBM Analytics team. He specializes in Visual Design. Connect with him on twitter @eytand.




Rachel Sibley

Rachel Sibley is a communications maven who loves to tell great stories. She has served as a communications consultant to executives in international tech, the Los Angeles and New York art worlds, and leading international publications. Her current delight? To source and share design-centric discoveries as lead storyteller for the global IBM Design studios. Connect with her on twitter @sibleyspeaks.

If you are interested in finding out more about other technical opportunities at IBM, then follow our campaign #IBMTechTalent

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