Interview with Clément Menant, UX/UI designer and Interaction Design Teacher at L’École de design
What’s your background?
I studied at L’École de design Nantes Atlantique. During my training, I did various work placements and a 5-month study trip in Saint Petersburg, Russia. When I came back to France, I decided to do the joint course at IEMN-IAE (School of Economics & Management) in Nantes, as I wanted my training to have a more business-oriented vision. I then joined a young start-up in Paris, Zenchef, to carry out my final internship. This internship proved to be a fantastic experience as it was the first time the company had worked with an in-house designer. I was therefore the only designer and I had to come up with creative solutions for new projects. This last internship taught me to be independent and gave me the opportunity to design a mobile application. I graduated in 2012 in Tangible Interfaces and also a Master en Administration des Entreprises option Design management. I managed to get several job interviews through the various projects I completed during my final internship and that’s how I met the founders of l’agence Troopers via the Cantine numérique .
What is the activity of Troopers, the company you work for, and what is your role?
Troopers is a web agency with a long history and expertise in development in the PHP Symfony framework. I joined the team nearly five years ago to develop the agency’s activity by incorporating interface design ahead of projects, even before development.
Previously, the agency didn’t have the necessary in-house skills to ensure full coverage of its clients’ projects. So, with the rest of the team, I put in place different types of deliverables, workshops for co-design and a method/workflow for designing, revising and improving our clients’ projects, and to be able to attract other types of client who want to use an agency who can not only give them advice about their ideas, digital products or services, but also prototype and develop them.
We now have several departments within the agency (back development, front development, UX/UI design, webmarketing and consultancy/support for project management). We are also setting up training programs on different themes (mostly technical) to train students and/or professionals in our methods. We have therefore become an agency which can manage a web project from A to Z. We have also created various in-house projects: Victoire and Planck.
Victoire is a CMS (Content Management System), a tool that lets you manage the content of a website. It’s a tool which is designed both for developers and complete novices. The idea is to have a front-end interface to create dynamic and static content on the website. Our main goal with this tool was to be able to spend less time on low value added tasks like changing the editorial content of a website and focus on other more valuable tasks like creating or designing new functionalities.
Planck is a project management tool. We had never managed to find a tool which truly reflected our methods. So we decided to design our own. Planck lets you manage design projects, development projects and site maintenance (tickets, receipts, bugs). For now, the platform is only accessible to our clients.
Are you more UX or UI?
The training at L’École de design is very geared towards service design, but there is also a lot of very important and diverse technical content. So my training was more UX. However, I’ve always considered that you can’t have one without the other and that the experience on a website or an application is always strongly influenced by UI (ambiance, environment, ergonomics, etc.) UX methods for designing interfaces let you test the service/product and ask yourself the right questions in order to design user paths.
You’ve been teaching at L’École de design since October 2017. What kind of teaching/applications?
I work with third year undergraduate students in Interaction Design to train them to use new tools: Sketch/ InVision/ Principle to do web prototyping or prototyping for native applications. I also teach students to look critically at an interface, by giving them the basic concepts of web ergonomics. The main idea of these different modules is to help the students carry out their various projects independently thanks to a panel of new tools in tune with the job market.
As a professional, what do you get out of teaching at L’École de design?
There are several positive points to teaching at L’École de design: the perspective I get on my working methods, plus teaching skills and empathy which are always useful in a professional or personal capacity. From a more professional point of view, my teaching helps give us more credibility in the eyes of our future partners at the agency. It also helps us develop the design department because of our increased visibility – we get more applications for work placements, work-study programs or full-time positions
As a school alumni, what in your opinion is L’École de design’s main strength?
I think that the strong added value of this school lies in its ability to teach students to learn by themselves and to be independent after their studies. The career profiles of alumni are many and varied (both in France and abroad) and our profession is undergoing huge changes. New tools and new technologies come out every year, so you have to be able to constantly train yourself and improve your skills. L’École de design has contacts with a network of big companies and their young graduates quickly find work. That proves that the training programs on offer are relevant and that the opportunities are there.
If you had to define web design in 3 lines?
To keep it short and simple, it’s first and foremost about empathy. You need a capacity to synthesise, plus artistic, creative and technical flair. Web design is a profession which is changing quickly. You have to design an interface which is sufficiently modular to be consulted on a wide variety of digital devices (telephones, tablets, computers, etc.)
How do you keep abreast of the latest trends in web design?
To find inspiration, I regularly look at websites like land-book.com, tympanus.net, codyhouse.co, codepen.io, dribbble.com and I use muz.li as the homepage on my web browser to have a constant stream of inspiration. I also use medium.com a lot, for the diversity and the quality of the articles. The simplicity with which you can access content and the transversal nature of devices: I save an article that I can read later on my mobile for example.
What advice do you give students to help them prepare for the Worldskills Competition?
I advise students always to take into account the main human factors which mean that an interface is well designed (accessibility, flexibility and robustness). I also advise them to focus on accessing content in a straightforward, intuitive way that is technically within their capabilities, and to use tools which save them wasting time in the different design phases (Sketch + Craft + InVision + Principle). The web design evaluation assesses their technical and creative skills in a limited time. So they have to maximise the chances of achieving this to boost their productivity.