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Aquent partners with The School of UX: Interviewing Sergei Golubev

By: Aquent

LAST UPDATED: February 5, 2024

In September, Aquent joined hundreds of UX designers and enthusiasts from all over the UK at the Southbank Centre, London, for The School of UX's #TheUXConf. An exciting opportunity to meet some established and up-and-coming talent, we all also got the chance to learn from the brains behind user experience at companies like Financial Times, Vitality, Cazoo, Channel 4, Royal Horticultural Society, Eurostar and more.

Check out our “Day in the Life” video at The UX Conference on TikTok below:

Our Senior Marketing Exec. for Europe, Ben Kinkaid, got the chance to sit down with Sergei Golubev, UX designer & entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience working with household brands like Microsoft and British Gas. He's the founder of The UX Conference and The School of UX (as well as being one of the school's tutors).

  • B.K: Hi Sergei, thanks for agreeing to chat! For those that haven't yet had the chance to get to know you, can you give us a bit of background about yourself?
  • S.G: I'm a self-taught web designer from Estonia who became a UX “dev-igner” (designer+developer) and I'm an entrepreneur in the UK. Sure I've worked for big brands like Microsoft and Heathrow Airport, but also numerous startups and FinTech organisations.

    I've got 20+ of my own projects designed and launched from scratch – from an online platform for over 55s to find activities in London, to a mobile app for Windows software developers. For the past 7 years I've been running The School of UX and The UX Conference in London, plus writing “That UX Book” (gosh, I don't know when I'm going to finish it).
  • B.K: That's quite the fly-by CV, and it's great to see you helping other UX-ers level up now that you've got a fair bit of experience under your belt. How about a bit more about The UX Conference that Aquent helped sponsor back in September?
  • S.G: That was the 7th edition of The UX Conference. With 700 attendees – it was the biggest one to date. I decided to try out a completely different format this year – I call it “no slides, no waffle”. Instead of traditional theoretical talks with keynote-presentations – I wanted to have live demos of how fellow designers use different UX & UI design tools at work, right on stage.

    From how to run usability studies in Useberry research platform, and how to convert a Figma wireframe into a responsive UI prototype using Webflow… to a “Designer versus AI” battle (guess who won?) – you can watch some of the sessions here.

    It was great to have Aquent on board joining the event, supporting our guests with their recruitment needs and job vacancies.

  • B.K: I had a great time and the rest of the team enjoyed meeting everyone that came along! So that's the conference. What about The School of UX?
  • S.G: I started The School of UX in 2016 – offering accessible education in UX design. Everyone is welcome – we've had accountants, bankers, baristas, nurses and artists who were complete beginners with no design background whatsoever. We've also had graphic designers, BAs and PMs with some understanding of UX and UI who wanted to upskill themselves.

    We're a small and diverse team with each tutor being an experienced professional focusing on a specific field of UX: from user research and behavioural psychology to content design and design systems. We're proud to have been selected by the UK government to deliver Skills Bootcamp in UX this year. And honoured to have such a business partner like Aquent helping our learners with career advice and job support – big thanks to your incredible teammates!
  • B.K: We're definitely more than happy to get involved to connect more UXers with exciting new opportunities. For those wondering whether The School of UX is right for them, why this course over other UX bootcamps?
  • S.G: Instead of taking a bank loan, and months off work to learn how to design apps, websites and services – with The School of UX you get a part-time 7-week bootcamp funded by the UK government (or a 1-week bootcamp for just under £1K).

    Instead of being taught theory by academics with no industry experience – you get to meet actual design professionals who are walking the walk, and get one-to-one career mentoring.

    Instead of jumping straight into fashionable design tools and designing useless “bells and whistles” – we teach solid UX and UI design fundamentals and design process, as well as soft skills on how to work with fellow colleagues (the hardest part!) and provide business value.

    Instead of creating yet another fancy “design theatre” portfolio – we focus on the skills which one will actually need on the job market, practising on numerous project briefs, and building facts-based case studies throughout the bootcamp.
  • B.K: Brilliant – you've done this before. And keeping this short and sweet, have you got any parting wisdom for aspiring or self-improving UXers?
  • S.G: It's not all about users. You need to carefully balance both business needs and user needs. A business with millions of happy users but no revenue is not financially viable and sustainable. Understand your company's business problem better, and ask yourself “What value will my design bring to the business?”

    Collaboration with different teams is often overlooked: fellow designers, researchers, business analysts, project managers, business stakeholders, marketers, developers, testers.

    No matter how good your UX research framework is, and no matter how comprehensive your design system is – if you cannot show the value of it, get a buy-in from the business, if you cannot work effectively with development and marketing teams on implementing that UX and launching it – it's not going to get anywhere.

    Understanding how to measure success (or failure) of your design, how to track conversions, and presenting the value of your design – is your lifeline (especially for freelance designers). You're going to need to wear business, marketing and sales “hats” additionally to your designer one.
  • B.K: Thanks very much Sergei, great to speak with you and thanks for sharing a glimpse into what people can expect from The School of UX!