Web designInterview

Ben Ashman on designing the future of public services

Ben Ashman on designing the future of public services

The digital designer tells us about his career so far and the importance of just Just Doing It.

One of the 10 nominees for Young Designer of the Year in the 2014 net Awards, Ben Ashman is a designer and recent graduate in Digital Art and Technology. He’s currently living in London, helping to create the future of public services at FutureGov. We chatted to him to find out more.

Give us a summary of your career so far.

Almost five years ago, I started my journey, jumping head-first in to a degree in Digital Art & Technology at Plymouth University, where I spent my days hacking hardware and software in equal measures.

During my time at university, I had the opportunity to take a 12 month internship at a small design agency here in London, before returning to university for one final year, specialising in Interaction Design.

Upon graduation, I hopped on the first train back to London and landed a sweet gig at FutureGov, where I've been working as a Digital Designer for the past six months.

Pique is an experimental photo-sharing app designed to explore how much we can learn about others through the medium of photography

What have you been working on over the past year?

At the tail-end of my time at university, I launched Pique, an experimental photo-sharing app for iOS, and worked as part of a small team to design and build a prototype of Flask, a location-aware bottle that collects Tweets and Instagram photos from its surrounding area.

At my day job, I've been splitting the majority of my time between Patchwork, a web tool that helps to connect care professionals, and Popcash, a mobile app for managing complicated personal finances.

What have been the particular high points of your career?

I feel particularly lucky to have found myself in a job and city that I love, straight out of university. Also, this industry does a pretty good job at bringing a lot of incredible people together, and I've really enjoyed meeting some awesome folks along the way.

DAT Degree Show is a showcase of select graduates from the BA / BSc (Hons) Digital Art & Technology degree at Plymouth University

Who and what influences and inspires your work?

I've always found this type of question difficult to answer, as it's hard for me to pinpoint my precise sources of inspiration. My personal projects are usually born from frustrations with the inefficiencies of existing products.

The prospect of helping someone achieve something better, easier, or simply bringing a smile to someone's face now and then, has always been pretty motivating to me.

What are you excited about at the moment?

My personal life has been all sorts of crazy over the last couple of months, so I'm mostly excited to regain some of my free time in the near future to work on a couple of new app ideas that have been stewing.

I was also recently given a bunch of new Arduino kit as a gift, so I'm pretty hyped to get to building those robot servants I always wanted…

Flask is a bottle that collects geotagged media from various social networks, representing its contents using light

Tell us about an important lesson you've learnt in your career.

Just Do It™. Almost every project I've worked on, both personally and at FutureGov, has involved designing for new mediums, working with new tech, and catering for audiences I previously knew next-to-nothing about.

It's not always easy at first, and there's the times you feel like giving up, but with a little persistence, and a lot of Stack Overflow, you'll get there, and you'll likely come out the other end a better designer.

Name an 'unsung hero', someone you admire who deserves more recognition for their work.

A close friend of mine, and partner in crime at university, Saul Hardman. This guy taught me a ton over the past couple of years, before turning his talents to the tangible. He's currently working as a Creative Technologist at AllOfUs, you should check out his portfolio.

Vote in the net Awards!

Celebrating the best in web design and development, the 15th net Awards is open for public voting until 24 March. With a record breaking number of nominations this year, it's set to be the biggest and best yet. Have your say by casting your votes here.

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