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Meet UX/UI designer and visual arts alum Tyler Darbonne '16 – Media Zone 24

March 19, 2024

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Written byAmanda Burleigh
“I think a passion grows for a particular medium when you create with it because you begin to understand it more. You develop a respect for it and the artists that use it. At Fletcher Hall, you are constantly surrounded by artists and their work. I think that has a strong positive effect on creating that passion for the arts.”
I’m originally from Eunice, La., where I wanted to build websites.
I’m a graphic designer, with experience as a UI/UX Designer at Stuller, Inc. in Lafayette.
I’m exploring new opportunities in the visual design industry.
Tyler Darbonne, a user interface/user experience (UI/UX) designer, was an information technology major before transferring to UL Lafayette.
“I was going to be a front-end web developer,” he explained. “I really just wanted to design websites.”
After realizing he was far more interested in art and design rather than informatics, Tyler began reviewing the concentrations in UL Lafayette’s Department of Visual Arts.
“I think what I had originally been searching for was UX (user experience) design,” he said, “even if I didn’t know it as a concept at that time. After becoming a visual arts major, I realized I really enjoyed all the core classes I was taking and the rest is history.”
After earning his Bachelor of Fine Arts with a concentration in graphic design in 2016, Tyler took a position with a small startup design and advertising agency. During his first month with the agency, the international jewelry company Stuller Inc. contacted him with an interview offer.
“In retrospect, that first contact at Stuller was a life-saver,” Tyler said. “In August of 2016, we experienced the catastrophic flood that destroyed homes, businesses, and wounded the local economy. Over the next few months, our (the agency’s) revenue stream dried up, so we had to shut our doors for good.”
Tyler contacted Stuller Inc. and was hired as a digital designer shortly after.
“It was a very fast-paced and gritty grind, designing homepage banners, emails, and building web pages,” he said. “At a company this size, there are a lot of steps to have work approved and moved along the pipeline until it can go live. There are so many departments that need to market their products — diamonds, gemstones, tools, findings, software — it’s like 15 companies under one roof.”
In April 2018, Tyler was promoted to his position as a UI/UX (user interface/user experience) Designer.
“In my case, the ‘experience’ I’m designing is a specialized part of our website or a mobile app, but this can be many different things depending on the product,” he said. “Basically, I make shopping online easier, more useful, and more pleasant for our customers.
“I do this by gathering data on how people use our website and by collecting feedback from customers. If I see patterns emerge from that data and feedback, my team and I will meet to discuss better aligning the experience with user needs. We’re always improving our online experiences.”
When asked if he ever imagined himself working for such a large company, Tyler responded “Absolutely not!”
“When I finished college, I wanted to work at a small agency with maybe a dozen people because I thought we’d have more creative freedom,” he explained. “The idea of working at a large corporation was very unambitious to me. Those things I originally thought about large companies were not true at all.
“As for creative freedom, it’s our job as designers to solve problems in creative ways, and I think that can be a very satisfying form of creative freedom.”
During his time at UL Lafayette, Tyler said his favorite part of the visual arts program was the community of professors and classmates.
“As designers, my classmates and I were constantly working in the studio,” he said. “You really get to know your classmates when you spend 10 hours a day in the same room with them.”
This interaction with his classmates and fellow artists increased Tyler’s passion for visual arts.
“At Fletcher Hall, you are constantly surrounded by artists and their work,” he said. “I think that has a strong positive effect on growing that passion for the arts.”
After being laid off during the COVID-19 pandemic, Stuller rehired him to continue his work as a user experience designer.
“I’ve made 1, 3, 5, and 10-year plans in the past, but as we all know, especially now, life is very fickle,” he said. “I loved working in-house at Stuller as a UX designer and I think it’s boosted my career, but I’m currently longing for the agency life of rotating projects and clients. I’m very open to exploring different opportunities.”
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