ECU Student Violet Zhang Earns Real-World Design Experience with Local Startup

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Shumka Centre for Creative Entrepreneurship's Design for Startups program provided “invaluable real-world experience” says Master of Design student Violet Zhang. (Photo by Perrin Grauer)

By Perrin Grauer

Posted on February 13, 2024 | Updated March 14, 2024, 8:57am

The designer and ECU student helped lead an overhaul of the website for Tickit Health, a company specializing in digital solutions for improving patient care.

Master of Design student Violet Zhang gained vital work experience during her degree studies through a recent placement with a local healthcare startup, Tickit Health.

Violet was paired with Tickit Health through Design for Startups, a program from the Shumka Centre for Creative Entrepreneurship at ECU.

“I wanted to stay connected with the industry while I study,” says Violet. “I thought Design for Startups is a really good way to get some experience. It’s connected to real companies, the real world.”

Before enrolling in ECU’s Master of Design program, Violet had already worked and interned as a user-interaction designer. She still held a job during the early days of her studies at ECU. But she left the job once it became clear that school required fuller attention. Design for Startups allowed her to continue to focus on her studies while still earning professional experience in her field.

The 12-week program pairs student designers with technical and business leads of startup companies. Students consider existing design gaps and propose solutions based on a company's needs. The program is generously supported by the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP).

Tickit Health is a digital solution for improving patient care. Violet, whose thesis focuses on elder care at a distance, says working with Tickit Health was a match made in heaven.

Violet provided the UX research, UX/UI design and 3D modelling for the Visioner AR Driving Glasses. (Courtesy Violet Zhang)

“This experience allowed me to apply my design skills,” she says. “It also provided valuable insight into the health sector’s unique considerations and requirements. Everyone at Tickit Health is so friendly and respectful. I’m very lucky.”

Violet was tasked with proposing solutions for an overhaul of Tickit Health’s website. As project manager, Violet conducted an extensive audit, including interviews with employees from across the company. After completing her research, she suggested a redesign to make the site more user-friendly.

“I told them, ‘You don’t have to get rid of everything; let’s reuse what you have but in a more intuitive, logical way,’” she says. “I think they liked that they can reuse some of their assets and not rebuild from scratch.”

Georgia McWilliams, product designer with Tickit Health, notes that Violet’s assistance came at the perfect time.

“We were so happy to have Violet’s support on our website redesign this year,” Georgia says. “Her leadership on this project ensured that we were able to begin updating our marketing at a busy, yet crucial time, for the business. It became easier to tackle this project, knowing that Violet had the background and expertise to create a user-friendly and purpose-built website.”


Violet provided the UX/UI design for the Zen Lamp project. (Courtesy Violet Zhang)

Once she graduates in May of this year, Violet says she’s aiming to apply for mid-senior and senior-level design positions. The Shumka Centre’s program was key to developing the “invaluable real-world experience” to support this goal, she adds.

“You get to enhance your skills by working in a practical setting,” she says of Design for Startups. “You get to work across diverse industries, learn how to collaborate with different stakeholders and develop soft skills. You also get networking opportunities and a chance to build real projects into your portfolio.

“It’s an incredibly positive and energetic program and I highly recommend to students to apply.”

See more of Violet’s work via her online portfolio.

Visit the Shumka Centre online to find out more about Design for Startups, as well as the rest of their extraordinary range of programming.

Visit ECU online to learn more about the Master of Design programs at Emily Carr.

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