What is the Design Scene like in Your City?
The design community in Berlin is almost too big. There are so many great designers and companies in Berlin, that you can spend almost every night at a meetup, conference or UX book club. Of course Corona is keeping most of those virtual for the moment, but there are still great opportunities to catch in the city we call the "Mudderstadt".
How did you get started in UX design?
My story isn't actually the common designers' path. After high school, I decided to study business administration and as a job to make ends meet, I worked for a friends small travel agency. In my spare time I used to play around with building websites. I still remember the cracking noise my dial-up modem used to make. At one point, my boss asked me if was interested in building the agencies first website.
Right from the get go, I was hooked.
I quit my business studies and set out to study design instead. Even during the academy I set out to found a small web design agency with a few friends. Coming from web design, I was delighted when my good friend Holger Eggert introduced me to my first UX Camp Europe. What a rush to finally find yourself uncovering all these insights on why and how products need to be built. I've been running ever since.
How long have you been in the field of UX design?
What is your speciality? What do you feel really comfortable with?
When it comes to design work, I would say I am a generalist. I enjoy so many parts of the process, that I never really managed to find one true speciality. But as I moved through the ranks and seniority, I found great joy in building design teams and helping other designers bring their best design work. I guess, you could say I design the design teams.
What made you want to pursue a career in UX design?
For me, UX design is the perfect mix of creativity and purpose. I believe, as designers, we have the power to make complicated things easy, and UX gives us the tools to put that power into action.
Share a secret. Something no one knows
Eventhough most people don't recognize it in me, I suffer from a chronic case of imposter syndrome.
Tell us about your favorite design related book(s).
There have been quite a few books that have influenced my development as a designer. One I keep coming back to is "Hooked - How to Build Habit-Forming Products" by Nir Eyal. It explains how many of the products we use every day are build and what makes them so addictive. It's very entertaining and great read and a bit spooky, when you realize how easy you can be manipulated.
Although the book is a bit of a classic by now, I think it hasn't lost its relevance as we move from the age of addictive social media to a time in which we build products to encourage a much more healthy lifestyle both physically and mentally.
What type of a designer are you in terms of hard- and software? What is your favorite app?
I confess to being an apple fanboy all the way. Recently my iPad Pro has become.my favorite work computer. Especially in combination with the magic keyboard and pencil. When it comes to software I like.to use which ever tool does the trick the fastest. Unfortunately nowadays I find myself using Miro and Google Slides more than I would like to admit.
Let's be honest. We all make mistakes. Tell us about your biggest UX fail.
Today it almost makes me laugh, but when it happened, it was a little embarrassing. On a round of usability tests, I once set up, only 1 of 8 invited users showed up. Obviously, we didn’t get enough information to draw any useful conclusions.
It turns out I had grossly overestimated the engagement of the users with the product and had invited way too few users for sessions and wasted not only my full workday but also that of my colleagues who were supposed to join me in the sessions. So we had to set up an entirely new round of interviews with many more users and even more time to actually get it done.
Fortunately my boss and team were very supportive of me. But you can bet, that is one mistake I have learned from.
Do you have a side project?
Tell us a bit about learning UX.
I am always keen on learning new things, at the moment I'm focussing my efforts on learning how to build a community for our PEERS. platform. A topic that involves a lot of marketing efforts. I'm not really big on self-promotion so this actually poses some personal challenges for me.
Who would you consider a mentor? Tell us about your relationship.
Although he has never really committed to an official program, I would consider Holger Eggert to be one of my mentors, he pushed me to get started in the field and our whiskey-soaked nights always helped me clear my head and find new inspiration. By the way, Holger if you should happen to read this, we should go for a drink. Obviously my co-founder for PEERS. Martin Fochler is a great mentor to me. Even though he’s a developer, his focus and clear and candid communication have helped me become a better designer, a design leader.
Recently I have joined a peer mentoring group with two other Heads of Design, Melanie Hambarsoomian and Philipp Busse. Although we don't get to meet nearly as often as I would like, due to our busy schedules, aligning with the two has helped me stay sane during these more than crazy times.