What is the Design Scene like in Your City?
UX is not really well-developed in Russia at the moment. I can see some companies trying to get into the new way of thinking, but it's still primarily about pretty pictures for now. This is why I am spending more time online or abroad, getting more knowledge and expertise to share afterwards :)
How did you get started in UX design?
I started in tech as a product owner for a big consulting firm developing software for libraries, accounting, HR, etc. Turned out, that there was nobody else who would actually take care of the design part, so it was me, eventually.
I was also working on and off on different early-stage startups wearing multiple hats and being a designer/product manager for most of them. My first, real design-related position was two years ago, when I was remotely managing a team of designers for a digital agency.
How long have you been in the field of UX design?
If we also count years when I did not know that I was doing UX, but actually was doing it, then, 4,5 years.
What is your speciality? What do you feel really comfortable with?
I am a generalist.
Although I do have more interest in the visual side of the product, my previous background in business and tech processes do not let me focus only on one field in particular. I'll probably be focusing more on the visual side anyways, especially on data visualization.
What made you want to pursue a career in UX design?
I had no idea I was doing it, to be honest :) But mainly because I could see that so many things that intended for good have poor design or just have no alternatives because people do not ask questions. Asking questions is essential in UX, and if nobody's asking them, I guess it comes naturally to me.
Share a secret. Something no one knows
I wrote a short horror story under a pen name that was published in the UK.
Tell us about your favorite design related book(s).
It will not be very original to list of the books that everyone hears on a daily basis like "The design of Everyday Things", "Don't Make Me Think", "Art Before Breakfast", or something. I guess everyone heard about it already. I really enjoyed "Reality is Broken" by Jane McGonigal (even though it's about game design more than universal principles of design) and "Ruined by Design" by Mike Monteiro.
What type of a designer are you in terms of hard- and software? What is your favorite app?
Funnily enough, I really like Ubuntu (Linux), which probably excludes me entirely from the "normal" design community.
I use Figma for UI design and prototyping, as well as Marvel and InVision. Also, I use InkScape for any sort of graphics like icons or anything, and Krita for storyboarding and whiteboarding if it's necessary. Used to work with Extensio for creating personas and business canvases, but prefer to do it on my own in Inkscape or Krita now.
Let's be honest. We all make mistakes. Tell us about your biggest UX fail.
I created user personas for the first time based just solely on my personal ideas.
Basically, they were fictional characters, no data involved.
That was embarrassing, but I thought that's exactly what a user persona should be like. Cannot blame other people who think this way, too.
Do you have a side project?
Tell us a bit about learning UX.
Strategic thinking and better understanding of user research are on my list already.
I am planning to get a few more projects I can work with and continue developing my visual skills, research, and strategy. I am also planning to speak at at least 2 conferences or usability events all over the world. Also, planning to find more people and professionals, to learn from them and to grow :)
Who would you consider a mentor? Tell us about your relationship.
I am blessed to get to know lots of amazing people, skilled and knowledgeable in UX and design.
I cannot say that only one of them made a huge difference, but I'd like to say that Joe Natoli, for example, is a talented designer who helped me be less afraid of the beautiful UI side of the project. Especially when I did not have any special design training previously.