Today we would like to introduce Olena Miliutina to you, an UX Designer at Google. She is passionate about creating products which are striking yet simple. She pushes the boundaries, both personally and professionally, and thrives on the continual acquisition of knowledge. She has more than 10 years of experience and we would love to hear about everything what she can share with us!
Sylwia: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me. I would like to learn a little more about you and your history as an UX designer. Could you give me your greatest career milestone you have had. What was its impact on your growth?
Olena: I became an UX Designer way later in my professional career. I actually started as a software engineer working on databases, then moved to front end, but I still missed some creativity in my life. I switched to being a graphic designer and worked for one of the biggest privately held IT companies in Poland. As a graphic designer I was able to create beautiful products, but I wasn’t able to explain WHY something is pretty – I realized I’m missing the logic – as the “beautiful” is very subjective. That’s when I discovered UX, which was a perfect spot for me because it combines a lot of creativity and logic – I could explain why something works for users, and on top of that I was able to build something beautiful.
I think one of the greatest career milestones I had was when I accepted a position of Art Director in one of the companies in Kiev, Ukraine. When I accepted the offer, I wasn’t sure if I am ready for it and if I will be able to provide expected value. I took a challenge and did well there. I was able to shape a design and vision for multiple products. This opened my eyes on taking risks – even if think you’re not ready – get out of your comfort zone, don’t be afraid to take risks and figure it out. Now I know you should never be afraid of any challenge, but treat it as an opportunity.
Sylwia: You have a lot of varied experiences as an UX designer, could you tell me about some emerging trends that have become important for us?
Olena: Companies finally started understanding that it’s not all about visual design or using libraries and frameworks such as flat design or material design, but it’s about focusing on what user should do to achieve their goal in a most effective way. It’s about bringing delight to the user and going one step beyond just fulfilling the task.
To your question about trends – I wouldn’t call it an ‘emerging trend’ but a better use of white space, bolder fonts and more breathable layout is something companies are currently looking for.
Sylwia: Design is a huge part of the web and in turn many businesses are seeking good design. Do you think that they understand the importance of UX?
Olena: This is a very hard question as it really depends on the industry or market segment. Depending on if it’s developed and well-known or developing market – some companies understand the importance of UX design and see it as a crucial part of their business focusing on the best experience they can deliver to their users. Others just focus on graphic design or the amount of features and UX is just an add on.
Sylwia: What are some of the biggest challenges you face as an UX designer?
Olena: I think the biggest challenge right is how UX designer is added to the product team – in the end of the cycle. Currently people think that the good design is something you can do “on the fly” in one, short meeting. Even though a good UX designer can suggest some improvements immediately, a great design requires deep analysis to make sure it’s really the best solution for the user and it works across all scenarios. As I always say – “Good design is simple, great design is invisible” – and it requires some time to find that!
Sylwia: Do you think that designers must become storytellers?
Olena: Of course! Storytelling is part of every culture – it’s how we experience things, it is how we remember events, the better story is, the more memorable it will become. As designers we want to be able to create those moments, moments that people remember.
Sylwia: What is your advice to someone who is trying to learn skills and wants to be an UX designer?
Olena: Absorb as much information as possible, start collecting examples of good and bad experiences, start trying to explain why some are good, why other are bad. When you’ll be able to compare bad and good design examples, you’ll build a design muscle, which you can exercise for developing new products. Next thing you can do is to meet and talk to people! I try to talk to people everywhere – in a taxi, bar, restaurant, small shop next to my house, etc. The more you can learn from others and understand their perspective the better. Additionally, try learn from other fields – I, for example, get inspiration from the various places like: coffee shop’s design, ways I pay for products, wall murals, nature. I think the most important thing is to make sure you find something that constantly inspires you, this way you would find interesting solutions and create simple experiences.
Sylwia: Thank you very much Olena, that you shared your knowledge with us!