Interview with Nathalie Kowalczyk – Product Designer at Slack
Nathalie is a Product Designer with a passion for mobile products. She currently works at Slack as a product designer. She helps to shape the products’ Design Language. Nathalie, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me!
Sylwia: I wonder, when did you decide to become a designer?
Nathalie: I think it was at the end of high school. Until then, I always wanted to be an architect. I was always fascinated by its problem-solving aspect and the thinking of the people who would be using the building. However, the idea of waiting months or even years for it to be built seemed pretty daunting. And then, I discovered design – it seemed like the perfect fit.
Sylwia: You have a lot of varied experiences. Could you choose 3 emerging design trends that you value the most?
Nathalie: Inclusive design – making sure that all the different features or products are accessible to everybody. Design ethics – the products we design can have quite an impact on their users – some positive and some negative. I think it’s important to really think of those implications, and the kind of features or products we should or should not be building. Companies thinking more about the voice and tone of their digital product – digital products are starting to feel much more authentic and connected to their brands and I’m really excited about this.
Sylwia: How do you find working for such a great company as Slack?
Nathalie: It’s great – I feel I’m learning a lot!
Sylwia: What are the most significant challenges at your work?
Nathalie: I’m trying to learn more about how to effectively use data when designing. There are so many stats and numbers, but finding the story behind them is a bit more challenging, and I’m trying to improve in that aspect.
Sylwia: Do you have any advice for young product designers?
Nathalie: I would say try as many things as you can – never back down from a project – you never know where it might lead you.
Sylwia: How do you spend your free time?
Nathalie: I try to spend it as far as possible from the computer and the digital world. I love to do pottery – it’s something that is very tactile and helps me recharge.
Sylwia: Do you have any after-work methods for developing your skills?
Nathalie: I love going to different talks about products, design or branding – it’s always interesting to see how people approach different problems and you can learn a lot from that.
Sylwia: How is a design system different from detailed digital brand guidelines?
Nathalie: A digital brand guideline is about the look and feel of a product and its brand. A design system not only includes that, but also product principles, voice and tone, and what kind of interactions an app should or should not be using – how they work, when to use them, their different states, etc.
Sylwia: There are a lot of excellent sources of information about design right now (blogs, podcasts, case studies). How do you choose the ones that are worth reading?
Nathalie: That’s a good question, I would love to find the answer to that question myself! I guess I try to read or listen to a wide of variety of things that are related to product design but not necessarily about it, such as voice UX or the design of physical objects – things to broaden my perspective.
Sylwia: Can you explain a design system to a non-designer?
Nathalie: A design system is a complete set of standards on how to create consistent experiences for your product/app.
Sylwia: Can you share what you value in design the most? (It doesn’t have to be a quote ;) )
Nathalie: I love the utility of design. I feel the work that designers do, can really have a positive impact, no matter how small or big it is.