Have you ever been in awe of a website or mobile app?
Well, you can thank the UI-UX designers who work their magic to make your experience with products smooth and seamless.
They are responsible for designing and curating the user interface (UI) that optimizes the user experience (UX), all from the consumer’s perspective. It helps users understand and navigate complicated products without any hassle.
Simply put, they make products that meet the user’s needs.
Today, the field has gained immense popularity, making UI/UX all the rage! But many people still struggle to understand what UI-UX designers do.
To help us explore this question and more, here’s Reetika Patel, Lead, UI-UX Designer of Naukri.com, spilling the beans about the exciting prospects of being in the field and sharing insights into her career journey.
Could you please tell us a little about what you do?
I am currently working as a Lead User Experience Designer at Naukri, which is part of Info Edge and its flagship brand. My role is to create end-to-end experiences that are functional, user-friendly, and valuable for our users.
Along with the team, I work on designs for both apps and websites as required, so that users can navigate easily through the platform and have a positive experience while interacting with different touchpoints.
Please walk us through your journey so far.
I started as an entry-level UX designer back in 2019 and my journey has been full of learning and growth, both personally and professionally.
I got the opportunity to work on projects with varied focus areas, impacting millions of job seekers and helping them achieve their dream job.
When I started, I worked as an individual contributor on small projects while trying to learn the domain and approach here.
With time, I was able to drive larger modules from concept to reality. Currently, I am not only working on individual projects but also mentoring a few members of the team.
What got you interested in UX Design?
I was always interested in design since my school days. But I discovered my interest, specifically in UX design much later actually, after my Bachelor’s degree.
What I really liked about UX is how creative one can be to solve problems of varying complexity. There could be multiple ways of addressing a challenge and I enjoy thinking strategically about how to solve it in the best possible way.
Also, I think User Experience as a field is the closest to the users. You get the opportunity to speak to users, empathize with them, and create solutions that solve their problems.
The designs we create here impact a large number of job seekers. It’s very demanding, but at the same time, very fulfilling.
Once you decided on your career path, what did you do to get your first break?
Once I knew that UX was my place to be, I researched a lot about the field.
I observed the career paths of people in the same field and learned how they navigated to where they are. For the entrance tests, I used to solve a lot of mock papers on my own and prepared a portfolio of my work.
After completing my Master’s degree from NID, I cracked my internships and subsequent full-time offers through campus placements.
What does a day as a UI/UX Design Lead look like?
My day involves a lot of different tasks based on the kind of project I am working on.
I try to divide my day between working on my assigned project and discussions with design team members both in Naukri and its e-learning vertical, Naukri Learning.
Project work could involve primary or secondary research, sketching, wire-framing, high-fidelity, prototyping, or presentation based on the stage and need of the project.
I also collaborate with members of the product, tech, and QA teams for ongoing modules and solving any blockers so that timelines are not impacted.
What are the 3 things that you like & dislike about UI/UX Design?
I enjoy working on complex projects that involve strategic thinking and conceptualizing. The best time in any project for me is when I have defined the problem at hand, I have the relevant insights, and I am sitting with a pen and paper, creating wireframe after wireframe and visualizing the solutions (away from all distractions).
Another good thing is that I get to stay connected with users and there could be different tools that could help me achieve it. This could vary from project to project. For e.g., You could do a telephonic interview, or run a survey. After the new Android app went live, I went through more than 100 reviews to see what the reactions were, made a list of improvement areas, and discussed them with our team.
Last but not the least, I feel I am able to make a task like a job search easier for users and that is incredibly rewarding and motivating.
I cannot think of anything I dislike particularly but one challenge is a lack of awareness about the field and what UX designers do.
It is thought of as a job where you make things ‘look good’ but UX goes deeper than that and is really multi-disciplinary.
It can create enormous value both for the business and the user.
Given the nature of your job, how do you maintain a work-life balance?
In the last few months, my role has transitioned a lot from being an individual contributor to a state where almost 50-60 percent of my time is for my team members, helping them navigate through their modules and contributing to their growth.
While I am still learning how to be great at balancing everything, a few things help me prioritize my work.
Keeping track of my tasks for the day with a to-do list and having a daily connection with team members helps me get work done timely.
During my free time, I enjoy doing calligraphy and journaling, it helps calm my mind and distracts me from work stress.
Now that you have come so far, what is your next milestone going to be?
My next milestone is to work on my skills as a leader and build a team that can drive projects of high impact single-handedly.
How has Info Edge helped in your career growth?
Info Edge is a great company where you can work on challenging problems. It has provided me with the right opportunities to contribute and make an impact on our users.
It is a safe space to learn and grow and I have been blessed with great mentors who have always motivated me to go beyond and reach my potential.
What would you advise our readers planning to pursue a profession as UI/UX designers?
For anyone interested in the field of UX, I’d suggest finding a good mentor early on in your career.
They will help you with constructive feedback on your projects, which is very important to make designs better for the end-user and also improve your skills and help you grow.
Getting a fresh perspective from them will help you see your work in an entirely different way. Another important thing is to continuously keep learning.
Pick up a personal project for your portfolio or take up an online course. Building a good foundation lasts a long way.
Are there any mandatory skills one should develop when pursuing this field?
There are some basics that will be expected before you get into the industry, and few can be learned over time.
While software like Figma, Sketch, Adobe Illustrator, and Photoshop are mandatory, what’s very important is having empathy for the users you are designing for and enhancing skills like problem-solving, complex thinking, and streamlining the UX process according to the needs of the project.
What’s your success mantra?
Stay curious and stay focused.
“I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” ~ Albert Einstein
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In this series, we aim to explore the career journey of people from different fields, backgrounds, and career stages who have tread the path and made a place for themselves in their specific fields.
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