Interview with Alena, UX/UI Designer: Design & Dancing

7 min read

In the first of a new series called dxSpotlight, we’re interviewing our incredible devexperts to get to know them a little bit better. From the HRs that hire our awesome colleagues to the developers that create our one-of-a-kind solutions. And let’s not forget about our leaders that inspire us to do better, and everyone else in between.

The functionality of our top-notch software, deserves an equally impressive user-friendly design, in order to create the perfect Fintech solution for our clients. It takes a special kind of person to transform our design visions into reality. Thankfully at Devexperts, we have many such individuals, one of whom is our senior interface designer, Alena.

We’re fortunate not just because of her role and the impact she’s had in terms of interface design. We are also grateful for the many initiatives she’s been involved in within the company during the past several years.

How do you explain to your mom what you do?

I have a simple explanation – I tell her I draw red and green buttons so the users of our platforms can trade instruments. She nods and after a while, she asks me to remind her about what I do for work again.

How did you decide to become an interface designer?

There’s nothing fancy behind the story of my career. I was lucky to get a web designer job after graduating from an art school. At that time, almost 10 years ago, web designs weren’t sought after on the Russian market. There were almost no interface specialists with proper education in the area. So I had to learn in the field, grope for knowledge from books and blogs as well as train a sharp sight.

Are UX/UI designers artists or engineers?

I’d say it’s 20% to 80%. Design is definitely a subject of utility as it involves a lot of analytics and technical aspects. But there should be a space for creativity and aesthetics because you know what they say – “Attractive things work better”.

If someone asks you to describe Devexperts, what do you say?

The official answer? We’re an IT company developing Fintech products. But if I REALLY want to impress someone I always tell them about the perks – yoga classes, lunch at the office, awesome colleagues. 

What do you think is the most important thing you’ve learned while working here?

I was impressed by the level of autonomy given to every employee. You’re entirely free to schedule your day and prioritize your own tasks. At first, it may seem tempting, but you later find out that it’s a very responsible job and it takes a lot of discipline and self-control.

Here’s a hard one. What’s the proudest moment of your career so far?

Two things that stand out. The first is public lectures. I never considered myself to be a public speaker before joining the company. The second is user testing that we are starting to implement to our products. I think that once we can make it a normal practice to do this testing it would be a huge professional win for me. I’ve never done these things before and Devexperts gave me the possibility to accomplish them. For that, I’d like to thank everyone who helped me along the way and made this shared success possible.

Alena participates in a Fintech design conference
Alena presents at an internal Devexperts Fintech conference

We hear you’re working on an awesome initiative right now within Devexperts. Could you tell us a little more about it?

Of course! I recently created a Slack channel that is centered around design. I know that lots of people are interested in visual content and how our product designs are developed, so I wanted to have a platform where I could introduce the work we are doing.

I wanted to talk about case studies and product updates we are involved in. Showcase some educational aspects like best design practices, advice, and the tools and processes we have within our team. I’d also like to share some inspirational articles and have entertaining content like memes, quizzes, and fun facts about the designers on our team.

What inspired you to create a Slack channel about design?

Honestly, the first reason is kind of selfish – it was vanity. Everyone wants their work to be noticeable within the company. The second reason is to enlighten people and show them what’s going on design-wise, help them by providing advice and new knowledge if they’re interested.

Alena presenting at Devexperts internal conference
Alena talks about UX/UI design at an internal conference.

We wish you all the best with your new initiative. But enough about work… What can we find you doing on a typical Friday evening?

Normally when I finish work I go to dancing classes. If I’m not dancing, I like to go out and meet my friends to have dinner. I like to discover new spots within the city with good wine or Asian food. 

Then this will be the hardest question of all – what’s the best type of dance?

Contemporary dance, for sure! I’ve been dancing for the last couple of years. It’ very fulfilling and a way to relax and unwind after work.

What’s a piece of advice that you live by?

I try to see all the inconveniences in my life as adventures because every day we are faced with a lot of troubles. Things like changing business requirements, professional burnout, or even bad weather. It required humor, optimism, and creativity to turn those troubles into positives. I’m just at the beginning of this path and I am taking baby steps towards this way of life.

Alena shares advice she lives by
Alena’s humor, optimism, and creativity is what we enjoy in our employees.

And finally, what resources or books can you recommend for beginners or for people who want to understand more about UX/UI design?

First, you’ll need to learn some design basics about layouts, grids, typography, and colors. Try tutorials from readymag or a series of 99design articles. Then dig into laws of UX, UI patterns, form design, and psychology. It’s good to know the names of Tufte, Raskin, Normann, Nielsen, Tschichold, as discussing them opens doors within the community.

Want to be a part of the UX/UI team at Devexperts?

We currently have open UX/UI design positions in several offices! Join our team or refer a friend who may be interested in the position.