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The (Dreamfora) Office EP 5: Head Designer Elli Spills More Tea

Elli is a user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) designer at Dreamfora and an indispensable member of the #DreamTeam. She joined the team in October 2018 and has been with us since the historic launching of the app. Today, we sat with Elli as she recounts her time since Day 1. We asked her about her workday and roles as head designer, and her proudest moments. Read the full interview to gain insight into the life of a head UI/UX designer at a growing startup.

Thank you for taking time out of your day to answer our questions! We’ll start with a common question. What does your average day at the office look like? Do you have any routines?

Thanks for having me!

The first thing I do when I arrive is check the statistics for the number of downloads and daily active users. This data is used to check how our app is being received - it is a part of conducting user research, and also helps me assess which features and layout work best. For the next thirty minutes, I scroll through some blogs that I subscribe to on career portal sites like “Medium” or “Surfit” - anything related to design, really. It’s important for any designer to stay on top of the latest UI/UX design and tech trends, which is why I do what I do.

Moving on to the work I do for the app, I surround myself with artistic inspiration through sites like “Behence,” “Dribbble” or “Typetoken.” They’re online community platforms for designers around the world to share their creative work. It’s my source of inspiration, and I archive posts and designs that are in right now, or those that simply call out to me. Then, a considerable amount of my time is spent on creating mockups or wireframes - in other words, outlining the app’s general structure and layout - and prototyping. I mostly use “Photoshop” and “Sketch” to create initial designs, and then “Invision,” “Figma,” or tools on “Sketch” to build prototypes.

Wow, that’s a lot of work. How do you fit everything into your schedule? Would you consider yourself to be a productive worker?

Perhaps! Another thing I do in the morning is organize a list of tasks for the day. It’s the simple habits that are the most effective - especially since you can lay out your tasks by priority. I work directly with everyone at the office - it’s an integral part of my job to make sure the design and engineering teams are on the same page - so I try to communicate with them as effectively as possible and schedule meetings ahead of time.

What would you say is the hardest thing about your job? Conversely, which aspect do you enjoy the most?

The hardest, yet most rewarding part of the job is overseeing the product development. My job description goes beyond working on an aesthetic design. It’s also a combination of user research and testing, product management and business analysis. Building a bridge between our users and the Dreamfora team, I have certainly learned to develop an eye for business, in terms of allocating company resources to actualize strategies that enhance the app’s design. It’s extremely gratifying when the company sees desirable results that is the product of weeks - even months - of "blood, sweat, and tears." Well, that and coffee.

Well, I am stunned. You must have a lot of memorable moments at the office. If you could relive one moment in time, when would it be?

You’re right. Looking back, I can think of a number of good moments off the top of my head. But this question is a no-brainer! Without hesitation, it would be the day of Dreamfora’s official launch. That was March of this year. I will never forget the excitement of that day. All of us gathered around a small computer to click on the mouse that would do the trick. It was the first time that a project I had worked on from start to finish was coming to life - This brought a rush of emotions as well as a tremendous sense of responsibility.

Do you have any last words of wisdom for prospective UI/UX designers?

I wouldn’t call it words of wisdom, as I am constantly learning and growing myself. One piece of advice, though, would be to keep an open mind of assuming various roles and responsibilities that aren’t limited to just design. Being a designer at a startup, especially, would entail taking on the many roles of a product designer (or manager). As a designer, you should carry faith in yourself and your abilities, while continuously striving to create and deliver value to your users - in resolving any and all issues they may face and designing happier experiences.

Thank you, Elli! It was amazing talking to you. What an inspiration! You wear so many different hats on the job … Hats off to you! (Pun intended.)

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