Julia Kucherenko and Design Best Practices
How did you decide to pursue a design career?
I have always been interested in learning how things work. When I studied engineering at University, I was curious as to why the devices we used had a particular shape and why the buttons were organized in a specific way. Then I realized the better the device is designed, the more productive the end user will be. I started my path as a web designer, then later I grew to UX and product designer.
What are the crucial steps of becoming a professional designer?
You need to track and analyze new applications and websites in and out of your industry. Pay attention to their design architecture, patterns, placement of elements, and transitions. Try to highlight the best practices and implement them into your product. There’s a common rule, even if you have the #1 app in the market, your users will learn the design patterns on other apps and resources.
It took me a while before I realized that app design should start with the basic and most common practices from resources or apps you use daily. Once you apply them, you’ll start improving them and finding innovative solutions while you’re getting familiar with the product’s architecture.
I’d also suggest finding a mentor who will provide feedback and guide you through a huge variety of elements you haven’t even heard of yet. It was a long time before I stumbled upon ADPList, where I can connect with designers regardless of seniority or location, and get mentorship sessions.
How do you make sure you have all of the correct design requirements?
It all begins with a kickoff meeting where I learn the business requirements for the product, the stakeholders’ product vision, and the aim of the final solution.
Then I proceed with user roadmaps and personas. Usually, I stick to two methods: deep user interviews and connecting with the stakeholders and subject-matter experts.
I prefer combining these two approaches. Customers can easily point out the problems they have, but that doesn’t always mean they recommend the best solution. That’s where an expert’s advice could work better as they have deeper expertise in the industry. I usually cite Henry Ford who summed it up the best: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
Describe the design methods that you follow and technologies you tend to use.
I use Double Diamond, as it’s the most widely used design process model. I also like trying innovative solutions. I tend to integrate knowledge from workshop practices into my work. One recent success was implementing Lightning Decision Jam.
Do you use any psychological principles in your work?
I think empathy is the most important skill, it makes you a better team player and a great designer. You understand the users’ issues better and the ways they could have solved them. Empathy can also make you feel less compelled to use intrusive language in pop-ups or suggestions.
I am a big fan of customization as it makes your product more inclusive and shows that you value users’ needs and preferences when you incorporate personalization, accessibility, changes in color palettes, fonts, and more.
I’m definitely not into so-called “dark patterns” that intend to deceive or trick users as the design should not ruin user experience.
How do you improve your technical skills?
I’d say a diverse team can inspire and help you expand your knowledge or explore new directions.
I get new knowledge from design courses, mentorship sessions, and books. There are plenty of resources, but the problem is when you reach a certain level of expertise, most of them become too simple for you.
The way to overcome this problem is to find the professionals you trust (on LinkedIn, for example) and occasionally check or ask for their recommendations. I am a big fan of the Projector educational platform and also plan to start a new course on edX.
What products are the perfect illustration of brilliant user experience and design?
I use Figma and FigJam for work. I really like the way they are designed, I even occasionally draw some inspiration for my designs.
My favorite mobile apps, both in terms of design and concept, are How We Feel and Stoic. They help users indicate and understand their emotions.
I’d also like to mention the app of the Ukrainian bank, Monobank, which is very convenient and similar to Revolut, one of the leaders in the financial industry. At the very end of the list, I’d put Facebook as an illustration of an inconvenient interface, but it still achieved business success.
What do you like most about your job at Transcenda?
At Transcenda I just get to do my job and my managers trust me. It doesn’t feel like working for someone, but rather collaborating together to achieve the same goal. I am really happy to work with such a big, professional, and diverse team of designers and engineers. It helps me find a lot of inspiration and room for growth.
What are your hobbies and how do they shape you?
I never stop learning and often end up on Youtube watching scientific videos about physics or chemistry. Discovering new things makes you analyze more and perceive the world from a different angle, which is a helpful skill for a designer. I also love painting, and that’s my personal space for experiments with shapes and colors.
I am interested in psychology, learning how people think and see the world. That is how I developed empathy. A designer has to be a negotiator between the stakeholders and users, so empathy helps understand the goals and pain points of each on a deeper level.
I believe that the more productive or creative you are, the more rest you need. I have a common practice to go on a retreat once in a while. I love riding a bike or a scooter and visiting a picturesque landmark in my city with a cup of coffee. It doesn’t make a big difference to me what you do to have a nice rest but rather how you do it.
Recently, I enjoyed the book “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman and learnt an important life approach. If you want to think more comprehensively, deliberately, and logically, you need to learn to slow everything down, even simple activities like showering, morning coffee, or a stroll through the park.