Helping LottieFiles craft great experiences for users, product designer Jia Yu joined us in the midst of the global pandemic. From desktop app interfaces to web interfaces, there are few parts of LottieFiles she has yet to get her hands on. Here's Jia Yu's story on how she ended up in product design.
I’m a product designer at LottieFiles, and I mainly work on the website and the desktop app. I come up with solutions for problems or new features and design how the interfaces should look and behave, aiming to create a good experience for the user.
I often work hand-in-hand with the developers, who have more insight on technical limitations and capabilities, and sometimes with our visual designer if I’m creating something that needs some illustration or animation.
I’ve always been the artsy, creative type since I was a child, and was really into drawing and painting. In college I decided to take a more commercial, digital route and got my degree in Communication Design.
After I graduated, I moved to the Bay Area for a year and had the intention of working at a small graphic design studio, but I saw so many product design job listings around me (because hello Silicon Valley!) that it piqued my interest in the field. So I decided to learn more about it by doing informational interviews with people in the field, getting help from a product designer friend (thanks, Kathleen!), reading UX blogs, and making my own personal projects.
I got a job as the sole designer working on a robo-advisor app at a financial company and got more experience on the job. When I left the US, I wanted to keep doing product design but wanted to be on a team with other designers, so I found LottieFiles and now here I am!
I was intrigued by product design because it’s so integral to the interfaces I interact with on a daily basis, and I liked how it involved a mixture of visual art, design, business, and even human psychology. You have to address user needs and business goals through design. As a product designer, your work has a direct impact on the users, and I wanted my work to be meaningful and help make people’s lives easier.
Curiosity and flexibility. There isn’t One Right Answer to anything. There are some UX best practices and guidelines to consider, and you can do user interviews and look at how other companies approached the same problem, but what would work well for your particular product and audience might differ. When you execute something and the users don’t respond well to it, figure out why (curiosity) and try something else (flexibility). Don’t get too attached to your design because it will probably change.
There’s also an element of ethics involved in design. You can use your UX powers for good… or for evil (google “dark patterns in UX”—sneaky interactions that are made to trick the user into doing things they don’t really want to). This can be said for any job, but it’s important to do work that aligns with your values.
Be inquisitive, patient, and persistent. Gaining and improving skills takes time and practice, and you have to make a lot of bad stuff to make some good stuff. Don’t be too hard on yourself because this is just how the design process is! A professor at my college, John Hendrix, made a great illustration for this.
Find a mentor if you can. When I was trying to teach myself product design, it really helped to have a friend who was a more experienced product designer whom I could go to for advice and honest feedback.