“Hello, I am Natalie and I am a UI and UX designer.” -
UI, UX ….what? You may ask. In non-designer terms, a UX or user experience designer focuses on how something works and how people interact with it, and a UI or user interface designer focuses on the look and the layout. In this interview, our guest Natalie Korotaeva shares some really cool insights on this field, and what it means to work as a designer. We discuss how her creative and technical background has led her to take part in projects beyond her computer screen: from working at George Labs -the design studio and creative force behind the digital banking App George - to organizing insightful workshops for those willing to learn more about digital crafts.
It is not a secret that women are still underrepresented in the tech industry, but inspiring initiatives on diversity are always on the rise not only for women, but also for people from different nationalities and backgrounds. Our goal at esyvte is to make women in different industries more visible, so that other young readers can easily visualize themselves in such roles and believe they can also make a difference. We thank Natalie for join us in this interview!
Bih: We are very happy to have you here with us. I would like to start off by talking about your experiences in carving out a career in the exciting field of UI & UX. Could you please explain the different tasks your job entails? How are the job requirements of being a UI & UX designer intertwined?
Natalie: Well, what I really like about my job is the broad diversity of my tasks: my projects can vary from making usability testing and research to designing an actual product. The projects are often from different nature. Sometimes I can do something completely different: for instance making a design for socks or facilitating a workshop about digital design. It never gets boring.
B: How did you come about becoming a UI & UX designer? Did you have prior experience in the field of graphic design?
N: The first computer program I've ever installed was Photoshop 7.0 (I was 14 years old). Since then I was drawing, designing and even though I was studying marketing & management I never stopped doing something connected with design. So when I had an opportunity to change my career it felt very natural for me.
B: Other than taking on jobs for companies do you also do some independent work in the form of self-organized projects or other initiatives?
N: Yes, I was helping some non-profit organisations like Austrian startups, Ashoka and others. Apart from my full-time job at George Labs I also organize meetups, hackathons and workshops about technology for the Facebook Developer Circle.
B: How is working independently different than taking on assigned projects?
N: It is hard to say, it really depends on the project. At George Labs we have a great company culture so I enjoy working here. Also, I prefer to work with a team and on a particular product than solo.
B: Other than working behind the computer you have also garnered experience as a speaker.
What are some key points you talk about during your speeches to inspire more women to work in your field?
N: My talks are mostly quite technical and not motivational so I don’t have a specific goal of inspiring more women or men to work in my field. If it happens naturally it’s great.
B: One would think with your job requires you to stay in front of a computer, but you also do a lot of traveling. What are the most memorable places your job has lead you to and what projects did you work on there?
N: Last year I was lucky to participate in the Facebook Developer Conference “f8” and it was a great experience! Meeting lots of inspiring people, attending the awesome talks and getting fresh ideas about future technologies is definitely one of my highlights from 2018!
B: Are there other things you do as a UI & UX designer that common people would not expect of your job?
N: Part of my job involves a lot of communication as well. Conducting interviews, and also usability testing requires empathy and development of soft skills. Plus lots of people think that UX/UI design is a lot about creativity but in many cases, it's actually quite scientific from statistics and cognitive science to data analysis.
B: Your Instagram name “Siberian Cyborg” indicates your background and your passion for everything IT. Are you aware of the current stand of the women in your field back home?
N: Honestly I don't see myself as "girl from Siberia" I feel more like a global person. When someone says "home" for me it's already Vienna, not Siberia. That's why I’m more aware of the stand of women globally than particularly there.
B: Is there perhaps a change you are aiming to evoke in the women of Siberia to aspire for technologies and design-related jobs?
N: I do want to see more women in tech, but for me, it's not about women only, it's more about diversity in general: gender, nationality, backgrounds, etc. When I have an opportunity to support it I always try to it: for instance, I helped organize a workshop “Design for Equality” with Andra Bria or mentoring at a Women && Code event.
B: Lastly, our brand also lays aim on inspiring women to dress to their taste, in a more professional way. What style of clothing do you prefer to express your individuality?
N: Most of the time I feel like I don’t have a particular style of clothing. I dress very randomly I would say, depending on how I feel: from wearing a strict leather dress and high heels to a T-shirt I got for free from some tech conference with a hoodie and sneakers.