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What cash trips in Mexico taught me about designing for international markets at Uber

As a product designer at Uber working on the Money team in Amsterdam, it’s my job to help come up with design solutions for Uber products across the globe. Designing globally presents a lot of challenges that don’t come up if you are creating products for a more limited market. We constantly see how cultural context, infrastructure, and on-the-ground realities matter to good design.

The problem

My team recently dealt with a good example of these challenges. On its face, the question was a simple one: How could we better collect the service fees for use of the Uber platform on trips in which the passenger connected to the driver paid in cash rather than through digital payment? …

What table tennis champion and Uber Designer Adil Dhanani learned about sports and how it relates to his career as a designer.

Spotlight is a series of Q&A sessions with the multi-talented creators on Uber’s design team. In this session I chat with Adil Dhanani— a table tennis champion, Silicon valley veteran and product designer on Uber’s Rider Team.

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Adil Dhanani at Uber HQ in San Francisco

Hi Adil! Thanks for sitting down with me. Let’s start by getting to know you a bit more — what’s your story at Uber, and what are you currently working on?

My journey in Silicon Valley started over ten years ago. I started at Uber in 2016 as a designer on the developer platform team which is focused on building tools and API’s for integrating Uber into other services. My technical background in computer engineering and prior experience working with technical teams helped me bring a unique perspective to the team.

I spent a year with the developer platform team and then moved into Uber Partnerships, where I worked with the likes of Google, Apple, Facebook and Samsung, exploring how we could create better experiences for our users. …

Figma’s Design Education Manager Zach Grosser on finding his place, collaborating with other designers and design education.

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Figma’s Design Education Manager Zach Grosser recently left the Valley on a mission to help educate those interested in design, all the way from the canals of Amsterdam.

You have a very non-linear career path! From studying glassblowing in College to working at Apple, Square and now as Design Educator at Figma.

Do you think it’s important to find comfort in embracing change?

Absolutely. Adapting to ever-changing situations is super important. I think it’s helpful to try to take the stress out of change and see it for one of the positive effects it has: preventing personal and professional stagnation.

My path to finding comfort in change was — and is — quite a struggle. I especially never did well with navigating the, “What am I going to do next?” moments in my life. …

UX Designer Marie Schweiz on using watercolour, uplifting women in tech and having good design principles

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Based in Berlin, Marie Schweiz works as a freelance UX and Interaction Designer. Her hands-on approach to the design process sees her embracing watercolour and inviting developers to join right alongside her.

You’re a freelance interaction designer, yet it doesn’t stop there! You also paint watercolours, sketch in procreate, help other designers learn how to use design tools and the list goes on. How do you pinpoint your passion?

Building access. I don’t want to pursue a career as artist, however I do enjoy sharing my knowledge and giving people access. My colleagues, who are mostly developers, really enjoy participating in my design process. I consciously make sure I don’t exclude them from designing. Instead, my approach focuses on educating them.

Shivam Thapliyal on how he went from engineer to designer, on his own

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From the design team at Flipkart, Shivam Thapliyal is a multi disciplinary designer. Shivam not only explores 3D and illustration, but also tinkers in hand lettering.

You studied Computer science engineering. How did you end up in design?

When began studying at college I became fascinated with design and illustration. I began to work on developing my skillset in my own time. Since I wasn’t in a creative environment, I taught myself by mimicking what I saw on Dribbble, contacting other designers and gathering resources and learning material to study.

Eventually I took course on Lynda. While I’d been learning and growing as a designer in my spare time, once I graduated from school I took on a developer role. …

In light of recently launching the Design Life community I’ve been getting a few questions about launching products. While I’m no expert and this is my first official ‘launch’, I thought I’d share some of my early learnings.

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Understand your audience first

It’s imperative that you understand who your product is for and how it benefits them. Without knowing this, you’ll be creating a product in the dark in the hopes that it’ll catch on. and at least someone out there will care.

Don’t guess what your audience wants. Talk to people — a lot of people. Ask them questions. Learn how you can help them. At the same time, build an audience. Launching to crickets doesn’t sound fun to anyone. Your product stands a much higher chance of selling if you have an existing audience you know how to help. …

When you don’t have 5+ years of experience

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Q: I’ve graduated from school. At this moment I’m looking for a design job. Most companies are searching for experienced designers, but at the end I have to start somewhere. How do I start? – Marissa

This can be hard one. I remember being fresh out of school and feeling completely disheartened as I read job ads that asked for three, five or sometimes seven years of experience. When you’re new to the industry getting just one foot in the door somewhere can be tough — especially when companies require designers with years of experience.

So, as a new designer how can you score that experience and find your first design job? …

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Living in the heart of Amsterdam, Frederique Matti is a freelance illustrator & designer. When she’s not illustrating you can find her chilling out with her cat Baltazar or delving into Asian cuisine.

You made the jump to being a full-time freelancer a year ago. How did you gain the confidence to make this decision?

A bunch of things came together at the same time. First, I found myself in a job that didn’t fit well with me. Second, I started considering going freelance, something I’d already been dreaming about for a while. Lastly, being unhappy in my role made those dreams seem much more achievable.

I was very insecure about making the jump to full-time freelancing. However, because of these 3 events happening at the same time I felt like I now was the time to at least try. …

Changing career and finding your mojo

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Most of us have no idea what we want to do for the rest of our lives. There comes a point where we take a wild guess — a chance.

This may feel good for a while. Initially you find yourself relieved and confident that you made the right decision. But for most, this feeling isn’t everlasting. Over time we grow. As we grow we crave new challenges or become interested in different things. Or maybe you’re unsatisfied in your current role, curious to explore other things.

Let’s say you reach a point where you know it’s time for something new. Things have got to change. Perhaps it’s time to change tactic, switch paths or course correct. …

Advice for both interviewers and interviewees

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Two months ago I started a new job at Uber Design as a product designer. In the months prior I had several interviews at agencies, tech companies, startups and remote companies.

Applying for a new job can be a full-time job. My evenings were spent searching open positions, preparing my portfolio, applying, interviewing and (in my case) doing design challenges.

Perfecting your application is a juggle when you’re already working a full-time job.

I was privileged enough to be called in for several job interviews for different companies, and want to share my learnings on interviewing from an interviewee perspective.

Whether you’re currently preparing to apply for a new job or looking to hire, here’s some pointers to help prepare you for your next interview.


Femke van Schoonhoven

Kiwi in Canada, Product designer at Uber, Podcasting at @DesignLifeFM, Videos about design:

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