Leslie Ankney, Communications Lead
Welcome to Eight Questions, where we profile individual members of the Anchorage team, diving into their career paths, what brought them to crypto, and what makes them tick. Why eight? Because it’s the number of decimal places a bitcoin can be divided into. It’s also the last single digit number in a Fibonacci Sequence, and we like that.
Next in our series, meet Yang You, who’s been at Anchorage for the last two years, leading product design at Anchorage. She comes to Anchorage from Capital One, where she designed portfolio management software, and Deloitte, where she worked as a UI/UX designer and consultant. She graduated from Carnegie Mellon where she received her BS in Civil & Environmental Engineering with a focus on public policy. Yang regularly volunteers offering mentorship to those new to design and is constantly learning new recipes. We’re excited to explore her thoughts on design at Anchorage.
- What’s your day-to-day like?
My day to day varies, something anyone at a startup can relate to. I work on our custody, lending, governance, and staking products. For each, I work with the product team to understand the zero to one of the user journey. I build lo-fi concepts and hi-fi prototypes, considering all the different types of clients we have at Anchorage and how they’ll use our products.
Some days I’m focused on conducting user interviews to understand the pain points and goals around institutional finance. Others, I get into ideation and prototyping mode, crafting user flows and prototypes of the end-to-end experience. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about improving processes. I’m always syncing up with my colleague, Emidio, whether we’re catching up personally or talking about needs for our team.
2. What’s the most innovative design problem you’ve gotten to solve at Anchorage?
My work is really exciting because blockchain-based finance creates some unique challenges from what I designed for at Capital One. One of the recent innovative design problems we solved was how to do address management for a variety of clients. While in traditional finance, you wouldn’t need to think about who trades with who or your transactions being seen, the public nature of blockchains means we have to both protect our client’s privacy needs while still granting them access to interact with multiple counterparties and OTC desks.
For this address management solution, my team and I had to consider a single project design. I remember thinking, how do we make privacy and interactions work for both a family office who does not move funds often and for high frequency trading? The end product works for both of them because of the thought and testing we put into this.
3. It seems like you had a big shift from working on bioenergy to design at Deloitte, tell us about your path there. Changing careers at Deloitte?
I studied Civil and Environmental Engineering in college, and after my third year internship in Switzerland, where most were in the biomed field, I realized I wanted to not just see the forest, but also each of the trees.
What originally drew me into the civil engineering degree was how small details such as the cadence of traffic lights to the positioning of public parks all impact our lives and interactions. After graduation, while my friends went into structural engineering and construction, I wanted to be closer to the end user I was building for. I’d learned design thinking from an engineering perspective that was big picture, and I found I wanted to design at a scale closer to individuals and their needs.
One day, I made some rough sketches on a project I was working on at Deloitte, and I didn’t even realize I was designing wireframes. These came to be the improved dashboard for an important federal government project. The recognition I got for putting what seemed like a really small idea together, showed me this could be something larger. From there, I took courses to build a foundation in interaction design and UX strategy, then transitioned to Deloitte’s design department.
4. After working at Deloitte and Capital One, what brought you to crypto?
At Capital One, I learned a ton about how an established design organization operates and how to work with other designers, but after the first year, I wanted to expand from working on a small part of a product. I was excited to gain more ownership and autonomy at a startup. The journey to crypto, however, was more or less, nonlinear. There was one DeFi startup I interviewed with that was very small at the time, dy/dx that ended up connecting me through a series of crypto companies they knew were hiring. That eventually led me to Anchorage. I’m grateful to dy/dx and the many crypto people I spoke with then, who recognized the value of design in crypto and helped me find a place in it.
5. Tell us about your mentorship work at ADPList and Designlab, what got you interested? How does teaching others fall into your approach to design?
I have a soft spot for designers transferring from different industries or other careers, and feel that even while I’m learning new things, I can give back. Individuals who come from another field or job bring creative thinking and tend to intuit the needs of the people they design for well. I really enjoy giving back in this way and encouraging them as designers.
It’s also important to me that we break down the barriers to more designers coming to the crypto space. Many of the design professionals I’ve talked to cite technical barriers and feel the industry is closed off. Others fail to see the potential for crypto to change the world. I think a lot about how to break down these barriers and make myself available to answer the simple questions with my friends, family and anyone willing to learn.
By creating an open dialogue, we can bring more perspectives into crypto and designers have a huge opportunity to shape this industry for the better.
6. Would you say you spend more time on UX or UI, what’s more important?
They’re really intertwined. One of the biggest things you learn in user-centered design is defining the problem before you start creating solutions for it. The whole point is making sure you’re meeting a need and testing your hypothesis throughout the process of building before spending resources. Then, once you’ve got the problem and the solution down, it’s equally as important to create a beautiful, accessible, and delightful interface.
7. What’s it been like working on design remotely?
In all, I have felt comfortable with the transition though I certainly miss working with people face to face. I like being able to flexibly manage my time. Sometimes I’ll take a yoga break in the early afternoon and I’ve really enjoyed that flexibility to block off some time if I need it. I also have no regrets skipping the BART ride commute. Given that we spend so much time in our living space now, I’ve been deep into decorating my Oakland apartment, and have become an expert at finding great pieces on Facebook Marketplace. I also love to cook, so working remotely has been a good time to try new recipes. I went to school with a contributor to New York Times Cooking and tried out her recipe for Gilgeori Toast (Korean Street Toast), I highly recommend it!
8. What’s the role of design within the company? Any tidbits on company culture or mottos you can share?
Our leadership recognizes the value that good design has brought to the success of Anchorage so far. “Impress our customers” is a motto you’ll often hear. The culture at Anchorage encourages us to respectfully challenge each other, ask questions, and put egos aside to build a better product together. All this said, we have a lot of room to grow and any new designer who joins the team will play a major part in defining our design culture here.
Interested in working with Yang on the Design Team? Anchorage is hiring for a variety of roles including a senior product designer role, check our job opportunities here. If you’re interested in using Anchorage’s thoughtfully designed products, please get in touch.
Disclaimer: Holdings of cryptocurrencies and other digital assets are speculative and involve a substantial degree of risk, including the risk of complete loss. There can be no assurance that any cryptocurrency, token, coin, or other crypto asset will be viable, liquid, or solvent. Nothing in this communication is intended to imply that any asset held in custody by Anchorage is low-risk or risk-free. Digital assets held in custody are not guaranteed by Anchorage Digital Bank National Association and are not FDIC-insured.