A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to meet Jess in San Francisco during her second week at Envoy. I learned a lot about her, her process and her sense of humor and am excited to share some of that with you.
Hey Jess! Why don’t you tell the folks at home a little bit about yourself?
Oh hi, endless internet abyss!👋
I’m Envoy’s newest product designer (until this post is out-dated in the near future).
My design career has spanned a wide range over the last decade. I actually started in photography in college and worked in that space for a few years. Fun fact! I used to primarily photograph South Asian weddings and because of this grew a strong love for Bhangra and Bollywood music! 🎶
Over time I found that many of the roles I took on (and loved most) also included design, and I pretty quickly jumped ship to completely focus on a design path. Along the way, I’ve worked in graphics, packaging, and hard-good product design before finding a home in software. I most recently came from Chameleon where I led design and helped shape the product for the last 3 years. They, by the way, are an incredible team with an awesome suite of products (like Tours and Surveys) that enable product teams to easily highlight feature changes, onboard new users, and collect targeted feedback.
When I’m not working, I’m usually seeking out all of the dogs to pet. Or hiking around this gorgeous landscape I get to call home. Or editing photos. Or buying a plane ticket to a place I’ve yet to see (it’s a long list).
Can you tell us what you do at Envoy?
I’m designing the Rooms product that’s currently in Beta! For now, all I can tell you is that I’m looking to help improve the workplace beyond just visitor sign-in (but I’m currently sworn to secrecy!)
I know you’re relatively new but so far, what does a typical day look like for you?
To date (and perhaps always?), I’m looking to be a sponge.
I’m always trying to absorb as much context as possible. That can be sourced from a few different things: I think it’s really important to utilize anyone that has been thinking about the problems you’re solving longer than you have, so I’m meeting as many people as I can. I want to understand what they’ve already learned about our customers and any context they have so far. I’m also currently learning more about what our users care about directly. Because Rooms is a product we also Beta internally, some of those users are Envoy employees.
Lately, I’ve been writing research questions about what’s working and what isn’t with Rooms, understanding expectations for different types of users, mapping flows for various journeys through the product, wire-framing, and diving into possible interactions until we narrow down what works most clearly.
What’s your hype song/album in the morning or otherwise?
I’m not sure that I technically have a hype song, but I’m considering learning how to configure an Arduino to play that Rihanna song, Work, at the time I set my alarm for every morning while projecting this gif on my wall:
If you weren’t absolutely killing it owning design on our Rooms team, what would you be doing? Like not in design?
I have a couple of ideas…
- I’d love an excuse to travel more, so I’d probably pursue photography again to allow for that (my past life career).
- Teaching is another big interest. I love seeing concepts presented to a group and watching how they can be utilized or interpreted in drastically different ways. That’s really interesting to me. I also wouldn’t hate being a forever student. 😎
- Or who knows, maybe I’d buy a small plot of land on the CA coast and just have a bunch of goats, dogs, chickens, and tend to a small garden.
Do you have any advice for the kids out there thinking about pursuing a career in Design?
There are SO many things! But if you want to be a product designer, you have to think like one.
The first question we ask is “What is the problem you’re trying to solve?” Scope and solve for one thing at a time (it’s good practice). You may have multiple things you’re looking to solve for e.g. building a portfolio, learning to interview well, learning about design process / best practices, understanding what the job even entails… If you try to solve for all of these things at once and then go interview, you may not necessarily know what’s strong or weak in your process.
Define one problem in its simplest form, and then get to researching.
Gather context, talk to the people that are already doing what you want to be doing, and determine what success looks like for you.
Also, here’s a short list of steps you can take if you’re just getting your feet wet or are simply curious about broader places to start:
Books, articles, subscribe to newsletters in the space! They not only help you understand current takes on design thinking and can provide a better, more practical context for the industry, but they also help you understand WHO you might want to know about.
Some of my favorite books so far:
- The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman
- A Book Apart series is 🔥, but one (of many) I specifically loved: Designing for Emotion by Aarron Walter
- Creativity Inc by Ed Catmull
- The Shape of Design by Frank Chimero
Newsletters I’ve enjoyed subscribing to:
Find and follow industry leaders and/or designers that have the type of role you are interested in
First, what’s the type of role you want to have? Is your dream job to be a product designer at Envoy or Apple or *insert dream company*?! Find out who is already a PD there (oh, hi 👋) and start following them on Twitter (see also: LinkedIn), see what they’re writing about on Medium, GO TO TALKS whenever possible and maybe even introduce yourself (also, so many conferences and companies host talks they publicly share later). Want something recurring monthly? Check out Designers and Geeks or Creative Mornings.
Where possible, ask questions
You know those people you’re now following, and those books you just read? That’s your quickstart for context to ask more questions. Ask about their process, about a day in the life, about the biggest challenges they face, about the biggest wins they’ve had in their careers.
Learn the language of the industry
This one’s the most challenging because it takes time and the language itself evolves, but hopefully, if you’re working on the other things in this list you’ll have a good head start. On the surface, this could mean talking about design with other designers until you get a feel for how design fits into a business, within a cross-funtional team, within a product process, etc.
At its core: Knowing how to talk about the problem you’re trying to solve is sometimes as important as the problem you’re solving. Your work won’t see the light of day if you can’t articulate the value of why you’re looking to solve for it in the first place. It’s something I will forever practice and look to improve.
What inspires you?
Thoughtfulness. I notice details, and being thoughtful is such a carefully crafted pursuit. It takes time and listening and respect to even want to be thoughtful toward others. Or toward yourself. I am so inspired by those that put intention toward this and practice it.
Also Stupid Hackathon
Alright Jessica Bottali, Product Designer at Envoy. What keeps you up at night?
Mosquitos buzzing by my ear. 😳
Ok, but seriously… I often think about how I can genuinely contribute to improving the human experience (ok and the well-being of dogs… and the world). I try to be intentional on a small scale with my daily interactions as well as with how the greater choices I make throughout my career (or in life) can help impact others. I want to intentionally filter my design decisions with humanity in mind.
Anything you want to promote or plug? Medium think pieces you wrote recently 😂?
Can I plug this awesome design team? I’m serious.