Getting through the holidays means hanging with extended family or people I don’t see often, and usually I get the dreaded question of explaining what I do for work. It’s usually coming from my older aunts or uncles, who ask me every year, and always end up with confused faces after I try explaining what I do to them.
In the past I was a UX/UI designer, and the only way to explain that to my grandmother was to tell her I worked on the internet. “You know Google grandma? Yeah, I do something like that. I work on the internet” (She never owned a computer, or a phone that wasn’t a land line).
Either way holidays are fun, and this past holiday season I tested out some new answers to a few common questions I get each year. (Full disclosure: I’m still not sure my older relatives understood, but at least I tried. 😉)
“Soo, what is it you do again?”
I’m a product designer for a company called Root insurance.
“So are you manufacturing something for them?”
Sort of. A product designer is someone who works on a product. In some cases that can be manufacturing something physical, but in my current case it means we work on a product that is run digitally. My product is primarily an app (on your phone) that sells car insurance, and I work on making that application easy to use and understand for our customers.
“Ohhh I get it, you’re doing all the design and buttons for the app then?”
Yes, sort of. I look at the button styles or other user interface elements, but that’s not all that I do at work. We technically have a “design system” or brand that we stick to so the UI elements are cohesive across the product as whole.
“So, what are they paying you to do if the style is already figured out?”
Typically most of my job ends up being figuring out what the problems our users face are, and how to best resolve them. We’ll talk to our users, look at support call volume, app reviews, and more to see where the problems currently are. We’ll also look at how those relate to the business goals and make sure we are in line with how our company wants to operate. Then we’ll start tackling problems, and producing solutions that fix those issues for our users.
Every day at work can be a little different. Sometimes I create surveys to send out to users or prototype a few ideas and test them, sometimes it’s just wireframing out the ideas, running them by an engineer, and getting them into UI and production. We’ll test our ideas out in the app with our users to see what works best, and how it changes our metrics (like customer support tickets, checkout rates, etc).
Our design team also tries to be forward-thinking, so what could our product look and act like in 3, 6, 12 months from now, and how would we get there? We have all these different teams, and they need to be working toward a cohesive app experience.
“But once the app is built, what else is there to do”
We are never really done. We typically work in whats called an “MVP” environment where we build the minimum viable product (or what’s technically necessary) and we leave out all the extra stuff. Once we’ve built that base, we can add on additional things that got left out the first round, but most likely we figure out what our users really want/need and we build that. It keeps us from wasting time on things our users don’t want, and lets us focus on the things they do.
“How big is your company again?”
The company hit over 200 people a month or so ago, and we’re continuing to grow. My team has about 7 product designers, and we have about 6 teams that work on our product (the app). Each designer tends to sit with their engineering teams and product managers, so it’s easier for them to collaborate together.
“Wow, ya know, I just never knew that you do all that sweetie, that’s very interesting.”
Yeah, it’s a pretty good place to work. The company has been growing pretty fast, but we’ve been figuring out how to deal with our growing pains as a team. I’ve always felt supported by my co-workers when things have gotten tough, and it’s a good collaborative environment.
After this point our conversation would naturally move onto topics they are more comfortable with, like how their kids are doing, or how my cousins are all married and most of them have children, and both your siblings are getting married…are you going to be next? 😅😅😅😅
Thanks for that Aunt Janice, now we all feel awkward.
If you are interested, Root Insurance is currently hiring Product Designers (and more). If you want to have these fun conversations with your family around the dinner table this next holiday season, feel free to apply online or reach out to us with questions. We’re located in Columbus, OH, and we’re mindfully growing our product teams.
Happy New Year!
1. Freshpet holiday feast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhg7Xm4FXAY
2. Old Lady WTF by Fluffy Friends
3. Button gif: https://forum.unity.com/threads/building-material-design-ui.273936/
4. Kevin Durant MVP gif by NBA
5. Episode 8 simpsonsworld.com
6. Awkward Hide gif by tipsyelves.com