Product designer from Zurich
Gleb Kuznetsov product designer with 15 years intensive experience originally from Moscow. Last 3 years based in Zurich, Stockholm or Riga.
When your friends or parents ask you what job you do, how do you answer?
My friends don’t ask me that question. They all developers, designers, CEO of startups, investors or just people who don’t care about where I’m work :) If somebody ask me: I am a product designer and an art director. A person responsible for the appearance of the services and digital products and their interaction with the customers. My job is to visualise and to make ideas real.
What is your background, and how did you train?
I started programming when I was about 11years old. At the age of 15 I choose design as my main direction because in 1999 UI did not exist and nobody knew about UI design and User Experience. It was really exciting to be creating something new that has never been built before — a feeling I have carried through my life to date.
I trained day and night working for more than 12 hours a day. Design was a very narrow specialisation at the time and I studied it purely through trial and error.
For more than 10 years of my professional life, I have worked for technology innovative start-ups and large companies around the world where I worked on a variety of products for Telecom, Media, Entertainment, Dating, Banking, Trading, Social Networks, E-commerce, global B2C ecosystems.
What can the web do to make this world a better place? How has the web improved your life (if it has)?
Web is full of limitless possibilities to develop various skills from technology to corporate management and to find any required information. Primarily it gives me a chance to further develop my skills.
I filter through and personalise everything I get from the Web. I do the same at work — always giving users the chance to create their own personal and comfortable world.
Can you show us three examples of interfaces that in your opinion have improved human life?
On quora.com some time ago, there was a long discussion in answer to the question “What is the most intuitive interface ever created?”; according to Felipe Rocha it is the nipple. In your opinion, what is it?
technics 1200 or Dieter Rams (Braun style)
Any interface ought to compliment our life causing admiration in the eyes of the beholder without a doubt for the safety of the product.
“Design Should Not dominate things. Should Not dominate people. It Should Help People”
What is your typical workday like?
I wake up at 7 am (take my child to the kindergarten, which takes 1hr). I am in the office at 9:20 am., It takes me around 2–3 hours to read mail and make decisions on what to do for the day. I make plans for the day with notepad (e.g every day tasks could include — making a prototype / analysing the market / create mood boards / meeting clients / taking a flight to meet clients/ creating presentation) Then I start realising my plans step by step until about 11 pm and sometimes longer into the night.
What is the most stimulating and challenging project you have accomplished?
Eco-system for 7x type of screens and devices including own device was an incredible massive 3-year long project during which I have built 3 design teams in 3 countries — Motion design, Advertising design, UI/UX design. But it’s was just a beginning…
The boldest project ever I have not yet accomplished. I am in the middle of creating it! Unfortunately for the audience, it is very confidential. I work as a part of Fantasy interactive and it’s the biggest project in my life, however, I should be able to reveal the details very soon.
Among existing digital services, what is the one you wanted to do?
I have a passion for revolutionary innovative projects such as eco-systems or creation of a new design language which has never been done before. I like to create products which are completely new and bring emotions to people that are completely different towards what they use before.
I like to think comprehensively, globally, not just in terms of one product or screen. This is a skill I have been developing for more than 10 years.
Building an ecosystem with different screens integrate it with its various elements, breeze life into it so it feels as one single organism has been my childhood goal.
Place where people can spend more than 3 hours in the day.
Many designers make the mistake of starting a project directly from Photoshop: is there a perfect design method? What is your approach to the creative process?
Before going to the Photoshop, I use a number of other products to analyse the markets and products. — For me, the assurance that the product I designed would be useful to and effective on the audiences and customers is of crucial importance. I also have a sixth sense that helps me detect the requirements and tastes of my clients which aids project delivery.
At times the project is aesthetically tuned in, at times it becomes art or just functional or creative of new markets. I open the Photoshop only when I am completely sure of what I would like to achieve and use it to finalise the project.
“Design” is an important part of our analogic life. What is the role of the designer in our digital life?
All depends on how comfortable a designer is in his role. Product designers do not just stop at design as such but dive into brand vision, usability, marketing, metrics and profitability for their clients, which is a huge responsibility in itself and a role comparable to the product owner or more. Designer — is one of the main persons in the creation of products/services and even our surroundings.
Do you believe it is important for a designer to have a deep knowledge of matters such as User Experience, Interaction Design, Product Design, and Front-end Development?
All depends on the type of the design that was chosen. If someone has a passion for fonts and illustrations and no desire to go through tons of analytics and prototyping than there is no need for programming skills for such a person.
Yet, for product design wannabes or those who want to design digital space or user experience would need the front-end developers skills plus all of the skills discussed above and Analytics.
How do you make a difference between User Interface and User Experience?
Interface is what people see and interact with, User Experience, on the other hand, is a complexity of knowledge that makes the product more useful, profitable and effective. These are two very different concepts but they always go hand in hand.
What is your relationship with developers? There are people that have a relationship of continuous confrontation and others of deep friendship: where do you fall with respect to this question?
They are my best friends. 90% of my projects require me to put myself in their shoes and think as a programmer. Due to my extensive experience as a programmer it is relatively easy. If a designer does not have programming experience it is advisable to obtain some at least basic experience — HTML / CSS / XCODE.
How do you think that your career and job will evolve over the next 5 years?
I will continue doing what I am currently doing. I love my job both from professional and personal point of view — I help to realise ideas and always inject a part of myself and my vision into the idea that comes to live. It is possible my profession will change its name in 5 years time, but its substance will remain unchanged in 10 or 20 years.
How about Dribbble? Is it a good way to get a job? What’s the best way to find a job as a designer?
It’s a good place to start. Yet if you are not yet a good professional but are learning the path of a designer through Dribbble you could put yourself at the disadvantage. Dribble could seriously misrepresent the true ins and outs of the work of a designer.
Dribbble is a collection of pictures and concepts. The true extent of the work of the designer is not just Photoshop and a drawing talent. It is also necessary to be able to write analyse, learn new things and more importantly constantly work and interact with people and understand technology. I use dribbble just for improvisation and to polish my visual skills. I post some real product design there very rarely.
What book would you recommend to a Junior Designer?
I am not sure that books help designers to acquire knowledge. Practice and intensive work on various projects will make a truly unique professional out of any designer. Designers need to read books on fonts and geometry / inspiration books. It is also important to continue developing artistic taste and logic.
Sticking with the advice: how about tools for design? What about tools for project management?
During the main design process, I use Photoshop, After Effects and Illustrator. I also use services such as Slack, Trello, Jira, Basecamp, Invision. For prototyping, I use paper or Balsamiq. In addition, I use iPhone, which is my project manager tool with native simple calendar app and notepad.
A famous quotation of David Carson (noted American graphic designer) says: “Graphic design will save the world right after rock and roll does”. Will User Interface Design save the world, before, at the same time, or after graphic design?
Hahaha) Yeh… UI Design will not save the world, UI is our world: How it looks, how it feels and how it works.