Ionut Zamfir 

Talking with User Interface & User Experience Designers


Hi! I’m Ionut Zamfir and I am a User Interface designer based in Bucharest, Romania. I started my career as a designer in 2007, when I was 22. I’ve worked for most of the major agencies in Bucharest and then in 2011 I switched to freelance. Since then, I’ve become a partner to Cibando (cibando.com) and managed to start my own agency in Milan.

When your friends or parents ask to you what job do yo do, how do you answer?

Since everybody has access to internet and has a smartphone, it’s pretty simple to explain to someone what I’m doing for a living. I just tell them that I’m designing websites or interfaces for mobile apps and that’s it ☺

What is your background, how did you train?

Well, I started my career as a designer back in 2007, when I was 22. I remember that I’ve got my hands on some Photoshop basic tutorials and gain a lot of interest. Then I started to practice and I remember that I was trying to recreate some of the awesome interfaces that were popular back then. One year later, I started to work as a full time designer for a local agency. I worked for most of the major agencies from Bucharest and in 2011 I got drafted as a Dribbble player. I switched to freelance at the end of the year and had the chance to work with a lot of amazing people and had really cool job offers from Facebook, Google, Podio, Yelp or Groupon.

The theme of this year of “From the Front 2013", Italian conference on the frontend, was “what the web can do to make this world a better place”. How did the web improve your life (if it did)?

For me, the web completely change my life. Imagine that I got to showcase all my work on websites like Dribbble or Behance and got the chance to meet so many interesting people and collaborate with them on awesome projects.

On quora.com, 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 instead? (http://www.quora.com/What-are-the-most-intuitive-interfaces-ever-created)

I’m thinking the wheel and the door knob ☺

How is your work day type?

I’m working a lot and I go to sleep usually at really late hours. Usually, I’m up around 11am. Around 1PM I go to lunch at a cafe that’s nearby my home or just go for a quick walk. I get back around 2-3PM and work till 8-9PM. Of course, there are some days when I have to work even till 5 in the morning. (image attached — ‘desk.png’)

Ianut’s workstation

What is the most stimulating and challenging project you have accomplished?

I’ve created recently an app that allows users to organise trips together and I’ve come up with an awesome and different way of navigation through the whole app. (image attached — ‘user profile.png’).

Profile page

What is, among the existing digital services, the one you wanted to do?

I love my job. I absolutely love it. I can’t think to something else that I would want to do.

Many designers commit the mistake of starting a project directly from Photoshop, is there a perfect design method? What is your approach to the creative process?

Yes. It is a perfect design method. If you follow some really simple steps, you will get to the perfect result. First, you gotta talk to the client and understand exactly the details about his project and what he’s looking for. Then, one of the most important steps, is creating the wireframes. Based on the client specifications, I create the wireframes that will illustrate the flow of the app, the positioning of the elements, etc. After I’m done with the wireframes, I set a meeting with the client and present him these and a moodboard. Only after I make sure the client understands and agrees with the wireframes, I start putting things together in Photoshop.

The “design” is an important part of our analogic life. What is the role of the designer in our digital life?

I think the designer has a really important role in our digital life. The designer should create interfaces for applications that will simplify our life and make it easier, applications that people would enjoy and would be really easy to navigate/use.

Do you believe it is important for a designer to have a deep knowledge of matters as User Experience, Interaction Design, Product Design and Front-end development?

I think that, as a designer, you never have to stop learning things or improve your set of skills. I can’t say that I have a deep knowledge of Front-end development, because I always worked with my brother, who’s an amazing developer. But I know the basics of that and I know the limits of what you can or can’t do.

In which way do you make a difference between User Interface and User Experience?

Obviously, User Experience it’s much more complex than User Interface. User Experience has elements like research, creating tests, stats, product design, interaction design, usability, prototyping, copywriting, etc.

What is your relationship with the developers? There are people that have a relationship of continuous confrontation and other of deep friendship, where do you collocate with respect to this question?

I usually get along really well with developers. Almost all the time when I’m working on a new app, I ask the clients if we can involve the developers in the design discussions, because I want them to know what to expect. Like I’ve said before, I’m really used to work with developers, cause I always made an amazing team with my brother.

How do you think that your career and job will evolve in the next 5 years.

Well, I’m sure that I’ll come up with an awesome idea for an app that will make people life more enjoyable, so I don’t worry about the future (haha).

A famous quotation of David Carson (noted American graphic designer) says: “Graphic design will save the world right after rock and roll does.”. Will the User Interface Design save the world, before, at the same time, or after the graphic design?

Since people care more about functionality then looks, I am tempted to say that User Interface has a more important role in saving the world than simple Graphic Design.

What do you think about Dribbble? Is it a good way to get a job? What’s the best way to find a job as designer?

For me Dribbble means a lot. It actually changed my life and gave me the opportunity to work or meet so many awesome people. Regarding the jobs part, I can say that 90% of my clients are coming from Dribbble ☺

What book would you advice to a Junior Designer?

Smashing UX Design and Mobile Usability.

Always as far as advices: what tools for the design? What tools for the projects management?

For the design inspiration, I always use Dribbble, Behance Network and Pttrns.com. For designing things I use Photoshop and I recently started to learn Sketch (which is pretty awesome,btw).

For project management, I use Evernote and Basecamp.