Leandro Puca

Talking with User Interface & User Experience Designers

Eccentric, problem solver, creative and thinker. Sometime too much but it’s part of me and helps me to find a lot of creative solutions. I started my career as web designer in 1999 working in a small company, after 4 years we had 2000 employers and big clients in Insurance marketplace. I’ve worked there for 10 years, and it has been a very good occasion to improve my skill as Web designer and Front-end developer. I became a freelance in 2008 working world wide with startups and companies in San Francisco. Since June 2013 I’m living and working in USA, Phoenix as UX/UI and Interaction Designer and in 2014 I’m also part of the awwwards.com’ Jury.

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

Good question, this has been always a problem to me. In 1999 when people asked me what was my job I’ve tried to explain what was internet, but after 30 minutes I was surrender telling them that I was just work with computers in general. For few years people called me thinking that I could repair computers…

Now that everyone knows what is internet is pretty much simple to explain what I do, but for them I just build website.

What is your background, how did you train?

I’ve always learned what I needed, I mean, after high school there was not something specific to do what I did working, I’ve been one of the first pioneers in my town (Brescia) so I studied books and books every time that I needed to learn a new software or if I needed to learn new technologies or new methods/trends. I have participated to a lot of class to improve my skill anyway in these last 10 years having certificates and qualifications.

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

To me it’s very difficult today to understand how we used to live without the web in general 15 years ago. The web already made the world a better place in these last years, if you think to all the limit, barriers and prejudices that today it had destroyed. I think that in the next two years there will be a lot of evolution between the daily object and the web: think about Google glass, Apple CarPlay, etc.. Our life is already conditioning by the web, in the future it will be something that we can’t live without it.

Can you show us three examples of interface that in your opinion improved human life?

Google - iPhone 3 - Facebook

What is the most intuitive interface ever created?

To me is the computer’s mouse.

How is your work day type?

My day start having the breakfast reading emails, intagram and facebook. Than I go in office and I plan my day with daily and weekly goals. We set a 30 minutes meeting every morning at 10am to have the point of situation on all the projects with my creative team.

Leandro’s workstation

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

Unfortunately I can’t send you an image of the project because I’m still working on, but is the SkyMall ecommerce application for mobile. But this is a very complex and interesting project. It is mixing the e-commerce system and the social platform.

I loved also to redesign the home page for www.peopleschoice.com

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

WhatsApp and you can image the reason..

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

I’ve written a book on this argument and I’m releasing the second version. Actually is in Italian “Wireframes — cosa sono e perchè è utile usarli” where I explain the importance to create wireframes before to start with the graphic.

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

Follow own instinct, just thinking about what the people would like to see for what we are going to design.

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?

As every job I believe that every one needs to be prepared on the matter. Knowledge is one of the things in this world that everybody will never finish to learn to improve the skill. I think that there are talented people, but anyway knowing the fundamentals is very important. I’ve worked with graphic designers that at one point they had to design a graphic for a web site and what is happened (especially with html4 where there wasn’t so much free options like we instead have today with html5) was that they designed something that was far away from a website. Knowing something of front-end development could be helpful for sure to know what you can or can’t to do. And especially in Italy, I had the opportunity to learn all the things that I’ve needed to learn, from the development languages to all the graphic and video software. Here in USA it’s something that they don’t understand, because here a web designer had studied Web Design, a Developer is a developer. In this case I’m very lucky to have a sort of 360 degrees skill.

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

I’ve read a phrase on a a website one day:

“UI is the saddle, the stirrups, and the reigns. UX is the feeling you get being able to ride the horse, and rope your cattle.”

Defined very simply a User Interface design is the part of the product that faces the user when he looks at the site, and the User Experience is how they feel when they look at the site, aka the broad scope.

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’ve worked side by side with developers and I think that this is fundamental in our work. Knowing limits and learning their needs is part of our job to realize the perfect UX design.

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

I’m working to be one of the best UX/UI and Interaction Designer here, what else?

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?

I believe that there are many other important jobs that will save the world but, I also think that the UI design is helping to improve the quality of our daily life, where the digital instruments are becoming more and more essentials.

What book would you advice to a Junior Designer?

Rework by 37Signals https://37signals.com/rework/

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

To create wireframes I use Indesign. To design UI Photoshop. For the project management I use Jira and Evernote. To create prototype sometime directly in HTML or Keynotes or After Effect if there are a lot of animations.

Leandro’s website: www.leandropuca.it