From Graphic Design Intern to UX/UI Lead — Interview with Barbara Niriz
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From Graphic Design Intern to UX/UI Lead — Interview with Barbara Niriz

From Graphic Design Intern to UX/UI Lead — Interview with Barbara Niriz cover

Hi Barbara, please introduce yourself to us.

Hello! I completed my Graphic Design degree in 2016, and as I approached graduation, an exciting opportunity came my way—the chance to participate in the MID program. During my time in college, my understanding of UX Design was limited and basic.

However, it was during this period that I realized the program at Aela offered much more than just computer and mobile interfaces.

In 2017, I dedicated myself to furthering my studies and delving into this captivating field that I've grown to love. Through the MID program, I had the incredible opportunity to expand my horizons and gain a deeper understanding of the ever-evolving design world.

Before this experience, I was unaware of the industry's groundbreaking innovations. However, with the MID, I was able to open my mind and broaden my vision to the realities of this field.

It was a transformative journey that shaped me into the UX/UI professional I am today.

Reading tip: Design Thinking: Learn How to Apply It in Your Projects

What was your work like before the transition to UX Design?

I was primarily involved in graphic design, personal branding, and creating various print materials.

I also took on some freelance projects, such as book layouts. When I started the course, I initially continued working on graphic design projects.

So, did you discover digital design through the MID program?

Yes, it was through the course. In college, I only had a brief introduction to the topic. Since it's a comprehensive program, it's challenging to cover all aspects of design.

I didn't study much about user experience; I focused more on information architecture.

Case study by Bárbara Niriz

There is still a lot of confusion regarding the differences between Graphic and Digital Design. How do you assess this?

The main difference lies in the medium of operation, which is digital. Having a background in Graphic Design has benefited my experience in the MID and my professional life.

Both areas complement each other in terms of visual aspects. However, they also have distinct characteristics.

In the digital realm, there are more processes to manage; you have to focus on problem-solving and interact more with clients.

Additionally, in UX/UI, you need to keep studying, innovating, and staying up-to-date. For instance, when working with books, I was not involved in the processes of layout design and formatting.

I used some Design Thinking tools in brand creation but didn't interact directly with the client like in UX/UI.

Reading tip: What Is UX Design And How To Get Started?

Tell us a bit about what you're currently working on.

I've been in this new job for over a month now. I'm working as a Lead UX/UI Designer, which has been a fascinating experience.

It's a place where I can propose my ideas and foster a UX/UI Design culture in the company.

Currently, I'm involved in a UX research project where I can apply the knowledge I gained from the MID and my college studies, which has enriched my experience as a Lead Designer.

Another thing that has been really helpful is learning from other departments and professionals within the company. I've been trusting my intuition, and it has been going great.

And how is the company?

It's a telecommunications company based in Miami, Florida, in the United States. They have a comprehensive app that provides users with great business opportunities.

There's another Designer within the company plus me, but she focuses more on the website while I handle the UI. I work closely with developers, business analysts, marketing teams, and project managers.

I find that interacting with other departments significantly contributes to aligning projects during the development phase.

Sketches by Bárbara Niriz

How has it been to work in an international environment, speaking a language that is not your native tongue?

It has been really great to go through this experience in English. In the first few days and during the initial meeting, I felt a bit lost due to multiple people speaking simultaneously.

But I could understand the message, and everything turned out fine.

Reading tip: Nielsen’s Heuristics: 10 Usability Principles To Improve UI Design

This is your first experience as a UI Designer. How was it to get the job offer?

I received an email proposal from the recruitment team, and I matched all the requirements, which made me very excited. Even though the position didn't solely focus on UX/UI, it was still incredibly appealing to me.

So, I reached out to them, and we had a phone conversation. The company requested a video about myself and my expectations to assess my language skills. I also sent a document detailing my professional experience and portfolio. It was quite a lengthy process.

After about 10 days, I received an email stating that the position had already been filled. I was quite disappointed at that moment.

However, a month later, I received another email stating that the position was open again and asking if I was still interested. I replied with a yes, submitted some additional documents, and they scheduled more interviews with their team.

The interview was very productive, and we had an open dialogue. They praised my portfolio, especially the projects I worked on during the MID. After that conversation, I received a message from them expressing their interest in hiring me. The whole process took approximately one month.

Reading tip: Redesign: Adding Case Studies to Your UX Portfolio

And during this work period, have you already "rolled up your sleeves" and started working hands-on?

Absolutely. I am currently involved in research, conducting user testing, and have already completed UI projects and app restructuring.

During these projects, as I mentioned earlier, I have a lot of freedom to voice my opinion, which I really enjoy.

I strive to contribute as much as possible and empower my decision-making process.

Please describe your experience in building your portfolio.

The projects I developed during the early stages of the MID had the biggest impact on my portfolio.

Without your guidance, I wouldn't have known how to create such a comprehensive portfolio that received so much attention from recruiters and companies.

It's not difficult, but it does require effort. However, if you start working on your projects step by step and in an organized manner, it becomes much easier to assemble and present.

It's important to always provide detailed information about your projects. This was a positive aspect during my hiring process.

They genuinely want to know about the creation process from start to finish.

Case study by Bárbara Niriz

Did you make any changes to your LinkedIn or portfolio that improved your professional connections?

Yes, I did. My portfolio was originally in PDF format. It was good, but not excellent.

So, I delved deeper into the course recommendations and mentoring to organize it better, and it worked out really well.

As a complement to that, something that greatly helped was translating my LinkedIn profile into English and providing detailed information. Previously, I had both Portuguese and English versions. It worked, but when I switched exclusively to English, it made updating easier, and companies began contacting me more and more. Both from local and out-of-state connections.

In fact, that's how I connected with the company I work for today.

What do you think the MID program has provided you regarding the opportunities you've gained?

The course was essential in broadening my mindset and opening up new possibilities for my development.

The methodology and mentorship were highly valuable to me. I used to have a limited perspective focused on graphic design, but with the guidance from the MID, which is centered around the digital field, my vision expanded significantly.

The emphasis on seeking real justifications and evidence-based situations to support my work has also greatly contributed to my growth.

What are your plans for the future?

I intend to continue learning more and more and devote myself to the course, as I am still at the beginning.

I aim to study further and specialize in the field to enhance my decision-making skills. And who knows, maybe even seize new opportunities abroad beyond remote work.

Reading tip: Laws of UX: The Basic Principles of UX Design

What advice would you give to people who want to transition from graphic design to UI/UX product design?

Always keep your goal and purpose in mind regarding what you want to achieve.

Keep learning, dedicate yourself, and have a lot of patience, both in your studies and when it comes to new opportunities.

And most importantly, always keep in mind where you want to go.

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