What am I actually doing and why do I like this job?

August 11, 2015

Read time 3 min

I’m Sofia, second year summer employee at Reaktor. I often get this question from my friends and family: What is your work as a user interface designer? My work can be defined in so many ways, so it’s not easy to give an answer. During this summer I’ve been thinking about this even more: what am I actually doing? Why do I like this?

In this blog post I’m trying to clarify these things for both you and me. As said, there is no one right answer, but this is how I see my work right now. I applied to Reaktor’s summer trainee position again because I wanted to learn more and find answers to the previously posed questions.

For me, the easiest, laziest and most understandable way to answer the question “what are you actually doing?” is to say that I draw user interfaces and make interactive paper and Sketch prototypes. This answer is in conflict with my feelings and deeper thoughts. I do like drawing and making prototypes of user interfaces, but there is much more under that level.

Before I can draw any user interfaces or make prototypes, I have to understand the customer needs and the customer field. In addition to this I have to find the real need behind the problem that is being solved during the project. These things need customer interviews, asking the customers (many times) why, when, why, what.

Working as a user interface designer is like being a psychologist who at first tries to understand you as a human and then tries to see your own problems, worry and the action caused by them. In addition to the psychologist’s comparison, I like to compare this work to the work of agents who are trying to solve problems by observing, interviewing and examining backgrounds.

After having met and talked with many people, I’m ready to give my first guess of the solution: the first drawn user interface prototype. Almost never is the first guess the perfect one. Usually it’s too narrow, it doesn’t work in every case and it’s too subjective. After the first prototype there is a need for more validation and customer interviews. These steps are repeated as many times as it takes to have a better solution in my hands.

Drawn user interfaces can be seen and shown but after all, it’s quite small part of the work. What I have found is that a user interface designers work isn’t visible, the work field is huge and it depends on the current situation of a specific project, the customers, the resources, and other variables.

Then a short answer to the second question. I like this work, because:

  • I can help people by solving the problems
  • I have to understand humans
  • I have to see things from many perspectives
  • I’m doing this work with awesome co-workers
  • and, well, I  like to draw lines and play with scissors, tape, markers and paper

After writing this blog post, I recommend you to think about these two questions:

1 What is your work as a [your job]?  

2 What are the things you like about your work?

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