Ana Santos

UX Educator & Learning Experience Designer

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What would you do, if you weren't working as a designer?
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I'd be a speculative fiction writer... or a teacher (now I can teach design and do both).
What design tool do you currently use?
Adobe XD #proudambassador
What's your favorite band or artist to listen to while designing?
I don't think I have a specific one. I end up listening mostly to lounge / Lo Fi / focus music which is far from what I'd typically listen to in a different setting
Your favorite font? :-)
Favorite book or movie (non-design related)
Too many, so let me pick one: Blade Runner (movie); Norwegian Wood (book) but anything by Haruki Murakami and Neil Gaiman really
What's your favorite color in hex or RGBa? (gradients are allowed too)
What was your first real/paid design project and when did you make it?
It was probably some banner or header design for $20 while doing an unpaid internship at the same time; and that's more than 10 years ago
If you could write something on the loading screen of all design tools, so all designers can see it, what would it be?
Design is iterative — don't worry about making it perfect.
Did you study design, or are you self taught? And how did that path influence your work style?
I do have a degree in Design, and also completed so many courses through the years. I love learning! I didn't lose hopes in formal education yet (in fact, I'm now doing my Master Degree in Education) but honestly, I'd say that when it comes to UX, I'm mostly self-taught. I think in terms of work style, it made me aware of how much there still needs to be done once you complete your degree, so my work mindset is that you never stop learning -- while on the job as well! Every project is different, and I even learn from my own students, it's amazing really.
The biggest innovation in product design right now is...
Immersive design! There's already so much being done with VR, AR and MR.
With all the current experience, what would you tell yourself when you were just starting out?
It's okay to not feel excited about your work all the time. It's okay to say "no" to projects that don't align with you. It's okay to not always have the answers. It's okay to think differently.
What do you think is the biggest problem in the design industry right now and how can it be fixed?
The lack of regulation in the UX field — the fact that is an unregulated field, not even an "official" code of ethics — makes it sometimes too open to interpretation. It also makes it incredibly difficult to navigate through the options or even advocate UX within the workplace. While a diversity of perspectives should always be welcome and any field is subject to ongoing research, there's just too much that is open to interpretation when it comes to UX at this moment: UX roles are open to interpretation. UX education is open to interpretation. The way people recruit for UX is also open to interpretation.
Conversation resumed: Jul 1
What do you think about Google starting their own UX Course? Do certificates like this look convincing if you ever planned to hire a junior designer?
I think certificates can't prove anything, especially in a non-regulated field like UX. No one can "certify" you. But I do value the mindset around learning, whether that's taking Coursera courses, degrees, informally, etc... That, however, requires you to think beyond taking a course just for the sake of certification. So there's value in that. I value education, and I value experience. Theory and practice are equally important. A lack of a theoretical foundation cannot be replaced with years of experience; sometimes it can even lead to doing certain things "wrong" (for many years). That being said, theory is not only about certificates and formal education. You can be self-taught and learn on your own -- absolutely. As long as a junior designer can show me that they know (theory) and they can do (practice), regardless of their education or experience, then that's what I'm looking for. So in the end, it doesn't matter to me if you have a certificate, but if that certificate helped you obtain the skills you need, then that was the path that got you here.
What’s your favorite non-design activity?
Reading fiction, ideally on a beach or idyllic setting
How can people learn design better? What should they focus on the most?
Keep yourself updated, subscribe to news, blogs, etc. Be aware of what people are talking about and be open to different perspectives about the same topic. If you don't do this type of research constantly, it'll be more difficult to justify your decisions and opinion -- and you need to have one. You need to take a stance on certain topics, even if it feels scary — this is what will make you grow as a designer. Think about it as "literature review", and don't be afraid to give credit: besides being the right thing to do, it gives you credibility. Never apply something you don't understand; challenge things constantly. There's not "one" single right way to approach a project, there's not "one" design process, mentors / teachers / experts don't have "the" answer for you. Think about important topics, and what can we do to make things better? Inclusion, accessibility, equity. We all have a responsibility for what we put out there.