Ever wondered what a Product Designer does day to day? I’ve spent time with Olga Ciastko, following completion of her 1 year anniversary with Spica Technologies, and am excited to share some insights about her experiences over the past 12 months.
What attracted you to Spica and how did you come to join the team?
I knew someone that worked at Spica and was interested in being involved in an innovative start up organisation.
How did you find the recruitment process?
I applied to a vacancy with Spica, sending my CV and portfolio. After a short time, I received an invitation to attend an interview. I was asked to prepare a presentation in advance. There was also a general Q&A section as part of the interview during which I was asked general questions about my current role and around the design process.
The recruitment process was really clear, and I didn’t have any difficultly with completing what was required. Soon after the interview, I received positive feedback and offer to join the Spica team, so here I am!
What were you doing prior to your current role? (Tell me about your career)
I spent one year on landscape architecture and five years on architecture and urban planning. Mostly I was studying in Krakow in Poland, but I also took a part in Erasmus programme which allowed me to study for one year in Italy and one semester in Spain.
I was working for a few months as an architect before I got the opportunity to start my career as a Product Designer. For the last year and a half of my studies I was focused on learning design and user interface.
What is the most important personal attribute that you bring to your role?
I think that my attention for detail and sense of aesthetic which I enhanced during my architectural career. In my work, I take care not only about the function in terms of how it is working, but also what is really important to me is how it looks and how the user is interacting with it.
What does a typical day look like for you in your role as Product Designer?
I start my work around 9:00 am. Firstly, a quick catch up about the sprint work, because that’s always a priority and it helps me to plan my working day and keep a continuous workflow. I like to set myself a target/ task that has to be completed during the day. Around 12:00 am I have an hour lunch break. It’s a good time to have a catch up with team on things outside of work or just relax a bit. Then I continuing working until almost until 5:30 pm. Every day I have a different amount of work and tasks so it’s never monotonous.
What have enjoyed working on most since joining?
I had already worked on a few different epics during the last year which I loved, and anytime I’m working on something new I feel like it is the best yet. So, I can’t honestly confess which one I enjoyed the most. I would answer that what I’m currently working on; changing the main platform design is the best…until the next epic comes up!
If you had to describe your team in one word what would that be?
We’re a group of different people and everyone brings something new and distinct. And this is not only work related, but also our personalities/interests and many creative ideas. So definitely creative is a good word.
What has surprised you most about working at Spica?
Well, everything is relatively new here for me. I have to say that I was positively surprised about the company and its atmosphere. The really friendly and creative environment improves the work productivity. The other thing, that surprised me a lot and it’s something really motivating for me, is working on really big epics, like the one with page theming, for example, where I had responsibility for all the designs.
Did you know in your early career that this was where you would be at this point?
Definitely not. For a long time I was looking to discover the best career for me that would match my expectations and satisfy me. I started my career as an architect but moving towards the design direction was the best decision for me.
What do you like most about working with new technology?
The constant improvement and lack of monotony.
Have you learned anything new since starting your role as a Product Designer?
There’s a bunch of new things that I’ve learned. Everyday I’m improving my ‘technical’ knowledge about design and its process, best practices and style.
I was also really excited about doing marketing related tasks; movies & short promotion animations. I’ve improved my Adobe After Effects skills and learnt how to do simple changes with voice and sound recording in Adobe Audition.
Name two things you consider yourself to be very good at?
It doesn’t come naturally for me to boast about my skills, but from my manager I have had feedback that I’m good at showing initiative and picking up new technology: I was assigned a task to produce a content marketing video for Spica which is something that as a team they had done previously using software that met their needs but had some limitations in terms of functionality. I showed my initiative by identifying a product in the adobe suite that was new to Spica and much more advanced in its capabilities. I taught myself how to use it and produced a great video with cool animation that we wouldn’t have been able to do using the old software. We now use this better product as standard, and I have provided other team members guidance on using it and our videos have more of a wow factor.
I’ve also been told that I have a good eye for design and application of my ongoing training: I have been working through the mammoth task of redesigning the Spica theme, not once but twice so we have a dark and light mode. While the development work is still in progress the feedback on the designs has been really positive, both internally and from our partners who’ve received an early sneak peak. I have also been doing a number of UI/ UX courses as part of my professional development and have been able to apply the knowledge I have gained from these and from working with the wider team. I test for usability and accessibility best fit as I go and have figured out my own best practise for including this in the design process and refining my work as I go.
What do you like most about working at Spica?
I really like our team activities, because it helps to bring the team together and get to know more about each other, which has a positive impact during the working day, especially on communication and problem resolution.
What is your biggest accomplishment since joining?
I have started with zero experience and with only the knowledge gained from my studies, courses and obviously researching about UX/UI design. Now, after a year of working with Spica my biggest accomplishment is the varied experience that I have gained already. Working with design requires me to be constantly learning & gaining knowledge, but equally important is keeping up with current trends.
What do you like doing in your spare time?
I love travelling and any outdoor activities. Whenever I have a chance to go somewhere, I’m always ready! At least once in a month I try to see something new and visit a place where I haven’t been yet. I enjoy discovering the diversity and culture of different countries during my travels but also reading inspiring blogs and watching vlogs.
If you are thinking of a new challenge in your career this year and are interested in working with a growing and innovative company, please contact me directly or look at the current opportunities on our website.