Today’s Tech Role Model is Una Kravets. Una is an international public speaker, technical writer, and the Director of Product Design at Bustle Digital Group, where she oversees UI/UX of Bustle, Elite Daily, Romper, and The Zoe Report. Una has written for various online publications such as A List Apart, 24 Ways, Smashing Magazine, and SitePoint, and started both the DC and Austin Sass Meetup groups. She also co-hosts the Toolsday developer podcast and has a Youtube video series which features videos about about life, fashion and tech.
What’s your official title and how long have you been in this role?
I’m the Director of Product Design at Bustle Digital Group, and I’ve been here for 9 months (having started January 2018)
What attracted you to this director of product design role?
I was really interested in taking a more involved and overarching approach to product design in my next role (which led me here). I also loved that I get to work on the Engineering team and get to use my multidisciplinary background (in both design and web engineering) every day.
Walk me through a typical day in your role. What activities do you engage in? What types of meetings do you join? When’s lunch?
I’m mostly designing via writing code during the day. I work on both large and small projects. Larger projects include redesigns, the visual aspects of product migrations, or ideating and building new products that will be used by designers and editors across properties. So when I’m doing this kind of work, I’m checking in with product management and stakeholders intermittently.
Some days though, I’m just fixing UI bugs, resolving support tickets, and making sure everything is in place. I don’t have a lot of meetings, but the meetings I do have, I try to keep short, concise, and end with an action item. Lunch is usually in the office, with the engineers getting together to chat and work in the same space for a little while.
What skills/technologies help you succeed?
Having a background in computer science and graphic design (I went to college for both) certainly helps. Continuing to learn web development as its evolved over the last couple of years has been important in keeping up with technologies and trends. Learning new interaction patterns and design trends is critical, as well as having a foundation of web accessibility and the render tree.
What’s the most fun or creative part of your director of product design role?
I feel like my role is generally very creative. Designing new features is just as creative as coming up with resolutions for bugs.
What are the biggest challenges you face in this role?
Some of the projects I work on can involve complex visual systems. For example, a part of what I do is make sure every type of component works in every type of containing element, on every type of page, without breaking anywhere. With growing codebases, this becomes increasingly challenging.
What’s an area where you’re trying to grow in your director of product design role?
I’m always working on improving my technical skills to make me a more effective developer across the stack. I think in today’s world, having the ability to code gives a designer a lot of power.
Aside from technical skills, what personality traits/characteristics make for an ideal candidate in your role?
The ability to creatively solve problems and be organized is important. I use to-do lists to keep my life in order.
In your director of product design role, what metrics define success?
That really depends on the goal of the project! And the metrics that determine meeting the project goals are probably the most important. Time management and shipping on time play a key role as well.
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