Working as a Multidisciplinary Designer wearing many hats

Work at a startup and you’ll get to learn a lot. Yes, it will be fast paced and you might end up giving your weekends but it’ll help you grow.

Read further to know how I worked as a Product Designer, Frontend Developer, Backend Developer and Motion Graphics Designer

Its been almost 3 years since I joined my current startup, Innovaccer, as a Product Designer. I was expecting to work on UX research, creating prototypes and mockups, interacting with customers and getting feedbacks, planning marketing etc in a fast paced environment.

But has it ever happened to you that things go as planned ?

I’m glad it didn’t and I got to work on a hell lot of things.
Being a Computer Science graduate, I had a background in web development. Also, my curiosity of learning new things had me introduced to a lot more techs. All thanks to the Computer Society, I was a part of, in the college.

Eventually, I worked unofficially at different roles. I’ll try to jot down my learnings while performing those roles.

Frontend Developer

Many things are being said for designers who code. I believe it is an added advantage since it lets you do a very different kind of research before designing. Things such as feasibility, tech challenges, scalability, code reusability etc. become a part of design thinking which helps in the development life cycle and making the product a success.
As a designer, I’m always keen on providing pixel perfect UIs as per the design including all the functionalities to provide the user a better experience. I worked on different kinds of projects.

  • Landing Pages - (you know those pages you land on when you click a link in the mail !). These were majorly design rich static pages with minimal interactions.
  • Responsive HTML Email Templates - I learnt to use INKY by Foundation for Emails that helped create templates real quick. These templates were for different purposes like newsletters, customer emails, daily data updates etc.
  • Webapps - These were functionality rich applications with integration to backend using RESTful APIs. I learnt a lot while doing these - maintaining UI states, using directives, controllers and other features of Angular Js.
    I was part of two projects - A webapp to compare hospitals in US and other to create User Management in an existing product with Access control logic for permissions.
  • Techs known before this: Foundation 6, jQuery, SaaS, Git, RESTful APIs
  • Techs which I learnt: Angular JS, Google App Engine, Gulp, Bower, npm, browserSync, Foundation for Emails, SVG animation

Backend Developer

Back in the college, I started backend with php but I never liked it. That was the end of backend development for me, I thought. But things had to go other ways, remember “things never go as planned.”

I was given a task to create a small webapp to monitor the productive hours of employees at our startup. This involved integrating google authentication and creating APIs for the frontend to save the data in MongoDB.

Fun Fact: Remember the infamous MongoDB ransomware attack ? Incidentally, it happened to be after a week of my learning mongoDB and I insisted on our engineers to have an auth on the api endpoints as they were public prior to it. Saved the day. Pat on the back.

  • Techs known before this: php
  • Techs which I learnt: python basics, mongoDB

Motion Graphic Designer

Static Illustrations never gave me a feeling of satisfaction. They somehow lack in providing the feel and information. Also, an application without UI micro-interactions is like a song without any music. I started my journey with VFX during college. Yes i was obsessed with Hollywood !
Here I created small UI interactions for the developers and motion graphics for the website.

  • Techs known before this: After Effects, CSS Animation
  • Techs which I learnt: Airbnb’s Lottie, SVG Animation, Invision Studio

Product Designer

Well, I was hired as one so obviously I was responsible for

  • gathering requirements from the PMs, stakeholders, customers etc.
  • Brainstorming and creating sketches
  • Creating user personas, user journeys with behavioural traits, empathy maps, mood boards, information system
  • Maintaining design library
  • Creating mockups and prototyping
  • Gathering feedback
  • Planning marketing and business with the stakeholders
  • Techs known before this: Photoshop, Illustrator, Sketch
  • Techs which I learnt: Invision, Zeplin, Abstract, Invision Studio, Framer,

All of this helped me improve my skills and made me have a better understanding of the product development journey at each step. This allows me to communicate better with my teammates, have empathy towards them and create awesome user experiences.