Hello! Who are you? Tell us about yourself. What are you passionate about? What do you enjoy doing?
Hi! I’m Shpetim, a Product Designer working remotely from Pristina, Kosovo. I’ve been working remotely for ~7 years now and enjoying—maybe not every part of it—but surely most of it. I’ve gone back and forth from in-office jobs to remote and vice versa and can safely say that I can be/express myself best working remotely.
I was very passionate about drawing, especially watercolor painting—I would do it all the time. It didn’t matter what I’d draw/watercolor as long as I could make it something I’d like. Sadly, I didn’t draw for years but the creative aspect of expressing myself and the desire to make things look better is still there.
Being passionate about many things is a superpower in our line of work. The creative process is mostly output, that is, most of the time we create things from the hypothetical. And thus, having hobbies that I do for fun, is a source of inspiration or input for me. Those include reading a good book, traveling, playing volleyball/football or snowboarding. Occasionally, getting lost in some fictional world in a video game is a nice change of pace as well, among others.
How did you get started in product design?
I started studying Computer Science and English Literature, but dropped out from both and ended up watching tutorials of people doing image manipulations in Photoshop and would follow along. Never actually thought that that would land me my first real job as a designer.
I started as a Graphic/Web Designer in a Swiss Agency based in Kosovo. I was very keen to learn more about UX/UI and would read a ton because everything fascinated me. Every topic felt like a fresh perspective that would change the way I saw designed objects—be those physical or digital. That got me deeper into Product Design and Psychology, Cognitive and Behavioral Psych in particular. It was world-changing finding myself at the intersection between how people make decisions/behave and designing products.
Having worked on diverse roles and industries throughout my career—while it had its challenges—it was an invaluable experience to be able to fully embrace the role and responsibilities of a Product Designer.
Where do you work today? What is your title?
I work remotely as a Product Designer with a company based in Bielefeld, Germany. The company is Egoditor and the product I work on is QR Code Generator. While QR Codes generally don’t have a reputation for good design, we’re working really hard to make the experience of creating, designing and managing QR Codes the best experience possible, while being considered a leader in the industry. Judging from the growth we had in the last 3 years, I’d say we did a pretty good job.
As a side thing, I mentor and teach UI/UX Design to new designers through CareerFoundry—also a German company, but based in Berlin. It’s been humbling to be able to help others advance their skills, transition from other industries or just navigate through intricacies of becoming a job-ready designer in a very fast-growing and competitive industry. A lot of what I’ve learned about design is through others—be that from articles, books, talks, works etc—so I feel that this is one of the best ways of giving back to the community.
How big is your company? How big is your design team?
We are now just above 40 employees, mostly in our office in Bielefeld, but we also have people working remotely and are actually hiring. When I started, we were 13 or 14, I think. I’m the only Product Designer, but the whole design team consists of 6. Everyone is amazing and I am very proud with what we’ve been able to achieve in the last 3 years.
What types of things are you responsible for day-to-day?
Being the only Product Designer means that I have to be flexible and usually I’m working on two or three projects simultaneously. While this can be challenging, it also means that I’m wearing different hats on different days.
This can depend on the type of project we tackle, but it’s usually me being included from the brief, to problem framing and creating hypotheses to sketching/wireframing, to high fidelity design and prototyping which include animations and micro-interactions. That’s usually for showing/explaining a particular idea to stakeholders, developers or just testing how it feels.
What do you love most about your work?
It’s really hard to pinpoint what I love to one thing only, as it kinda depends on the day. There are times that I just love losing myself into design details and interactions. Sometimes, it’s seeing something that we improved being used by actual people. Other times, it’s just interacting and conversing with some of the smart people I work with.
I guess I love that moment when I have a brief with a problem before me and I get to explore solutions. Often those are wrong solutions but the satisfaction of diverging into different approaches—just to converge on something that can potentially be a good solution, after lots of iterations—that’s what makes me love Product Design. Basically, the process.
What drains you at work?
Decision fatigue, most definitely. While multitasking can also be the cause, most of the time, that’s a productive hack for me. That’s why I always like to have 2-3 on-going projects at a time because when I don’t feel motivated to work on a particular thing, I know that I always have something else. This has worked for me for years.
However, whenever I’m forced to make many decisions throughout a day, it’s always draining for me. Decision fatigue happens to all of us, especially when doing more cognitive work. I try to be very conscious of it and minimize the number of decisions that I have to make per day, but as you can imagine, it’s really hard.
Can you walk us through your typical work day?
|7:00am||Wake up. If I don’t go to the gym, I usually do a 5 – 10 minute stretching session and read for an hour or so.|
|8:00am||Prepare the morning coffee (Turkish Coffee ) for me and my wife. We use this time to chat about anything life or work related.|
|9:00am||Up until recently I just had to change rooms to go to the home office. Now, I actually go to the office, which happens to be in the next building.|
|10:00am||If I have any calls or meetings I usually have them in the morning, up until 11:00am|
|11:00am||This time is usually for actual deep work but it depends, sometimes I start earlier or later.|
|1:00pm||Lunch Time. I try to go eat out just to change the scenery a bit.|
|2:00pm||More actual design work. The best thing about remote is that I don’t have to spend much time in meetings, this way I get to be more productive on the actual craft and designing solutions for different kinds of problems we face daily.|
|6:30pm||I usually wrap-up around 6:30 as my wife gets home around this time as well. We try to sync our schedule to spend the evenings together and one of us being remote—that’s pretty much always possible and I love it.|
Where do you turn for inspiration?
Going back to having many passions, I find that if I don’t take little things for granted there’s inspiration everywhere. Traveling and photographing helps a lot but also just walking throughout a new scenery—real or virtual—can inspire me immensely.
I really like to explore interactions others create, mostly on real apps but also Dribbble and similar sites. I have a tab “Bag of Tricks” which I populate with UI patterns, elements and interactions on a daily basis and go through them often. It’s amazing the amount of idea generation one can do with a big enough backlog.
Recently, I’ve been quite interested into interior design. We got a little office and decided to just do everything ourselves. My wife did the illustration on the wall. While we didn’t do anything fancy, like modeling on a 3D software or something similar, we actually designed the interior ourselves, just to give the whole thing a little bit more personality. This was a really good source of inspiration and something quite different, so a very nice change of pace.
What design or project are you most proud of? (It can be recent or older).
Improving the whole experience of how people use our product for creating, designing and managing QR Codes has been quite something to be proud of. When I started the tool was already quite powerful, but we really stepped up our game on that regard. While, the tool itself is quite complex, with lots of iterations and feedback we managed to create something very powerful, yet very easy to use for the average person.
I always would get that feeling that, as an empathetic designer, I could do more with my skills and work on products that impact people for the better—like designing for health products, social change and so on. I’ve grown to understand and accept the idea that no matter where our impact is, we can always be shepherds and the voice of our users.
Walk us through the design process you used for a recent project (you can pick any project).
We recently improved a very important part of the product. We call it “The Creation Process”. It’s basically a flow where users choose their QR Code type and create it. Since there are quite a few options to choose from, we were aware that users might struggle choosing the right Code type. With that hypothesis in mind, we did some research and gathered enough feedback to validate our concerns.
We synthesize all that feedback into a nice brief and ran it past stakeholders. Then I get into divergent modes of thinking, where I try to go as broad as possible with explorations while keeping in mind the brief and constraints. Even though a lot of times, we end up with the simplest and obvious solution, the exploring phase is paramount to suggest more options as fun alternatives that also act as inspiration for potential innovation.
Working very closely with the PM, we share ideas back and forth a lot before gathering feedback on iterations from stakeholders. Once I do that, then I usually converge into a preferred direction—which means I go in more high-fidelity and work on micro-interactions or prototypes to test flows, ideas, or in general the feel of a particular interaction.
This project or any other project for me doesn’t end with a hand off. I always follow up closely with engineers about any issue they might face and am ready to improvise and if needed even go back and rethink a particular solution. That rarely happens though as we try to involve engineers early in the design process.
When the project is done and ready to go into production, our engineers have a specific task where they assign me to review the implementation, something I thoroughly enjoy.
What career advice do you have for product designers just getting started?
As a Product Designer you will work on a variety of problems that will require you to be very self-aware and conscious about your design abilities, industry-specific skills, and personal experiences in general.
So, learn as many design skills as possible, but be aware of your limits. Educate yourself about the world history, business, psychology etc. And last but not least, understand that everything you learn and all your experiences come with biases attached, so be aware of them and avoid reflecting those on the products you design.
Where’s the best place for folks to learn more about you or follow you?
This year I will also try to be more deliberate about using Dribbble and will probably post more of my works in the upcoming months.