Katka Adam Škrabeková: You'd be surprised at how much you can learn by observing your day-to-day experiences
Before joining Sudolabs, Katka worked for a chain of co-working spaces cultivating both the local and global tech community. Technologies became part of her day-to-day life and along the way she became interested in UX/UI design. In this blog, we discuss her journey from Community Management to Product Design.
Before joining Sudolabs as a Product designer, you worked as a Community/Event manager. Why such a career change?
At the end of summer 2021, I moved to Brussel from Bratislava. I knew that with the “big move” I will have to find a new job as well. And since I was able to take some time off, it was the perfect opportunity to reflect and decide on what I want to do next. I loved being a Community manager, but after some deliberation, I realized I wanted to pursue a more substantial career where I wouldn't have to be tied to a specific place.
Tell us more about the journey.
I was always drawn to positions centered around people with more or less the same end goal. To make their life easier and everyday experiences better. Right before Sudolabs, I was working for a chain of co-working spaces cultivating both local and global tech communities. Technologies became part of my day-to-day life and along the way, I became interested in UX/UI design. I knew I wanted to learn more and eventually I did. At the beginning of 2020, I took part in a 5-month long digital boot camp learning about Digital products. But then the pandemic hit and it did not even cross my mind, that I should quit my job and start a completely new career, so I put it all on hold.
Fast forward two years later. I am jobless in a new country, so when if not now? Am I right?
Did you find it more difficult without any graphic design background?
Having a background in graphic design would definitely give me a certain advantage as I had to work on honing my core design skills on top of everything else. But product design is not just about “making things pretty” and the strategy precedes aesthetics, even though they go hand in hand. So the way I try to look at it is, that I was able to start with a clean slate and learn how to design with purpose right from the beginning.
For example, let’s look at Dribbble (*a social platform for designers). You can find there many beautiful and creative designs, but often they don’t serve their objective, and most probably they would not create a good digital experience for their users.
What was the most challenging part of your career change?
To figure out how to start and what to learn first. I had some previous experience with building digital products, but in two years I forgot almost everything and I had to go back to square one. The problem is, that demand for Product designers is high and naturally there are hundreds of courses and boot camps to choose from and many of those are based primarily on theory. It’s important to understand the design principles, but it’s more important to be able to apply them.
I spent a crazy amount of time watching content about layouts, colors, and typesetting without being able to create something decent. When in reality, the only thing which could actually make me grow was to practice. So that’s what I am focusing on right now.
You mentioned you currently live in Belgium. How did you end up working at Sudolabs?
I first learned about Sudolabs working as a Community manager. They approached us about a potential partnership and I remember being super excited about working together. It’s hard to explain, but I immediately got this feeling that this has to be a great place to work. When I started to learn Product design, it was a no-brainer that Sudolabs was going to be the first place I will apply to once I would be “job ready”. Lucky for me I got hired and working here for almost 9 months I can say, that I was 100% right. It truly is a great place to work.
When you say Sudolabs is a great place to work, what do you mean by it?
From my perspective, it ticks all the right boxes. People, culture, flexible working hours, the approach to work, and the list goes on. Of course, nothing is perfect, but I love the fact that I was given 100% autonomy and trust from day one and a platform to try and learn different things. If you would tell me a year ago that I would be doing no code / low code development I would most probably laugh. And look at me now, learning how to transfer my designs into functioning websites.
What are the biggest obstacles for you to get project done? (technical, client...)
The design is probably never truly done (hahaha) and you could change, improve and iterate things forever. So finding the right balance between the project scope, clients’ preferences, budget, and timeline, while delivering a great design can be a real challenge.
Where do you get your inspiration?
I try to keep my eyes open all the time because you can find inspiration literally everywhere. I enjoy going to galleries, walking through nice neighborhoods and scrolling through Pinterest. Or looking at different websites and apps. But you would be surprised how much you can learn just by observing your day-to-day experiences. At the post office, shopping or just looking at the way the team collaborates behind the bar at your favorite coffee shop during the peeks hours.
It’s all about paying attention to what is happening around me. What works. What doesn't and why? How it makes me feel. Is it just me or other people as well? Is there something that could be done to improve this specific experience? If yes what it is? For me, it’s about going beyond “the usual” and having an observant mind.
What tools do you use?
For the most part it’s Figma. Like 99% of the time (haha). And when starting a new project I cannot imagine creating a color palette without ColorSpace or Coolors.co. I also enjoy going offline, grabbing pencils, markers, and watercolors to get my creativity rolling.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Sweets and trashy television. And it’s best when combined together.
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