Interview with Cat Lo
Lo works with clients to help conceptualize their ideas, organize ux/ia of the product, execute, planning of their product design, and maintenance of the product after launch. Check out more of her work on her Behance
Hi Cat, what got your into user design? Where did you career start?
Hello, my name is Cat and I have been a designer for the last 13 years. I have always been interested in design as a kid and I filled my time reading web design books at Barnes and Nobles. I always knew that I wanted to be a designer. I went to school in Maryland, for a Fine Arts major where I spent a lot of time learning the fundamentals, painting, print working, art history and all the influences of design. Straight after college, I moved to New York City. At first, I worked as a Marketing Print Designer which means that I did a lot of collateral, event signage, and marketing materials and a lot of the branding aspect of design. As time moved on, I also started coding and making websites, with CSS and responsive web. For the last five years, I have been an expert at working on IOS development and design. I work closely with developers to spec out the design and figure out what the client wants in terms of what they're looking for in an app, and all the good stuff with app development.
Do you have a philosophy or guidelines you design from? What makes a successful user design?
To talk about the philosophy or the guidelines that I design from, it is very important to understand your customer and to understand the user well. Its the most amount of time that requires a lot of empathy and listening skills. Most of the time people are not able to communicate well what they're looking for, and they're actually not sure what they're looking for when they're coming to you with their problem, that they want you to solve for them, and you are here to provide options, solutions and ideas. A lot of that requires empathy and putting yourself in the client's shoes and getting to know what they're asking for. Sometimes what they're asking for right now at the small scale, is not really their problem. Their problem might be something under the surface. To find out what the route is, you have to be able to ask a lot of good questions. That requires understanding the business or understanding the person well enough for you to make constructive suggestions. With that, it's also very important to set expectations in terms of what the client is looking for next, and understand timelines, and understand how quickly they need to see something. As well as considering, will this client be better off looking at a prototype really early on, so they can feel confident that the project is progressing well and is on track, and also doing good design and making sure that the design is simple, elegant and solving the problem is also very important.
What industries have you focused on and are there any companies or industries you would like to expand into?
Being a designer for the last 13 years I have worked in many industries from small companies, to partnerships, to agencies and big corporate environments. Most of the companies that I've joined were different from each other. This is because I was really interested in seeing how different groups of people, and different companies, operate in terms of their design team and how they get products created or finished. Most of the industries that I tend to lean to are companies that are forward thinking and thinking about what's next. The majority of the companies I've really been into are, media companies which are more about the visual aspect of design, for example HBO or entertainment or TV or movie centric companies. Then I also worked a lot in financial, dashboard enterprise level, and B2B businesses. I've also worked in the healthcare industry and e-commerce is a big one that most people tend to focus on. In terms of what areas I want to expand into, I'm really interested in working with really smart people who are a tight knit group, who are always pushing things forward and doing experimental design systems and other innovative projects. I guess working with robots and voice would be pretty cool.
What are key skills you had to develop on the job?
A lot of the key skills that I have to develop in my job are mostly behavioural skills. A technical skill set is actually quite easy to learn and was an easier adoption for me. This is because the internet is out there and you can search for anything, you can find a YouTube tutorial and they teach you practically anything you need. I think the difficult things to learn are the behavioural aspects, which require caring about the customer, understanding empathy, and asking the right questions. As well as, studying the business problem, doing research and user research on what the problem is, what are the competitors doing to solve the same issue, and what is the right solution that actually fits this particular person compared to what fits with someone else. The key skills also links to knowing the boundaries and balance between providing a solution that is both idealistic and forward thinking. Balancing that with a pragmatic procedure, so that a person is able to have a step by step path to reach their goals and consider if that goal is extremely high and isn't realistic to complete in a short period of time. Those communications skills and presentation of such goals is a very important aspect of being a good designer.
What are you working on right now? Where can we see your design work in 2019?
Currently, I have been working with a client that is on NTA for the last three years. They are actually an oil and gas company in Texas that we create a lot of internal enterprise applications solutions for. There isn't anything I can show on that front. I'm also a big participant in the Adobe Live series, where we use Adobe XD to create different applications and I follow along closely with that software development process, and I am engaged with their product managers on how to manage symbols and reusable components. My latest work for that would be the outer space app that I created in January that I am giving out for free, that you can download from my Twitter account. Which is Twitter.com/CatLo. You can use that app as a jumping off point if you're looking to do any app work in a dark background or something more of an entertainment factor. You can always find my work at behands.com/MissCatLo. I also have a website so you can check that out, but most of my portfolio work goes on be hands.