We The People | Viviane Leezer

Happy Friday, everyone! It's a week until Christmas, and everyone here at Fidel is excited about our remote, socially-distanced, holiday party later today. I, for one, am extremely excited to be able to interact with my coworkers in a more relaxed setting, even If remote. After all, this whole interview series spanned from my desire to meet the people here at Fidel, over a cup of coffee.

This week's chat was extremely enlightening for what goes on behind the shiny things we're building, and that's because I talked to Viviane Leezer, our Brand and UI Designer. In case you haven't been reading up on our endeavours here, she's one of the many, many people that made our shiny new Dashboard! And she's told me all about the process we use here at Fidel when creating a new design!

A: Tell me a bit about yourself.

Hi! 👋 I’m Viviane, and I’m a Brand and UI Designer at Fidel. Originally I'm from The Netherlands, but currently, I live in the heart of London.

There are no boring one-size-fits-all designs in my portfolio. Visuals that resonate with an audience and that can communicate a message is what I am all about. Especially designs in which I can think strategically. At Fidel, I am constantly translating services and products into narrative visual experiences that solve user needs. Making data-informed creative solutions.

I’m obsessed with design, and it's more of a way of life for me. Even when I was a young child, I was always busy creating or illustrating something, it’s just finding the time to make it all that’s the hard part. If I am not designing, I am probably out hitting the gym, hanging out with friends or visiting the pubs. I am particularly fond of comedy pubs and jazz clubs. So much so that I even moved next to a Jazz club! Can’t wait to visit it when the pandemic is over. Check out my Instagram should you want to check out some of my work.

A: Why did you join Fidel?

Viviane: What attracted me to Fidel was the international and diverse company environment. Fidel embraces diversity and different ways of thinking. With colleagues from all kinds of nationalities/backgrounds. Specifically, Fidel's company value on honesty resonated the most with me. Fidel offers a safe environment where everyone is allowed to voice their thoughts. This allows for meaningful, productive conversations. Everyone should be able to speak their minds, offer opinions - even when they differ with leaders. And anyone should be able to stop the “assembly line” if they see a problem. If you feel safe to disagree you can hear another person’s perception which might allow us to open our eyes to new perspectives and ideas. That is what innovation is all about in the first place, getting out of your comfort zone and finding solutions to problems you might not have considered before.

A: What’s your current design process?

Viviane: I evaluate the brief to make sure which visual goals and KPI's we need to hit for a project. This way on a conceptual level I already can tackle our team or our user’s main concerns and needs on a visual level while also aligning the team itself. Having a strong vision that is agreed upon as a team is very important. This will set up a healthy communication foundation which is incredibly necessary when you are high performing in a team dynamic, which needs strong collaboration with tight deadlines. It also ensures that you are not just “making pretty things” but also addressing the user needs and ROI.

In general I have these steps:

  1. I determine the main key stakeholders.
  2. Discover phase: insight into the problem: Stakeholder interviews, Design sprints, workshops
  3. Define - The area on which we should focus upon: Research, task analysis, feature prioritisation, target audience, Competitor analysis, Functional spec, Content requirements, personas, journey maps, Storyboards.
  4. Develop - Potential solutions: UX/Visual design, Flow sketches, sitemaps, wireframes, prototypes, testing and iterations, stylescapes, moodboards, visual concept development.
  5. Deliver - Solutions that Work: Final Digital/UI design, style guides, branding, illustration, animation, handoff development.

It looks like this diamond design thinking process chart.

A: What are some of the most interesting challenges you’re solving?

Viviane: Fidel is scaling hard, and the design team is diligently working on setting up a healthy design culture within the company. The culture promotes the kind of creativity and innovation required to succeed because what the company produces is a direct reflection of our organisational structure in most instances.

This means setting up new design work processes, way of working, user interviews/research, branding guides and design systems. It’s building this foundation and setting up a strong creative vision that is the most challenging part. Because this means that as a designer, you need to advocate for design and help non-designer team members be part of this journey. Fidel is now setting up this foundation for it and being part as a cornerstone of the beginning stages of this phase is exciting though a huge challenge.

Another tough challenge is also setting up a good rebrand for our current website and setting up a design system. We got a lovely and shiny new dashboard that we launched, and we hope that in 2021 we can do the same for our website.

A: What is your favourite thing about working at Fidel?

Viviane: What I like about Fidel is that there are many challenging aspects of my role, and that makes it versatile. I am very passionate about what I do. So I need a challenging role or else I will get bored. An example of this aspect is that I am allowed and am strongly encouraged to push the briefs that I receive to something more creative. Usually, the briefs are written by team members who are not designers, so changing the brief to push the team to address greater concerns and goals is always on my agenda.

A: How do you keep up with current trends and advances in design?

Viviane: There are always the classic inspiration sites such as https://dribbble.com/, https://www.awwwards.com/, Pinterest, muzli, https://uxdesign.cc/, 99u.adobe.com, https://thefutur.com/, https://www.itsnicethat.com/ etc. that I visit. That said sometimes it is good to just leave that computer screen with all those blogs behind.

When you follow too many design feeds online it can cause you to be stifled in your creativity because when you follow the latest trends, you can lose sight of your own vision since you are just copy-pasting what everyone else is doing. Trends just come and go and fade away.

Therefore it is so important that designers go outside (after the pandemic is over) and meet other designers and find inspiration at design meetups, design conferences and museums. Learning about other designers' processes, how they solve problems and how they view design is far more likely to influence me and inspire me instead.

Equally important as designers are to also just nurture hobbies that have absolutely nothing to do with design. Because it is with having other interests that help you learn more about yourself and help you find your own creative voice and style. In design, you have to be original, and it is when you become a more well-rounded person with your own interests and unique views that your designs level up and begin to embody that too.

A: Any tips for people that want to join you at Fidel?

It's good to keep in mind that we have a strong remote work culture as such, it is really important to have good communication skills. For designers applying to Fidel, please show your process on how you made your designs. Just showing a few snapshot images of the final product in your portfolio isn't enough. We want to see how you think and work. That said, don't neglect to show the end solutions and designs in a flattering way. Presentation and aesthetics do matter. Design in products is bought to be used. It has to satisfy certain criteria, not only functional but also psychological and aesthetic.

An interview is a two-way conversation. So please read up on the company values, read up on our work culture, products and ask a lot of questions. Fidel wants people that fit the company, and this can only happen when both candidate and interviewer can see if it is a match.