What led you into design?
Since I was a kid, I loved all types of visual expression. At age 15, I learned about graphic design and knew that I wanted to pursue that career.
After getting my design degree, I worked at various agencies doing 3D, advertising, and branding. But my first steps into product design actually happened with physical products at a cookie company ideating anything from the product’s flavor, shape, brand name and packaging. I loved testing my creations with people and see their reactions.
On the side, I learned to design and code websites. At first for fun, and later I was getting paid to do it full-time. My then boyfriend (now husband) introduced me to the concept of digital product design. I discovered that I could combine my interests in technology, people and design.
The only way to learn was by doing. I joined a product agency, where I had great mentors who put me on the right track to learn more, and eventually, lead full projects.
I moved to the Bay Area from Mexico 5 years ago, and now I'm a Lead Designer working on mobile for PayPal.
What does a typical day look like?
I wake up at 6:45 to catch up with the news before my son wakes up. After the family morning rituals (shower, breakfast and daycare drop-off), I head out to the office.
Once I'm there, I get a cup of tea, look at my calendar, and make notes on things to do for the day. Around 10:00, I attend stand-ups or team meetings and carve at least an hour of work that needs context-switching: update project documents, emails, design QA and reviews.
I like to read during lunch at noon, and sometimes take a walk just to be away from my computer for a few minutes.
In the evening, I tend to feel less energized. I try to focus on design for at least 2 hours, with the occasional meeting.
I'm out by 5:00 PM, to pick up my son from daycare or make dinner. We spend time together playing and talking about our day. I watch TV or read before bedtime, and I’m asleep by 10:00 PM.
What’s your workstation setup?
I like to keep my workspace clean and clutter-free. A big display or two, both at the office and home, noise cancelling headphones, notebook, pens, water and a mighty mouse are all I need. In the evenings, I like to change scenery, and work from one of many outdoor spaces at the office.
As a designer working on mobile, I switch context a lot between my personal Android and my work iOS phone, as I'm always testing app builds.
Where do you go to get inspired?
I also rely a lot on the O’Reilly online library at work to learn about specific UX topics. I’m currently reading “UX Strategy” by Jaime Levy.
I have a thing for beautiful typography and editorial design. I love how timeless The New Yorker is in that sense, both the magazine and the web portal. It’s fascinating to see how they are bringing together editorial and digital design with augmented reality.
Augmented reality video:
What product have you recently seen that made you think this is great design?
My Bose wireless headphones app. I was really hesitant to pay for them until I experienced the seamless pairing. I was delighted when the app asked me to assign them a nickname and helped me with suggestions. It completely made sense!
Prevented the problem of not knowing what device to pair when there are many devices around.
It’s not only the sound. The hardware works perfectly every time. I can switch between my laptop and my phone without losing the connection. Those small details really make a difference in the experience.
What pieces of work are you most proud of?
In retrospective, the work done during the past two and a half years with the PayPal Business App makes me very proud, as I’m contributing to make a small business owner’s day a bit easier.
It makes me very happy to hear during customer interviews that the app makes someone’s business possible. They don’t have to be in front of their computer to send an invoice or check their sales activity.
A big goal on my design team this year have been to bring focus on the tasks and information people need to accelerate their payment process. Our next goal is to help the app scale as a platform.
What design challenges do you face at your company?
In a company with more than 100 designers around the world, it can be hard to keep up with all the different moving pieces that every designer is working on. I need to be proactive and look beyond my own area of work so I can anticipate changes. Our leaders support us coordinating continuous share outs that help with visibility across all teams.
What music do you listen to whilst designing?
Any advice for ambitious designers?
Being uncomfortable is good: It means that there’s an opportunity to grow. When you feel bad because you don’t know something or get not-so-great feedback on your work, ask for help or look for answers. Pushing yourself even if it doesn’t feel nice will pay off.
Help and listen to others: People will remember and give back what you did a thousand times.
Keep learning: It will keep your brain creative, your ideas flowing, and opportunities open.
Anything you want to promote or plug?
You can find me on Twitter as @agridulce or on my website liliantellez.com.
I’m always open to chat about design!