Lily
Bather

Lily is a User Experience Designer living in Berlin. Passionate about social causes like Feminism, Equality and Animal Welfare.

Berlin, Germany • August 29, 2022

What led you into design?

I got into UX almost by accident. After graduating from Design School in 2015, I knew I had a passion for Editorial Design and Typography, so at the time I wanted to pursue a career as a Typographer or maybe work at a Fashion magazine. Instead, I was faced with the tough reality and incredible challenge of finding a job in Mexico City as an entry level designer with zero experience. 

After applying to what felt like a million jobs, for all kinds of positions, I landed an interview with a consulting company that was hiring a UI designer to work on a project for a big international company. To be honest, I’m still not sure what they might have seen in my portfolio that hinted I could do UI design – since at the time I didn’t. But after a design challenge showcasing my skills and my English, since the position was in the US, I ended up getting the job.

When I started this job, it felt like fixing a plane while I was flying it. Not only did I have to learn everything I could for this position in record time, I simultaneously had to deliver quality UI for a big company project. I learned something one day and applied it the next. And honestly, I loved it.

It was only after this, that I really started taking an interest in digital design and User Experience. I took a couple of certification courses and eventually moved into a full-time UX position. Now after doing UX for 7 years I can say, there's nothing else I'd rather do.

What does a typical day look like?

I can say that, for the most part, I am a creature of habit. I get some coffee as soon as I get up, and I listen to my favourite podcasts while I’m getting ready. Usually it’s This American Life, or Hidden Brain. Though sometimes I do shake up my morning routine by listening to Stuff You Should Know instead.

On the days I go into the office, I do a few Duolingo lessons on the train on my way to work. Ich lebe jetzt in Deutschland also muss ich deutsche lernen! My morning mantra, 'I live in Germany now, so I must learn German'.

I feel really lucky because my current job has a beautiful office in the heart of Berlin with a stunning view of the Berlin Skyline. Typically, first thing in the morning, I’ll have my team's stand-up where I get to meet with my team to share updates for the day before we move on to our daily tasks.

I work on a consumer facing product, so usually when starting a new task I like to start by reading customer comments and reviews. These help me to refine the customer problem, identify opportunities and understand the product metrics. This discovery and empathy phase is the part of UX that I really love because I get to uncover the root of customer problems. Then, I get to collaborate with many different people including product managers, data analysts, developers, and researchers to solve those problems in creative ways.

I generally first design low fidelity wireframes, socialize them, and iterate on them. Later in the process, I integrate components from our UI Design System Library. And in the last stage, I work on designing high fidelity wireframes for our development team.

A lot of my job is to communicate intent and provide clarity.

Sometimes if I’m running a little low on inspiration I love scrolling on Dribbble, sipping on some coffee or reading some design articles. Seeing what other designers are doing and working on gives me a lot of energy.

Later in the day after work, I take German classes and I focus on my own projects, like building design libraries, publishing design resources or doing other forms of art. 

What’s your workstation setup?

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Where do you go to get inspired?

Honestly, it is a real treat to walk outside my home every morning, and I don’t just mean from the perfectly reasonable perspective of “it’s so inspiring to be alive”! I truly believe that as a designer, Germany is emblematic of so many remarkable design movements, movements that I remember inspiring me even as a design student. 

Starting with Berlin – Berlin is a city that has been so heavily influenced by transformational design over the years. From the Bauhaus to the old Bavarian architecture to the East Side Gallery street art, it’s fascinating to me that in this city, you can find a mix of the most iconic samples of traditional design as well as modern contemporary art.

Berlin is also so rich in beautiful typography. For example, street signage everywhere has the DIN typeface that I learned about in Design School. And in contrast, it also has samples of Beautiful Blackletter Grotesk signage in some S-Bahn stations. I didn’t include this in “my typical day” but you can bet that whenever I see these interesting fonts I find “in the wild”, I’ll be snapping a photo!

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My love and interest for German design took me to visit Dessau, home of the Bauhaus. It’s a small city a couple of hours SouthWest of Berlin. And this meant so much to me. 

I had a class in college called Historia del Diseño, and I clearly remember the day when I learned about the Bauhaus, about Walter Gropius’ vision for design, and for a new society. I remember thinking to myself: What a dream to have been a student at the Bauhaus! To get to live and to study there. Our teacher showed us pictures of the very simple rooms where students lived, and I still remember THAT feeling, that inspiration.

In Dessau, I was lucky enough to attend a Lecture at the Anhalt Hochschule, by Prof. Brigitte Hartwig, on the Redesign of the The Berlin Rapid Transit Network in Berlin, and I think I felt that magic again. ✨

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What product have you recently seen that made you think this is great design?

Probably a very cliché answer, but I have to go here with an Apple product. Specifically, the design of the Apple Park campus in California and the Infinity Loop. 

I believe that, in the most academic sense, when we talk about “Great Design”, and what design pioneers like Dieter Rams defined it to be, Apple has to be at the top of it in every way. 

As a UX Designer, I am also a big fan of the Apple Human Interface Guidelines.

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What pieces of work are you most proud of?

7NOW App - The 7-Eleven 7NOW app. Get your favourites delivered in under 30 minutes. 

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HomeToGo - T-shirts and Slogan for the Pride Parade at HomeToGo 

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TYPOGRAPHY - Florence, a basic font family I designed. Available for download.

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ART: Landscape Watercolours from Texas and Berlin.

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What design challenges do you face at your company?

A challenge that I believe many technology companies deal with, that isn’t specific to my company, is the lack of female representation in general, and particularly in leadership positions. Gender diversity is something that is very obvious, but is only one aspect of a much bigger conversation on diversity. 

How might we as an industry work towards more inclusive opportunities for designers of different genders, ethnicities, backgrounds, etc? This challenge is hard to solve, since true diversity has so many meanings. 

Though difficult to solve, I’d like to see all technology companies start taking more bold steps forward into improving diversity through better hiring processes.

Here’s an article that I found by Sofya Polyakov, a design leader who I really admire: Don’t call me a girl boss.

What music do you listen to whilst designing?

Any advice for ambitious designers?

Don’t obsess about learning Figma.

And by that I mean, there's so much more to UX design than a design tool. 

Tools evolve all the time and by the time you’ve mastered one, it will likely get replaced. Instead, focus on learning skills that are timeless:  Learn about Usability Patterns, about Human Interaction, Aesthetic fundamentals, learn to be a good storyteller and practice Creative thinking. These skills will always set you apart, even when others are better at a certain tool. 

Let other designers inspire you. 

I am of the belief that ‘Iron sharpens iron’ and there’s no better way to improve yourself than to surround yourself with talented people. I learn so much from my peers and colleagues, past and present. I love knowing what they’re doing and the projects that they’re working on.

I think they trigger Imposter Syndrome in me, but in the best possible way. Designers around the world inspire me with their work to be better, to work harder, to share and to grow.

We’re really lucky to get to work in a field that runs on collaboration and on shared creativity.

Take all feedback with a grain of salt

Designers that are good at taking feedback always end up being the best designers. But, that doesn’t mean you’ll always receive constructive, thoughtful, friendly, or valuable feedback. In fact, people who are good at giving meaningful feedback are very rare. Learn how to objectively parse through feedback and criticism, and you’ll be a killer designer.

Anything you want to promote or plug?

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