I started as the first designer at Offerista in its history. This meant I had the responsibility to add a whole new perspective to the product development.
Implementing this perspective did not mean to just create designs, prototypes and have a good developer-designer relationship for a great product. It was about planting this new thought about the importance of design into the head of everyone within the company. I needed to think outside of the box and create new concepts and show the other colleagues what possibilities are existing with the resources we have plus my experience. The great thing is, it is actually not hard to make other people appreciate design. All you must do is to just show them what you are capable of:
With all these great things ahead, there were still some struggles. Adding a design department to a company means that the product development process will take longer than before because of course it is an extra step. I needed to constantly balance user goals and business goals and one major thing I learned:
"A good user experience which generates revenue is always better than a great one which is not generating any revenue."
In the end, you need money to keep the lights on, to keep the business running. Sometimes it happens that we designers focus too much on our perspective. But it is not the only one. I know that design and especially user experience are part of a long-term strategy. But it is very important to reach short-term goals such as making profits.
The coolest part of my job at Offerista is to enhance the whole product. It is very easy to find new and better solutions when you are the first person who contributes to a better product by looking at it from a whole new perspective. One major step was to redesign the navigation by reducing it to what is relevant to the user. The old one looked like this:
The old concept was already about three years old and really was not that good. The navigation items were visible all the time, localization was placed within the search bar and the navigation in general was very confusing because you had several navigation systems. Users were navigating all the time instead of consuming content. In the new concept I got rid of all the clutter and implemented a menu which is not visible all the time but offers advanced possibilities when the user opens it. Giving the user more features was not the main objective, though. The most important aspect was to make the navigation more understandable because the website has a quite complex structure (which is necessary and justified).
Working at the company is very different in comparison to working as a freelance designer. I cannot really say which is better, both have its pros and cons and it is just a cool time there within the product team. Working on a product for a long time is something I am currently enjoying instead of designing for a client for maybe two months, passing the whole design over and (maybe) never touching it again.