3 min read - July 7, 2023
Last week, Joanna interviewed her mentor and colleague, Marjan Geerts, about her journey as a Senior UX designer, along with her roles balancing business ownership and motherhood. Marjan is a UX designer with over 15+ years of experience. She is also the founder of UX Coach and a mother of two. But how does she juggle it all? Read and find out!
How long have you been in the UX design field and what inspired you to pursue this field?
"I started working as a design researcher in 2008. I’ve also done different jobs, but digital interfaces were always involved. Some were focused on research, others on functionality, and others in user testing. But the similarity was always user centered and digital interfaces. I did a masters in design interaction, focused on tangible products. Not just digital interfaces. It was a focus on people and products. This made me realized that I enjoy talking to users about their user experiences and I was inspired by the people around me."
As a Senior UX designer, a business owner, and a mother, how do you balance work and life?
"It's not easy, but I try to work in a very structured way. And this is also my advice to other parents that are business owners. I have a very clear calendar. I keep track of how much time I keep on tasks and I do my best not to exceed that time. Thankfully, I feel that as a business owner, I have more freedom to spend extra time with my family. I feel it's a perk that creates flexibility and freedom in my life. I also work during the gaps between family time. But of course, if it’s very busy, I prioritize that time solely to work. I also encourage others to be careful with their time. Prioritize what really matters and be willing to say no."
What do you consider some of the challenges of being a Senior UX designer?
"I think client management can be quite complex. For example, taking clients along the design journey and insuring that they’re pleased with results, while staying within budget. It’s a difficult challenge that sometimes works well, however, sometimes it doesn’t. As a senior UX designer, you’re always in a client facing role. You’re expected to advice them and explain why you did certain things in your design. Communicating consistently and keeping them happy throughout the project. I’m still struggling with this so it’s a work in progress. So be patient."
In your opinion, what are the qualities that differentiates a good UX designer from a great one?
"I think having a clear overview of everything. It's very important that you, as a great UX designer, try to scope the full project. Obviously, not all of it will make sense to you. But it's best practice that you understand, within certain parts of your scope, how most things work. For example, how the navigation works, how its build up, how it works for mobile and desktop, understanding the target groups, etc. Understanding several aspects of the full scope of a project will enable you to know how you can fix something, resolve an issue, or find the solutions necessary for a project and/or design.
Also, a great UX designer is one that recognizes both the business and user goals. They understand that it's not just talk and/or advice based on a user prospective, but they also keep an eye for what the organization wants to achieve. Because combining those two in one concept and design. And last, a great UX designer bases their advice on user data. This is done in order to gain knowledge on what your target users need, what their behavior is, and that you can translate that to the most important decisions in design."