Tips & advice for junior product designers
Meet Galuh Akhdandika who works as a product designer in one of the biggest tech e-commerce unicorns in Indonesia. Hear about his journey, folio tips, recommended books and more on how to become a good product designer.
Meet the makers is a new DrawKit blog series where we will share interviews with people that can inspire the DrawKit community- whether it's designers, developers, illustrators and more. Enjoy our first episode! If there is anyone you would like us to interview (Even yourself), contact us and we will extend our special invitation to them.
Guest Interview - Galuh Akhdandika
Product Designer from Indonesia
Galuh's favourite Kit
Of course Figma!
Q1. So Galuh, nice to meet you! Please introduce yourself to the DrawKit community, what do you do and maybe a snippet of your career journey/history?
Hello everyone! Let me introduce myself, my name is Galuh Akhdandika and you can call me Gal or Luh. Hmm… Talking about my career journey- It will be a long story, but I'll make it as short as possible.
My career started when I was still in college. Fun fact, before I became a UI/UX Designer, I was a front-end developer. I started learning product design in 2019. I was self-taught, I did not join bootcamp or something like that, I was purely learning the fundamentals on the internet and also by reading books. Trust me, you can learn anything right now on the internet if you want to know and are always curious about what you want to learn. Just try to search ‘How to learn UI/UX’ on Google, and boom! Google will give you a lot of resources for you to start learning about UI/UX. Okay, let's jump to the career journey folks.
The journey started when I got my first job as an intern at BKN as a UI/UX Designer. However, I did not learn a lot of product design, so I would skip this part…
The second milestone was when I was joining an education startup in Indonesia, which is named Sekolah.mu. I am really happy to have joined this company and also the team. Because there, I learnt a lot. I learnt how to manage a product, how to communicate with lots of people, how to collaborate with product and tech teams, and stakeholders. Most importantly, I learnt how to be a critical designer, asking questions, curious and to be a neat, detailed, and very well-documented designer.
And now, my current career is at one of the big tech companies in Indonesia. [Sorry I can say my company’s name because I need permission from management if I want to mention it, but if you want to know where I'm working on, the clue is the marketplace with green colour. *winks*]. The journey has just begun and I think it will be a rollercoaster and also a fun journey. In addition, I also became a part of the biggest design community in Indonesia, Halodesigners. My responsibility for this role is to manage the content for Halodesigners instagram and medium. Yeah, I think that's all the story from me.
Q2. What made you decide to pursue a career in product design?
I decided to pursue a career in the product design industry because of my curiosity about making digital products from scratch. I’m curious about how a product comes to be- from when the designer works on the sketches to the point when the designer hands over the finished designs to the developers for production. Apart from that, I also have a passion for the product management industry. I also see that this industry in Indonesia has just started and the chance to become a product designer is wide open.
Q3. What does your day to day look like so that people who are curious know what a product designer actually does on a daily basis?
Contrary to the popular belief, the day to day as a product designer involves more thinking than designing itself.
Understanding the brief
We as designers need to know about the necessary information that relates to this project. We need to understand and define the design problems, asking the PM “What are the problems that we are trying to solve?” This question is the key to the understanding process. Because if the product manager can identify problem statements and data to support that, as the designers we can be more confident in doing the task. But, if the problems come from the assumptions, we as designers should validate those assumptions first. The key is, always be curious about the task. You can also use my template to help you understand the project or the brief quickly- the 4W+1H
- Use why to understand the problems
- Use who to know the target or the audience will be use this feature
- Use what to define the goals of the project
- Use when to understand the timeline of the project
- Use how to know about what you should do for the next step
Determine the feature
After I understand the brief, I will then start to determine the features we want to build. There are a few things I have to do. At this stage, as the designer I should know the specific problems. I always see the problems from the ‘Helicopter View’ or some will say to see the problem with 360 degree perspective first and then focus on the problems with small scopes to make it easier to understand.
Remember, design always has a flexible process because the process depends on the constraint and also the problems you face.
Then, if I already get the problem statement, user flow, user journeys or more. I will move on to the next stage, which is the ideation stage. In this stage as the designer I can start to build some features for answering the problems that I already got in the second process. And also in this stage too, I as a designer will take the time to do a lot of design explorations, and then ask the other designers to get feedback on them. If they have feedback, I will do some iteration for my design. And on this stage i’ll give an update to my product manager and also my design leader about the process of the ticket to make them keep updated about what i'm doing.
I think that's the day-to-day for me as a product designer. I spend most of my time thinking about how to solve problems, conceptualising the design, exploring the design, designing the feature (Interface), gathering feedback, and then iterating the design. If the UX process is done, I can go through the prototype stage and then do some testing (Usability testing) to test the usability of my design.
Q4. From your experience, what traits make a good or not so good product designer?
The product designer exists to solve the users’ problems. If you want to be a good product designer, you should become a problem solver. Not only a problem solver, you should know how to communicate the problems, collaborating with a lot of people, responding to the feedback, and becoming a good listener.
Q5. What is the favourite thing about your role right now?
I love this role because this role is helping others to solve their problems. Not only that, I love this role because I really like to interact with a lot of people and collaborate with a lot of teams.
Q6. A lot of people are getting into product design, UI/UX- it only gets more popular from here on- do you have any tips or advice for those who are looking to enter the industry?
If you want to become a UI/UX Designer, my tips are:
- Don’t ever get tired of learning, because the movement of this industry is really fast
- Commit to the main reason why you wanted to become a UI/UX designer
- If you're a newbie, you can start learning UI design first. I did this and a lot of designers started the same way
- Reading books relating to this industry
- If you like solving complex problems and also like designing. Go and get your first job as product designer!
- Don't forget to prepare your soft skills too, because in this industry soft skills will help you a lot.
Q7. What’s the most important thing you look for in a UI/UX designer folio?
The first and foremost thing that I check from a UI/UX Designer Folio is not the final result (the final interface design), but I want to see how you the designer thinks. How are you as the designer able to solve problems? What kind of process did you go through to get to the final solution? What were the challenges and insights that you got in the whole process and how did you tackle those challenges? What is the value or impact from the design solution that you have shown?
Q8. What was the hiring process that you faced to work at your current job?
The hiring process that I went through for my current role was divided into three stages.
1. I sent my CV and had my CV screened
2. I was contacted and interviewed by HR
3. I did a test case and user interview
Finally after all those are done, I got accepted and onboarded to the team :)
Q9. Any recommended community, books, resources that you find helpful?
Yes of course, I have a lot of books for you to read and I think if you read these books it will help and give you a great guide if you want to become a UI UX Designer.
- Solving Product Design Exercise: Questions and Answers by Artiom Dashinsky
- Don't make me think by by Steve Krug
- The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman
- Design Sprint
- Refactoring UI
- Design Thinking Playbook by Michael Lewrick
- PetunjukUX.com (Bahasa Indonesia)
Q10. Thank you! Lastly, if anyone from our DrawKit community wants to be in touch with you, where can they find you Galuh?
Any last message/comment/etc:
Thank you DrawKit team for providing the opportunity to share my knowledge and experience to a larger audience. Hopefully this will be the beginning of our cooperation for our success story in the future.
I Hope you have a lot of success ahead, I hope you can always provide work in the form of stunning illustrations. I am also an admirer of your amazing work, keep it up team, you're amazing!