Interact with these doodles to jump to the topic in the video

00:00:00 Hi everyone I m Kadambari Sahu. I'm the head of design at Value Labs. Design Inspire is

00:00:14 the web series of passionate innovative and young inspiring designers. The web series

00:00:20 dive into their passion inspiration and what makes them go. It's an effort to understand

00:00:25 how they are navigating their career path and how they are investing their creative

00:00:30 energies. We believe hearing their bold moves and inspiring stories that will ignite interest

00:00:34 and inspired the next generation of budding designers across the globe. So let's go forward.

00:00:41 Hello everyone welcome to design inspire. Our today's guest is Katerina Markova. Katerina

00:00:46 is a designer with experience and variety of roles from contributor to design leadership.

00:00:50 She has worked in B2B and B2C environment. She has worked with companies like Namecheap

00:00:55 where she has led the entire brand experience division good data where she, she was responsible

00:01:01 for user experience of analytical dashboards and Oracle, where she worked on a developer

00:01:06 oriented platform to build channel agnostic Chabot s. At last she joined McKinsey and

00:01:12 company. When she split her time between designing unique experiences for client facing digital

00:01:16 product, promoting the value of design across the organization and helping non-designers

00:01:20 to bring user centric, design principles into their day-to-day work. Welcome Katerina. How

00:01:26 are you doing today?

00:01:29 Hi kadambari I'm fine. How are you?

00:01:33 Good good. Katrina. So Katerina, I call you Kat for most of the, the session now. So Kat,

00:01:42 what we'll do is, there, the format of the show would be something like this. The first

00:01:48 part is where you talk about anything, which inspires you or motivates you or your design

00:01:52 journey or any stories that, you want to share with us. And the second part would be like

00:01:58 a conversation between me and you, where most of the questions that I'll ask you are collated

00:02:02 by the team here for user experience group at Valuelabs. So let's go forward, and hear

00:02:07 your story. We're very excited to hear them, over to you Katerina.

00:02:13 Thank you. So let me share my screen with you. So hi everyone. I'm Kat, I'm super excited

00:02:22 to be here today because when I got the invite to join, it was my birthday. And when the

00:02:29 invite said the initiative is about connecting young, inspiring designers, I was like, this

00:02:36 is your last chance because people won't call you that for much longer. So that's so here

00:02:41 I am today and thank you kadambari for intro, because I don't have to do that. I think it

00:02:50 would be a good moment to say that, in your opinions that I'll share with you today, are

00:02:56 my own indicators of my employer and. I also need to apologize because I think, the topic

00:03:05 of the talk that originally, I, I said I would do, was about diverging converging and iteration,

00:03:13 and my journey as a designer, but, in disappearance of the series, and sharing about our passions

00:03:21 and what keeps us going, I decided to share with you a project that I have been working

00:03:26 on for as long as I can remember. And, it's also sort of this project that's, I met Kadambari

00:03:33 at the interaction 20 conference in Milan distributary back when the world was still

00:03:38 normal. So today I'll be talking about, The Dead People Project and the sensitivity report

00:03:46 design is I guess, in a sense, a diverging converging and iterations are, are inevitably

00:03:53 a part of my story. Anyway and that is because it's the underlying principle of this whole

00:03:59 project, but also talk about why being as designers should care about depth of our users.

00:04:07 Long story short, eventually argues us will die and we can make it easier on them. And

00:04:12 they're very used by acknowledging it from the start. So the project really isn't one

00:04:19 single project. It's mostly a collection of research thinking, writing, talking, and the

00:04:26 topics that I cover evolve. As I learn new things, I do have a name for it in several

00:04:33 languages. I used to name it as people project in English. And what the news, when I speak

00:04:37 about it in Portuguese or my talking and I speak about it in check. If you wonder why

00:04:43 these three languages it's because I spend a considerable amount of time in, these cultures

00:04:50 and different parts of the work in one of these languages and their respective and the

00:04:57 context of different cultures. I embarked on this journey about 15 years ago when my

00:05:02 dad died and my sister and I had to deal with his legacy. Although Facebook wasn't a thing

00:05:09 yet. And, mostly line services we use today for it at miler dealing with his digital assets

00:05:15 was so challenging that I began to ask myself that if there was a way I could contribute

00:05:21 to change over the time, I imagined Michelle room with a problem, looking for answers to

00:05:29 the question, how might we improve and support grieving in a world that is increasingly digital

00:05:34 became an intrinsic part of my life. It frustrates me for several reasons. For one I'm intrigued

00:05:43 by the complexity, because it touches many different areas like law, ethics, psychology

00:05:48 technology, and other areas within these areas. But it's also a global problem. The other

00:05:57 reason is its increasing relevance. The digitalization is ongoing and according to the recent international

00:06:04 data corporation reports. The amount of data created over the next three years, but will

00:06:09 be more than the data created over the past 40 years. And finally, I know we can do better.

00:06:16 The current state of things present us with, with a huge opportunities for improvement.

00:06:21 So enough of the intro. So let's start with what is digital death? In theory. That's curious

00:06:31 when a person becomes incapable of taking an active part in their digital life. In other

00:06:37 words, if I got run over a car today, my family would inherit a bunch of things like books,

00:06:43 my digital devices, perhaps some money, but I wouldn't be able to actively participate

00:06:49 in my digital life anymore. So I'd be digitally that by the way, Even if I die, I still participate

00:06:58 in individualized because I'm mostly keep most likely keep receiving emails or show

00:07:03 up in social networks, which brings a really interesting question. Is it even possible

00:07:09 to experience death in today's world when talking to people about this? At this point,

00:07:16 there is usually a light bulb moment. Their eyes brighten up and they say, ah, I got this.

00:07:23 It's about what happens to my Facebook when I die. Well, yes and no. Well, this is certainly

00:07:30 a topic personally. I think that unless the disease left clear instructions on how to

00:07:35 handle their social media after their death, it should be at the discretion of the berries.

00:07:42 I'm way more interested in what a person's death means. Practically. When it comes to

00:07:46 digital assets, what effects it has on the people left behind. And ultimately what we

00:07:52 can do as individuals or society to facilitate these processes, to reduce the unnecessary

00:07:58 burden and overall improve the quality of coping with onslaughts in the physical world,

00:08:05 regardless of the geographical location, we have a set of established legal, social, and

00:08:11 cultural norms, and these norms help us through this situation. Into the digital world. However

00:08:19 conventions didn t necessarily are either inaccurate or non-existent. For example, in

00:08:25 the United States, the from fiduciary access to digital assets act was enacted in 2015.

00:08:35 It allows fiduciary is to manage digital property like domains or cryptocurrencies while keeping

00:08:42 the access to digital communication ministry. Until then the only legislation applicable

00:08:49 to digital communication was the electronic communications privacy act from 1986. It wasn't

00:08:56 even sure whether in levels intellectual property or not in European Union, the situation is

00:09:02 a much better. For example, GDPR, that introduces a very strong protection on information privacy,

00:09:10 explicitly States that it only applies to living data subjects which means that that

00:09:16 are not predictive at all. The individual state members have to do this on their own.

00:09:21 And the only various you do, therefore, the approach to digital reminds remains, relies

00:09:26 heavily on what individual companies decide. It's important to recognize that technology

00:09:33 most quickly. And we struggled to keep pace with that. In the meantime, we are mostly

00:09:38 on our own. We should be asking questions like. When the time comes, will somebody be

00:09:43 able to get to the utility bills that you're gloating in life to my email, or will someone

00:09:49 be able to access my base subscriptions and Counsel Dan, will someone be able to let my

00:09:55 customers know that I will no longer design their websites? How will my family know that

00:09:59 I had a regular account? And you could probably imagine many more. Luckily, there is a concept

00:10:08 of sensitivity that allows us to evaluate an item through highpotential depth, relate

00:10:12 to problems when designing interactive systems as well as to seek opportunities for their

00:10:19 improvement. So let me explain finally, what the word financial sensitivity means. Here's

00:10:26 the definition. Financial sensitivity is a novel humanistically grounded approach to

00:10:32 HCI research and design. That's recognizes and actively engages with the facts of mortality

00:10:39 dying and death into creation of interactive systems. And it was introduced in the year

00:10:46 2009 by Michael misdemeanor and under actuaries, who at the time, researchers at the university

00:10:52 of Toronto, when considering death and dying, the common human computer interaction approach

00:10:58 create and wait, what happens can have a traumatic impact on the emotional balance of the users.

00:11:04 My Mencher is proposed that we should let go of the technology and seek for inspiration

00:11:10 and knowledge in the realm of social sciences. You'll see clinical sensitivity as a lens

00:11:15 to look at problems at hand can help us to solve problems such as how do we deliver adequate

00:11:22 information to one's hands after somebody dies in a timely manner? What constitutes

00:11:27 inheritable data, which data should be considered private after one's death. How can we support

00:11:34 users to make an informed decision about which data should be shared after their death and

00:11:39 with whom if they don't leave instructions, what should be the default? How do we design

00:11:46 for groups of people who outlive one another or coexist in different phases of their lives?

00:11:54 So now, did I spoke a little bit about why and where we should take depth into consideration?

00:12:00 Let's look at a few examples of products and services that do it already messed up. Didn't

00:12:05 belong to so-called digital afterlife industry and fall into one of the following categories.

00:12:10 Plus humans messaging, online memorials information management, which also includes funeral and

00:12:16 digital estate planning and finally recreation services. So the first example, well, that

00:12:25 I want to share with you is some websites, called West summit. Nicely done website for

00:12:32 funeral planning. It must create the, for an NGO, which is a Czech NGO, and that provides

00:12:39 professional care to dying and their loved ones. The website itself allows its users

00:12:44 to write up their vicious regarding the final moments of their lives and sharing with people.

00:12:49 If their choice, it is possible to share everything or only its parts. Obviously, there are many

00:12:55 other services and of course, most of them in English then do a similar thing. These

00:13:01 websites have diverse mechanics of releasing to start information. Often the services prompt

00:13:07 periodic linear original user for a signal of life. In some cases, as several people

00:13:13 have to confirm once death before the information gets shared. But if any often deselected beneficiaries.

00:13:20 Have access to the information already during the original pressing slide. The primary reason

00:13:26 why these services don't safeguard the access to the information too much is the beneficiary

00:13:32 is often needs the access to the information really quickly after one stuff. Another example

00:13:40 is a websites might work well. If you used to be a Swedish digital, real estate, digital

00:13:48 estate planning website. And, I said to use to you and I chose this example precisely

00:13:55 because the long, the start is no longer exists. The service offers its users, the possibility

00:14:01 to specify their innovations for what should happen to their digital accounts. It was integrated

00:14:07 their long list of other services, and it's used as good decide. On anti whom, which accounts

00:14:16 should be deactivated or deleted. And in some cases, even what content should be modified

00:14:22 on their profiles. The service was launched in October, 2009. And while it had a far superior

00:14:29 user experience to its competitors, it was out of business by November, 2011. I'd like

00:14:35 to think that it was because they were ahead of the time, to make their business model

00:14:40 viable but, what I want to point out is that going through the trouble of setting up your

00:14:47 preference is for all your online accounts takes a lot of time initially. And especially

00:14:53 when it comes to the paid services, it's super frustrating when you go through all this and

00:14:59 then the service shuts down without a good replacement. If you other similar services

00:15:05 that emerged around the same time, like entrusted or legacy locker lasted a bit longer and they've

00:15:15 acquired, mostly by password management companies and they actually offer their users a succession

00:15:21 plan, which was much better than the previous example. One more example from the digital

00:15:30 estate planning category is a company called Ever plans.

00:15:33 They have a very different approach, because they provide an online tool that allows the

00:15:39 users to organize the information from both the physical and the digital worlds side by

00:15:45 side, next to the list of digital assets, you can enter your emergency information,

00:15:50 information about your employment vehicles, real estate, etc. and the information can

00:15:56 be private, but you can also decide to share it. Do you have any comments on this service?

00:16:02 Is that they offer a white labeled option. This is a great thing. For example, for attorneys

00:16:08 who can use this as an extension to their legacy management services, the advantage

00:16:14 is the declined. Confidentiality is maintained by the client, has access to update their

00:16:19 information as much as necessary comparable to a regular, well, this allows a far greater

00:16:25 control without the needs to rewrite it. Each time somebody changes the password. The last

00:16:33 example I'm going to share with you is a bit more futuristic sat beyond, as a company did

00:16:40 offers a combination of digital estate planning, but it also makes the leap towards recreation

00:16:48 services. They allow its users to set up messages to deliver it after one step. So the message

00:16:55 has done a very, it can be triggered by a specific date. For example, when somebody

00:17:01 has a birthday day or location, like the place that the deceased met, their partner or an

00:17:08 event like a birth of a child to be on the safer side, they ask the potential risks advanced

00:17:15 you're agreeing to receive the messages and to install their app on their device. But

00:17:22 since you're speaking of recreation services, there are already attempts to allow us to

00:17:27 build Chabot s that essentially mimic us and allow our loved ones to keep the conversation

00:17:33 going after the argon, sort of like what you can see in some of the black mirror episodes,

00:17:40 perhaps the best known of these experiments is called And there are lots of

00:17:46 ethical implications, but services like, like these are going to be are going to talk a

00:17:51 little bit about it in a moment. So there are some of the opportunities when considering

00:17:59 debt in the digital process, there is a number of challenges that we need to consider. And

00:18:07 so I'm going to share some of the most critical ones. First one being, how we might redefine

00:18:13 death related to rituals into digital worlds, to separate mental health of the dying and

00:18:19 theories. Until recently the rituals, we have allowed us a certain level of control over

00:18:26 how we encounter and experience death and dying with the rise of technology, however,

00:18:32 and the social media in particular, if you no longer have the option to grieve on our

00:18:37 own terms, Okay. As how might we improve policies to reduce burden processing one's digital

00:18:47 legacy. As I mentioned earlier, the regulations regarding digital assets are still in their

00:18:53 infancy, especially when it comes to addressing digital assets of the deceased. And as a result,

00:19:01 what we can or can't do with our digital estate is to a great extent shaped by commercial

00:19:06 companies or we have to spend a good amount of time finding our own workarounds. Another

00:19:14 one is how might we embrace the global nature of death and dying into digital world? We

00:19:20 need to be mindful of the fact that we use that the all use digital products and services

00:19:27 that are from all over the world. It's hard to devise a one size fits all approach or

00:19:33 best practices. Given the geographic variation of regulations and rituals. How am I? The

00:19:42 digital products and services verified uses death with certainity companies like Facebook

00:19:48 or LinkedIn and collect information about who died through online forums and even allow

00:19:54 you a bit of control of what you'd like to do with the information under their platform.

00:19:58 Once you are gone. Other companies like Google rely on user defined time thresholds to trigger

00:20:04 process of distributing data. According to user s preferences, there are also companies

00:20:10 that ask the users to pre-define and notify beneficiaries upfront. None of these systems

00:20:16 are a hundred percent reliable and they risk creating a lot of frustration and anxiety.

00:20:25 And finally, how might we ensure that what we do as ethical and not solid profit driven,

00:20:32 most of business decisions are based on growth and profitability. We mostly worry about attracting

00:20:39 new users and maximizing revenues through higher engagement rates. It'd be done as the

00:20:45 question, shall we do this often enough? As we both digital products and services, you

00:20:50 should seek ways to protect human dignity of the living dying and the deceased. So my

00:20:59 hope is that over the next year, we'll see a real change in how we approach death and

00:21:04 dying as well as digital legacy, especially if there's more and more active online users

00:21:10 die. I believe that there are a few ingredients that's going to help us collectively to improve.

00:21:16 And support grieving and a world does increasingly digital and they are the government regulations

00:21:23 need to catch up with the tech emotion. Businesses need to in-group ethical considerations into

00:21:30 their decision making processes and use this needs to improve their habits and managing

00:21:35 their digital information, which can be mostly useful to them while they're alive. But also

00:21:41 helps them leave their matters relatively well organized. If something happens to them,

00:21:46 finally, as designers, we have the unique opportunity to shape the digital products

00:21:52 and services to help our user s transition between the life and death. I end with a quote

00:22:00 by glacier game revolution doesn't happen when society adopts new technologies, it happens

00:22:07 when society adopts new behaviors. Thank you.

00:22:13 It was really thought provoking and, a big power, you know, Human existence in a way.

00:22:21 So, thank you for leaving us with lot of questions, which will eventually come up as a food for

00:22:27 thought, for, you know, most of us today. Now let us move to the second part of the,

00:22:34 show where we will converse. We'll talk about, you know, how your journey as a designer has

00:22:39 been. so let me start with the first way simple question that I asked most of our guests,

00:22:44 and that is when and how did you think of becoming a designer and how did it start for

00:22:51 you?

00:22:52 That's an, that's a good question. I, I think that we need , I always was a kid that likes

00:23:03 to play with many different things and I always sort of lean towards some sort of visual arts

00:23:08 and, I was in a Scot, like in the girl Scouts group. And like, we did lots of things. I

00:23:17 mean, one of my, one of the leaders that we had, she was, she was actually, doing visual,

00:23:27 education degree and so that was a big inspiration in the beginning, but it wasn't, then it wasn't

00:23:36 a given thing for me, for sure. I also consider it to do, Sign language, college. So among

00:23:46 all of these things, there's some things I was exploring. I managed to get into visual

00:23:52 design, college and, and over the time, I realized that I lean towards, digital, especially

00:24:06 when I, than wants to Portugal, to do an exchange program as part of my college degree. And

00:24:13 I had a class that was called publishing and editorial design. And essentially it was a

00:24:19 web design course. So I learned how to program back then in PHP and that's sort of how I

00:24:29 then translate it or into the user experience field, and sort of stuck with it ever since.

00:24:37 Oh, that's great and you worked in lot of places, lead different countries or be different

00:24:43 companies and figures, different roles. Do you want to talk about like your experience,

00:24:47 how it shaped up, you know, taking one bit at a time and then how did you transform into

00:24:53 different sort of domains?

00:24:56 Sure. So as I said my, my, my bachelor's degree is in visual design and my master's is, in

00:25:03 multimedia and so during my masters, I was in, I was in another program. It was, it was

00:25:15 an internship, in Austin, Texas and I was working with a bike BI Company. I didn't at

00:25:22 a time. I didn't necessarily know what I want to be doing, but that just happened. And so

00:25:29 through that, I got, I read, a recommendation or referral to Namecheap. and, and I started

00:25:44 focusing on the user experience way more, and through, through that and throughout my

00:25:50 career, I ended up, having experience working under marketing department and because I knew

00:25:57 a little bit of coding, obviously with engineers and. And I think that, it's super important

00:26:08 to me to understand that I can do something that I really enjoy doing. I can get paid

00:26:13 for what I enjoy doing and I guess like through interacting with all sorts of different people

00:26:21 and all sorts of different professions and having to solve for very different problems.

00:26:27 It just really helps me to navigate this space and, understand, the different points of view,

00:26:37 and relate with those areas a little bit more and I just find it super helpful to the fact

00:26:44 that I have this, diverse experience. And, I think one thing worth noting is, after I

00:26:54 left Namecheap. Where I was for about five years, and ended up leading this amazing brand

00:27:01 experience team. I decided that I didn't have enough experience, or like it has been too

00:27:09 long for me to be actually underground doing the design work, because my role there ended

00:27:15 up being way more managerial. And so I decided to take a step back and join a team as a designer,

00:27:23 as a contributor. To just kind of relearn, how it works and because obviously the, the

00:27:31 discipline and the UX, area has evolved over the time. So I was interested in understanding

00:27:37 how the teams work, differently and what I can bring, into my future, carrier. And so

00:27:45 through that I ended up going. I guess between different companies and I was always mindful

00:27:55 of like trying to get at the breath of the experience, into different roles or focusing

00:28:00 a little bit on different areas. For example, when, when I joined Oracle, I joined to focus

00:28:07 on user research because again, I was interested to like really, digging more into what user

00:28:13 research really means and how I can use it.

00:28:16 Yeah. So, I, I understand that, the sensitive, the project that, that people project is your

00:28:27 passion project, which started as a thesis project if I am correct in the multimedia

00:28:33 program that you did as an Master s. And then you continued working for it for some years.

00:28:39 So, how do you keep, keep up with it? Like, do you collaborate with people is like a time

00:28:44 that you have allocated for it. So how do you engage with it?

00:28:49 So actually it started even earlier. It started, as my bachelor's actually, and it isn't like,

00:29:02 it definitely is my passion project. It definitely is something that's not necessarily part of

00:29:07 my day to day. Although sometimes I try to, I tried to like talk to people about it and

00:29:13 I tried to figure out like, is there something we could do as the company or using the company

00:29:18 to, to just kind of change a little bit the way, how things are. But because it's a side

00:29:29 project, it definitely isn't a full-time thing. Right. And so the progress it's definitely

00:29:35 slower than I would like it to be just because of the nature and the amount of time I have

00:29:41 to deal with that. But, I think the key as to people, and. I ended up talking to a lot

00:29:51 of very inspiring people and just people who are generally interested. And I think the

00:29:58 biggest driver to move this forward is whenever I talk to someone about this very often, it's

00:30:07 something that nobody really consider it. And. And it always sparks a really good conversation

00:30:16 and a lot of the times, there are ideas that come out of these conversations that then

00:30:22 I can sort of take and do some more research on it, or, you know, like take it and somehow

00:30:28 bring it in to some of the thinking and some of the work that I'm doing, around this topic.

00:30:35 So how did the idea of digitalily after the life I go to you? Like, yeah. So how did it

00:30:43 start for you?

00:30:44 So, so it really was, it really was when my dad died. Right. Because, we had, I think

00:30:55 it started not necessarily as digital, it started just like by some frustrations that,

00:31:00 that I had around dealing with the legacy. Like, for example, when we showed up at the

00:31:05 notary who, in the Czech Republic, is in charge of sort of like guiding the family through,

00:31:12 through the legal process of distributing to legacy. Right. I have a, an older sister,

00:31:20 and we have the same father, but, we are not, and we actually have even the same last name,

00:31:25 but they are not, we don't have the same mother. And so she was officially listed, on his funeral

00:31:35 document. And so they knew to contact her. And so when I showed up with her at the office,

00:31:41 they almost shut the door in front of my face because they just didn't know that he had

00:31:47 two daughters. Right. And so I was like, how is this even possible? Like there are documents

00:31:54 there, there must be something like that. They can, look at, to understand like where

00:31:59 actually all the all the people who are supposed to inherit something. Right. And so that's

00:32:06 how it started. And then building onto that we were obviously trying to get rid of some

00:32:15 of the stuff that he had because, it was, we didn't need it or whatever. And so I was

00:32:20 going through, through his stuff. And when I was going through his computer, he has tons

00:32:29 of pictures, from our family vacations and whatnot and I, a picture of his girlfriend,

00:32:38 naked in a hotel room. And I was like, I really wish I could unseen this because that's just

00:32:45 like, not something you want to carry in your mind as a memory of your father, but, so,

00:32:53 so that was sort of like something that, that brought me onto the digital path of the things,

00:32:58 because I was like, well, you know, like, how am I supposed to make sense of his information

00:33:02 and how am I supposed to know what is the important stuff versus like, what is the stuff

00:33:07 that, you know, I shouldn't even look at like, so, so that was that.

00:33:13 So you've lived in different countries, right? Like Portugal and the cultural backgrounds

00:33:18 would have been very different. So was there any learning from these varied cultural backgrounds

00:33:25 that you were in?

00:33:28 Certainly there was many learnings from, from different cultural backgrounds. I think there

00:33:35 was many learnings just on personal level, right? Like, I think just the realization

00:33:41 that. And especially in Europe, right? Or like into Western countries, because like,

00:33:48 if you go to Asia or somewhere like the, the cultural differences are more apparent, but

00:33:54 in the Western world, we like, I guess you sort of assumed that. People function in similar

00:34:02 way, but, they just don't because there is a lot of history that, that sort of, shapes,

00:34:12 the culture, right. And how, how people approach their lives and stuff. And so I think like

00:34:18 for me, living in Portugal, it was. Away from me to realize how little I knew even about

00:34:27 my own culture, because people would ask you the question, like how is something in the

00:34:33 Czech Republic, right. All the time. And I just realized that what I know, even of my

00:34:38 own country is like a very limited, amount of, of stuff. And it just sort of made me

00:34:46 appreciate that fact. And also I think. Because I became much more aware of this. I became

00:34:54 also much more interested in those, cultural differences and to really, ask the questions

00:35:01 and be curious about like, where are people coming from, why they are thinking what they

00:35:05 are thinking. And I think it just like makes you much more humble and, you know, and you

00:35:16 don't jump into conclusions or like you don't make certain things that otherwise you would

00:35:20 just do. And then on the digital death or the dead people project, I think it was also

00:35:31 super interesting because, the way we experience, Death and dying and I guess like what happens

00:35:42 after somebody dies is, is very different. Even across Europe, in the Czech Republic,

00:35:48 like the person dies. And then, about a week later you have a funeral and that's about

00:35:55 it versus like in Portugal, for example, there is, They have a series of masses, that, they

00:36:04 start even today that the person dies and then it goes on in, in specific time periods,

00:36:09 for, for a while. And, and that again is something where you realize, like, we don't really hear

00:36:19 if you don't really have that time, to mentally process what's going on. Versus, obviously

00:36:28 there is a big debate whether like people, whether, the funeral, rituals, should be driven

00:36:38 by, by religious rituals, right or not, but it's, it's sort of gives you a little bit

00:36:45 of time to process what's going on and really be there with the feelings somebody's emotions

00:36:50 that you have. And. I think it's sort of healthy, but maybe I also think it's healthy because

00:36:57 I didn't necessarily have that. But, but yeah, there's, there's lots of things, that one

00:37:04 can really draw from an experience like that.

00:37:09 So a lot of things that you're obviously doing there's experience in terms of, you know,

00:37:14 working in a consulting, you know, B and then B projects and then, you know, keeping yourself

00:37:19 inspired and things like that. So I was wondering, how does a day in your life looks like?

00:37:29 My day in life is super boring. I, I think what I try to do, especially these days as

00:37:37 like when I get up, I go out of my house, to get a coffee somewhere, and just kind of

00:37:46 walk a little bit, to get into the mindset that I need to, you know, switch from, the

00:37:52 being at home to being at work. Work thing. Well, the, while both, are the same place.

00:38:01 And then, and then my day is usually split between like, tons of calls and, and then,

00:38:11 sometimes I try to preserve to actually be able to do some work and then at night. I

00:38:19 do literally the same thing. I just like close the computer and then go out for a walk and

00:38:24 come back. And then, you know, I, I read, or I watch some series or I, I do a little

00:38:31 bit of writing or something like that, but, it certainly isn't, super exciting these days.

00:38:41 Coming to the remote working aspect of it. Like, you know, the way the things are right

00:38:46 now, you know, have come up and come down to be. So how's it working for you? Like,

00:38:51 you know, when you're working remotely and, you know, try to make sense of various workshops

00:38:57 and people and users. So how has it impacted you?

00:39:01 Yeah. So I think, I have a little bit of an advantage because, most of my career I really

00:39:09 worked remote when I worked for Namecheap be very globally distributed team, we had

00:39:16 team members like literally all over the place, like from the U S all the way to India. so

00:39:22 I think like some of the basic habits of how to not get crazy in, in a world like this,

00:39:29 I already had, I know that, you know, I should get dressed and probably not stay in my PJ's

00:39:36 because it just like helps my mind function but, I think for, I think today, comparably

00:39:48 to do, I guess 10 years ago, for example, we have much better tools. The digital aspect

00:39:58 of the work. So we have like white boarding tools, right. Or wait behalf. I guess like

00:40:05 even the zoom VR on right now, like has now like, some great features, like the breakout

00:40:11 rooms or whatever, which before we would emulate by running in parallel multiple tools and

00:40:20 having multiple sessions running in parallel, like it was doable and it was just like little

00:40:25 bit like more tedious to do it. Right. So. I think, for me, it hasn't changed much besides

00:40:34 the fact that after working this way, for many, many years, I decided that I really,

00:40:41 need people around me. And, this current situation has taken that away a little bit from me.

00:40:47 And so I feel like tired by the constant, Constant digital interactions, right because

00:40:57 it's not the same thing as if you are talking to a real human but I think the biggest change

00:41:04 was for a lot of people I work with, this wasn't a normal thing to do. Like I think

00:41:10 on the technology side, like they're luckier that we are more comfortable with the digital

00:41:15 tours, but for people who are primarily used to talk to people and travel to meet people

00:41:23 and interact with people in real life and who weren t at all at the beginning of this

00:41:29 whole thing, he used to like video conferencing tools and stuff like that. It is still a little

00:41:35 bit of an adjustment they got really good at it, but it's still. Some things that come

00:41:41 natural to me or to my technologist s colleagues don't come naturally to people who are not

00:41:47 technologists. So they, we need to help them and they need a little bit of help, but it's

00:41:54 working to the best it can.

00:41:56 So you work with a lot of people, right from different disciplines and, you know, streams,

00:42:03 some of them are non-designers. So how do you emphasize the value of design and help

00:42:06 them?

00:42:07 I think my view on what design is, has changed tremendously over time. Right. I think, at

00:42:17 the very beginning, I, it was evolved. Like, how can I make this? Website's really pretty

00:42:24 right. And I, you know, like user testing, wasn't really a thing back then or whatever.

00:42:30 Like, it was just like really about, trying to show I can produce like a pretty website

00:42:38 but over the time I think that I realized that design is essentially an enabler, for

00:42:50 companies, that, and they can really help them too. I guess through challenging whether

00:42:58 the problem they are trying to solve is really the right problem to solve or helping them

00:43:03 understand, their users or their customers, to make sure that whatever they are building,

00:43:14 is actually doing something useful for the customer base that they have. Right. And so,

00:43:21 I do strongly believe that design is a team sport. It s, it's not something that like

00:43:26 I, as a designer can do on my own. I will always need other people or, or the users

00:43:32 or somebody who really understands very deeply to domain VR working in, to work with me.

00:43:40 But I think there is a really strong case that we can make, about how design can contribute

00:43:48 to do organizations, by really making sure we are building the right things for the right

00:43:56 people in the right way.

00:43:57 When you encounter, like, you know, so, different people come with different set of, you know,

00:44:04 mindset in terms of how they solve problems. And in the multi-disciplinary teams, there's

00:44:08 always these things, where, you know, there's a clash of ideas and specifically people who

00:44:12 are like a fade from design domain, let's say, let's talk about engineers in that case.

00:44:20 So when you were talking about some feature, let's say that you want to implement, and

00:44:23 then, you know, people are obviously not in the same frame of mind. So how do you get

00:44:27 that value of design or, you know, your thoughts processed, to them?

00:44:35 That's a good question. So I think that. There are times I've really struggled with engineers,

00:44:47 but, I think that, one thing that's super important then as that as designers, we should

00:44:55 be curious about. How the engineers work right or anybody for that matter like what are the

00:45:04 ways of working on their side and have a little bit of understanding how they think about

00:45:10 things, because that can help us to like kind of frame or phrase things in a way that they

00:45:17 can understand, in more easier way. I think what also helps is to bring them in, the process,

00:45:30 right as the design evolves and is created, because Dan VR sort of creating the culture

00:45:39 of co-creation and when we show them that. Like VR doing something because we have evidence

00:45:49 that that's the right thing to do then they are more likely, to just kind of contribute

00:45:57 and help us to really do, to get to the best outcome possible. And also I think like it's

00:46:04 about inviting them to really, Like it's about explaining to them how we do things as well.

00:46:12 Right because it's a two way street but also like, inviting them into, contributing their

00:46:22 ideas also helps.

00:46:24 Yeah that's, that's great, pointers some of them even, you know, some of them even I employ

00:46:31 in terms of doing it, coming to approaches in terms of, you know, find that deadline.

00:46:37 So all the ways I think there has always been a case where you have timeline and, you know,

00:46:42 a project that you need to do. And sometimes they are very short time, timelines that you

00:46:46 have to run in terms of sprints on maybe, you know, project. How do you manage that?

00:46:50 What is your approach and, you know, sort of solving these questions.

00:46:54 So I think I'm going to contradict myself a little bit that happens, that happens a

00:47:02 lot. And I think humans are the worst people in estimation. And there are other humans

00:47:07 who are like super terrible at like, giving people the time they need to actually do their

00:47:13 job properly. Right. It's I think it's too far. Like one thing is I try to make sure

00:47:20 that I have enough time, as much as I can by really pushing back on whoever is asking

00:47:25 me to do something crazy on a crazy timeline. And that has varying level of success. Right?

00:47:30 Like sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't and, I think there are two ways like that,

00:47:44 like, or two things that I do when it doesn't work. And one of them is like, I ended up

00:47:49 working really long hours and. Which is not sustainable. But then on the other hand, I

00:47:57 know that there are going to be periods where the workload is going to be lighter. So I

00:48:04 try to, I guess, balance that out this way and then the other thing is. You're just,

00:48:13 I sort of cut off the discovery or, you know, like the, you don't experiment that much.

00:48:20 You just like, kind of use your expertise and your best judgment to do whatever feels

00:48:27 the most reasonable and, which is obviously not the best way to do it, but sometimes it's

00:48:35 just what it is. Yeah, so true and in the diamonds, like these rate, what does keeping

00:48:41 you motivated? Like how do you motivate yourself? I think that a lot of the times it's just,

00:48:52 I'm fortunate enough to work on projects that, I really enjoy where most of the time with

00:48:59 people I really enjoyed working, enjoyed working with. So for me, It is about making sure that

00:49:07 the team gets to where they need to be by the time they need to be there. And so for

00:49:14 me, I think the biggest driver as the collaboration with the team and making sure that the team

00:49:22 really has what it needs. And, as a designer, what inspires you? I think its many things

00:49:32 and I think we talked about some of them already, right? So it's, it's a lot of it is just having

00:49:40 an open eyes and looking around and, and trying to understand why people are doing what they

00:49:45 are doing. And you wonder why people, I disagree with doing what they are doing, because I

00:49:51 think that's super helpful to gain some perspective. And then I have, lots of, I guess, references,

00:50:03 of people who are doing things that I really, thing is great stuff or, has some sort of

00:50:11 value and so. Funnily enough, like most of these people are not necessarily like super

00:50:20 well-known or, you know, like it might be just friends or it might be some other designers

00:50:24 that I studied with, or people from different, you know, from different areas that just,

00:50:31 I think like they are good at what they are doing and it just having conversations with

00:50:37 them, and just kind of understanding where they are at, just really, Sparks a lot of

00:50:45 ideas on my own.

00:50:47 Great. Do you know some advice for young and budding designers?

00:50:55 Ah, so I think, there's probably a few things one of them is, and we also talked a little

00:51:04 bit about it today already as. I would totally encourage, looking for as many diverse, experiences

00:51:12 as possible, because I think it helps you understand, like what, what you prefer, what's

00:51:17 your preferred way, or like, what are your preferred projects or what was your preferred

00:51:22 way of working and I think you can really only gain that by actually trying it out.

00:51:31 Because you can listen to like you re other peers and talk about their experiences. But

00:51:36 I think you've, we'll never know whether it's the right thing for you, unless you really

00:51:40 try it. And then I think it is okay to have dreams and I think its okay to dream bag,

00:51:53 and just sort of like I personally am not much of a planner. so like my approach to

00:52:00 this is like, I have like some dreams and aspirations and I just like, look for the

00:52:05 opportunities that sort of helped me get there which I think is a valid way to do it. But,

00:52:11 but there, I know a lot of people who have that North star and they really like reverse

00:52:19 engineered to plan how to get there. So I think like, so figure out like what's, what's,

00:52:23 what's the way, you want to go about it, but definitely, don't be shy and, and go for it.

00:52:33 I just, wondering. If my screen split at this point of time, the digital is for us, but

00:52:44 yeah thank you for sharing your thoughts with us today Katerina. This is a small token of

00:52:51 appreciation from us, for all the good work that you keep doing, and you're inspiring

00:52:57 us and the next generation of designers that are coming along, we wish to confer upon you.

00:53:03 The title of inspiring young designer, and I thank you so much for sharing and answering

00:53:09 our questions today.

00:53:11 Thank you for having me.


Katerina joins us in this episode to talk about digital death and some interesting design perspectives to it. She talks about her challenges as a young designer and how she navigated through them.