What led you into design?
Affection for beautiful things and humanity.
I think becoming a designer was a very natural process. I enjoyed drawing from a young age, and in my teens, I was interested in beautiful and useful stationery. I was fascinated by the minimal graphic design of the Korean stationery brand 'mmmg', and I remember reading the book 'Swiss Design Trip' written by the graphic designer Park Woo Hyuk over and over again. The starting point was the interest in graphic design and typography.
I also have the disposition to broaden my understanding of human beings, observing them carefully. In my second year at university, I had a task in analyzing and improving the usability of the software. It was fun to sympathize with users' discomfort and solve it by design. There is always a person at the beginning and end of any process of solving problems with design. Problems to solve and clues can be found in people. And I realized that the design that successfully solved the problem ultimately benefits humans.
'Design that makes people happy.' As a designer, it makes me happy that I can continuously consider beautiful things and humanity, two things I love the most.
What does a typical day look like?
Morning - My morning routine usually starts at 8:00 when I wake up and have a full breakfast with my family. There was a time when I used to spend the morning busy to study or work on side-projects for career development, but I realized spending calm and quality time with my family gives me a nice boost to kickstart the day.
Working Time - My day to day working routine is based on what kind of work I have to complete on that day. ProtoPie allows remote working. However, I prefer to have face to face meetings with my colleagues during work. My working day usually starts from 10:30 am with a daily stand-up with my fellow product team members. We use Slack, Zoom, Notion, and Jira to communicate with each other. As other members work in different locations, we usually use Zoom to have remote meetings. After discussing critical and urgent tasks intensively, we sometimes go to a cafe around the corner to blow off some steam by enjoying some delicious milk ice cream together. We understand each other's roles and strengths. Therefore, we can collaborate excitedly and efficiently.
Evening - After working hours, I like to spend my free time with my loved ones and do yoga twice a week to destress my body. After working out, I enjoy a warm bath and finalize any of the remaining work I have that day.
What’s your workstation setup?
At the office, I use a MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2018) along with a 4K LG Display allowing me to unplug my laptop and sit down elsewhere in the office easily. When I work from home I use an iMac (Late 2014), and a Wacom Intuos Pro, used both at home and in the office. I prefer to have a clean dock and desktop. I look forward to seeing many designers on Interface Lovers to have ProtoPie in their docks!
ProtoPie Seoul Office
Where do you go to get inspired?
All the designers working in tech are my sources of inspiration as ProtoPie is a product for designers. From their work to their design processes, I can naturally shape new ideas based on their experiences and pain points. I take great pride that I can solve other designers their pain points they encounter every day in their design process. Also, I always get inspired by new interaction patterns in any kind of digital product and think about how they were composed.
Furthermore, I get a lot of inspiration from nature. I like to surround myself with nature to escape the hustle and bustle of a big city like Seoul. While enjoying the scent of trees in parks or mountains, I can be closer to myself. Being surrounded by nature helps me to figure out my priorities and focus on them. Learning new skills and gaining new knowledge is important. However, I believe taking enough time to process the everyday flood of information and apply that to my own work is even more important.
What product have you recently seen that made you think this is great design?
New Neek - Most recently, the product that has been catching my attention is New Neek. New Neek is a platform sending newsletters to busy working people in Korea. New Neek overcame the general distrust in media by delivering non-biased news content to readers. It also reduces the pressure to filter fake news for readers. Hence, people have more trust. Due to their friendly brand design and easy-to-understand writing tone, reading the news became a fun experience while commuting. As a result of New Neek's strategy, they were able to gain 86,000 subscribers within a year, and I wish them the best.
Branding of digital products - Since ProtoPie launched its new brand recently, I love to follow how other digital services build and develop their brand identities over time and analyze their approaches. I was impressed by the recent work of Duolingo and Figma. I was especially inspired by Duolingo's 'Feature Font' because it aligned very well with their brand identity. Figma had a strong and unique brand identity from the start. What Figma did really well recently was clarifying and emphasizing its brand values more by making changes to its brand gradually.
What pieces of work are you most proud of?
Obviously, it would be ProtoPie Studio. It is an honor to have been designing ProtoPie for more than 4 years. There have been many challenges along the way, starting from an early stage prototype to building software that's nowadays used by designers in over 100 countries around the world. And yes, I have loved each of these challenges. Every day, I try to get a better understanding of the core essence of the problems designers face on a daily basis and make progress in solving these.
ProtoPie is a code-free prototyping tool that allows designers to easily build realistic prototypes of digital products. ProtoPie found the sweet spot between expressiveness and speed without sacrificing both. Users can create realistic prototypes in a short time to validate concepts and refine them. Recently, we released a major update to version 4.0, adding reusable components.
What design challenges do you face at your company?
As the product develops, so do the users of ProtoPie. Early users are now intermediate users, utilizing ProtoPie more actively and creatively. As we develop more features for ProtoPie, it means that naturally, segments are created among our users regarding their usage, needs, and expectations. At first, this idea was a burden to me. I consistently thought of ways to make ProtoPie easier to use. I soon realized that creating an easy tool did not match the growing needs of our intermediate users.
Each segment of users uses ProtoPie in different ways to express their interactive ideas, so an all-in-one solution would not be the answer. We need to acknowledge the increasing complexity of the software, but at the same time, we have to provide consistent and accessible experiences to users helping them accomplish their prototyping tasks. Nowadays, I focus on maintaining ProtoPie's fundamental user experience patterns we've built so far and made sure ProtoPie's UX meets the industry needs.
What music do you listen to whilst designing?
Any advice for ambitious designers?
Designers that create digital products are very busy daily. Many new products need to be studied and various design methods to be learned. There is a flood of information available, and a good designer should be selective. Being selective starts with acknowledging your own strengths and weaknesses.
Designers should have an open mind because we work in a multidisciplinary environment. It is our role to make the best decision between different feedback and opinions. You can never get a good result if you blindly push your own ideas.
Most of all, being healthy is fundamental to all previous advice. When you get physically exhausted, it is hard to concentrate on your task and to consume as well as digest new ideas to improve as a designer. I recommend to find a daily workout routine and have balanced meals even when you are going through a stressful time at work. These two habits will help you to keep a curious attitude towards people and the world.
Anything you want to promote or plug?*product designed by Sarah Sehee Lim*
ProtoPie for Teams - This month, we released ProtoPie for Teams for design teams who collaborate on interactive prototyping. Based on feedback from ProtoPie users, we wanted to make ProtoPie more suitable regarding collaboration and communication. ProtoPie aims to continuously improve its prototyping features as well as find a way for people to communicate their prototypes. To use prototyping effectively in the design process, ProtoPie must deliver features for efficient communication in the design-test-iteration cycle.
ProtoPie for Teams goes beyond just cloud storage, providing a dedicated platform for teams to share prototypes and commenting. Team members can track the history of each prototype's progress and manage how to share prototypes externally. In the future, we will add a component library as well as handoff features elevating efficient and effective collaboration. I am looking forward to the contribution that ProtoPie can make to the design industry.