Design and UX

Kinanti Desyanandini, Senior Product Designer at Multitudes

From dreams of becoming an artist to a career in Product Design, Kinanti Desyanandini, Senior Product Designer at Multitudes had a childhood love for making useful things and now she gets to do just that alongside a business that aligns well with her values.

We caught up with Kinanti to learn more about her career journey into Product Design, her perspective on the learning opportunity startups provide for people wanting to grow in their career, as well as some insight into the key characteristics of people she sees thrive within a startup environment.

Thanks for sharing your story with us, Kinanti.

Firstly, how would you explain to a five-year-old what it is you do?

I help teams see what they're going to make, and check that it works for the people that will use it!

And for the adults, what does that translate to in regard to your day-to-day?

First off, I've found that startup life in general means that we learn fast and pivot as needed, but at a high level, my day can look like:

  • Aligning with the Product Manager (founder/CEO) on our priorities - what are the bets we want to make? How risky are they? If it's high-risk, we might want to do some extra user research or even a low-code experiment.
  • Helping the team make changes to our Marketing Website with little to no code - learning tools like Webflow, or understanding the basics of HTML & CSS can be very handy for this!
  • Talking to customers; interviewing them to learn about their problems and showing them solution ideas and seeing how that lands for them.
  • Collaborating with our engineers & data scientists to make sure we're going to do the M-est of VPs, or the leanest slice. This could be creating a design, then doing a Loom video walkthrough, or chatting about it in a Design Collab. We can always iterate after!

Was working in tech something you dreamed about doing as a kid, if not what was?

I always wanted to be an artist, and I loved making useful things. I think that still rings true!

What do you love about your role and why should others consider the career path?

I love getting to see our solution ideas come to life, getting feedback from our customers, and iterating on it - it's been great to learn what works and what we could do differently based on real data and insights!

If you enjoy being a generalist (e.g: I do some design, product, marketing, copywriting, and customer success among other things), are passionate about the problem a startup wants to solve, and/or look forward to learning from the experience, I'd really recommend joining a startup.

Tell us a little bit more about your career pathway and how you got into your current role?

In secondary school/high school, I really enjoyed Design and Business.

When it came to university, I wanted to do something related to Design that was also useful, so I decided to do Product Design. The focus of that degree was on balancing form & function for physical objects, human-centred design, and collaborating with clients on projects by prototyping and presenting work early and often. The projects had some clear constraints, which was also a nice primer.

I also wanted to understand code, so I decided to do a minor in Software Development. I think that really helped me understand some basic concepts of code, and balance the creative ideas I had with some pragmatism.

I did an exchange semester in Germany, where I learned about service design and interaction design. It really inspired me to see how software could reach people so broadly, and the potential impact it could have when done well.

So when I came back, I decided to do my final year project in UX / UI by designing a budgeting app. I talked to real customers, and learnt a lot about what it'd take to make an idea like that come true by talking to entrepreneurs in the fintech space.

I then got the opportunity to work as an Associate Product Designer at an agency/consultancy called Roam Digital. I got a lot of mentorship to sharpen my design skillset, including collaborating with stakeholders and facilitating workshops. I also got to experience a variety of projects across fintech, retail, e-commerce, SaaS, working with companies like Westpac, Mitre10, and more!

Most recently, I decided to join an early-stage startup like Multitudes because they're values aligned, and I wanted to experience working for a product company with more impact on the customer and the company.

Looking back, my (privileged) take is that I don't think a 3-year degree is necessary, but the following foundations are key:

  • Understanding & practising design principles (hierarchy and typography can make a massive difference - really recommend reading Refactoring UI!)
  • Learning about the high-level process (discovery, delivery, double diamond, user research, analysing the impact of a feature)
  • Practicing designing with a real constraint - even if it's a case study, make sure that it also reflects the stakeholders you have to work with, like technical considerations from engineers, or business goals from leadership.

Are there any key traits or characteristics of people that do well your current work environment?

  • Growth mindset: Being willing to try and learn, actioning feedback, and sharing learnings with others.
  • Collaboration: When we're racing to reach a milestone, there's no room for ego or politics. It's so helpful when team members raise their concerns or ideas in a really constructive way - this could look like sharing some solution options, offering to support, or framing things in a blameless way, where the focus is on systemic improvements instead of nitpicking.
  • Resilience: This means being able to reset and adapt, especially when things don't go as planned. It's more of a muscle we practice than a yes or no thing.

A lot of my colleagues live these characteristics - I'm very thankful for them.

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