My time as an intern at Usabilla
Suzanne helped Usabilla a great deal this summer. Her design skills proved invaluable, most of all in creating user flows and thinking about the user experience of our upcoming backend. It was great to have her as an intern, both on a professional and on a personal level! Suzanne was so kind to write a bit about how she experienced her time here, which you can read below. All the best Suzanne! — The Usabilla team
This time last year, I was working as an interaction design consultant at my corporate Park Avenue office in New York City. I would have never thought I’d be spending the next summer in Amsterdam, interning at Usabilla and experiencing the startup culture firsthand.
I left my job last fall to pursue a Master’s degree at the Domus Academy in Italy. When it came time to apply for internships, I wanted to try something new. I had read with interest about Usabilla on SmashingMagazine.com, and emailed Paul Veugen in hopes of persuading him to give me an internship. After a few emails and a Skype interview, I was hired!
I was a little nervous about working for a Dutch company since I didn’t know one word of the language. After all, I had been studying Italian for more than a year and hadn’t planned on living in the Netherlands! My language handicap never proved to be a problem though; the Usabilla team made an extra effort to speak English so I could be included in conversations. This was especially helpful during our regular office lunches- I really appreciated it and felt welcome from day one.
The Usabilla office is located in the heart of Amsterdam. After being too afraid to ever ride a bike in New York City, I decided to be like the Dutch and brave the streets of Amsterdam on bike. Biking to work among the cars, trams and tourists proved one of the most difficult challenges of my internship!
I quickly learned the ins-and-outs of the Usabilla tool and started designing right away. The team here is very collaborative; everyone is willing to give and take ideas and to give help whenever needed. I was lucky enough to see some of my designs coded, tested and implemented the same day. The fast-paced startup culture was drastically different from my corporate experience, but it was very rewarding and I loved every minute of it.
I worked closely with the Usabilla team to develop a new design strategy for Usabilla’s backend. To start, I brainstormed with every member of Usabilla to get a deeper understanding of how they use the tool and what areas could be improved. After collecting input from the team, I was able to come up with design principles that would guide the remainder of my work at Usabilla.
After defining goals to work toward, I began to create flows and wireframe sketches. Every few days, I would present my sketches to the marketing team to ensure I was creating an experience in line with their marketing goals. I would then present my work to the development team and get their feedback on the interaction design and other technical details. Once I gathered both teams’ input, I would start creating digital wireframes.
I decided to use Axure to create my wireframes. I had used the tool previously and knew that it was easy to use and effective, especially in creating HTML prototypes. Axure helped me create wireframes, present HTML prototypes to the Usabilla team, and make changes quickly and efficiently.
My internship ended before I could my wireframes be visually designed and go live, but luckily Usabilla hired two visual designers right before I left. I transitioned my work to the new recruits and I can’t wait to see their hard work pay off when the Usabilla redesign goes live.
My interaction design internship at Usabilla was definitely challenging, but it was also incredibly rewarding. The work we did at breakneck speed with every team member pitching in was something I had never experienced before, but it was exactly what I wanted. I am so thankful to Paul and everyone at Usabilla for giving me freedom to tackle design problems, for challenging me creatively and for allowing me to be a part of their team this summer.