Sofiya Aliyu

Diving head first into the sea of Product design just a year ago, I can say it has been an exciting journey that has led me to discover a lot about my craft and about myself. Having a background in Graphics design helped a lot with layout, composition, colour, and general visual communication, basically the UI bits and I am better for it. I however struggled with the UX aspects. Exploring functionality, getting a hang of user stories, understanding user behaviours, and creating an overall great experience for the user is quite the responsibility.

Through my experiences as a Product Designer working with Jean Edwards Consulting, I’ve encountered several profound lessons that have shaped my perspective on design, collaboration, and problem-solving:

Learning Never Stops: Being part of projects that create solutions for businesses in the Insurance and Reinsurance space has pushed me to learn a lot. It has also taught me to ask stupid questions and ask them early. This has improved my research and communication skills.

Confidence is Truly Key🔑: There is a bit of impostor syndrome that creeps in from time to time especially when interfacing with clients, but I had to learn to pick myself up after my boss told me “…own your work Sofiya” just before a client call. I caught myself using phrases like: “I think…” or “I guess…” and had to snap out of it. I am learning to share my concerns and ideas in a way that doesn’t put me in a defensive position but shows me as a designer that knows her onions😏.

The Design Process is Rarely a Straight Path🛣️: I found that the design cycle of ideation, prototyping, testing, and refining wasn’t just in the courses for fun. In the past, I struggled with having to redo aspects of my design and ended up learning that imperfections are opportunities for growth and knowing that I am not my mistakes. I also discovered that while fixing a specific feature, never lose sight of how it affects the entire experience as a whole. 😬I learned the hard way.

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work🛠️: I know, no more clichés but hear me out😌. While working with a cross-functional team of Developers, Business analysts, Project Managers, and other designers, I’ve discovered that the best ideas and solutions often arise from open discussions and cross-disciplinary brainstorming during the Sprint sessions.

Feedback is Gold🥇: Through feedback, I’ve gained a deeper understanding of the user’s perspective and the impact of my design choices. It’s easy to get into your own head and design following your own prejudices, but when the feedback comes, you realise that perspectives are different and in order to give the best, you have to view feedback not as a critique, but as an opportunity for growth. In my book, feedback is always welcome!

The Tiniest Details🔎: If I had a dollar for every typo, let’s just say the cost-of-living crisis won’t have anything on me🫰🏽. I realised that this was an issue and I’m currently learning to make use of other plugins and tools to help with the things I could easily miss. Paying attention to details not only saves my reputation but also determines the extent of usability of the product, so not just typos but spacing, alignment or contrast makes a world of difference to the User Experience.

Reflecting on my first year as a Product designer, I am humbled by how much I have learned and looking forward to an exciting career filled with growth and impact.

Taking it one project at a time, I am really grateful for the experience and being in an environment and culture that allows you to thrive in your own element while shaping and honing your skills and leadership.


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