Back to Font: The Journey to UI/UX at Godel

At the end of last year, it was announced that a new division was born at Godel. Headed by Aliaksandr Soryn, he and his team of 13 designers will work under the newly created division for UI/UX design for clients and internally. We spoke with Aliaksandr about his previous experience, the interesting journey that led to a new division at Godel and what his plans are for growth in 2022.

What is your previous experience before joining Godel?

I have 15 years of experience working in IT where I began as a full stack developer, which was called ‘web master’ in those days. This is someone who can develop both backend and frontend. Over time, I worked more on the client-side and that’s how I became a frontend developer. For a while, I really started to get an understanding that developing the frontend part of an application is not enough for me because I really wanted to understand the full circle of product development. Since I already worked as a full stack developer, I had knowledge in development, but I did not know anything about how to think over and design products. This was my start in design.

To improve my skills outside of main work, I looked for projects on freelance marketplaces and sometimes my friends asked me for help in designs or development which helped me to become a specialist in product development. Also, I was involved in team management, and it was interesting because it has brought new challenges and knowledge. After changing a lot of companies, projects and business areas, I joined Godel 5 years ago where I work to this day.

What led to the design division at Godel?

On my first project at Godel, the client provided a designer to work with our team, but the availability of the designer decreased. We needed to deliver new functionality and designs so I asked the product owner if I could pick up some of the design work, and they agreed to try where I had to discuss the result of my work with the designer. After some time, the designer said that my work doesn’t require checks. So, I can say this was the start of the design service in Godel.

After I figured out what is happening on the project, how we work, what we do, etc. I started thinking about how to improve the tools that we use inside Godel. At that time, we already had the first old version of the GCP, which, in terms of convenience and design, was like from the era of the birth of the Internet. I asked Aliaksandr Karymau and Elena Polubochko if they were ready to look in the direction of reworking internal products and they agreed that we could try. I drew some important screens to show the concept, but unfortunately, there wasn’t enough resources for development. After some time, when the JS department was already launched, Ilya Dovban and I revised the previous concept and made a new one, and this can be called the next step in the development of the design department in the company.

After some time, the design activity was picked up by Iryna Markovich who did a lot of work developing the history of internal products design into something significant for our company. The next step was that Alena Borykava joined the company. She was a developer, but as we know from some of her blogs, she was always attracted to designs and took over from Iryna as designer on internal products. Alena brought new trends to the internal products, started doing research, and this was a stage in the development of not only the UI direction but also the UX.

We spoke with other colleagues from the company who were passionate about UI/UX design but at the time, worked in the other divisions. In 2020, we decided to form the design community where people could share their experience. In 2021 we established support from the VPs, talent managers and heads of divisions which helped us to build simple processes to collect our artefacts and formulate service proposals. Only after this huge work did we sign off the first contract for designers. This summer, we hired our first full-time designers, and at the end of 2021, we were proud to establish the status of the Godel Design Division.

How do you work with clients when it comes to designing?

First of all, the work of our team depends on customer needs. Sometimes our teams or independent designers create just visual parts, sometimes they are involved in research and user testing, and sometimes our clients trust us so much that our team sells designs to our client’s clients so it is more meaningful for B2B clients. But internally we follow Design-driven development principles. Our approach recommends working closely with the end-user to validate our hypotheses and we ask and teach our clients to work with these principles. But as I said before, it all depends on the client’s needs and the time they have.

Can you talk us through the design process at Godel?

We have spent some time to rethink and standardise our process, as described below:

  1. In general, we start with the preparation phase. In this phase we learn everything about the client, their problems, define stakeholders, write initial documentation and specifications, etc.
  2. The next step is Research and Analysis. On this step we define end-users and their problem, prepare materials and scripts for user interviews and perform them. After we analyse the results and we will define goals for the next steps.
  3. The prototyping is the most visible step in our work because on this step we do the prototype and create high fidelity designs and interactive animations.
  4. The last and most important step is testing our solutions on the end-user. It’s important because after we do something, we should understand how it works for our users and fix issues if they arise.

If you were to ask what is most important in our process, I can answer that the users and numbers are the most important for us and our work. That’s why almost all steps involve an element of research and analysis.

What has the division achieved so far and what are your plans for 2022?

So far, we have accomplished 5 public projects and almost all internal products are designed by our division. We currently have 4 ongoing projects, and I am excited our Client Directors are helping us to grow our division with more projects.

Going into 2022, I really want to increase the team. We currently already have 13 UI/UX designers. I also think the main goal for us is product development, and advocate that we should always think about the end-users and achieve a good user experience in each scenario.