From Software Engineer to UX Designer

Alena Borykava previously worked as .NET Software Engineer at Godel. She recently took the opportunity to try something new and became Godel’s first full-time UX Designer. We sat down with Alena to discuss her new opportunity, how not to be afraid of challenges and her aspirations to become a designer on a large project.

Alena, you have been a developer for more than three years, and now a UX Designer. What made you explore this new opportunity?

I first became interested in design as a child – my brother created websites and he often needed help with drawing and I was happy to do this, as well as creating logos. When it was time to go to university, I studied at BSUIR (Belarusian State University of Informatics and Radioelectronics) and became a software engineer. I have worked in my specialty for three years – but the desire to try my hand at design remained.

Later, I graduated from web design courses and decided it was the right time to try something new – if you don’t try, you won’t find out. I spoke with the division manager at Godel that I wanted to change fields and they supported be to try myself in a new role.

What was it like, trying a new role at Godel? Were there any challenges you had to overcome?

At first it was not easy, in places challenging, but it was worth it because I was doing what I had long dreamt of. The workflows weren’t set up yet and I had to ask colleagues for help. I then started working on GCP (Godel Corporate Portal) modules.

The process is as follows: I am given a request to create a new module and I’m send the documentation. I’m currently studying the functionality of the future product which is, in fact, quite a technical task. Along the way, I understand more what the page should look like, and I begin to design. It is important to make sure that the new module matches the rest and keep all styles and components consistent. I then make the layouts; get approval and feedback and I ensure I am aligned with their feedback. Next, a team enters with an ADC (Agile Delivery Coordinator) and developers – the creation of the product begins. The finished module is then tested which I also take part in. It’s important to be open to changing aspects long the way and constantly seeing how it can be done better. I design modules together with enterprising teams who also like design and who would like to develop it in the company.

I am combining work in GCP with a client project, on which I am also a designer. On it, we work in a team with the client’s designer – we discuss ideas, part of the work is done by me, part by my colleague.

You mentioned that you have like-minded people at Godel. Do you think a UX/UI Design Function could exist at Godel?

There is a movement in this direction – many people are seriously engaged in it. A year ago, we conducted a survey on who is interested in design and who would like to help develop it at Godel. I was officially the first person working on a client project as a UX designer in the company, there were a few cases when a developer was both: designer and developer. But still, they didn’t work full time as a designer, and they just created a few mock-ups – it was easier for them to communicate like that.

A UX/UI Design function could help employees work on GCP modules – there are many teams, but the designer is one. Without designers, a project cannot survive. The designs process is the foundation to a project – high-quality design planning is in many ways the key to a successful product.

After a year of working as a UX Designer, has it exceeded expectations, are you enjoying what you are doing?

Now I am really enjoying what I am doing. When I work on Godel internals or a client project, I realise that I am solving problems that users might encounter. I like the meaning of my profession – I care about people and I try to make them happier. The goal is to make the site accessible and enjoyable for everyone who works with it. I can give you an example. The site asks for a name, the person types it, but one of the characters is not supported. At the initial stage, the user has a bad experience, and my job is to learn to avoid them. This is not only about design, but also about psychology and philosophy.

In the future, I would like to engage in projects related to nature, health and people. Although in fact, any project can be classified as social, because a person is influenced by everything, no matter what they use. I try to constantly learn something new. Now, probably, there isn’t a single profession where one could simply work, having received a diploma and not improving their skills in any way. And design is no exception!