FastSpring’s Employee Spotlight is a Q&A series that features the hardworking, intelligent, and fun people that make FastSpring great. Get to know the fantastic team behind the ecommerce platform!
In this post, we’re featuring our UX Designer, Lisi Zhu:
Q: What is your role at FastSpring?
A: I am the user experience designer for the product team at FastSpring. I am responsible for designing an interface between our customers and our product. Ultimately, I work to create a pathway that is both intuitive and user-friendly.
Q: For those who do not know exactly what UX design is, how would you describe it?
A: User experience design is a multidisciplinary design that focuses on the user and his/her emotions. UX design is all about developing an interface that meets the customer’s needs. The process of UX design starts well before the user comes into contact with the actual product. It requires user research and testing that ultimately helps us develop software that our customers will love.
Q: What did you do before FastSpring?
A: Before working at FastSpring, I completed my Masters in industrial design at Georgia Tech University.
Q: What inspired you to move to Santa Barbara and join FastSpring?
A: After graduate school, I was looking for a new place to move. I grew up in Shanghai, China, so I had always lived in a big city and never experienced a small town. I wanted to move somewhere where I could experience the small-town community and be surrounded by the ocean and mountains. Santa Barbara sounded like the perfect place to do this.
Once I was in Santa Barbara, I looked for a company where I would best fit. When I came upon FastSpring, I was intrigued by two aspects. One was the company itself and the other was the field of ecommerce. The company FastSpring offered great UX opportunities for me as it was not a brand new startup but one that was still evolving to reach its full potential. As for the ecommerce field, I was very intrigued by the idea that we could create a payment method and process that could take this burden off of other businesses. When starting a business, the hardest part can be managing billing and payments. When startups can outsource their payment system to a company such as FastSpring, they can focus on building their own business and delivering the best product to their customers.
Q: When did your passion for UX and product design first begin?
A: My passion for design first started when I was a kid and would observe my mom as she worked as a doctor at the hospital. Through her job and her patients, my mom showed me certain products and tools that could be used to better or save people. It was then that I realized that design could change people’s lives.
Since I was young at the time, I had only grasped the impact of physical products. My generation was then one of the first to be exposed to technology and the internet. I began to think about the opportunities we could have if we used digital products and digital platforms to better people’s lives. I wanted to be able to design these digital products that could help users and make their lives easier.
Q: What is your favorite part about UX and Product design?
A: My favorite part about UX design is conducting user research and creating visual designs. Before designing a page or product you need to understand how users behave. To do so, you conduct user research by observing and testing how users react to different scenarios. You can manipulate and test the user pathway to ultimately receive the user information and feedback you want. As an example, you can test the effects of placing a button at different locations on a web page. As for visual design, I enjoy playing with different visual styles and keeping up to date with the changing visual trends every year.
Q: What does a typical day for Lisi look like at FastSpring?
A: My day usually takes the form of meeting, design, meeting. I spend most mornings scheduling and planning out what I need to do that afternoon. This means meeting with the engineers and product managers to outline what project I will be working on for them that afternoon. In the afternoon, I have brainstorm sessions, try out different markups, and sketch out design ideas. Then, at the end of the day, I present the different markups and designs I created to the project stakeholders.
Q: What are some of the challenges that you face in your role at FastSpring?
A: In my role as a UX designer at FastSpring, I am always looking to expand my skills and learn more about product development. As an example, a personal challenge for me was to learn how to do front-end code which helps prepare the product for development and saves the engineers a lot of time.
Q: What is your proudest accomplishment while working at FastSpring?
A: This is probably the same for all designers but I feel most proud and accomplished when I see my sketch file turn into an actual product that customers use.
Q: What is some advice you can give to other UX and Product Designers who want to pursue the same path or a similar one?
A: My advice to others pursuing a UX design career would be to expand your skills and not only focus on design. It is important to know and understand other skills such as marketing and coding. This will help you when you need to communicate with departments or help out other departments.
Q: Can you share some insight into how design impacts your personal life?
A: In everything that I do, I think of it as designing a plan or a user experience. For example, in everyday life, I use design when I am cooking. I consider preparing a meal like designing a meal. I choose what to make, how to make it, and what the end product will look like.
Q: I saw that you once designed a cat toy for your cousin’s cat who suffered from anxiety can you tell me more about the toy you designed?
A: My cousin’s cat would get anxious when no one was home. I designed a cat toy that would help him with his anxiety. The toy consisted of a collar with a laser attached. The laser pointed at the ground in front of the kitty and would turn on and off in specific time increments. When the laser was on, the kitty would chase after the laser. In addition, I designed a machine in the kitchen that received code feedback from the collar. The machine tracked the distance the kitty walked and released a treat as a food reward. The toy I developed allowed the cat to play by himself and not feel lonely while his owner was not home.
The funny thing is that although the toy helped with the cat’s anxiety, it caused him to destroy parts of the house. The cat would point the laser at the furniture and then chase the laser and rip up some of the furniture in his path.
Q: What are your favorite hobbies and activities to do outside of work?
A: My favorite hobbies outside of work include cooking and baking. I have always enjoyed cooking Asian dishes but have been trying to branch out to new cuisines such as French, Italian, and Spanish. Right now I am learning how to perfect Spanish seafood rice. When I bake, I like to bake different types of cookies and cakes. The nice part about baking is that it is easy and fun to share. I love baking cookies and bringing them to the office to share with my coworkers.
Q: What is a fun fact about yourself?
A: A fun fact about myself that almost everyone knows about me is that I can’t go a day without drinking milk tea. A fun fact that most people may not know about me is that I am a homebody. I could stay at home all day in comfy clothes and call it a perfect day.
We are fortunate to have Lisi on FastSpring’s product team. Her passion for design and attention to detail have helped FastSpring develop an intuitive ecommerce platform that our customers love!
Are you interested in joining Lisi and the rest of the FastSpring team? We’re hiring! Visit our careers page to see our open positions.