My path to the productboard design team — an interview with Julia Rosich
In the first article in our People of productboard series, we caught up with Julia Rosich, one of the latest additions to our growing design team and our first fully remote designer. During our chat, we discussed how she got into product design, what makes her job so special, and why she chose a career at productboard over the life of a freelancer.
Hi, Julia! Let’s start with a brief introduction. Could you tell us a bit about your background and how you become a product designer?
Sure! I come from Spain, from a town called Tarragona. It’s about one hour from Barcelona, where I studied humanities — that’s a mixture of art history, literature, and philosophy. After that, I knew I needed to do a Master’s degree in something else because humanities was simply too broad a subject to get a job. And that’s how I got into design.
To be honest, when I started, I wasn’t sure what it was all about. But I always felt like a creative person, and so I got into graphic design. The school where I studied had a program that mixed interior design and product design for physical products, but I fell in love with a branch of graphic design, and that’s how I got into product design as we know it today.
Back then, it wasn’t called UX/UI design or product design. The iPhone was barely out — and I mean the first iPhone — so we’re talking a long time ago.
I worked in a couple of agencies and companies focusing on mobile and web design before deciding to move to Berlin. That was six years ago, and I’ve been in Berlin ever since. Time flies!
I’ve worked in a couple of startups here in Berlin. One was a company called Babbel, which develops a platform for learning languages. At Babbel, I was lucky to be introduced to the design sprint. I did some training on this methodology at AJ&Smart, and I’m a huge fan of it.
After that, I was freelancing for a while, and I was happy to find a better work-life balance. But then productboard came knocking, and I decided to join the company because it just felt right.
I was at a point with one of my clients where I was supposed to start building a design team, as I was the only designer there. But when I saw how the team at productboard worked, I liked how well executed everything was. I thought it might be better to learn how to do it the right way before I start building my own design team. So I gave up on freelance life and joined productboard.
I’m proud that I made that decision. It was the right decision to make.
And we’re delighted to have you on board! What would you recommend to other women trying to get into the tech world?
Don’t hesitate! Being a woman shouldn’t stop you. Also, speak up if you feel you are being treated differently because you are a woman. If someone interrupts you, speak up and shift the attention back to you.
“Speak up if you feel you are being treated differently because you are a woman. If someone interrupts you, speak up and shift the attention back to you.”
In our team, I’m the only woman, although that’s going to change soon. And as the only woman, we thought it would be a good idea to involve me in the hiring process as we build the team.
I believe we do a lot of things unconsciously. When hiring, we tend to choose people who are similar to us — people who we resonate with. It’s easier when you’re a woman to hire another woman. But we also need to open our minds to people who are different from us or have different backgrounds.
Diversity is about different backgrounds and cultures, not just gender. It’s about hiring people who represent your product’s audience, maybe even who represent the world population if your product is shipped worldwide.
“Diversity is about different backgrounds and cultures, not just gender. It’s about hiring people who represent your product’s audience.”
Perhaps the best way to build a diverse team is to hire people who will resonate with your users. Ideally, you’ll have people in your team who are also end-users. In our case, we can do that easily! Our product is built for product managers, and we have plenty of them here at productboard.
What appeals to you most about being a designer? What do you like most about it?
I guess the most beautiful part of being a product designer is that you get to have a direct impact on users. In the end, design thinking and everything we do should be built around user-centricity.
“The most beautiful part of being a product designer is that you get to have a direct impact on users. In the end, design thinking and everything we do should be built around user-centricity.”
When you’re doing qualitative testing with customers and you show them the design during the initial discovery phase, you see them saying things like, “Wow, this is so much better!” You can see that it’s working for them. That moment feels like a reward for all your efforts. I’d say it’s one of the best moments in a designer’s career.
You switched from freelancing to productboard. Was that a difficult decision to make?
The decision was made easier for me. During the interview process, I met a few designers, then the whole team, and I even came to Prague and went for lunch with them. I really saw the feedback culture within the design team. I think that’s super important in a company.
Also, by talking with Hubert, our CEO, I could see that the company is focused on design, meaning that it is user-centered. I have worked in many companies that talk about this as well, but then they don’t really do it in real life. Really, they are thinking only about making more money.
The motto here is to make products that matter, together. It’s all about being user-centered — and to me, that’s the same thing as being design-centered. This, along with the strong feedback culture, were the two factors that made me realize I wanted to be here.
What are you working on right now? What does an average week look like?
I’m just transitioning into another team within productboard. My new team is called Stargate, which focuses on integrating productboard with other tools that companies use to develop their products.
Previously, I was working in a team that focused on Insights — that’s the part of productboard that gathers insights from customers. We were trying to figure out what to focus on and how to make the biggest impact on users. There was a lot of feedback collected on how to improve the Insights board, but we needed to prioritize it and decide what to work on first.
What does a typical week look like for me? Well, I sync with the team — we have daily standups. I plan what I need to work on. I work in Figma, and I try to figure out the problem I’m trying to solve. I check our competitors and other products for inspiration as I try to figure out the solution. Then I meet with stakeholders, show my work to people, get feedback, and iterate on the designs.
What are you enjoying the most about your work at the moment? What are you most proud of?
I’m a big fan of involving engineering in the discovery process. I’m proud that I managed to create a safe space to share ideas with the engineers in our team.
At first, I didn’t have a close relationship with the engineers due to everyone being quite new to the company. So I created a 1-hour biweekly meeting called “Engineer/Design sync” where we show designs in progress and get engineering input. But it’s also a place where engineers can prepare prototypes with design solutions ideas that are super inspiring!
Who inspires you? Are there any blogs, authors, or interesting books you’ve read for inspiration that we can share with the world?
One of the first names that come to mind is John Maeda. He’s a big design theorist with a lot of experience. He wrote a book called The Laws of Simplicity, one of the first books I read about design theory. He does some live interviews on LinkedIn as well. He recently touched on the events happening in the US and the Black Lives Matter movement, which was very inspiring.
I previously mentioned the design sprint methodology. It’s all about understanding the problem, thinking about solutions, testing, and prototyping. I was so lucky to be trained as a facilitator for these workshops by Jake Knapp. It was truly inspiring.
I’d also like to mention a book called Ruined by Design by Mike Monteiro. It touches upon the topic of diversity and hiring — trying to hire a diverse team to ensure that you are embracing all kinds of solutions for your users. He talks about how designers need to be the ambassadors for users, the protectors of users. On the subject of diversity, there’s also this podcast featuring Maria Giudice.
I also have tips for a couple of Instagram accounts that I follow — they are friends of mine, like Flavita Banana or Cicca Boom. And of course, my peers can be inspiring as well. We have some amazing designers and design advisors here at productboard.
We’re currently on the lookout for talented product designers. So if you’d like to join Julia and the rest of the productboard design team in making products that matter, check out this job description for more info.