We're tracking down InVision users inside the world's most amazing companies to discover their favorite tools, inspirations, workspace must-haves, and the philosophy behind what makes them so awesome. This week we interviewed Moses Ting, UX Design Lead at LinkedIn.
Tell us about your role and responsibilities at LinkedIn?
I’m a UX Design Lead on LinkedIn’s mobile team. The products I’m currently involved with are the LinkedIn Android phone app and Contacts iOS phone app.
The design culture at LinkedIn places an important emphasis on personal and career growth. One of the ways we're encouraged to challenge ourselves is by doing rotations within different parts of LinkedIn's design team. I've been at LinkedIn for three and a half years, and have gone through five or six rotations. Each rotation focuses on an entirely different component of LinkedIn, and I've found the change in scenery to be both refreshing and full of opportunities. New responsibilities mean we are not pigeon-holed into a single aspect of design. Continual growth and learning is important for designers.
InVision helps us to better sell what we’ve created by allowing people to experience the application for themselves, rather than having it explained to them.
How did you get into design and what was your path into your current role?
My career started in the technical realm; I graduated college with a master's in electrical engineering and my first job involved developing sensor networks to protect buildings from biological and chemical terrorist attacks. Later on, I taught myself how to code and wrote full-stack code for a small software company with offices in Boston and New York.
Ever since college, I knew that I had a passion for design. I’d help friends and classmates with design-focused side projects. Even when I started my career, I just couldn’t stay away. I’d come home from my day job, eat dinner quickly, and put on my designer hat to work on freelance projects. I’d often lose track of time in the middle of the night perfecting pixels – I just loved it.
In 2010, I finally decided to take the leap and made design the focus of my career. My first truly design-focused role was at LinkedIn. It’s been a journey filled with excitement and growth ever since.
What are the three critical elements of an effective workspace?
The workspace that makes me effective includes:
- Two notebooks - A small one to keep a track of the things I need to do and a larger one with a dotted grid for sketches and ideation.
- Adequate desk space (standing and sitting) - My desk is super messy when I’m in the middle of a project, so having enough space gives me a sense of order through the chaos. A height-adjustable desk gives me flexibility so I can think on my feet or code while sitting.
- Music - Music helps me get into the flow. Right now, Avicii, Lorde and Imagine Dragons are on heavy rotation when I need to be ultra productive. When it comes time for high-level concept thinking, I’ll always have jazzy notes playing from the likes of Thelonious Monk and Wes Montgomery.
As designers, our superpowers enable us to turn abstract ideas into tangible bits that help move the conversation forward.
What are some of the tools you use in the design process?
- Pen and notebook - I love starting with pen and paper sketching to get ideas out in the open. Pen and paper allows me to work on multiple ideas simultaneously, whereas digital tools force me to focus on one idea at a time. I’ve noticed that the medium I choose to design with impacts the type of feedback I’m likely to receive. Using pen and paper keeps feedback at a high-level, once you go digital the feedback becomes more granular.
- Conversations with non-designers - I find these kinds of discussions to be invaluable gut checks.
- Illustrator - For single page visual designs.
- InVision - For creating prototypes or demonstrating interactive flows.
- Quartz Composer - For refining mobile transitions.
- Code - XCode, Android Development Kit, or HTML/CSS/JS for actual prototypes or to help engineers define styles and polish layouts.
What equipment are you using and how does it help you do your job effectively?
- Mac Pro: hooked up to an Apple Cinema Display
- Dell monitor: to understand what non-Apple users see
- MacBook Air: for on the go
- Dropbox: Syncs my files across every device
- Apple Magic Mouse: I used to have a pen and tablet but I’m faster with the mouse.
Where do you look for inspiration for your designs?
This might sound weird, but I look for design inspiration in books. I get through about 40 books every year on topics like understanding leadership, developing the creative mind, or memoirs of important historical figures. Great books, unlike tweets, require immense amounts of research, thinking, and revisions. All of that goodness is rendered into pages and pages of insights and knowledge. For example, Nelson Mandela’s leadership principles are extremely useful when I’m trying to guide an important design discussion. And reading about president Teddy Roosevelt’s journey to the River of Doubt in Brazil challenges me to push beyond my own limitations.
The moment you think you’re an expert is the moment you stop growing.
When I’m looking for a more diverse range of inspiration, I rely on the web. I love incorporating elements from other forms of work into my design. There’s always something useful simply by looking at beer bottle packaging or breakthroughs in material science techniques.
What design blogs, news sites or magazines are you loving at the moment?
I use Feedly to stay on top of all the blogs I want to read. Here’s a few:
- Fast Company Design - Daily digest of design related articles, there’s always a good article sitting in my inbox every morning.
- Brand New - Showcases and offers opinions on corporate and brand identity work. Also great for inspiration and learning.
- Little Big Details - A great inspiration blog that showcases the little details on web designs.
- Medium - Weekly collection of great short-formed content on a diverse range of topics.
What separates a good designer from a great one?
What makes a designer great is the ability to communicate effectively. As designers, our superpowers enable us to turn abstract ideas into tangible bits that help move the conversation or product forward. You have to be a good storyteller in order to get someone to believe in your vision.
What's one piece of advice you’d give other designers who want to eventually get a position somewhere as awesome as LinkedIn?
Never stop learning. If you’re a visual design person, try a bit of interaction design. If you’re designing for mobile, try getting your hands dirty and do some of the coding. Every little thing you pick up will make you better in the long run.
Moses is a UX Design Lead at LinkedIn. Connect with him on LinkedIn