“Make me beautiful”: how an interface designer works and how design is similar to music

Into the new episode of the podcast “Dry the oars” The presenters invited Denis Gomes and Katya Sosedova, art director and senior designer of red_mad_robot. They talked about whether an interface designer needs to understand other types of design, how to work with developers, and where to learn exactly UX and UI. The release itself and a short squeeze inside.

A few words about “oars”

Developers red_mad_robot record soulful podcasts discussing development, analytics, testing, and other aspects of creating IT products.


  • 02:14 – Denis and Katya about their background;

  • 05:00 – who is a mobile interface designer;

  • 08:10 – is the interface designer obliged to understand all areas related to design;

  • 20:10 – Egor Letov and Industrial Techno: should subjectivation influence design;

  • 31:02 – where to go to study;

  • 40:12 – whether a designer needs to understand programming;

  • 44:17 – developers and customers, is it possible to live with them in the world;

  • 01:00:02 – the designer must be able to draw other myths;

  • 01:11:06 – voice interfaces, neurointerfaces, will the fate of the “Matrix” heroes await us;

  • 01:19:04 – will mobile interfaces change in the future.

Is an interface designer required to understand all areas of design?

In the studio, we discussed that we don’t have to, and, rather, it’s just a matter of interest – to study design in different areas. Indirectly, this approach helps to develop in its field: there is an understanding with which channels of visual communication users interact and how these channels work.

For example, if they say to me: “Make a package for something,” then maybe I will do it. But I still can’t take into account the nuances that the packaging designer knows, who every day looks at the shelves in the supermarket and analyzes it not from the point of view of composition, but from the point of view of perception in different visual planes.

Then Artyom came in and said that he had a strong opinion that a good developer should deeply understand how a computer works in general and what is happening in neighboring areas. But this is not about the fact that he has to sit down and immediately write backend. And about the fact that it is important to understand the problems.

The guests agreed that the designer has a similar task – a specialist needs to understand the problems of his field in order to be aware of the technological limitations and peculiarities of the user’s psychology.

And to summarize, the interface designer does not have to figure out how, for example, to make packaging – there is a whole world with its own questions: what materials to use, how they will behave in print, how the materials differ, how packaging affects the product, the result, and etc. But he may know something in general about the industry and be interested in something related to his own development.

Design – at the call of the heart or is it a craft?

So who can be a designer? A person with conventional “data”: talent, vocation – or can anyone be a designer who tries hard enough and puts in the effort?

In the studio, they formulated that both are important here. It happens that a person initially notices some points better, at an intuitive level he sees a combination of colors or draws well from elementary grades. And this predisposition can be compared to an ear for music. If it is, it’s great, but if it’s not, then it’s not such a big problem, it can be developed. But still, do not forget that a lot depends on how much effort a particular specialist has invested in his development.

Look for quite a bit of controversy on this topic here – 16:12.

Why do designers go to IT?

When something new appears, people tend to learn it. Katya and Denis remembered how the first mobile application store appeared, when there were only a few mobile phones. It was a new and interesting area and many specialists, including designers, wanted to try themselves in it. Yes, and IT now requires a lot of hands.

But despite the popularity of the field, the rest of the industries are not going anywhere. And the notorious packaging for goods was needed and will be in the near future. The same goes for books or, for example, graphic design.

How to become a team with a developer

During the conversation, the question came to the podcast chat: “Does an interface designer need to understand programming?”

Katya and Denis agreed that, in a sense, it was necessary. Not to code, of course, but to know the limitations in order to correctly render the layout. Roma summed up: “Conventionally, at least, you need to know the guidelines and understand what is accepted in different platforms and how it is done.”

And to make a really high-quality project, you need to become a development team. For this, for example, you can invite the guys for co-creation sessions and joint brainstorming sessions. This, firstly, makes it clear that everyone together makes a great and useful product. And secondly, the developers, as Denis says, sometimes help to find a completely unexpected solution.

And with the client?

There was also a second question: “What if the customer pays and wants it to be as he said?” But here again the advice – become a team.

It is unlikely that the client wants to make something incomprehensible out of his project. He, like a designer with developers, aims at great results. And here it is worth synchronizing the understanding of this very result, as well as the path to it.

The task of the designer is to explain, sort through the shelves, why he did something this way and not otherwise. It is important that the customer does not feel like they are not involved in the process. To do this, you need to set up collaboration: you can involve the client in generating ideas and discussing solutions. When people themselves are fired up with an idea, it becomes much easier to find a common language.

Bonus for those who want to become an interface designer, but don’t know where to go to study

The specialty “interface designer” is actually still quite new, despite such a demand in IT. But it is design education that exists in Russia. For example, the University of Printing Arts (VShPiM MPU) – they give a classical design education, albeit without interface specifics.

But for her you can go to the “Britanka” (BVShD). It’s not cheap, but as the saying goes, it’s worth it. At the BHShD, the course “digital product design” is taught by our guys: designers, art directors and developers. Together with specialists from other large companies, they teach how to design interfaces. Link to the course in the “nice links” below.

But often a person who wants to do design is forced from various sources to collect bit by bit information about what it is and how to work and live with it. In any case, you can learn through online courses if you really want to. It all depends on how disciplined a person is, how much effort he can and wants to put into it. But is it possible to enter the industry with the help of the conditional course “mobile application designer in 21 days”, we figured out at 37:15.

Useful materials

Previous episodes of the Dry the Oars podcast

  • Software architect: why is he needed and what is his curse;

  • Source of truth: how an analyst teaches a manager and a developer to work together;

  • All Startup CTO QA for Beginners: How to Test a Rocket or Airplane;

  • Queue in the backend: what we stand for and where to start our journey;

  • Pandemic and IT business: how to adapt and what to do next;

  • A very technical issue: about DDD and the design of complex systems.

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