Kate is a UX Designer in the Marketing Division.
I’m a user experience designer. I work in the Creative Design Strategy Department and I work on something called the Rakuten Experience Project, which are design guidelines from a UI (User Interface) and UX (User Experience) perspective meant for all Rakuten services and employees to abide by.
I come from Bulgaria, which is where I did my bachelor’s degree in engineering design and studied an overview of different types of design. I worked as a graphic designer for a while, but I realized that it isn’t making pretty things but rather when people used what I created that made me feel more satisfaction towards what I do. So I continued my studies and did my Master’s in IT product design in Denmark. My studies centered on participatory innovation, involving users in the design process and facilitating usability studies, which was quite interesting for me.
After this I started working in Ireland. First I was a UI/UX designer in a startup, and then I moved to a bigger company where I worked as a UX architect. I gained quite a lot of experience there after working for nearly three years. Then I decided it was time to move on.
I’ve always had an interest in Japan, so I decided the next logical step would be to learn the language and allow myself to start working here (in Japan).
Career growth and job satisfaction
I like the variety that my job has to offer — that was one of the reasons why I started working at Rakuten. There are so many different products and so many different people from different countries here. Right now, I’m not attached to any one single product. I’m working on almost all of them, reviewing them from a UX perspective. For me, it’s quite interesting to gain a little bit of knowledge about every field, and the fact that I have the opportunity to do that here at Rakuten is great.
There is a big difference between working on one product and trying to look at different products and creating guidelines for them. I first had to gain a lot of general knowledge before being able to look at more specific cases and answer more complex questions. Learning how to express ideas in a method that would allow people to easily understand them has been the biggest lesson for me so far.
The appeal of working at Rakuten
I like the working environment and how it doesn’t feel restrictive. There are plenty of social activities at Rakuten and several clubs that you can freely join. There are also always different events taking place, and the fact that you can go to the office in your costume during Halloween is a great part of the company culture in my view!
At the moment, we’re focusing our resources on building accessibility guidelines, which is a very deep and important topic. No matter how much I try to experience things from the point of view of someone with a sight disability, I am so used to relying on my own sight that I could never fully comprehend what it’s like. Hence, I think my next challenge is to gain more understanding about the different types of people out there, whether they carry disabilities or not. Personally, I think it will be all about expanding my horizons as wide as they can go, and going back to basics and trying to understand users better and create a better user experience.
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