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Felicia Pintilei’s career in product design

Felicia Pintilei’s career in product design

How did you decide to pursue a design career?

I have always enjoyed creative activities like graphic design and drawing. Over time, I developed analytical and technical skills and an interest in researching human behavior, so product design is a very good fit for me.

My path to product design was a long, though smooth, one. I began my career in product marketing, more specifically in the market research software industry. At that time I worked for a startup, which meant a lot of ownership and involvement in the related areas. As a result, I contributed greatly to shaping the product features and sometimes the UX/UI. This is how my transition toward product design started, and since 2018 I became a full-time product designer. Throughout my career, much of my marketing skills have come in handy since we apply similar techniques for market and user research.

Name several things you wished you knew before starting your career.

Don’t jump straight into offering solutions. Take the time to properly understand the product, analyze the competitors and research your users’ needs. It’s important to follow all the steps since industry standards were created for a reason.

You can easily become a good graphic designer, but product design is more than that. Firstly, I would recommend learning about design thinking and the design processes. Start with that and focus a little more initially on learning about user experience and how to empathize with the users. In the end, you will have a proper map of what you need to build instead of relying on assumptions.

Also, don’t be afraid to ask for feedback and test your designs as often as you can.

Describe the design methods that you follow and technologies you tend to use.

I guide my work by the design thinking framework and usually go through the well-known phases (empathize, define, ideate, prototype, test, implement). And I try to follow the Double Diamond model, as it is widely used in the industry.

Do you use any psychological principles in your work?

Like most product designers, I often begin the design process with an understanding of the people I’m designing for. In order to figure out their needs, pains, emotions, and motivations, you must empathize with your user.  I usually get these insights by observing how people behave naturally or through in-depth user interviews.

I also watch people’s “gut reaction” when they first interact with a prototype, for example during usability testing. Most of the time you see the users frown if they don’t fully understand what a certain element does or leads to. The first impression is important and it can help pinpoint some of the slightest inconsistencies.

Additionally, I try to be mindful of the shapes I use and take into account color psychology, as certain colors are associated with specific emotions or qualities and therefore can create a certain mood or environment. The same goes for shapes – for example, angular shapes are perceived to be more masculine and powerful than round ones which are considered friendlier.  

From a designer perspective, can you name a few products that inspire you?

Some of my favorite products are:

How do you improve your skills?

Generally, I improve my knowledge from design courses, training sessions, and tutorials on specific technical topics, and obviously, I also learn from my peers. It’s worth mentioning AJ&Smart’s YouTube channel for product management and design content, Nielsen and UXcollective for anything UX/UI related.

Right now I follow developments in generative AI with a focus on design and product design tools. It’s a hot topic right now and I am interested to see how this field will shape the design industry and how I can integrate generative AI tools into products I work on.

What do you like most about your job at Transcenda?

I already had the opportunity to work on two different products, each of them very interesting and challenging in a good way. I appreciate the learning opportunities that came with it in terms of the overall design, specific products, or industries.

We have a pretty great and diverse team and I always get support from my colleagues when needed. There is a lot of learning involved – both from colleagues and also by working on the products myself, which I consider to be a huge advantage.

What are your hobbies and how did they shape you?

I love traveling and exploring new places, trying local foods, and learning about different cultures. It helps me to keep an open mind because when you travel somewhere, you put yourself in the shoes of the local people when you start to experience their lifestyle. It contributes to understanding different perspectives, which is an important skill for a designer. I was lucky enough to experience a lot of traveling, which helped me become a more well-rounded person, become more independent, and improve my planning.

One of the quirky activities I like to do while traveling is to check the supermarkets for interesting local stuff you wouldn’t be able to find back home. Since our lives have become so globalized and standardized, I like to take the time to observe the different, interesting cultural differences. In this regard, I think the most fascinating experience I had was in Japan.

Given that I enjoy a good challenge, I am also a big sports fan, especially tennis and more recently – snowboarding and trekking.

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