Meet the Proxyclicker: Eirini Kasti, Product Designer
In our “Meet the Proxyclickers” blog series, we’re sitting down and catching up with our team to understand their background, their role, how they’re striving for improvement, and what keeps them motivated for success.
For this edition, I sat down with Eirini Kasti, our Product Designer. Eirini joined our team this year, amidst the first COVID-19 lockdown in Brussels. But that didn’t stop her from embracing the company’s fun-loving and hard-working culture, working well (and remotely) alongside all teams, and carrying out her strong vision, which happens to align quite well with Proxyclick’s. Here’s what Eirini’s experience has been like so far.
Can you start by introducing yourself, and telling us a bit more about your background and your role at Proxyclick?
Eirini: I’m a product designer. I do user research, together with the product managers, and a lot of prototyping. I take care of how the product looks, as well as the paths that users take, and I work together with the engineers to develop these paths. You could consider a product designer like me to be the tech team’s advocate for the user.
Product designers should be generalists. They have to take care of both tech and business. But most importantly, they have to be super empathetic in order to understand problems. As we love to say on the product team, you need to fall in love with the problems!
A big part of my work involves conducting user interviews with anyone who would use the product, whether it’s an existing client, a prospect, or even someone that doesn’t know about the product.
Do you work with any other teams in your role?
Eirini: Yes. I help the marketing team. For example, I use Google Analytics to analyze how people perceive the website. I am also into data - I really like it. I'm not a data scientist or an analyst, but I just like numbers for some reason.
I also help the People Experience team - that’s what we call the HR team here at Proxyclick because one of our values is “people first.” With this team, I help identify the needs of our colleagues and propose creative solutions. I also facilitate workshops for all teams.
Basically, my job is to identify people’s needs, analyze data, and communicate with people to resolve issues. I do this mainly for the product team, as well as for Proxyclick as a company.
So, you help make data-driven decisions for products and people?
Eirini: Decisions are often data-driven, but it's also very important to listen to your gut feeling. When you hear so many opinions and points of view, you gather some knowledge that can be difficult to explain. So, at that point, you need to go with your gut feeling.
Then, we conduct user tests to see if that gut feeling makes sense or not. If it doesn't, we throw away the solution. If it does, we keep with it and get more into the details.
How does user testing work? Do you test with users at Proxyclick, with potential leads or clients, or with new sets of people?
Eirini: It depends on the project.
For example, we are experts in visitor management, and we have a huge client list.
We talk a lot with our clients. And if we want to introduce something new, like a new approach or a new project, we'll reach out to them. We have really interesting conversations. We show them concepts, and those prototypes that I was referring to earlier, and they tell us if they like them or not.
For our latest employee offer, user testing is different. Every single person is an employee. And we can test prototypes with random people around the world. Usually, we’ll post through a recruitment website, so no one knows that it's Proxyclick, but they test for us.
So, how we test is really determined by our ultimate goal.
What do you like about being a product designer?
Eirini: I really love what I do. I get to do so many things! My role includes design, which is the aesthetic part, and a bit of emotion. It includes working with technology because solutions need to be applicable, and they need to be easily developed.
What I love the most about my job is that it’s very unique. You need to know a bit of psychology and cognitive science because you have to understand the true meaning behind what people are saying and try to grasp the micro emotions.
How do you grasp those emotions?
Eirini: I was trained to do this while completing my master's degree in The Netherlands. I was taught how to ask thought-provoking questions and lots of different techniques in order to understand people better.
Can you tell us a bit more about your background before arriving at Proxyclick?
Eirini: I'm originally from Greece, where I studied product design engineering. I then went on to complete a master's degree in digital service design. Back in 2013, my day job was designing signs and road safety for the motorways of Greece.
But I decided I wanted to work in user experience (UX) design. So during evenings and on weekends, I worked in a startup incubator doing consulting work.
Three years later, I was fortunate enough to earn a scholarship at Delft University, and that’s how I really got to dig into interaction design, designing for emotion and micro emotions, as well as research around that. This was super interesting - I worked on crazy, innovative projects using very unconventional techniques to reveal the needs of people. It was strange stuff, but very interesting.
Afterward, I consulted for KLM Airlines, ING Bank, and a few other big corporations. Following this, I decided that I should go back to start-up and scale-up environments. Once I started working with scale-ups, Proxyclick happened! My personal vision and Proxyclick’s vision are really similar, which is what I really liked about the company.
I'm guessing you'll now ask, what is that vision?
Exactly! Tell us.
Eirini: My vision, or my goal, is to remove any stress and friction from people’s daily lives. And as a designer and product design researcher, I want to focus on making people happy, putting a smile on their face every time they interact with a product that I designed.
I always look for companies that want to improve the lives of people. Proxyclick sees visitor and employee management from the people’s or the users’ perspective, not only from the business’ or building’s perspective.
It was very important for me to join a company where the goal is to make people’s daily lives easier. This allows them to focus on what they care about and what they need to do, and not about the small things that they have to do when they enter or exit a building. It’s all about empowering people to live their lives as they want.
So is that what you like about Proxyclick: that overlap between your vision and the company vision?
Eirini: It’s not the only thing I like.
The first thing that I noticed when I discovered Proxyclick was its super nice design. I thought, "That company is doing something nice."
Then I met Geoff, the Head of Design, and I saw what a beautiful person and nice person he is.
When I came for my in-person interview, I met Chloe and Philippine, who were so happy to help me as soon as I stepped foot in the office. Everyone was very welcoming and positive, I was really drawn to that.
A company might have a good website and a good vision, but what makes it truly a good company is the people that work there. Proxyclick employees have a lot of respect for one another, and there’s a lot of teamwork, which I love.
It's a great environment. And I really believe you cannot achieve great things without having this super nice working atmosphere.
That’s very true. Tell us, you joined during a challenging time. Are you still feeling this positive atmosphere after a few months of working remotely?
Eirini: Honestly, it's so easy for me to say, “yes.” I came in during the first COVID-19 lockdown in Brussels. I was among the first group of people who started onboarding in an entirely virtual environment. I felt the challenge that many people felt, having to work from home with kids, and all this craziness that we are going through.
But the People team really succeeded in continuing to pass on the Proxyclick culture to us new people, even remotely. For example, the buddy initiative worked really well - where new hires are paired with employees who’ve been around awhile to help them navigate the Proxyclick waters.
One of the many ways our People team is coming through:
the Friday News meeting, Halloween edition
What's one of the biggest challenges you are facing at work right now, and how are you tackling it? Or, how do you plan to tackle it?
Eirini: We just released our new employee offer, which is an exciting challenge because we are in SaaS and we deliver quickly. That’s another thing that I really like about Proxyclick: when the leadership team sees an opportunity, they say, "Let's go for it. Let’s not lose time."
So, for the employee project, we do the research, design and develop the prototypes, and then we need to improve upon them within a very short period of time. We also face a lot of technical challenges in order to bring value quickly to the user - but this is what I care about the most. Making the right decisions and curating the full experience and the user journey properly is challenging, as you need to see many different perspectives in order to have a holistic experience and a holistic project. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking, and the technical limitations are there.
It’s an exciting challenge to work to deliver something quickly, that also makes sense to the user. That’s my challenge right now, and I'm super excited that leadership has made this decision to move quickly. All teams are working like crazy to deliver on this new offer.
We’re having a lot of discussions, asking, "Should we do this? Should we do that? Okay, let's go for it, then we can test it, and maybe we can come back and improve it." I like making all of these quick decisions as a team, and I love bringing structure to that chaos.
Those speedy decisions and ‘chaos’ are typical when working at a SaaS scale-up, I think. Is this why you chose to work in SaaS? Was it a conscious choice, or did you just happen to fall into SaaS because you liked Proxyclick?
Eirini: My criteria were, in order of importance: the team, the product with the vision, and then the type of product. I wanted a cool company to work for, with nice people, a nice vision, and that was Proxyclick, which happened to be in SaaS.
Let’s switch gears a bit. Tell us, how is the design team organized, and do you get a lot of autonomy as a product designer?
Eirini: Geoff is the head of our design team, Mo is our visual designer, and Cedric is also a product designer like me.
Officially, we are divided into squads [learn more about squads in our interview with Thomas, Engineering Manager].
Each member of the team is responsible for a squad. But we work closely together. We have a lot of feedback sessions and share our designs together. We need to ensure quality everywhere, so it's important to get another pair of eyes on our designs to make sure that we can best deliver on the full user experience.
We also collaborate closely with the product managers. You could say we are like the product managers’ consultants for users and design. It's very important to work together in order to shape the experience of the product.
And we do have a lot of autonomy. Geoff gives us a lot of space and he trusts our judgment, so we can come up with solutions on our own. But being autonomous doesn’t mean we are working in silos and not communicating with each other. We bring our solutions to the team, and we ask for feedback. It’s a really nice balance.
Can you explain a little bit how you collaborate with the developers?
Eirini: Basically, I do the work before they start working.
We design screens that we bring to sessions in which all the amazing minds of the developers come together with product management and the design team. During these sessions, we determine how we can really tackle problems. We find new issues thanks to our developers’ amazing background knowledge. We see our solution improving again and again over time.
And at the same time, they have to know how to approach the development of specific screens with the right solution. We do an entire iteration of this, and then they get the design. And when developers start implementing our designs, we are here to help whenever they need us. It's a constant collaboration.
Developers also educate the design team about how the code works, while we educate them about the needs and concerns of our users.
What kind of tools are you using on a daily basis, or rather, what does your design stack consist of?
Eirini: We design and prototype on Figma. We also use Miro, an interactive whiteboard, for all of our facilitation sessions, Notion as a company wiki, and GitLab to collaborate with the developers. We also use productboard for product management.
Which aspect of Proxyclick would you highlight if you were recommending the company to another product designer, or just to anybody that might join the product team?
Eirini: First, I would highlight the team. The people are very respectful, they are funny, and they like to work quickly. So, if potential candidates would like to be on a team that is fun, but also hard-working, and they also want to deliver fast, then they should consider Proxyclick.
Speaking to future Proxyclick product designers, specifically, I think a very important point to highlight is the fact that Proxyclick cares about design - how things are seen and are felt. We listen to the customers.
Would you have any advice for anyone who was thinking about joining Proxyclick?
Eirini: My advice would be, first, to not be afraid to show their full personality. Proxyclick provides a super nice environment, so with whoever you meet, just be yourself first, then try to see if that fits you, and the way we work. Prepare and ask as many questions as you can. And finally, as I would say to any person who works in tech, just be up-to-date with industry trends, because they change so quickly.