Interview with Siri Preston, senior UX designer at Periscope

Designation Team Aug 20 Designers, Interviews

Siri Preston completed Designation in 2017 as a UX designer in the Water cohort. She returned to Minneapolis and works today at Periscope.

Tell us briefly about your job today.

Periscope is a fully integrated agency that got its start in type-setting back in the ‘60s. I’ve been with them since October 2017 and work on the Connected Experience team. We’re comprised of designers, developers, SEO specialists, and strategists. We get brought onto projects to think about how technology can enrich an experience—and our solutions aren’t necessarily tied just to interactions on a screen.

What did you do professionally before you started at Designation?

I worked in sales for a company called Dero, which manufactures and sells commercial grade bike racks, public bike repair systems, bike lockers and shelters to contractors, home-owners, municipalities, and the like around the world. I worked directly with clients to help them meet parking and shelter requirements for their properties. Because of past work in marketing and graphic design, I also worked closely with the in-house marketing team for trade shows and on promotional copy and materials.

How did you hear about Designation, and why did you decide to attend? What did you think it would be like before you applied?

I had heard about the UX field through my partner, and after doing some research I knew that my background in sales, marketing, and graphic design would meld perfectly into UX. The main factor that swayed me to attend Designation came down to the work that we got to do with real clients. I couldn’t get that type of hands-on experience anywhere else. I wanted to jumpstart a new career, and Designation looked like the program that could make that happen.

The main factor that swayed me to attend Designation came down to the work that we got to do with real clients. I couldn’t get that type of hands-on experience anywhere else.

Looking back at your Designation experience, how do you describe its impact?

Designation helped me grow, not only as a designer, but as a person. Through the process, I became more confident in my strengths and more humble in my shortcomings. In addition, the collaborative work taught me how to better listen to the people I’m designing for and also to my teammates—a skill that takes constant practice.

What were your favorite parts of life at Designation?

I loved getting to know Chicago. Taking the ‘L’ early in the morning to the gym before heading to work for the day. Then hopping the train back home after a full day of creative problem-solving. It was simultaneously the most exhausting and energizing three months of my life to date. Chicago is a beautiful city with so much to offer and I think often about my time spent there.

What’s the staff like at Designation? Did anyone help you in specific, important ways?

The staff and instructors all come with unique skills and backgrounds just like the other designers in the program. This makes for a diverse and inclusive environment. No one cares if you have a background in design or used to work as an accountant. They just care that you’re inquisitive, driven, and have a passion for user-centered design. The staff and instructors won’t hold your hand or do the work for you, but they will encourage you and help you to achieve your goals throughout the program and even after graduation.

No one cares if you have a background in design or used to work as an accountant. They just care that you’re inquisitive, driven, and have a passion for user-centered design.

What advice or recommendations do you have for people considering applying to Designation, or for those already in the program?

The program gives you tools to use at every stage of the design process, which come in all types, from research tactics to software and online resources. Be comfortable with the fact that you may not always have all the answers or land on the perfect solution. But, if you have a goal in mind, you have all the tools you need to get closer to that goal.

Be comfortable with the fact that you may not always have all the answers or land on the perfect solution.

What are your favorite parts of being a professional designer today?

I’m encouraged to explore and experiment with new technologies and new ways to interact with technology. At Periscope, we're playing around with full-body gesture-controlled interfaces, voice-controlled interactions, augmented reality, virtual reality, and much more. For example, Halo Labs is an online VR prototyping tool I've been using to help work out the kinks for an app idea we're toying with.

What are some of your favorite resources that help make you a stronger designer?

99% Invisible. Roman Mars (swoon!) tells the story of the design all around us, from product design to urban design. I find this podcast, while not directly UX-focused, to be incredibly inspiring because of its “human-centeredness.” And, let’s be honest, his voice is amazing.

What’s next for you, professionally speaking?

I like where I’m at right now, absorbing knowledge from my coworkers about web development, SEO best practices, strategy, and marketing. I do however have an itch to learn how to code.

What advice do you have for people looking to get their start in the design field?

Don’t stop learning. There are always new things to discover, new opinions, new “best practices,” and new technology. And remember that the best ideas don’t only come from designers; you’d be surprised how much you can learn about human-centered design from anthropologists or developers or even Amazon reviews. 

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