In this article, we sit down with Ivo Beremov, INDUSTRIA’s UX/UI designer, to gain insights into his design philosophy, approach, and process. Join us as we ask him 10 questions to learn more about his experiences and expertise in the blockchain field.
1. Tell us more about yourself and how you chose to get involved with Blockchain?
I was born and raised in Sofia. In my free time I enjoy hobbies like sports, traveling, music and many more. In general, I like to do new things, go to new places and my life is completely dynamic and flexible. I don't like monotony and greyness. For me as a person, to feel truly alive, I need to diversify and experience new things. The relationship with family and friends is very important to me - these are the people who support me the most and believe in me deeply.
Why did I choose Blockchain? I chose to get involved in it because it gives our clients quite a lot of security, along with a number of benefits. The projects that are being developed are platforms for the fintech sector, which for me is one of the most interesting, with its many challenges and more complex problems.
2. How did you choose to do UX/UI Design? When did you realize it was your dream job?
In reality, it all started as a joke. When I was a in 6th-7th grade, like any boy, you have a fling with the girls, you tease them, etc. That's part of me starting out as a designer, as weird as that sounds. We started getting together with friends and making all sorts of fun collages for the girls in the class, and I quite liked how you could transform something and bring it closer to reality with a program.
Then I started doing more elaborate things like complete photo manipulations - something like, you take a guy and put him on whatever background you want with whatever effects you want and at least for me it was like "wow"! I kept learning new things as time went on, and those were the days when there were hardly any tutorials and only UI existed as a practice. Basically you learn stuff randomly while doing something else. After a while I got tired of these photo manipulations and realized it was pure art, which was a bit annoying for me. I was missing problems and challenges to solve. I became interested in web design - I liked that you put logic and meaning into things and especially that they would be used by other people.
A friend and I decided to make a fairly basic game involving cars. Back then, these games where you create a profile and you get a unique link that you send to a friend and when they visit your profile, you get 1 credit and the more they visit, the more credits you get. The number of credits was also upgraded with the number of cars - you start with a breeches and end up with a cool sports car (teenage joy).
He did the programming part and I did the design and we decided to do this little project purely as a hobby - without any commercial part. Our idea was to try and create a platform that could be used by people for entertainment purposes.
Every designer's beginnings are pretty much identical, they have no sense of typography and usually the fonts they put and think are good are huge, as are the buttons. I personally explain it that a little comes from the print - this sense of huge. The design was simple, plus it was my launch into a new world and getting closer to the dream.
The site grew quickly - there were close to 1000 profiles. It far exceeded our expectations and we were even more excited that we had made something for people to use and have fun together through. After making that site, I became very interested in how to make more complex projects and started my own personal projects to practice with, uploading the sites I was creating to the then equivalent of Dribbble, which was called deviantart.
It was pretty cool because you're making something and people appreciate your work, give you feedback and you more or less help each other. The question comes when I actually realized that this was the thing I wanted to do. Honestly it was when I realized that I could make money from this thing that I enjoy.
When I was 16 I had an acquaintance who worked at a web agency and he gave me a job making banners for an alcohol company, which was a bit comical because you write on the banner "Consume Responsibly", "18+", and you're 16 years old, but whatever. It was the first thing that was actually going to reach a large number of people and I would have done it. I made that banner and made my first money from what I had learned in a couple of years. I was like, "great," because the money was good for the time, and I had literally spent a couple of hours making it. That was good motivation.
After that I did a few more sites at a pretty amateur level - I've always been pretty critical with myself and strived for more, maybe that persistence helped me in the future, but self-criticism is really quite the key with me because it helps me realize and evolve towards what I'm actually chasing, which is becoming a designer.
When I graduated from high school, I honestly had no desire at all to study somewhere to be a designer - there was nowhere to go - universities were mostly either for a more artistic profile, or for a programmer, or at some design level that was way below what was in demand in the market.
It took me completely away from my goals, so I started looking for a job and at 19 I started as a Junior in a web agency. They completely trusted me regardless my limited experience and provided me with a step up towards my dream. In the studio I learned a lot- until then I didn't know what a grid was at all, I had a problem with layouts, colors and in general the problems every designer faces at the beginning.
With time and mostly practice these things lessened. Overall, it all worked out with a lot of luck, but I'm sure both desire and persistence always steers you towards what you want most.
3. Where do you find inspiration?
The designer finds inspiration in everything that surrounds him. You need your mind to be fresh - if it's cluttered with unnecessary things or problems, it's just hard to focus and create something, so when I get in that state I take a break and just go for a drive, go to the mountains or somewhere to clear my mind.
Ivo's favourite place- the lake in Pravets, Bulgaria.
Over time, you realise that the best inspirations you can get as a UX/UI designer are from the products that clients really want to come to a solution that they can use. The key is committing to your client to achieve the goals they are striving for.
4. What’s your most and least favorite software to use?
As a designer with 9 years of experience, I've been through all kinds of software such as Photoshop, CorelDraw, Illustrator, Sketch, Adobe XD, Figma and more. I wouldn't say I have a least favourite, because each of them has a certain functionality and can help you at a given time. However I have a favorite one, and that is Figma.
This software is made for UX/UI design and it recreates one hundred percent the web environment that the client will actually be in, it includes a lot of useful features for the development team and has amazing options for structuring Design Systems, Research, User Flows etc.
In the beginning when I started working on Figma I was very skeptical because beforehand I had worked on Sketch,, and when you are used to a software it is very hard to switch to something new, especially when it uses different shortcuts and it slows down the initial process.
With one or two projects, though, you literally realize that this software is much more stable and better. Auto Layout took me the most time. I literally watched dozens of tutorials while figuring out the program. After a lot of practice, it reduced not only the time for adjustments, but also the risk of errors in spacing and defining elements.
5. What's your creative process? Can you name the steps you take to design a project from start to finish?
I use different techniques for different projects according to the client's need.
I don't think there has to be any exact sequence because each project is completely individual and different solutions are sought for their business problems.
I always spend a lot of time understanding the client's business, their users and their problems. These are the three main factors that guide me when starting a new project - you can't create a working product if you don't understand them.
I then do extensive research to find out if they have competitors - direct or not so direct - if they too have encountered a similar problem and how they solved it.From all of this you get an even better look at the business and what the client wants to achieve. Then you create UX Personas to understand the users and their needs - after all, they will be using the product.
When I understand the users and their problems, I start drawing either on paper or in the form of raw digital mockups, which further validate with the client that everything is understood and there are no unclear things. Every detail matters.
Ivo's workspace at home.
Once all the fuzzy stuff on the project is cleared up, I make a UX Wireframes Prototype that is Low Fidelity or High Fidelity, my goal is to abstract the client from the questions of "Is this the right color" or "Is this the picture we want" and focus entirely on functionality.
When we determine that this is the functionality we are looking for, the Design System and UI Design are already being developed. In simple words, the product itself starts to take on a colorful look. After what we've done to this point, I know that the product will not only be beautiful, but functional as well.
In some cases, tests are organised with users to see what difficulties they might have with the product, and really that's the ultimate goal - to deliver a product that people understand and that covers their needs.
One of my favourite phrases is "Think More, Design Less" - I strongly believe in it and it's an integral part of my process. No matter how nice a design you come up with, if it's not used, it's all been for nothing.
6. What was the most challenging project you worked on since starting in INDUSTRIA?
The most challenging project at INDUSTRIA for me was the development of one of our products. Because the product is quite large in capacity, with a lot of challenges and is related to team management - it has really interesting and useful features that would make it easier for everyone in the company - I often consulted colleagues to get more than one perspective on the problem. I designed a system that includes absolutely every element that could be needed in such a platform. Work on the product continues to this day, but I dare say it's a product I created with great pleasure.
7. How do you keep up with the latest trends and must-have skills in UX/UI design?
I think everyone - not just designers - needs to constantly seek knowledge and development for themselves. There are already so many useful articles on the internet that you can learn from anywhere. I set aside time every week to watch tutorials or read.
8. Do you prefer working solo or with a team and why?
Over time, I've realized that working in a team is the biggest asset to the whole project.
We, designers, rarely like anyone messing with our work and we often cut people's ideas, but if we detach from the ego and the whole team thinks in one direction, namely about making the best solution for a client, the product becomes many times with a higher quality. There is a reason people have said, "Two heads think better than one."
Teamwork is the key to the success of any product.
9. How do you handle criticism of your work?
Criticism is the most valuable thing, especially if it is constructive. It makes you aware of things you wouldn't have noticed on your own and makes you look at the product from a different angle. For me, criticism is good and a “necessary” evil. Whenever I receive criticism, I think carefully about what is meant in it, and why it is given.
It's usually constructive and really helps.
10. Can you give some tips and pieces of advice for people that want to change their careers path and start working as UX/UI designers?
Working as a UX/UI designer is quite interesting for me because there is not a single day that is the same as the last. Variety is the spice of life.
Apart from that, you have many challenges and problems to solve on a daily basis, and that keeps your brain always in rhythm. My advice to people who want to pursue this profession is to only do it if it's their dream and it's the thing that makes them truly happy.
In conclusion, INDUSTRIA hopes that this interview has provided you with valuable insights and inspiration for your own UX/UI design projects.
INDUSTRIA is a global technology consulting, development, and ventures company with expertise in the field of enterprise blockchain, confidential computing, process automation, and digital experience. As one of the official partners of R3, we are implementing cutting-edge blockchain technologies and reshaping the fintech world. At INDUSTRIA, we are focused on providing permissioned blockchain solutions, such as Central Bank Digital Currencies, Electronic Bill of Lading, and Smart Contracts. Our solutions apply to a wide range of industries and use cases to empower and modernise society.
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