This is part of a series of interviews and feature articles titled “Our Stories”, where we will be interviewing startup founders, instructors, students and alumni of ALPHA Camp to gain an in-depth understanding of the tech and startup community in Singapore.
For this piece, we spoke with Doralin Kelly, one of our instructors in product design. A young globe-trotter with her own UX/UI company, Design Ninja, Doralin travels between Singapore and New York, and all over the world to work on a range of design projects. She also lectures and teaches UX/UI.
Doralin shares with us some insights on her life as a professional UX/UI designer.
On working as a product designer….
How did you learn UX/UI and what made you fall in love with this field?
I started off as an interactive web designer back in 2007. At the time, designing and coding came hand in hand, and as a web designer you were expected to design it and build it. Unfortunately, I can’t code to save my life, but I got really into designing interfaces and interactive web experiences. Thankfully the industry evolved and roles became more niche and specialised. Now I can focus on the aspect that I’m good at!
Another part of UX that I absolutely love is that it’s centred around the user and human behaviour. My mother is a psychologist so I have always had an interest in what makes people tick. I also love that UX is all about iterations – it makes it okay to fail and try again. So it’s not as scary to get stuff wrong as long as you keep trying!
What kind of persona would do well in this field?
I think anyone who’s interested in people and loves problem-solving would thrive in the UX field. Empathetic thinkers would also do very well.
How does UX/UI knowledge influence your personality and problem solving approach?
It affects my logic flow and the way I manage daily routine. One good example of this is I found myself creating a user flow for my dog sitter as well as personas for each of my dogs. I have 3 of them and they have very different personalities and daily schedules. She thought it was hilarious but also pretty useful. 😉
Why do you use the term ‘ninja’ to describe your profession?
To be completely honest, I had run out of ideas when it came to my personal brand. It’s always hard to come up with a brand for yourself, and I’m my own biggest critic. I had heard someone call themselves a ‘front-end ninja’ and coincidentally I had dressed up as a ninja for Halloween the year before, so I thought it was kinda funny, albeit a little cheesy.
I figured I’d use it for a little while and then switch it out after a couple of months. So I just ran with it and it stuck! 4 years later I found myself incorporating Design Ninja as a company.
Also, ninjas are cool.
How do you manage work from different locations in the world?
Thankfully being in tech and working with startups allows for remote work and flexibility. As it’s such a plugged-in industry, it’s pretty easy to collaborate with multiple teams online and across borders. Since I incorporated Design Ninja, work permits haven’t been an issue as they aren’t hiring me as an individual, rather a company. I love hopping around co-working spaces, you get to meet plenty of people at the same time! I find that co-working spaces and tech events are the best places to network and meet potential clients.
On her teaching experience….
How would you describe your teaching personality?/What kind of teacher are you?
I’m super casual when it comes to my teaching style. I think I have a casual personality as a whole, if that makes sense. I’m a hands-on learner so I guess I have the same approach to teaching. I hate standing around and droning on for hours on end. I’d rather keep it conversational between myself an my students and I make sure that they get to apply what they’re learning as we go along.
What do you value most from your students?
I’m always thrilled to hear what they’re working on/what they’re passionate about and how they can apply UX to that.
Any memorable teaching experience you would like to share? ‘‘
One of the first ever UX workshops I taught was at a conference, and I was a complete nervous wreck! I attended the business workshop before mine to get a feel of how many people would show up. There were about 15 people in the room so I thought, oh that’s not so bad. But slowly as my turn neared, more and more people started showing up. I ended up with over 60 people! Thankfully the workshop turned out well, and it came out to be the highest attended workshop at the conference. I’m so grateful for that because it opened up a lot of teaching opportunities for me.
More Things About Doralin…
If you could pick a superpower, what would it be and why?
Oh I would love to be able to teleport. That way I could travel the world in the blink of an eye, PLUS no more terrifying turbulence on flights! And less jet-lag.
Where do you see yourself ten years down the road?
I’d probably be doing the exact same thing that I’m doing today. I’m fully content and in love with the work that I get to do on a daily basis. And I’m so, so grateful for that.
What do you enjoy doing outside your career?
Travelling to new and exciting places but eventually coming home to my dogs.
Any cool thing we need to know about you?
I’m a huge Star Wars nerd. My dogs are named after my favourite Star Wars characters, and I own a very extensive (and expensive) Star Wars lego collection.