Hi Marisa, tell us a little bit about yourself!
Hello! My name is Marisa and I'm currently a Product Designer at Tiktok. Previous, I led design at an early stage startup through an acquisition. When I'm not out on my paddle board, I run Workology, an ergonomic lifestyle brand and Mesh Times, a curated design merch store. After hours, I travel between the world of web3 and web2, creating NFTs and digital tokens for a good cause.
Can you tell us what you do as a Product Designer at TikTok for those who are unfamiliar?
If you've ever downloaded Tiktok, you would have experienced the onboarding experience that I'm part of. On top of that, I'm also designing for the next best virtual + AR experiences for Tiktok users all over the world.
As a Product Designer, I lead multiple projects for design from strategy to launch, ensuring that we're shipping meaningful and quality experiences. Also creating end-to-end user flows, both low and high fidelity, and prototypes as needed.
Day to day, I work with cross functional teams including product managers, researchers, UX writers, and engineers to execute impactful product experiences globally. I provide multiple solutions based on user needs, business goals, and technical constraints for any given product.
How did you decide to pursue product design?
Growing up, I watched my mom build a fashion label from scratch. Through out my whole life, I learned how to develop my skills and eye for visual design, my understanding of the design process by just being around my mom. Because of that I was naturally eased into pursuing fashion design for college in the Bay Area.
During senior show thesis, I found myself feeling uneasy about the process and how fashion was more about the expression and users weren't really considered in the design process. Simply put, it was aesthetics over utility. This sparked my interest for human-centered design.
While I was trying to familiarize myself with product design, I started a Kickstarter project called Mesh. It is a modular piece of fabric to allow people to invent their own fashion items and it's not just a regular fashion artifact but an item that grows with people's needs. Here, I learned how to transport user's needs into a product.
From that point on, I started a podcast, "Design Picnic" with a friend from middle school. Through countless recording sessions, I was able to meet so many design experts whom I called friends and mentors today.
What programs & tools do you use everyday for work? What do you like/dislike about these programs?
Any advice on how to stand out and get hired for those starting off?
Instead of tweaking our resumes with fancier positions, top tier companies, and personal projects, we should build our brand, not another item on our resume or portfolio.
If product designers can shape the experience that we have with a digital product, then why don't we try to shape the career we want to progress?
Before running to Linkedin and paying for Premium, take a step back and come up with the industry or niche you’re zeroing in on, and something interesting about yourself, a special talent, or something unique that you bring to the table that could be helpful in your industry. After that, personalize your portfolio in a way that will appeal to the hiring manager in the industry you're interested in. This can also come in other forms like attending as many virtual or in person networking opportunities in your desired industry.
What are some must-have resources (books, tools, podcasts, etc.) you would recommend for your industry?
What are 3 character traits that would make someone excel in your field?
1. Communication: Can they clearly articulate their design rationale? Are they a good listener?
2. Innovation: Do they have at least one example of an innovative solution to a problem?
3. Collaboration: Do they have experience collaborating with product managers? engineers? or researchers?
Most satisfying & difficult thing about your job?
The most satisfying thing about being a Product Designer is pursuing design, business, psychology, and engineering at the same time. You're almost not limited to one domain — there's education, commerce, immersive tech, health, productivity etc. The possibility is endless.
The challenging thing about being a Product Designer is balancing between data trends, engineering constraints and our instincts. Figuring out where to innovate and where not to reinvent the wheel.
What would you like to say to your younger self?
Trust the process, while you aren't exactly where you imagined being, you're working your way to get there. Focus on the value you're adding, only worry about the things you can control, practice gratitude, and visualize success.
Best advice you've received/heard?
Imagine when you wanted what you currently have. Celebrate small wins before you go out and hunt for the next achievement of yours.