Hi Shivika, tell us a little bit about yourself!
Hi, my name is Shivika Thapar. I am a Senior UX Designer at Adobe where I design commerce experiences for consumers. Living in the bay area with my husband, I enjoy hanging out in the Californian mountains over the weekends. You can also find me throwing clay on my pottery wheel or casually chatting with my succulent babies.
Can you tell us what you do as UX Designer at Adobe for those who are unfamiliar?
If you've ever purchased or tried an Adobe product, you would have experienced the checkout that my design team is responsible for. Since the time I joined Adobe in October 2019, I’ve been focusing my time addressing existing pain points that customers experience when transacting on Adobe.
I interact on a daily basis with multiple project stakeholders such as product managers, UX and visual designers, copywriters, legal teams, marketing managers, and engineers. Depending on the stage and size of the project, I am either understanding the requirements, ideating solutions, conducting user research, having pixel tweaking conversations with the engineers, or presenting design concepts to various executives.
How did you decide to pursue your specific career?
During my postgraduate at Indiana University, I had the opportunity of working as a Research Assistant under Tony Walker in the Advanced Technology Lab. Tony always pushed me to expand the breadth of my knowledge in the user experience field — I worked on some really interesting projects under him. From designing the research lab’s website to creating a physical space that displayed interactive technology for K 1-5 grade students, to conducting in-depth research on various topics, it was a chance to find my passion.
During the Summer of 2015, I interned at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA as a User Experience Research Intern under the Chief Scientist, Chris Mattmann. During the internship, I got to wear different hats as a UX researcher, UX designer, visual designer. Most importantly, I learned to empathize with users navigating complex products. By the end of my internship, I knew I wanted to pursue a career as a UX designer.
When I graduated from Indiana University, like any other student, I was looking for my first big opportunity in the industry. I gathered the courage to directly reach out to many design managers on Linkedin. One of them was Ryan Murphy, Design Manager at GoDaddy. Interviews happened in the next few weeks and I got the job — my first job as a User Experience Designer. Ryan’s mentorship during my days at GoDaddy really shaped who I am today as a designer.
What made you interested in your field? What do you like about it?
I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Engineering. During my engineering days, I spent a lot of time designing and developing websites, brochures, and other creative artifacts for events at college. I would find myself taking up graphic and UI design projects and handing over development to my teammates. I knew I wanted to do more in design but I didn’t know what it meant.
Digging further, I came across Human-Computer Interaction design as a field. I applied for a master’s in Information Science with a focus in Human-Computer Interaction at Indiana University which opened the world of product and UX design.
Any advice on how to stand out and get hired for those starting off?
Be authentic:Bring your full self to the interviews, show your passion towards the field and the position — but most importantly, be yourself. If it’s not your day today, tomorrow will be!
Tell a story:Good storytelling does wonders in interviews, especially portfolio presentations. I see designers shining when they practice their storytelling. It’s not very hard to find designers with good design chops, but it’s hard to find designers who do both.
Show the types of problems you have solved:Talking about your design process is important, but support your talking points by showing details and iterations of the types of problems you work on. If you put together an interactive prototype during your project, bring it to the table.
What are 3 character traits that would make someone excel in your field?
Empathy, communication, passion
What fuels you to continue to do what you do?
Design empowers us to be at the forefront of envisioning ideas every day. The journey to bring them to life and make user experiences simpler and better is extremely humbling.
Most difficult thing about your job?
To be willing to push project timelines to accommodate ample time for user research. As designers, sometimes, we rush to get the designs out the door. But it is important to find out user pain points before starting to put pencil to paper. Also, it’s equally important to validate designed solutions with users before they go into development.
What would you like to say to your younger self?
Don’t hold back — try a variety of fields to see where your passion lies. Do it soon, and fail. That way, you are one step closer to finding your passion.
Best advice you've received/heard?
Find mentors who inspire you, and find ways to keep in touch.
Any last thoughts, advice, or recommendations for someone who wants to learn more about UX Design?
Be curious and fearless — new doors of opportunity will be plentiful.