"My core design principle is SIMPLICITY" - Dean

"My core design principle is SIMPLICITY" - Dean

In this episode of Inside Cadana, we interviewed Dean Ken-chike, a product designer at Cadana. We delved into his career path, as he shared his journey so far in the design industry.


What first drew you to working in design, and how has your passion for design evolved throughout your career?

Oh, that's an awesome question! Funny enough, I didn't start out as a designer at all. Back in my uni days, I was really into web and software development - always writing and debugging code. But then I started messing around with Photoshop and Illustrator and found out that I absolutely loved the design process! After spending a couple of years building my graphics skills, I started exploring product design, specifically UI/UX, and I've been hooked ever since. It has become a huge part of my life and I couldn't be happier!

Wow! Awesome, how has Cadana challenged you as a designer and what would you say is the biggest challenge facing designers today?

The fintech industry is like a shark tank, you know? Everyone's swimming around, trying to be the biggest fish in the pond. Cadana, is constantly challenging me to do better. It's not about settling for good enough - we're always looking for ways to make our products and services even more kick-ass. That means I'm always on my toes, coming up with fresh ideas and making sure we're putting our best foot forward. It can definitely be a challenge, but it's also really exciting to be part of a team that's always striving to be better.
The biggest challenge facing designers today, hmmmmm…. Keeping up with the fast-changing technologies and consumer needs. With the emergence of new platforms and technologies such as AI, AR, and VR, there is an increasing demand for designers who can create engaging and intuitive experiences across various devices and platforms. Additionally, consumers' expectations and preferences are constantly evolving, which means designers need to stay updated with the latest trends and design standards. In short, designers need to be constantly learning and adapting to ensure they are meeting the needs of their clients and users.

Tell us about a particularly challenging design project you worked on at Cadana, and how you overcame any obstacles to deliver a successful outcome.

Absolutely! So, one of the toughest challenges I've faced as a designer involved simplifying a super complicated feature I was working on. The initial design was super confusing and hard to use. To tackle this problem, I broke down the feature into smaller parts and dug into each one to figure out what could be improved. Then, I worked closely with the dev team to understand the technical side of things and what was feasible. With that knowledge, I tried out different designs to see what would work best for users. After lots of trial and error, I finally landed on a design that was easy to use and really powerful. Overall, this experience taught me how important it is to break big things down into smaller, more manageable pieces, and to always focus on the user's needs. By working together with the dev team and testing my designs, I was able to take on this challenge and deliver a successful outcome for the app.

As a design lead, what strategies do you use to inspire and motivate your team members, especially during times of high pressure or tight deadlines?

As a design lead, I know how tough it can be to keep my team motivated and inspired when the pressure is on. To make sure we all stay on track, I do a few things:
  1. I make sure everyone knows what's going on by talking to them regularly.
  2. I try to set goals that are clear and easy to understand so that everyone knows what they need to do.
  3. When someone on my team does something great, I let them know! Everyone likes a pat on the back.
  4. Finally, I trust my team to make decisions and take ownership of their work. When people feel empowered, they're more likely to do their best work.

What is the most exciting design trend or innovation that you see emerging in the industry, and how do you envision integrating it into Cadana's design strategy?

Sure thing! While I'm not really one to follow design trends (they tend to come and go), there's a core principle that's always front and center in my work as a designer - and that's SIMPLICITY. At Cadana, we're all about keeping things easy and straightforward. We're constantly searching for ways to streamline our processes and design assets to make everything as simple as possible. What's great about simplicity is that it never goes out of style. While trends might change with the seasons, a simple and user-friendly design will always be in demand. And at the end of the day, that's really what matters - creating designs that work well for the people who use them.

How do you approach feedback and critique in your design process, and how do you ensure that all stakeholders are heard and their needs are met?

I’ve grown to love feedback and critique. I think it’s just a matter of listening, understanding, asking the right questions, and not taking things personally. As the need arises, I have conversations with the various stakeholders involved and understand as much as I can from them, seeing things from their POV. I listen to everyone that has feedback for me. I happen to learn a ton from these good folks. Of course, there's always a chance that not everyone will agree on everything - but that's okay. As long as we're all listening and working together, we can usually find a way to make everyone happy.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in a design role, especially at a company like Cadana?

Let me tell you something: every designer has been there. You start out and you're like, "What the heck am I doing?!" It can feel super overwhelming, but the key is to not be afraid to ask for help and try new things. And honestly, feeling like you're not good enough is totally normal. We're all just out here winging it, you know? But as long as you're willing to put in the work and keep learning, you're already ahead of the game. So don't stress, my friend. Take it one step at a time, ask for help when you need it, and keep hustling. You got this!

In your opinion, what sets Cadana's design team apart from others in the industry, and what unique value do you bring to the team as a design lead?

Hmmmm, personally I think it’s the constant pursuit of improvement while still maintaining simplicity. Cadana’s design team is set apart from others in the industry by their focus on user-centered design, and their commitment to collaboration and feedback.
The unique value I bring? Ahhh… I’m just a mere mortal, lucky enough to be surrounded by incredible people. I’ve gotten quite good at listening to them. They are the ‘real gees’ here. I’m just a tailor stitching their thoughts together in a simple way.