“The expectations seem to be higher for women”
It was while studying English translation, that Saz realized she needed to reconnect with her creative side. That sparked a journey that would lead her to become a UX/UI designer in Iraq – but not without doing a lot of explaining why there was suddenly a need for a designer in the tech industry.
min read //
May 25, 2022
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Growing up in Iraq, Saz always knew she had a creative side, “I was not good at drawing, but I loved to draw. You’d always find me busy drawing. My parents used to call me ‘the little artist,’” Saz laughed, recalling her childhood.
At university, she first chose to study English translation, but it was while studying translation that she began to understand something that reconnected her with the creative side in her - something that might be potentially career building.
“When you’re translating, you’re basically putting yourself in someone else's shoes. You have to think about what they’ll best understand.” Saz explained, “And it’s that mentality that really got me thinking, I had to change my perspective in order to make an impact.”
In 2020, Saz transitioned from translation and English language roles to digital marketing, with a focus on social media. She taught herself some basic graphic design to create social media graphics and quickly found herself also analyzing the websites.
“[I was working at] a tech company. And I saw them creating websites and applications and when I was looking at them, I was like, “These are not beautiful”. I didn't know anything about UX/UI design, but I knew that they were not useful either.”
Saz dove into her own research, first looking up how to design applications and websites. She began investing in her design skills to make these websites nicer.
“As I went in, I was diving deeper and deeper,” she reflected.
It was in this period that she discovered UX/UI.
Finding the right environment to learn
Saz had already completed a few self-led learning courses before she came across the Re:Coded UX/UI Bootcamp. But the bootcamp provided her with the right environment to really double down on her passion for UX/UI and understanding users’ needs.
“It was like we all sort of had the same mentality,” Saz said, thinking back on her time in the bootcamp.
So it was really amazing for me. We understood each other well. When we expressed our feelings or gave feedback on something. We shared a lot of knowledge and we helped each other.
The instructors’ flexibility, the cooperative environment, and practical application in the bootcamp provided a space for Saz to flourish.
Taking her first steps as a designer
After the bootcamp Saz went straight to apply her newfound skills. She started her very own Kurdish planner business.
“Right after the bootcamp, I tried to use my design knowledge of how to create something for someone,” Saz said, highlighting the design thinking principle of user-centricity, “and with the understanding of exactly how they’re going to use it. I even did user testing. I interviewed people for the planner.”
As her business was taking off, Saz also started a full-time role as UX/UI designer at an internet provider.
Adding something to the tech space
Unsurprisingly, Saz found the tech industry to be heavily male-dominated. As a result, Saz often had to explain her role and work hard at building trust in the team. “When I got there first they were all like, ‘Are you a designer?’ They were all wondering why there was a designer working in tech.”
“I’ve had to communicate a lot.” Saz talked about constantly explaining the value of UX/UI in tech and offering feedback on UX/UI issues she saw pop up. “The expectations seem to also be higher for women.”
Gradually she built trust in the team and conversations have gotten easier. While she continues to justify and push certain decisions, she believes that women - herself included - add something special to the design space, “We tend to be more detail-oriented, we think about every single detailed aspect of the things and we tend to overthink.”
Overthinking in UX tends to be a good thing, especially when it’s directed at understanding user behavior.
Looking into the future, Saz wants to maximize her creativity. She’s gaining more flexibility in her work as she pushes UX/UI to the forefront of big projects. “That's my plan to actually raise awareness about UX UI design and improve my skills at the same time.”
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