A passion for making life as simple and intuitive as possible for the end customer led Margot Hoekstra to success as a user experience designer.
Tell us how you ended up at Retriever and about your first role.
Thirteen years ago I was looking for a job with a focus on design and project management, and a role became available at Retriever. It was exactly what I wanted at that time: interaction with customers, design work and project management.
How has your role changed and developed since then?
The role has become more diverse over that time. I still interact with customers, design solutions and manage projects, but currently I’m also focused on user experience (UX).
I’m very passionate about UX design, as I think it is important that a well-designed application does exactly what it needs to do with the least amount of steps.
Applications need to be intuitive so that the next steps are clear to the user.
In the last couple of years I have studied the fundamentals of great UX design – it is amazing to study how the brain works and how good UX design is so connected to that understanding.
What skills are critical to be successful in your role?
One of the most important skills is to be able to ‘step into the shoes’ of an end user and understand what is important to them. Second, I think you need to be able to ‘think outside of the square’; for example, at first sight two separate requirements may appear to be quite different, but a good design can incorporate these needs into one cohesive look and feel.
There is a saying ‘good artists borrow, great artists steal’. Which apps or software platforms have given you design inspiration?
In the field of UX, borrowing and stealing is more the rule than the exception.
The design should not be too different to other apps that users may already use, otherwise the end user must search for what they need to do.
Any information presented on the screen, including pictures and buttons etc, should have a reason for being there and the positioning of those components is important.
I don’t really have a couple of apps or websites that I go back to when I have to design something new. I normally Google specific topics when needed.
Having said that, there are apps and websites that I think are quite good from a UX perspective; for example, the Commonwealth phone banking app.
What advice would you give to a budding designer?
Always design your application or website for the end user. Do not design it because it looks fancy or to be unique. You can make something fancy or unique, but it should not come with a cost for the end user.
What do you love about working at Retriever?
I love working at Retriever because I am given the freedom to be creative.
The job is never boring because I am always doing different things; for example, on one day I may run a design workshop with clients to design a new application, but the next day I could be using my software developer skills to build business intelligence (BI) dashboards.
Could you tell us something that most people wouldn’t know about you or may be surprised to learn?
I tried to build a career as a goldsmith, silversmith and clockmaker. I didn’t last long, just a year…