Senior UI/UX Designer Tim Kremer on growing with Flying Bisons
Tim, tell us how your journey with design started.
I was studying psychology, not knowing what I wanted to do after or where I wanted to work. During my last year, I found out about UX design. I figured that it's a good combination of my analytical, visual, and empathy skills. I chose an extra module from creative psychology about UX/UI design. That's how I ended up at a company called Senfino. I had a chance to design their onboarding process with a team from my University. That was the start of my adventure with UX design. It showed me that this was what I wanted to do.
I started looking for internship offers because it's hard to get into the industry in another way. The only offer I applied for was the one from Flying Bisons. And I succeeded! I have been at Flying Bisons since 2017.
What did you learn during your internship?
Assertiveness and proactivity. I was never a person who took the initiative. As I said before, I joined the team for an internship in 2017 during the early, very dynamic period of the company's development. Therefore, a lot was going on, and not much time was left for mentoring. Still, I wanted to stay at Flying Bisons and grow together with the company. I knew that what I would get from this time would depend mainly on me.
You were a Junior the longest, 2 years. How does a Junior Designer differ from a Regular?
Of course, each phase of my career differed in my skill level and trust from people in charge. The level of responsibility changed as well. People talked with me in another way, they shared more details, or they just spoke to me about projects from a high-level perspective I didn't have access to before.
It took you 4.5 years to get to the Senior position. What did this development path look like from your perspective? What changed?
Mainly the complexity of the tasks. As an intern at Flying Bisons, you usually work on mobile screens. In my opinion, this is a great way to begin your adventure with UX or UI design. When you start making desktop screens, it's easy to get overwhelmed by the number of elements and tasks to take care of.
When I was an intern and a Junior, I used to design mobile screens, and it helped me develop visual skills and train my eye.
It was easier to work in a narrow space and only gradually start working with desktop screens. That's when I found myself feeling cramped in mobile screens! That was when I decided to ask for more trust and more extensive projects as I knew that I was ready for more. I've set this pattern of behaviour for myself which I use to this day. Whenever I'm ready for more, I ask for a conversation.
What does it take to become a Senior UX/UI Designer at Flying Bisons?
A Senior Designer at Flying Bisons should, first and foremost, be an advocate for their design decisions and have strong presentation skills. You have to be able to create the ideas and execute, implement, and present them successfully to the client.
When it comes to design, you should approach the project selflessly and with empathy to understand the client's needs and expectations. When there's a more dynamic period, you have to keep calm and focus on yourself and your inner motivations to avoid getting lost in the constant change and uncertainty.
I also believe it's essential to work well with people, talk to them about what's possible, what can be done better, and what might jeopardise the projects. And again, you need to take full responsibility for the results of your own work and one of your team.
What does it mean to be in a Senior position at Flying Bisons?
The uniqueness of working at Flying Bisons lies in thinking holistically about the product. You have to put your ego aside and do your best to meet the client's expectations and needs.
Thinking holistically about the product, the client, and the strategy is something that every Senior must be able to do. We are the company that meets all the business needs of the client.
For a long time, I was a UI Designer, and now I'm a UI/UX Designer. This comprehensive thinking about the product, strategy, and client made me easily move between these areas.
You're the Bison with the longest tenure at our company. Tell us why did you decide to stay? What made you want to continue your career at Flying Bisons?
Primarily knowing what I did not know and what I knew I could learn from these people. But also this approach that no one is just an expert in what they're doing, they're just people as well. I work with the assumption that you can always talk to people. I could ask the people on the board what was happening and hear an honest answer that allowed me to look at things from the perspective of the people in charge. This awareness of what I didn't know and now, knowing what I'm worth, motivated me to take the initiative. I wanted to make sure that I did everything in my power before I took any steps.
Your path to becoming a Senior took you almost five years. Do you think that's a long time?
I'd say it's a minimum amount of time, although, of course, it depends on the time you've spent, the effort you've put into the process, and the way you've approached it. It's a matter of working your way through various tasks, and Flying Bisons enabled me to do so. That's why I have learned so much. It has also given me a lot of perspectives as I can look at things now from a higher-level position.
What did working with the Bisons teach you over the past five years? Except for design skills?
Communication skills. Design aside, and I approach life as a designer in general, the process we have in the company translates very smoothly into other things we want to do. For example, I adapt it when I make music in my free time or try to solve an issue. So I approach all things with this process in mind, thinking both like a designer and an actual Bison.
So the internal process at Flying Bisons – research, strategy, and design – has shaped your development?
Yes, this process truly shaped me. I saw how it evolved over the years. Today, we have all-hands meetings for all employees, during which the board passes on important information. I like that because I always wanted to know the "higher" perspective, why certain things happen the way they do. Understanding the view and how the process looks improved who I am as a designer and part of the team. In the long term, it also translates into quality work. We learn a lot unconsciously, and only later do we realise how valuable that knowledge is. That's why I began to notice that I was working with our internal process very naturally just by observing it, even if I didn't participate in it directly. My brain has mastered it independently without any effort on my side.
What is the best thing about working at Flying Bisons? You mentioned communication, the fact that every employee knows what's happening in the company regardless of their position. Is there anything else?
I would divide it into two different categories; the first one is my personal preferences. I love it that I can work for myself. The second category is more objective. At Flying Bisons, we never have a standstill. There is always something changing, something happening and evolving. This is very cool. Every project is a challenge because we treat every client as an individual. Every client is different, so we grow as designers and as people. Every challenge depends on three main variables: us as people, as designers, and clients. Even if we wanted to do another project the same way, it still comes out differently every time.
What do you mean by "I work for myself"? Do you mean freedom in your work or the responsibility for projects you take on?
I mean both. Most of all, though, I feel this trust, and I know what's expected of me. That's crucial because there are projects where you don't always know what the other side wants. Now I know how important it is to ask because my approach depends on the client's expectations. I like knowing exactly what those are to fulfil them and maybe add something more from myself. It enables me to reach a higher level in my projects than I anticipate.
And what advice would you give to younger colleagues who are now standing at the threshold of this path? Considering an internship at Flying Bisons?
I'd say don't be shy in terms of life advice. It's worth it to begin an internship and focus on yourself and what you want to learn rather than expecting it to be handed to you on a platter. What's helped me a lot during my internship was that instead of demanding things from others, I required them from myself. Once you have something to offer, the conversation with the employer is more constructive. I'd also say that it is essential to take the initiative. At Flying Bisons, I could always ask for more responsibility or trust and talk honestly with other people in senior positions. The atmosphere fosters this kind of thing, and it is also essential advice for anyone in the future.
At Flying Bisons, you will be the kind of person you fight for.
We won't be pretending. Those are the real-world conditions, and you have to earn your place. Flying Bisons' environment is good for it because many people here approach life and work in this way. Everything depends on you.
And how did Flying Bisons change over the years? How did the company's development look like from your perspective?
Flying Bisons started as a small, intimate company with its first headquarters in a flat in a townhouse on Chmielna Street. Now, we work in a high-rise building, and there are more than 70 of us. The journey from Chmielna to Prosta Street, where we are now based, was fast and bumpy. We've had a few breakthrough moments, a few crises, but we always had big ambitions. We didn't know everything initially, but our intuition guided us in those moments. It was some intuition considering how we've grown and how we are now doing bigger and bigger projects. Indeed, a lot has changed as the company grew. We've learned from our mistakes. We've set the bar higher and higher. We would probably do some things differently, but this is the charm of looking back with the experience and knowledge you have gained. For me, the most important thing is what hasn't changed: we never got used to boredom, so at Flying Bisons, there is always something going on, and we always strive for more.