Designer of the Week: Evelyn Kim

You’re invited to attend an event made up entirely of expert designers presenting case studies of their work. You’ll learn the best practices from the best practitioners as they share impactful stories on content strategy, workflow, design and more. Join us Oct. 5–7.

And if you’re interested in joining us in San Francisco for detailed sessions on UX and interaction design, don’t miss registering by the Early-Bird Deadline, Thursday, Aug. 20th!


Headshot_EvelynKim_medium-google-product-designShe was the first visual designer on Google Maps and Earth in 2007. She co-led the 2011 redesign of all Google products. And she’s currently the senior design manager at Uber.

Designer of the Week Evelyn Kim has specialized in user experience and visual design, branding, print design, packaging design, and advertising for more than a decade. Read on to hear more about her work, her journey and her advice.

Name: Evelyn Kim

Name of Company: Uber

Location: San Francisco

Design school attended: Rhode Island School of Design (BFA, Graphic Design 2004) and Pratt Institute (MPS, Design Management 2012)

internationalHow would you describe your work?
It’s a mix of pixel precision, delightful narrative, and user focus. At the beginning of my career I was more focused on the craft of making high-quality and simple designs that worked seamlessly within technical constraints. It was serious work, and then I started to shift my creative approach more toward play and delight, which made for such excellent ways of storytelling and striking at the heart of user focus—emotional design.

Where do you find inspiration?
When I was working on Google Maps for 8.5 years, it was a lot of paper maps, theoretical research on the meaning of physical places, and games. Brainstorming ideas within the digital space is often limiting, and I have to consciously draw from real life and the behaviors at a time before technology to come up with something fresh or different.

Who are some of your favorite designers or artists?
I’m an old soul. I love impressionists like Van Gogh, Cezanne, and Monet. I love Le Corbusier and Mary Blair. These are the artists that introduced me to the world of art, design and architecture when I was young.

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Do you have a favorite among all the projects you’ve worked on?
My favorite was probably Google Maps Street View. I got to collaborate with Andy Szybalski (and now Uber colleague) who really taught me the most about user experience when I first joined Google. It was in the same spirit of fun that you often see in the Google Maps April Fools’ jokes. I also got to work with Ryan Germick, who was a Doodler, and it was this collaboration of interactive, visual and playful hand-drawn process that heavily influenced how I evolved as a designer in tech.

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Is there a project that stands out to you as having been the biggest challenge of your career so far?
I think the biggest challenge for me will always be Google Maps from where it started in 2007 to present day. It is by far the longest evolution of a design project I have been fortunate [enough] to have been part of. But none was more challenging or overwhelming as when I was enlisted in a small UX team to redesign all of Google overnight in 2011. Looking back, I think that was the milestone in the history of Google that showed me the possibilities of design influencing a cultural shift in even the biggest of companies.

What do you hope to accomplish in the future?
I hope to teach one day. I’m not sure what, but I want to be in a position to mentor others and find their authentic selves.

What’s your best advice for designers today?
When you feel like your design has been chipped away beyond recognition, it’s important to probe deeply and ask why. Often times I find myself trying to troubleshoot a problem, and sometimes you’ll get a lot of no’s before ever finding a yes. I think if you care deeply about a design solution and want to preserve integrity, just ask why—at least 6 times. The clarity you get from understanding the real reason why the first answer was no is sometimes the solution to course correct, and eventually you can arrive at a better solution. It’s tough, but it requires patience, perseverance and empathizing with other viewpoints.

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Creating a Positive User Experience

2011 HOW Interactive Design Conference
By Steve Fisher

Steve Fisher, User Experience Director at Yellow Pencil and experienced UX presenter, gives an engaging talk about designing for a positive user experience and why that matters.

Whether on the web or in print, it’s the designer’s role to create positive experiences for his or her audience. Steve Fisher shows you how user experience design principles can inform your team’s decision making and help you establish clear project goals.

In this presentation, you’ll learn:
The best ways to engage your target audience
How to manage your team effectively and establish guidelines for them to follow
How a good user experience can save you time and money

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