Meet The Team: Jessica

Our goal at Innovation Labs is to build the next generation of everyday technology products that get privacy right.

But we are only as good as our team. Over the next few months we’ll be publishing interviews with our developers, designers, analysts and scientists to share their interests, experiences, what motivates them and what makes them tick.

This week, we’re introducing Jessica Downey, Senior Interaction Designer.

Jessica Downey, Senior Interaction Designer

Hi Jessica, tell us a bit about your journey so far

Back in 2008 I visited to South Korea and studied digital media design. Mobile use was already a lot more pronounced than it was France or Europe. They had phones with huge aerials to get TV. It fascinated me. Now 8 years later the same thing is happening in the States and Europe, the only difference is there’s no aerials.

After finishing my studies in France and spending two years working on professional interfaces for industry and hospitals in the States, I realised I wanted to use my skills to create something closer to my own experiences to impact a wider spread of people.

So I applied to work at AVG’s Innovation Labs and here I am today.

What excites you most about working at Innovation Labs?

I like that we’re a multidisciplinary and multicultural team, people have different backgrounds so everybody has different and exotic anecdotes and we have all the skills to do pretty much anything in-house.

Tell us a bit about your day-to-day.

My role is to support user experience and user interface design on a whole host of projects. On top of that I’m always helping flesh out requirements for what new projects might look like. For this we use the design sprint process designed by Google Ventures.

The idea is that in 5 days you discover what the project is about and whether it’s worth progressing. So that’s a inspiring process we do if we want to do something drastically different for an existing project.

How does your role fit with the rest of the team?

At Innovation Labs we work differently. Instead of working in a design silo we’re embedded in projects so we have a better idea of where we want to go in terms of the roadmap.

Design is a lot faster than coding from scratch so you can mock up a pretty good idea of the experience your product is going to bring for relatively low investment. This is how design fits with everything that Innovation Labs does.

What kind of skills does your role demand?

I think it’s important to be fast and to create low investment, fail early prototypes. Something I always advocate for. Maybe you have a great idea, maybe it’s a terrible one, but you’re much better getting it out there in a really rough and low fidelity way instead of polishing it up, releasing it and realising you’re way off.

What kind of trends have you seen since becoming a designer?

There’s been a crossover of design and development over the past few years. I think we’re going to see this happening more, especially for interaction design.

Agile design is all about creating less documentation, and coding can be a great way to achieve this. It helps getting people on the same page if you can give them a direct experience of how the finished product is going to behave.

What excites you beyond your work?

Outside of Innovation Labs i’m into making bread and cocktails. Together or separately!

I’m French so the baguette is my favourite and I’m desperately trying to replicate it here.

The thing I miss most about France is decent bread on every corner. That’s not the case in Amsterdam but this city is a great place for cocktails so I’ve been visiting bars and taking classes. I’m a fan of anything with elderflower which is fortunate with the House Of Bols so close by.

If you could go back in time to give your past self advice, what would it be?

To do more sketching and low fidelity things because in design school I felt it was focused on delivering polished results. In the real world, developing your ideas with real users is much more important. You should always try to test things with real people as soon as you can.

Everything is a lot more forgiving in the future. Things are a lot less definitive than they used to be. You have room to refine and improve a design even after it has been released into the wild. And that’s a beautiful thing.

Say hi to Jessica on Twitter or keep tabs on the entire Innovation Labs team over at @AVGInno.

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