Speaking with Luis Ouriach, Lead Designer at Upgrade Pack

Luis describes himself as a dry-humoured creative who currently leads design at Upgrade Pack. He tells us he likes to ask a lot of questions and try to design with long term scalability in mind, systems first.

He also admits to having a bit of an addiction to spicy food, and spend a lot of my time experimenting in the kitchen. Thanks very much for speaking with us this week Luis.

First off, can you give us a little background about yourself, how did you get started working in UX?

By accident, I suppose. Or you could say that I created my own luck and found a career.

I signed up to a degree at Leeds University titled New Media (it was new then), without truly reading the description. I read the first sentence where they asked if I wanted to learn how the eBay website was built, and I decided that was enough to gamble my future on; I had a positive score to maintain, after all.

Scrolling through the three years, I was given a rough and ready introduction to communications theory, web design, coding, graphic design, animation, photography, and video production. I loved the web design / coding modules and the spark started from there.

In my final term of university, my brother forwarded me an internship opportunity for an e-commerce wine company based in London, and I either emailed them a great intro to myself, or I was the only person who applied, but I was given the job and worked with them over the final few weeks of term.

They then offered me a position without me even meeting the CEO or having a formal interview, and I moved to London from there.

Over the next 8+ years, I’ve worked with publishers, charities, hospitality startups and now a loyalty tech company. I’ve always worked in-house, as I find the long term strategy and planning of products very rewarding - we don’t need to be pushing pixels all day to call ourselves designers.

What do you enjoy most about working in UX?

Solving problems as a team / business unit and seeing your choices live is a lovely feeling. I find debating choices amongst the group, keeping an eye on the industry, and trying to stretch conventions particularly enjoyable.

What advice would you give someone starting out in UX?

Leave your ego at the door. This career choice isn’t about us, it’s about trying to make solutions work for our target audience. This means that those swish, unrealistic animations you’ve seen paraded around design inspiration websites are probably not suitable for the insurance product you’ve been hired to design. Start from simplicity and layer things up, you will solve problems and ensure that the business can ship the product a lot faster.

Are there any UX books/podcast/youtubers etc you would recommend and why?

I don’t tend to read / listen / watch a lot of design-related media, because I find a lot of it to be self indulgent or skimming the surface of issues rather than doing a deep dive. I’d rather learn on the job with real problems.

If you’re looking for a podcast about creative things in general though, the Monocle Urbanist is great - it tells stories of cities and architecture around the world.

The Eat Sleep Work Repeat podcast is also a useful insight into workplace efficiency and how to build effective teams.

Eat Sleep Work Repeat Podcast

What do you think the 3 most important traits are for someone working in UX?

  • Curiosity
  • A thirst for research
  • Confidence

What are you most proud of in your career so far and why?

It’s the fact that I have one in the first place. I fell into a degree that had creative aspects, and through determination and climbing ladders that I’ve found myself where I am. This is coupled with working alongside a few people who believed in me and took a risk on offering me the job; without these opportunities I honestly don’t know where I’d be.

What was the last UX conference/meetup you went to and what did you learn?

Not a conference per se, but I attended the first year anniversary of the Triangirls London Design Meetup, and learned that it’s incredibly important to give (under represented) people a platform to develop. Whether you’re socially anxious, to simply not a white man, we all have a desire to make progress as professionals and it’s up to us to support these people.

Who in the UX community inspires you and why?

The celebritisation of designers is something I don’t really subscribe to. As for product teams who I think are pushing out excellent work, there’s everyone’s favourite (UK) digital bank Monzo, Uber consistently push the boundaries with expert animations and traditions.

I’m incredibly impressed by the team behind InVision Studio, and Figma’s addition to the design tool wars has been great to watch.

Invision Studio

What do you think the future holds for people in UX?

I’d hazard a guess that we’ll be spending less and less time inside design tools and more time thinking through scenarios.

I did make a prediction a while ago that user experience, visual design and product management roles will slowly merge into a more generic ‘product’ role, encompassing strategic thinking, visual design and technology.

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For those who want to find about about Luis and what he's doing. He says he's very active on Twitter under my moniker, @disco_lu.

Aside from that, he runs a weekly newsletter called Milk, No Sugar where he's trying to remove small talk from conversations, one newsletter at a time. He's been running it for over two years and is currently send out to just over 450 people; which he's really proud of his commitment.

Finally, you can hear him talk with designers around the globe on his podcast Noise. They're currently prepping for season 2, so stay tuned.





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