Designer Miriam Isaac on Her Career, UX and Connecting with the Instagram Community

Miriam Isaac is a 34-year-old UX Designer residing in Israel. Originally born in Manchester, England, Miriam had dreams of being a fashion designer and was on her way to the prestigious Central St Martins. However, with a change of location and lifestyle, Miriam found herself studying graphic and web design in Jerusalem and has been designing for the web ever since. When she isn’t busy solving UX problems, she spends her time with her 4 children, watching too many conspiracy theory documentaries and buying overpriced stationery.

I've had the opportunity to get to know Miriam over the last 4 years via Instagram (where I'm just one of her 40k+ followers), and as a UX Kits customer, and very excited that I finally interviewed her to share some of her experiences with our community.

Tell me a bit about yourself, your background and the work you do.

Hi, I'm Miriam, and I work as a UX designer! I've been working as a UX designer for many years now, even before we called ourselves UX designers! I've worked in all types of industries and verticals, from freelance to in-house, agency-side to client-side, and startups to large companies. I've also had the unique opportunity to manage a multi-disciplinary team of designers, developers, and project managers.

What do you love most about UX?

I do really love all parts of UX! As I've said before when asked which part of the UX process is my favorite, I say it's like asking me which one of my children is my favorite! I enjoy uncovering the initial problem. I enjoy talking to and interviewing users; sometimes I feel like a therapist when I do projects like legacy enterprise software and they finally have someone they can vent to! I enjoy the initial workshops, brainstorms, and sketching. I enjoy wireframes and prototypes and UI design. Then I love to see if our design solutions hit the nail on the head with user testing and thereafter releasing it into the wild! So all of it really :)

What accomplishments are you most proud of?

I'm very proud and humbled by the UX community I've created over at my Instagram account @misaac85. This whole thing on Instagram was truly unexpected. For me, I was just sharing my sketches and process in a public forum to seek feedback and like-minded individuals and wow, did I find them! Back in 2018, I felt super lonely as a UX designer and now it's so wonderful to have met so many talented designers across the world.

You were interviewed by Instagram for the launch of their @design account, which is amazing! How did that come about and what effect did it have on your following and career?

That was an incredible experience. At first, I didn't even believe I was being interviewed by Instagram! But after a bit of research, it was indeed legit! It brought my work to a far larger audience, one I could have never reached on my own. I've had followers tell me that they've been with me and watched me grow since that day and I can't tell you how that warms my heart.

Tell me about your interview and general experiences as a woman, particularly an Orthodox woman, in the design world.

Historically, I have found it very different being an orthodox female designer. I've experienced both sexism and religious discrimination at work. It's not something that I could have put my finger on during the experience. But only afterwards, after sharing my experience with others, did I feel something was amiss. It ranges from the usual, such as being ignored in meetings, to having a man repeat what you said, to men presenting their ideas as their own, to being underpaid for many years, to experiencing horrific jealousy from (unfortunately) other women at work.

I’ve also been questioned about my children at an interview, and asked about my ability to stay late or commute. If you are like me and an orthodox working mother, I would encourage women to build up a strong network of working moms. I'm super grateful to have this in my life and I know I couldn't do it without my friends who understand and support the discrimination we all face.

You told me Instagram has been the most accepting design community you’ve found. What makes it special?

The Instagram community is amazing! It's one of the most accepting design communities I've been a part of. I actually think it's because the Instagram design community is truly global. From Mumbai to Munich to Montreal, our Instagram community is unfamiliar to the traditional design industry. Many of us don't fit into how a designer should look or create. We are the underdogs. We thrive by sharing all we know, and by supporting one another and not tearing each other down. We welcome all types, from those who work in house to freelancers on Fiverr, to newcomers, seniors and entrepreneurs. The only requirement is producing value and helping one another and of course, NO spamming! :)

You’re obviously very knowledgeable on the UX process and methods. How have you used UX Kits to help facilitate a project?

Yes, I love UX Kits and have purchased many products, specifically the wireflows, flowcharts and wireframe kits. I use them in the 'defining' part of the UX process to communicate to stakeholders, how a user would navigate through an application or website, or how a user would complete a 'job to be done'.

What advice would you give to others looking to get into UX design?

Oooo, always keep learning! Seriously though, you must have a “keep learning” mindset, as this industry is still evolving. Thinking about it on a macro level, we are still at the beginning and there's so much work to be done in defining our industry. If you do enter at this stage, I have successfully warned you that no one knows what they are doing. :) On a serious note though, connect with other UX designers, be part of the design community. Join Insta communities, join slack channels, follow designers on Twitter and Linkedin. Keep learning and keep practicing.

What’s next for you?

That's a good question! Honestly right now, I'm pretty happy working on projects and working as a practicing UX designer and sharing whatever I've learned with others. Yes, I do have that funny little designer dream of talking at a large in-person design conference one day, but you know with current events, we'll have to see.

Thank you for interviewing me Eric. This has been super fun, insightful and I always love chatting with you!

Join Miriam's Instagram community at @misaac85

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