Many members come on Topcoder and have a slow learning curve: adjusting to the process, learning the system’s ways and the tools, understanding client’s requirements, etc. From time to time though, we see new members who join Topcoder and immediately start to win. This is the case for PereViki, who joined our site in May 2018 and managed to qualify in the design track for TCO18 in the last stage by winning 9 challenges and getting placed in 3 RUXes.
She has a great understanding of the challenge’s requirements, attention to details and in-depth thinking for the problems. More, she recently became a Topcoder copilot, so you can join her challenges as well.
Let’s get to know her better:
1. How did you find out about Topcoder?
I was in the middle of an interviewing process with GE for a Senior Interaction Designer position and I tried to find out about the design challenge I could get from them. That is how Google dropped out a link to a Topcoder challenge. Thank you, GE for not choosing me at the end 🙂
2. Can you tell me a couple of things about your background?
When it comes to UX it is quite common that people are coming from different fields other than design or arts. This is the situation with me as well. Firstly, in high school, I learned programming, which I was not really fond of at that time. Then I got my BA in Business Studies from an English medium college, where I learned mostly marketing, strategy, statistics and IT with a bit more programming.
For over 10 years I managed projects at our own consulting company for car dealers and importers in Central and Eastern Europe. This is when I got closer to design. During auditing Ford dealerships in the surrounding countries… somehow I became the only expert of Ford Look & Style in the region. Even their employees called me if they were not sure about something. I am still a big fan of brand books.
3. Did you compete on other crowdsourcing websites before? You have a good understanding of the requirements and what the clients wish.
Yes, I have competed on other platforms. Unfortunately, they are not safe enough, so I decided to get a day job instead. So I switched back to the real world for a while. Then we arrived at GE…
The challenges I participated in earlier let me contact the client directly, so Topcoder’s workflow is something new for me, and the transition is kind of hard. I think due to my extensive background I have some advantage over those who only experienced a single field.
4. How do you feel about attending TCO18?
Firstly, I cannot believe it :). Secondly, I am soooo excited. Thirdly, I’m scared to death. It is a great honor to be able to compete side by side with the most skilled talents. Of course, I have no expectations about the competition. But I cannot wait to meet you guys in person.
5. How do you tackle a challenge? I saw you have a good understanding of them.
I read through the specs and try to get the essence of it by taking notes. Then I start to research the problem, and also the client and its users if possible. This is where I need to improve if I want to be successful in the Topcoder workflow, as at the moment I am too slow. Then I sketch some wireframes on paper. Sometimes I also prepare flowcharts and other diagrams if I feel like. With Topcoder I gave another chance to Sketch, which I didn’t like at all a year ago. Now as I’m more skilled in it I’m not really turning back to other software. However, Adobe MAX had some interesting moments recently. Of course, I try to prepare as much as I can until the checkpoint, so I get more client feedback from which I try to understand and implement every last bit.
6. What do you like the most about Topcoder?
Besides the opportunity to work on projects of global leaders of their respective fields, I really enjoy being part of the community. It is amazing how helpful people are on the platform. My favorite story is when I was abroad, visiting a conference and parallelly tried to complete my final designs with an approaching deadline. I asked something on the forum, but it seemed like there was no chance for getting an answer in time. I was commuting from one site to another in an unfamiliar city and in the underground, I got a notification that one of my mates explained the thing I was lost about for me. I was just standing there and thought that this is not real 🙂 I got awarded the second place on that challenge, which would definitely be impossible without that helping hand.
7. You recently became a copilot. What triggered the move from designer to copilot so fast?
It is my unstoppable curiosity that got me into this. I really wanted to know how things happen in the background, what actually happens to our work in the black box. The learning curve here is probably even steeper than it was when I started competing, but I really enjoy that as well. I am one step closer to the dream situation where I have access to the client and the users. Maybe one day I could become a project manager as well, but don’t tell anyone 🙂
8. Please tell me about one project you designed for Topcoder or other client that you’re the most proud of.
When it comes to design competitions, according to my experience, it is quite rare that the designer will see the final product up and working. That is why one of the most memorable ones is the first challenge I won on Topcoder, the design of the new Topcoder profile pages, which has just been implemented and introduced to the community. Since then, whenever I have the capacity, I like to participate in these internal challenges a lot.
Another project I am also proud of is a bit older. It was a comedy streaming app, that has been presented on Techcrunch, was a runner-up on the Webbys Awards and won the SXSW Accelerator Awards as well in its category among others.
9. What do you find most difficult when designing? And what’s the most rewarding?
Sometimes I find it difficult to focus on the design itself when I feel like I don’t have enough information until I get to the point when the whole thing starts to flow seemingly by itself, which is the phase that is the most rewarding part when I feel like I am being unstoppable.
10. Where do you see the design industry being in 5 years?
We are already experiencing the massive shift towards the importance of experience. I recently heard a speech titled ‘The Future of AI is Emotionally Intelligent’, which was full of really disturbing stuff, and not in a machines will take over everything kind of way. People will wish to communicate with UIs in a more human kind of way, starting at voice commands and Siri, but who knows where it ends. I cannot even imagine where we are heading with all the information we have, and I have a probably naive hope that we will only use it for a good cause.
11. What’s the most important skill a designer should develop?
In my opinion, besides the obvious skills, like using the tools, following the trends, etc., sensitivity to the world is really important. We need to be able to resonate with people – the users we are trying to understand and satisfy their needs. Referring back to the previous question, I’d also like to know the answer regarding the future of design.
12. What are your hobbies besides work?
I’m a long distance runner… or at least I was one before I started my way on Topcoder 🙂 Lack of sleep does not really let me train nowadays. I ran a couple of official half marathons and I hope sometime in the future I can do a full marathon as well. Running is a really good motivator for me as it proves that I can reach my goals. In addition, running is also quite meditating, and I can think over stuff during the 1-2 hour-long training sessions.