Experienced Design: An Interview with Lars Lindahl

I spoke to Lars Lindahl, a Pratt SILS alum, to find out more about the work he’s done, and what it’s taught him. He’s just started a new job at American Express, with previous design jobs in both a startup and agency, and had some great insights on working in the different environments.

I know you just started a new job, what is the official title of the position?

I’m a Senior Experience Design at American Express’s Enterprise Growth Division. Serve.com is the product I’m working on.

What are your main roles and responsibilities in your job?

I am responsible for designing all interactions and experiences based off of user research and business needs. It’s kinda measuring the two and balancing them out. We aim to create elegant user experiences in all aspects of the product to keep customers fully engaged.

How has your worked changed throughout the years? From the different environments you’ve worked in?
Starting at the agency, there was a lot of grunt work and following orders, doing what people tell me to do. Moving to a startup was a lot more responsibility, a lot of pressure, there was always so much pressure to maintain a correct course of action, I had to do a lot of stuff that wasn’t required of me, like copywriting and stuff like that. Being in a more stable, organized context, there’s a lot more structure, less chaos.

What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your UX career?

Time pressure –getting things done right away, finding the proper time to think things through, to do the research. In the startup environment, was a lot of work, the work was good, but totally unpredictable. I just needed more time. That’s what’s good about my current position, there’s a lot of time to do the proper research.

Also, properly explaining my position to those I was working with, and communicating the work I was doing to clients.

What background did you come from in terms of work or education? How did you get involved with UX?
I was a content manager at this music website called eMusic, basically they sell mp3s and my job was to coordinate with the labels to send us music through whatever channel. And we had to agree on proper metadata for every channel, which would be switching between labels, for example Mozart could be Wolfgang A., W.A. Mozart, etc.  This is how I got into UX, I was organizing and standardizing metadata for this music company, and that’s basically how i wound up at Pratt to sharpen those skills.

What’s been fulfilling about your work? Is there anything you’re looking to get into in the future?
Sitting down with patients and nurses [at the startup], and seeing them overwhelmed with what they currently have, and seeing their genuine joy with the products we’re designing.

In general, I  am excited about designing for the “internet of things” as they call it. Interfaces are coming to life in the most unexpected places and this makes our jobs as UX designers endlessly creative and fresh.