An Interview with Tekton’s Senior UI Designer
Mariella Sialer

Tell me a bit about your background pre-Tekton. How did you arrive at the role of Senior UI Designer?

I studied Advertising and Communications. My goal was to work in a big magazine as a Creative Director. Women playing big roles in movies like Jenna Rick from “13 Going 30” or Helen Hunt in “What Women Want” inspired me to follow that direction.

Fate had other plans, however, and I started working at a marketing agency as a Graphic Designer. At the time, the agency was focused on digital marketing, so I started working on mostly social media graphics.

As I matured at the job, I became immersed in digital platforms, starting with landing pages and tactical actions for big campaigns like the one I worked on for OgilvyOne. From there, I had the opportunity to work on even bigger projects, institutional websites, and a lot of freelance work too.

Tekton’s Senior UI Designer Mariella Sialer

The job started requiring that I understand the backend of the design work, so I studied a bit of coding and this allowed me to work on more robust deliverables. I then worked for many years in government institutions as a Web Designer where I could apply all of the knowledge that I had acquired up to that point. By this time, I had also finished my specialization in Digital Marketing, as I had been trying to change my career path from graphic design to marketing, but in the end couldn’t.

My big break was when I got a job on a product team – a start up – where I learned a lot about agile and business development, plus all of the hard work that goes into building out digital products. It was shortly after this big break when I decided that I would begin directing my efforts towards more of a UX/UI career path.

Do you follow a particular process when designing user interfaces and other forms? How do you validate your decisions?

Every project is different, but for most projects you should consider the backend first and then plan the roadmap.

For easy UI projects, you would have the client give you the requirements and/or any previous investigation they have made. That, or we usually start with brief desktop research that includes getting a best in class and some other references for the project.

If they don’t have a brand manual, we work on one ad hoc for digital media, then we start building flows with wireframes if they weren’t part of the previous work, and finally we plan a calendar of deliverables where we set batches of work. We usually have collaboration sessions with the client to discuss any rules and functionalities and, when we have everything set, we work on the final UI and build a UI Kit, a handbook that contains all styles and components to build more products.

Whilst developing the UI design process, if we are working on agile we can have validations within the process or by the end of each sprint. We can send a Maze link, which is a tool for unmoderated testing in which users can interact with a prototype. We then have feedback from the users and we can fix what is needed on-screen. Other types of validation can come from user interviews. This requires more time and planning and is not my particular task as a UI, but I do usually stay in meetings to listen and take notes.

Where do you find design inspiration?

I think inspiration can come from everything, but there are certain projects that require more attention. With those sorts of projects I use Behance and usually search for references there. Also, I am subscribed to Medium. They send you daily emails with useful information, stories, trends, etc.

I also seek inspiration from, a good source for creative work. There are other options too, like Dribble and of course my teammates.

When doing UI design, what is the most difficult task you have encountered?

Every project is a challenge, but I find it especially difficult when a brand hasn’t worked on a visual identity yet and/or if the client doesn’t really know what they want visually. It can be a bit time-consuming if you have to work on one version and then another until you get the one. Nevertheless, it’s fulfilling when you finally do get one and you see your project finished after all of that hard work.

What has been the most empowering project you’ve worked on at Tekton so far?

I think the current one because it’s not just UI. It’s more of the complete experience of UX/UI. There are a lot of stakeholders and there’s a big team involved. Working with other designers on the same project and constructing a UI Kit from scratch was really empowering. We are divided into teams and I have to own my project and support my ideas in front of clients. That’s really fulfilling!

What projects or products are you working on currently that are exciting you the most and why?

Over the last 6 months, I’ve been working on only one project. As I said, the team is really amazing – a big crew. I think the most valuable thing for me has been in seeing how the engineering team performs and all of the behind-the-scenes work that they do.

What is your approach to collaborate with UX designers and web developers?

We don’t usually have this opportunity, but when we do get to collaborate with devs, it’s definitely important. I would even say that we should start to consider this a standard thing, that involves negotiating time investment, not just for validation, but also for what’s on scope, what we can have, and how we can negotiate rules.

As a UX designer, I need to understand the feasibility of things in order to understand how I can connect things with ease. Discussion with devs and engineers is super important for this.

Building a platform is more complex than creating a website. Nevertheless, if we want to create a good platform from a visual perspective, we need to pay attention to the details on the frontend of our work.

How would you describe Tekton’s workplace culture?

I love Tekton’s culture. In fact, I’m really proud that I’ve been chosen as an “above and beyond” teammate. It’s really nice to know that you are considered a big part of the company. I always tell people how good it is working for Tekton. I have amazing teammates that are all just truly beautiful people. I have GREAT clients…some better than others…but you learn from everyone. It’s all about goals and you can work on your time, always keeping in mind that accountability is one of our core values.

What do you love most about being a UI designer at Tekton?

The variety of projects, the team, the chance to be the star of my projects.

If you could offer one piece of advice to women aspiring to work in the design and technology sector, what would it be?

I would say do what you love. Not just women, but everyone! I work in this field because I love what I do, so seek the thing that suits you and feel comfortable doing what you do. Accept your flaws, enhance your strengths, and inspire others.