Education: Information Design
Joined Sony: 2008
Role: User Interface Designer
I studied information design at school, so I learned about things like web design, infographics, and service design. At school festivals, I managed a booth with friends, and I vividly recall getting carried away thinking of new ways to have fun passing the long hours together. I modified familiar card games and made up new ones. Although it was just for fun, the way I racked my brain thinking of rules to enliven games, looking back at it now I think it’s identical to the approach we take to developing apps at Sony. Just playing around with friends, I enjoyed creating rules so everyone would have more fun.
Also while a student, I often went to Ceatec, the Tokyo Motor Show, and other trade shows. I was interested in how technology enables innovation. At a Sony booth, I saw how a dancing Rolly was entertaining people who had stopped to watch it. I realized that what Sony was offering – inspired entertainment instead of just playing music – matched my own goals in app and game design. When it was time to start my career, I considered a few electronics manufacturers, but that trade show experience made me apply to Sony first.
Group work was common at my university, where I attended workshops with classmates and collaborated on all kinds of fieldwork and projects. Now, I still work on teams at work. When we collaborate on a project, it wouldn’t make sense if we all did the same thing. Instead, each of us contributes what we’re best at, and we support each other. It was academic group work that made it easy for me to collaborate with others, even for the first time.
In user interface design, what people ultimately see when using a product or service is only the tip of the iceberg for us. Preliminary user flow diagrams and wireframes are also important. To learn how most users think and behave, I spent my first year and a half in user testing. Most important, by planning actual tests and interviewing participants, I gained an objective perspective. Instead of being limited to the viewpoint of a solitary designer, I can anticipate where apps might confuse some people, by imagining a variety of user perspectives in UI design.
Currently, I’m involved in mobile app development. In TV SideView, which provides program information, visual design conveys the gist of programs at a glance, and you can quickly find something to watch through recommendations. For Socialife, a news and feed reader, we explored how and when to present news to keep users interested. What’s the situation, when users feel like watching TV? We’re continuing to refine the apps through updates. The user perspective provides context as the basis for design, and it’s what we consider when deciding the best ways to organize information. Both apps enjoy a growing user base, and I hope our ongoing refinements make them more popular than ever.
The mood in a team varies a lot depending on what we’re creating. When we have female users in mind, we might aim for a sense of freshness or peace of mind. Group members freely describe their ideal user experience, as we trace out what the product should be like. It’s very enjoyable not to rely solely on data but also to act directly on our own instincts, as products take shape. BeautyExplorer™ – which gives a visual analysis of your skin at a glance – grew out of this kind of development.
This topic is more personal, but I recently invited some coworkers to my wedding. I ended up receiving wedding videos and photo albums full of memories captured on Sony cameras. Now I’m seeing how I can maintain the kind of work-life balance I want. I’m lucky that many coworkers are women with more experience, who share advice. Having seen many people – men as well as women – achieve this balance, I didn't have any concerns about how work would be after getting married. As for pastimes, these days I’ve found that the ceramics I’m learning to mold feel refreshingly "analog" in my hands after a day at my computer. It makes me want to create my own tableware at home, to use when dining in or inviting friends over. I probably gained a fuller appreciation of home life through my extended training in Sweden, where people seem to value it. The experience made an impression on me. Ultimately, I hope to balance work and home life, and enjoy both.
Every day, I see how Sony relies on the power of design. Design drawings we make at the beginning of a project, when we’re still looking for a clear direction to take, put us all on the same page and help us pursue specific goals and scenarios. No matter how many times I notice that moment when projects leap ahead, as it all comes together and the design takes shape with everyone’s input, I always enjoy it. I hope I can always represent Sony and myself well, through fun and user-friendly UI and apps everyone enjoys.
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