There are about 500 designers working at Microsoft. People in the UX community are often very surprised to hear about it. I think part of it is we haven't given our designers enough opportunities to talk about what they do and what's it like to work as designers at Microsoft. Therefore, I used my spared time during my visit to Redmond last time to chat with Ruth Kikin-Gil, who is a UX Design Lead at the Office Labs Team.
Office Labs is a fun group in Microsoft that focuses on prototyping and testing innovative ideas within the productivity space. The popular TouchWall project was coming out of the Envisioning group within the Office Labs. Within a group that constantly strives for innovation, solves tough problems, and designs for the future, I'm curious to find out what it's like to work as a UX designer in the team.
In my 20 minutes conversation with Ruth below, I asked her about:
- What's your role and main responsibilities?
- What are some projects from Office Labs?
- How is Office Labs organized?
- How do designers work differently in the Office Labs team than the designers working in traditional product teams?
- What are some community outreach activities the Office Labs is doing?
I’m a user experience designer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in working across a broad range of projects and roles in three continents. I was born and raised in Israel, studied and worked in Italy, Finland, UK and US. I worked for startups, had my own design consultancy (Max. Interactive ltd), worked as a UX consultant in Europe, and now I lead the UX team in Office Labs – a Microsoft innovation group which focuses on the future of productivity and information work. (www.officelabs.com )
I have a Bachelor degree in Design from Bezalel academy of art and design, Jerusalem and a Masters degree in Interaction design from Interaction design institute Ivrea. I’m interested in the interplay between society and technology and in the creation of experience platforms that change the way people act and perceive their actions. I explore how existing social interactions and behaviors can be supported or transformed by technology and be better facilitated through new products and services.
You can see some of these projects in my website: www.ruthkikin.com. Besides all that I’m a foodie, a film buff, a book worm, and a level 48 druid elf.