“Meet the Team” is a blog series that features the different roles at Antidot/Fluid Topics.
Today, we’re sitting down with Valentin Guénichon, Product Designer, to discuss his role within our company.
Hi Valentin, could you introduce yourself?
I’m Valentin Guénichon, I’m 46 years old and I live in Lyon. I’ve been working for Antidot for 12 years now, long before the birth of Fluid Topics.
I studied at EPSAA, a graphic art school based in Paris. I began my career as a graphic designer and in the early ’00s, user interface (UI) and ergonomics piqued my interest. It naturally led me to user experience design (UX) and product design.
Besides my job at Antidot, I also teach UX Design to master’s students.
What does a Product Designer do?
When people think about the role of Product Designer, they often envision someone that designs user interfaces. A Product Designer’s job is actually to use the different facets and tools of design to create and find a solution to a user’s problems.
Product Designers, first and foremost, listen to users, and for one simple reason; Product Designers are not users. A Product Designer is very empathetic. He understands the needs of users. He tests many hypotheses with them and only when these hypotheses are validated does he turn them into intuitive and functional user interfaces.
Product Designers work hand in hand with Product Owners. The Product Owner guarantees the product features and functionalities.
In my case, I mainly work with Aude and Laurent. Ideally, there should be an even number of Product Designers and Product Owners.
What’s your favorite part of the job?
My favorite part of the job is getting to work with many teams. I spend a lot of time with the people that are going to make our product a reality, the Product Owners and the Software Engineers.
I currently work with the Fluid Topics’ “Core” and “Content” teams. Our discussions often stimulate my creativity and challenge me. The teams help me understand the limitations that we may encounter during product development, that way I’m always confident that what I design will work.
I also enjoy the fact that we not only spend time researching new features, but also defining the direction that we’re looking to take. More often than not, if we don’t decide on the direction right away, some technical choices might be reconsidered later on and delay the product release.
Tell us about a typical working week…
I usually start my day around 8:30 AM when it’s still quiet at the office; it gives me time to enjoy my herbal tea.
Let’s be honest, a Product Designer has a lot of meetings.
The week starts with a Monday kickoff session where we review what needs to be done. Then every morning after that, I’ll begin the day by checking my emails and the slack conversations that mention my name.
Every day, at noon, I’ll attend a couple of dailies. Since I work with several teams, I need to make sure I keep track of all the work that we have for the sprint.
Once a week, we’ll have refinement and release reviews. I also have a PO/Product Designer meeting every Thursday to discuss our ways of working.
Every three weeks, we’ll have sprint demos and label reviews. Other than these meetings, a typical week will include:
- Researching our users and their problems
- Designing prototypes
- Testing these prototypes with users
- Refining the prototypes
- Accessibility testing with the software testing team
- And more!
Finally, and this is specific to me, every three weeks, I’ll spend three days with the marketing team to help them with anything related to our corporate website.
What advice do you have for other Product Designers?
As mentioned earlier, you really need to be empathetic and not be afraid of making mistakes and starting all over. It’s okay to follow your first idea and be wrong about it.
You also need to accept the feedback, and the criticism and not feel frustrated about it. If you are able to take a step back and listen to the feedback, you will for sure create the best user experience.
As Einstein said “Failure is a success in progress” and I think this truly applies to Product Designers.
Three words that best describe you?
I fight for the users. Alright, it’s more than 3 words! 😉
This is a quote from “Tron”, one of my favorite movies (with one of my favorite actors) and it’s a mantra I use in my everyday life.
Can you give us a sneak peek into your life outside of Fluid Topics?
Well, outside of Antidot/Fluid Topics, my life is a little different. As I enjoy helping people, I use my skills for my associative commitments.
I’m a retrogamer and console collector. I share this passion with my 3 kids and with the club I founded 3 years ago. I’m more interested in the hardware and its history than just the games. We do our best effort to keep this hardware in operating condition. With the club, we share ideas with people through events and videos (mainly streaming on Twitch). Every Tuesday, I host a session on Twitch. Make sure to check it out!