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Ana Santos — Meet the Mentors

In this new series, we will take a look at our diverse and awesome mentor team here at MentorCruise. Building this mentorship community wouldn’t have been possible without the support of them. Today, we are going to talk to Ana Santos.

*Ana is one of our mentors on MentorCruise. Visit her profile now and get mentored by her: *Ana’s Profile**.

Hey Ana! Thanks for participating in this interview. Before we get started, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Hello, of course, thank you for having me here and as part of the MentorCruise initiative.

I’m a UX and Conversion Optimization (CRO) consultant currently based in Portugal. I’ve lived in several countries such as UK, Brazil, and France, and I’ve worked in agencies, start-ups and as an independent consultant for corporate clients.

I’m passionate about making the web (and well, the world) a better place, so sharing my UX knowledge is something that makes me truly happy. I’ve led workshops and spoken at several local events. Besides mentoring and coaching other professionals who want to transition to my career field, I also help businesses directly with workshops or strategy calls to step towards a more UX mature model and grow the user-centered way.

Over the years, you have worked on several different exciting projects and have collected a lot of experience. How did you get started? How did you get your first job?

I fell in love with web design when I was still a teenager. My first freelance project was at 17, designing a blog for someone else. I taught myself html, Photoshop, Fireworks (still Macromedia back then) and how to code Blogger templates. Over the years, I’ve decided to pursue my passion and while many of the things I’ve learnt have been self-taught, I’ve completed a B.A. in Design as well.

While my primary background was graphic and web design, I’ve first started with UX when I was working for a digital agency. I went from web designer to being the solo UX designer there and responsible to advocate the user-centered process. While not everything was perfect, I’ve learnt a lot by actually doing, complemented with online education. I’ve been passionate about UX ever since. I know that now with the UX field being so popular and so many online options to learn and speed up that process, there are so many high expectations about getting started in highly specialist roles in UX mature companies. But I still think the best way to get started (at least if you’re switching careers) is on your current job, and by advocating UX in your current company.

You are currently working for Google. What do you do there?

I’m currently co-leading the mobile initiative at Google Portugal, working with some of the biggest Portuguese companies across different industries to help them improve their mobile user experience (UX) and make use of the modern mobile web technologies to their advantage (AMP, PWA, etc).

What is your favourite part about UX design?

My favorite part is being able to create an impact in the lives of the others, by improving the experience people have with interfaces and products.

Not many are aware of the real impact of UX, in fact many see it as a matter of designing yet another interface or app. But the reality is that bad UX can literally kill. Just think of all the real tragic situations that happened due to design mistakes. I feel I can have a real impact in the world, and for me that’s something huge.

What is your favourite project that you have ever done?

I’d say my favourite project is what I’m currently doing for Google, with the impact we’re creating with the mobile initiative in Portugal. I knew it’d be an amazing experience but I didn’t imagine I’d get this huge amount of knowledge, exposure, and growth.

Another favourite of mine was this really simple project I did with my friend and ex co-worker (and inspiring entrepreneur), helping her put together a website for this huge sport business conference in Eastern Europe that she has organized. It proves not everything needs to be unnecessarily complex and even small changes can make a difference.

What advice can you give to young UX designers?

If you are just starting out now, but you already have a job in another field, start advocating UX in your current company if you can! UX professionals come from so many different backgrounds, there are so many of your current skills that you can use to your advantage when you make the transition.

If you’re fresh out of UX design school, start working on real projects as soon as you can. Yes, you can do a bootcamp, but you can also try to get involved in pro-bono projects (a cause you’re passionate about, or helping non-profit and charities, for example).

Just know that learning UX is an ongoing process. A course won’t give you all answers — and that’s okay. It’s just the first step.

Now that you are a mentor — who would you like to mentor? What is your desired mentee like?

Anyone who wants to make their users lives better!

It doesn’t matter if you’re a business owner or manager who wants to incorporate UX into their current development process, or if you’re someone who’s transitioning to the UX field. As long as you want to learn and you’re determined to put the extra work and effort to involve users in your process, then I’m happy to help!

Anything you would like to tell us?

I’d love for us to connect. You can find me at LinkedIn, Twitter or my personal website.

*Ana is one of our mentors on MentorCruise. Visit her profile now and get mentored by her: *Ana’s Profile**.

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