Joshua Söhn — Kontist
Designer based in Berlin, currently leading the design team at Kontist, where he works on a banking account tailored …
The first computer arrived at home when I was 12 years old. Before that, I spent an awful lot of time drawing. I drew almost everything that caught my interest —I even drew all the country flags of the world, copying them from an encyclopedia. To be honest, I didn’t know that design was a career, so at first I wanted to be a lawyer and after some time I wanted to be a translator/interpreter.
While trying to decide what to do with my future, I discovered The Internet and it really caught my interest. I learned HTML, CSS, and a bit of Photoshop on my own and without knowing it, that probably shaped my future path.
Even so, I ended up enrolling in a Bachelor’s Degree in Translation and Interpreting, but after one year I realized that it was a mistake and began studying Design.
At the same time, I started an internship which really confirmed that I really should be a designer. Since then, I’ve been working for design studios, advertising agencies and product companies, such as Twitter and now Automattic.
I’m currently a Senior Product Designer at Automattic, working on WordPress.com. Automattic is a distributed company, so everyone can work where and when they work best. I’m very grateful for this because this means I can work when I’m most productive and can really balance life and work.
A typical day starts with my alarm going off between 8 and 8:30 AM. After waking up and taking a shower, I immediately start working to catch up on everything that happened while I was sleeping, and I organize my day into blocks of time to prioritize work. I have breakfast and continue working on the more analytical and strategic tasks because over time I learned that I am more creative in the afternoon, so I do that type of work by then. After lunch, I work a few more hours and then I either go to the gym, out for a walk or just write.
Honestly, I get inspiration from everywhere. The best solutions come when I’m not actively trying to solve a certain problem —my brain works best when I disconnect from the Internet and let it rest.
Sometimes I find ideas by watching a sci-fi movie, reading a book, watching any stream on Twitch or taking a walk, and sometimes just browsing the internet, usually Twitter, YouTube, sidebar.io, and siteinspire.com.
It really depends on what I’m looking for and the stage the project is at.
The Logitech MX Mechanical Keyboard for Mac. This is my first mechanical keyboard, and I’ve fallen in love with the material and how it feels to type on it.
In 2014 some friends and I decided to create a design festival, called Creatus Dominus. Almost every year, I designed and developed the website using WordPress.
This is what we had in 2016, when we worked in collaboration with Outline Graphic Studio —this website is 7 years old, but its style is so punk, maximalist and colorful that it hasn't gone out of style.
I'm also proud of uiFromMars. The important thing here is not the interface itself, but rather the information architecture and how I managed to provide easy access to categories and blog posts.
The post page also contains little details like reading time, related posts and a newsletter block. This new design increased engagement and subscriber count :)
I’m currently just a few months into my tenure at Automattic designing and improving WordPress.com. I think the main challenge I face is getting to know our customers, learning more about the product metrics, and understanding how the company works internally. The more I’m in sync with this, the better I am at my job.
I am (or we are) just passionate about making —and designing a better web.
Never stop learning. After a few years in the field, I’ve learned that the best designers are the ones that never stop asking questions and question and try everything. Embrace your personality and your true self —this is what will really set you apart from the others. Surround yourself with creative people, but also with people you may think you have nothing in common —here’s when the serendipity happens. Also, remember that you aren’t your job 🙂
I write weekly about design on uiFromMars, my blog. I wrote my first post in February 2018, and I’ve been writing almost every week since then… five years now! I also published a book about product design called Diseño desde Marte.