Let's talk about Product Design

Silke tells you more about working in Product Design at XING and why this job is so special


Hi Silke, tell us ...

..why do you like working as principal product designer at XING?

As a product designer, my work primarily involves transforming user and business goals into tangible product interfaces. At XING, this encompasses a wide range of activities: identifying needs through user interviews, observing user behavior through data analysis, developing concepts and interface designs, and escorting technical execution.  


What does a typical working day in your job role look like?  

Every morning, I meet with the team to share our progress and plans for the day. Occasionally, we also do icebreakers or discuss football results. It's something I look forward to every day. Depending on the current project, I have a few recurring meetings where we exchange updates from the past days.

On office days, we have lunch at our canteen next to the Elbe and Hamburg harbour, where we can watch huge cruise ships pass by. When I have a lot of creative work to do, I usually choose to stay home and use the quiet morning hours to develop solutions.

Sometimes, I stumble upon data that hints at where we should invest in the coming months, or I simply have a new idea. At XING, I can share these ideas directly with my superiors, and I appreciate that some of these ideas sometimes resurface in future OKRs.  


How would you describe the working atmosphere in your team?  

Our team, like most teams at XING, is distributed across several locations. Therefore, constant communication is crucial to maintaining a smooth and efficient working atmosphere. For me, team offsites play the most important role in fostering healthy team ethics and building trust. Twice a year, we bring the team to one of our locations and spend a few days at the office together, conducting workshops on our future strategic approaches, complemented by lunches, dinners, and evenings around the town. This primarily shapes our social structure and helps us grow together.  


Can you give us some insights on your latest project?

Our latest major project stemmed from the company's strategic shift from a social network to a jobs network. This change impacted many parts of the app, including its overall architecture. Users now start directly with job recommendations and are directed to our job search on the start page. We overhauled the interface here to make search filters more prominent. Data and user tests revealed that many users were unaware they could filter their job search by criteria such as salary, perks, or specific industries like renewable energy. In our mobile apps, we have highlighted the top filters that users want to have conveniently available at their fingertips.

How does user feedback influence the development of your products?  

We rely on three main pillars for user feedback. First, we speak directly to users, either by interviewing a small group or sending out surveys to gather specific insights. This method is particularly useful for obtaining opinions on familiar topics, as well as gauging their general feelings towards new subjects, such as the integration of AI in our product.

The second pillar is observing collective user behaviour through anonymised click tracking, as there can be a discrepancy between what we learn from users in interviews and what clicks better in reality.

The third source is the feedback collected by our customer care team, which is meticulously compiled on Miro Boards for us to study. We then prioritise and guide our work to address the most common user problems.

Some issues, like the frequent requests to filter job offers by companies or commute times, are technically more challenging to solve and may need to be deprioritized in favour of quicker fixes. However, these topics are pressing and remain high on our agenda, trust me 😊.


What were the biggest challenges you faced during this project?

Some challenges required technical updates to our platforms, resulting in rebuilding the job search from scratch. Our iOS app, for example, switched to SwiftUI, the newest framework for building user interfaces on iOS.

On the design side, we had only three weeks for our discovery phase, integrating three waves of user interviews, one per week. This meant building personalised prototypes weekly. We observed that users identify better with prototypes that reflect their preferred job titles and preferences, so we created complex Figma prototypes with numerous variables to switch between users quickly. We asked users to fill out their preferences in advance, which required extensive planning.

The biggest challenge was transforming XING into a job network and managing the structural changes involved. New teams were formed, many people got new managers, and significant change management was needed to restore a reliable rhythm across all locations.


What is the next big project you are working on?

The project we are currently working on is one of the most exciting I've ever been involved with at XING. We are integrating AI capabilities into our job search, which will revolutionise how users find jobs. Users will be able to describe their ideal job using their own words, even in great detail if they wish. The system will understand the semantics of their search and can translate and match these to whatever the recruiters put into the job descriptions.

Are there any initiatives in place that allow team members to pitch new ideas or improvements?  

This week, we are holding our annual hackweek, where everyone can form teams and work on projects they've always wanted to prioritise to advance the company. Many features on our apps and website started as hackweek projects, such as the in-house design initiative we began a few years ago. Before that, we typically relied on external agencies. Bringing design in-house allows us to create more convenient long-term concepts that better adapt to our business needs and to users needs.

This week, I'm joining a group to tackle — and you've probably guessed it — using and offering better company data to our users. Who knows, maybe we can finally introduce a company filter after all.


XING is part of the New Work Group. What’s the best incentive you’ve received so far at New Work?

New Work has provided us with numerous incentives that I believe a modern working environment, deserving of the "New Work" title, should offer. This goes far beyond the typical "fruit and veg basket" found in office kitchens. For me, a few personal perks are crucial, such as being equipped with the latest hardware and using modern software like Figma and Miro for collaboration. Every three years, we can obtain a new mobile device, and every four years, we can upgrade to the latest laptop. I also appreciate our office environment, which we call "New Harbour." Features like electric standing desks and designer furniture make me feel valued, welcomed, and ergonomically safe.


What qualities do you think are essential for succeeding in the product and UX field at the New Work Group? Any tips for someone who thinks to apply at the New Work Group?

Working for a big company like XING requires numerous skills and qualities in the field of UX. Persuasiveness and patience are essential, as larger structures and the freedom to decide how you reach your goals necessitate onboarding and involving others. XING has a wealth of talented individuals who can assist and from whom you can learn.

The most important characteristic you can bring to the table is a passion for digital products. A natural curiosity to explore major digital platforms, which shape existing user interface patterns, as well as new, user-centric approaches, is incredibly valuable.

In my view, this passion is key. While a range of typical UX skills is certainly useful, they can also vary widely. UX professionals at XING excel in areas such as research, concepts and user flows, interaction architecture, design, brand and layout, coding or strategic business knowledge.

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