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A Day in the Life: Product Design at Index Exchange

The “A Day in the Life” series showcases what we’re all about here at Index Exchange. This month, we sat down (virtually) with Venus Nalchigar and Kristen Morith—two leaders in product design at Index Exchange—to discuss collaboration, the Design Research Program, and their hobbies outside of the office.

Tell us a bit about your roles. How long have you both been at Index Exchange? 

Venus Nalchigar: I joined more than two and half years ago as a senior product designer, and am now the manager for product design at Index Exchange. I work cross-functionally across our organization to help streamline design processes, alignment, and visibility, while also contributing to our team’s design system and product development.

Kristen Morith: I’m a product designer. I joined Index Exchange in early January. Previously, I was an interaction designer at a digital agency where I worked on a lot of enterprise and B2B products. I loved the challenge that comes with that type of work, but wished I could spend more time on research and testing to better measure the outcomes of my designs. The opportunity to focus more on all of those things is what drew me to Index.

Can you both speak a bit about collaboration? What does this look like for product design at Index? And how do you support one another?

VN: We’re a centralized design team, but we all work on our own product verticals, so collaboration is crucial to ensure we are all designing towards a similar end goal. Twice a week, we meet as a product design team and do design critiques to give each other feedback on our designs and ensure we stay true to our system and pattern guidelines. Everyone on the team also contributes and provides feedback to our design system as we build it collectively, ensuring it stays true to our product and brand. 

KM: As the newbie on the team, at first I was hesitant to ask for help. I’d worry that I was bothering my teammates, or that they’d judge me for not knowing the answer after this many days or weeks at the company. But Venus was so supportive and encouraged me to reach out to anyone any time I had a question. The thing is, in the office, I wouldn’t have thought twice about tapping a colleague on the shoulder to help me locate a file or specific pattern in our design system. With remote work, it’s so easy to fall into the trap of thinking your teammates will judge you and that you’ll be interrupting them. I now don’t hesitate to reach out to the team for help whether I’m looking for feedback on my designs or have questions about our design system or processes.

What’s the overall culture like on the product design team?

VN: We are a hardworking group that also knows how to have fun! We are driven to design the best solution for our users but also know when to take a step back and get feedback and pivot if needed.

KM: Yes, 100%! This week, we’re challenging another team to a game of Chain Reaction. Every two weeks, Index hosts games like Draw Battle, Scattergories, Codenames, Trivia, Family Feud, and more. Next week, we’re doing an Airbnb cooking class to learn how to make authentic Mexican street tacos. Work-wise, we’re a user-centric team that really sweats the details and is constantly looking for opportunities to learn, grow, and support each other. We strive to be the best we can while at the same time lifting each other up. It’s an honor to be a part of a team like ours.

In 2019, the design team rolled out the Design Research Program with internal and external users to gain better insights and direction for Index’s product build, vision, and design. Can you tell us more about the program? How has it changed since it launched? And how can those reading get involved?

VN: When I first joined, product design at Index Exchange didn’t have direct communication with our partners. Being an enterprise software company, we would get a lot of our application, user, and design feedback from our account managers instead. This pushed me to create our Design Research Program here at Index to help bridge the gap between our account managers, our clients, and the design team. This allowed us to communicate and get fast and informative feedback directly from our partners throughout the design process.

KM: We currently have about 60 participants, from inside and outside the company that provide regular feedback on the Index Exchange UI through surveys, usability testing, and user interviews. Our participants help us to validate and iterate on our designs to make sure what’s released solves the right problem and is easy to use. If you’d like to get involved, please reach out.

And last but not least, what do you like to do when you’re not designing at Index?

VN: I love staying active—starting my day off with a cycling workout, playing tennis, and volleyball. In my downtime, I also enjoy playing the guitar and singing covers of my favorite songs.

KM:  I’ve gotten really into gardening and baking over the last year. I have a flourishing condo garden filled with jasmine blossoms, hibiscus flowers, roses, several different kinds of succulents, a humongous Philodendron selloum, two English lavenders, and five different kinds of herbs. I also keep a sourdough starter and bake bread with it every week. My loaves are starting to look very professional! When I’m not taking care of my plants, feeding my starter, or baking bread, I practice yoga in my living room and like to draw or paint with watercolors. In the summertime, I sail in the Toronto Harbor. 

Interested in joining our team? Check out our open roles: 

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