In today’s day and age, the Internet is pretty much the closest to utopia.
Maintaining all the site information, website designers have to ensure everything runs smoothly. Not only that, they also have to keep ahead ahead of the competition in terms of site attractiveness and user-friendliness.
Given all the work they put in, they are rarely recognised. And so, we thought it fit to highlight some notable individuals in Singapore.
1) Yugene Lee – JIN Design
Yugene is currently running JIN Design, a firm providing bespoke digital interface design services. He has been designing websites for brands since he was in university.
The most challenging project that he has been involved in was a kiosk system that he designed to test hearing loss.
“The kiosks were implemented in many Guardian and Watson branches that let users to test their hearing system within minutes. It took us quite some time to design and develop the whole platform together and bring it into reality. We spent huge amount of time just listening to different tones of audio for testing.”
On the local design culture, Yugene highlighted that the design culture is picking up fast with many communities like the OrangeHive, Lean UX, UXSG, and Singapore Design Week that bring designers together.
“However, there is still a lack of designers in the digital space that major in UX & UI.”
2) Michael Chen – Minitheory
Zendesk, Michael Chen is co-founder of Minitheory, a user experience design studio based in Singapore. Minitheory makes software simple, based on how people think and behave.
“My job is to build a high-performance design team. This means looking at design processes, growing people, evangelising design and also staring at my computer way too much.”
On his most challenging project, he shared that it was for a stock market app for expert users.
“I knew nothing about how stocks work, so it wasn’t easy to download the knowledge to the point where I could do a good job. At the same time, I loved the challenge of learning something new and working on things that designers wouldn’t normally work on.”
Michael also acknowledged that the design community has taken off over the past few years, thanks to the efforts of organisations like the NDC, UXSG and IxDA.
“There is no lack of design meetups these days.”
However, the UX industry in Singapore is still not as mature as fields like architecture, industrial design, or advertising design. The result is that we have more young designers looking for guidance than there are mentors. But that is slowly changing.
“It feels harder to learn from each other because designers in Singapore are more guarded about their projects. This stems from a corporate culture of secrecy.
In comparison, it’s more open in the Valley. There used to be a Product Design Guild meetup where you could take something you’ve been struggling with at work and borrow someone’s brain to help. Unfortunately I don’t see that happening anytime soon as companies here are strict about confidentiality.”
3) Ang Jun Han – Zendesk
Jun Han currently leads a design team lead at Zendesk Singapore, which is focused on the Zopim Chat and Zendesk Message products.
“I have a team of 3 product designers that I work closely with, but right now I’m mostly focused on working with our new UX researcher to make robust research a key part of our product development process.”
On the most challenging project he’s worked on, he shared that it was the integration of Zopim Chat into Zendesk after the acquisition in 2014.
“It was a challenge because we were trying to bring together two pretty mature products in a short amount of time, within the technical constraints of both products, as well as working with teams in 3 different time zones.”
Jun Han also noticed that designers in the local community have recently started writing more about their process, challenges, and insights.
“Sure, we’ve always had meetups, but it’s different when you take the time to read a thoughtful and well-written piece from a colleague.”
One example would be Elisha Ong, cofounder of Burpple, who is now a designer at Zendesk in San Francisco.
“He’s recently started writing on Medium and I must say I’ve enjoyed it immensely.”
4) Tan Thye Chuan – Product Designer
Thye worked in an event-based startup – Dragon Wealth Asia – as a product designer. There, he planned the product design and architecture with the team, and came up with the user interface (UI) of the product and prototype interactions.
He also consults startups on a part-time basis to optimise their products better with design and analytics.
On his most challenging role so far, Thye shares that “aside from design work, there’s a lot of internal planning and stakeholder management involved.
I have learnt that EQ is very important to communicate and work with others in harmony, and I have much more to learn to collaborate effectively in the future.”
Thye also told us that in Singapore, more people are now embracing the importance of design, and are venturing into the UX field with energy and curiosity.
“The design community bonds and shares experiences in meetups like UXSG, and I can only see the industry maturing further from here.”
5) Nicole Tay – UI Designer
Nicole Tay is a freelance UI designer in Singapore, with a focus on mobile and cross platform applications.
For her, the most challenging project she has been involved in is not about the concept, but the people. In particular, she finds trouble most comes in when business owners put in many dark patterns and emphasise their business objectives as opposed to putting users’ needs first.
6) Lee Jun Lin – Minitheory
Jun Lin is another familiar name among designers in Singapore.
As co-founder and Principal Designer at Minitheory, his work involves management, sales, business activities. In addition, he also provides guidance to new designers on the team.
Previously, he was also the Lead Product Designer at HomeAway Asia (formerly travelmob) where he handled design for all platforms.
When asked about the most challenging project he has been involved in, he shared that it was designing and growing a sustainable design practice.
“Unlike high-growth startups, a service company is highly dependent on human capital. Currently, Singapore has a shortage of talent as the traditional institutions have not caught up with the industry yet.
There are numerous Singaporean firms in the traditional design fields such as graphic, industrial and architectural design that have made a mark on the international stage and we are hoping to do the same.”
7) Melissa Ng – Melewi
Melissa currently runs Melewi, a travelling product, UX and UI design studio as Founder and UX/UI designer.
Her role is to grow the company and make sure that their work fulfils the business goals of their clients.
On her most challenging project, Melissa mentions that projects with multiple stakeholders often can’t come to a consensus.
8) Navjot Pawera – buUuk
Another well-known figure, Nav once led the design team at buUuk, a design-led mobile development studio. Now, he serves as Director of the company.
His team has solved many design problems, but their collaboration with NEA was one that left him a big learning lesson.
“Co-ordinating between 13 govt departments on a project that gets used by over half a million citizens brings a lot of interesting design constraints and development challenges.
Delivering that project to fantastic usage numbers and getting a nod by the Prime Minister at the National Rally was a great validation for the work we put in as well.”
Nav also shares that the designer culture has grown a lot in the past 5 years.
“From a few inspiring people who were recognised by most to a larger community of new designers, new ideas and great conversations, the community here is very welcoming to new talent and there’s great conversations.
Everyone recognises the difficulties in solving problems from a design perspective and everyone seems to be keen to help each other out. I moved here 6 years ago hoping to change my career path to focus on design, and I’m still here with no plans to leave anytime soon!”
9. Zavien Ng – Red Airship
Last but not least, Zavien is a UI designer as well as co-founder at Red Airship. At his post, he adapts and practices UX skills as well as carries out various types of prototyping.
The most challenging projects for him are cross country e-commerce site and banking apps as they require in-depth knowledge and lots of research and understanding.
The Website Design Scene In Singapore
The Singapore design industry is growing everyday, and so this list barely scratches the surface.
So if you know any other notable designers, feel free to tag them in the comments.