International Women’s Day is March 8 – a day to celebrate women’s achievements, raise awareness about discrimination, and take action to drive gender parity. This week, we are putting a spotlight on just a few of the women inside Ubisoft Winnipeg and the work they do.
We spoke to UI/UX Designer Ana Gomes on designing for internal tools, and why she hopes you never notice her work.
So can you tell me what a UI/UX designer does?
At the most basic level, we design the experience of users on things like software, apps, and games! The UI part is more focused on what we actually see on the screen – things like the buttons, visual elements and text. The UX part is more about the whole user experience with a product – for example, where do we place those visual elements, what should be the flow for signing up a form, etc.; or in a game, how and when do you interact with the interface so you can perform the actions you need to do in the game!
So why is that such an important role to have?
Since this is my work, I am definitely going to say that it’s very, VERY important! A good user experience will have a significant impact in the success of a tool or a game.
It is important to understand and investigate people’s behaviors and expectations, while considering what kind of platforms, interfaces, and operational systems they use. Those things will help us planning and designing the best experience for users.
The code on the background of course is an important part as well, since it will influence how the product works in the end. But at the end of the day, we are only successful if the user that is interacting with the software has a good and efficient experience!
When people think of gaming, they think of the audience as the players – but right now you’re designing for the teams working on building games!
Yes! So, my work is currently focused on the tools that the teams building the games use. More specifically when dealing with assets. Assets on games could be characters, sound effects, objects, environments and so much more.
The teams working on those tools are just as important as external users. The efficiency of their work will also impact the success of a game. It’s an earlier stage of the game developing process, but it’s a very important one because if they have a hard time doing things time managing or requesting their assets, this will impact how fast a project can be completed!
It is also important to highlight that these are the tools teams use everyday. So, considering their experience is a key factor in their overall satisfaction with their work.
What qualities do you think it takes to be a really great UI or UX?
It is important to have empathy. We need to get out of our own realities and think about the realities of the users. And they come in vastly different shapes, backgrounds, and levels of experience. We need to understand what their needs are. As UXers, we are the advocates for the user – what are their needs? How can we make their work experiences better? Having business needs and technical requirements in mind is also a must on our work.
How did you get started working in games?
I’ve played video games since I remember existing. Maybe because it was my main hobby outside work, I never really thought about working on them in the past. But then when I heard about the Winnipeg studio and I learned about the part of the work that deals with tools, that really interested me. It was a good match of my professional experiences not only with the game industry in general but also with the work being done on the Ubisoft Winnipeg studio.
When someone’s using a tool or something that you’ve worked on, what do you want their experience to be?
What I always aim for is simplicity. We already have many tools that we have to use on a daily basis to perform our work. In gaming we think about creativity and entertainment. For tools I feel like my design is successful if it is invisible. When the experience is so smooth and straightforward that users don’t even think about the experience. I aim for the invisible experience where everything is simple and straightforward.
You said you were a fan of gaming since before you could remember – now that you’ve joined it, what’s something you’ve learned you wish you could tell everyone?
I worked in tech for many years, and I thought the game industry would be terribly similar. While there are similarities, after joining Ubisoft, I can say it is so much more fun and collaborative than I was expecting. All the things happening, the events, the innovation initiatives. And there is a lot of collaboration, and this is a huge highlight for me. I work a lot with people in Montreal, France… people from various locations, time zones, and everybody has this urge to collaborate with each other and work together.
Do you have any suggestions for women who are looking to join the gaming industry?
There are so many more women working in the industry right now and it’s so amazing to see that, especially comparing when I started in tech many years ago. Especially in our studio, I see a bunch of talented women there and it makes me happy to see a lot of us working in the industry – I feel proud of what we accomplished in the last few years.
My advice is that women explore gaming in general but also all the distinct roles in the industry. There is a game for everyone, and it’s no different for the industry and all the career opportunities.