Olya is a versatile designer and creative director with over a decade of experience in product, marketing and brand design, working on project across a wide range of disciplines, from non-profits, to politics, architecture, CPG, e-commerce, and human resources. Most recently, she spearheaded a design compliance program at a multinational FMCG business, providing UX/UI and data visualization for analytics dashboards, writing copy for the employee knowledge center, and branding a global risk analytics tool, for which she also led UX/UI.
1. When you’re at a networking event, how do you describe your independent career status, and where you focus your work?
I mostly refer to myself as a design consultant specializing in UX, branding and data visualization. But I am a full-fledged creative generalist.
Between my early start in writing and my later years working as a creative director, I tend to make the biggest impact with teams who need guidance across a lot of creative touch points, instead of just one or two features.
In addition to working hands-on across a wide range of design tasks, I help clients figure out the best way to distribute creative resources, whether they're transitioning from an agency, growing their in-house team, or starting something new.
2. What are the specific benefits that you, as an independent, offer your clients? How do you explain the value your expertise brings?
Throughout my graduate studies, I explored the role of user trust in online environments. My research assistantship focused on trust among online news readers, while my thesis tackled a broader set of users, including folks using social media and e-commerce sites.
I apply my research toward pretty much all my projects because trust cues impact products at all stages. From the logo to the header photo's resolution, to the fonts in a bar chart: the details add up! Just because a user can't consciously identify a certain design, it doesn't mean that it's not affecting their trust.
I also provide my clients UX writing and content strategy, helping secure the other half of that trust equation.
Finally, I love to tell stories through information graphics and data visualization, which I consider the most persuasive formats of all.
3. Why do you think there is increasing global demand for independent expertise?
Regularly switching projects is a creativity multiplier that benefits me just as much as my clients. It lets us, consultants, explore a really wide range of opportunities, tackle new challenges, and bring a breath of fresh air to each job. For businesses, it means having access to specialized talents exactly when they're needed, promoting innovation and efficiency. Win-win!
4. Describe a recent or successful assignment in terms of scope, duration and any particular milestones in the results.
One of my favorite recent initiatives has been the design compliance program I spearheaded at a multinational FMCG player, a client I collaborated with through Talmix. I led tailored training sessions for my engineering peers, breaking down the design system and teaching Figma basics, along with other valuable practices bridging design and engineering.
The program not only deepened the team's understanding of design principles but also made our processes more efficient and productive. In just a few months, we increased compliance from zero to around 75% across more than 30 dashboards, while improving user adoption across the board.
5. What's your favourite thing to do when you're not on the clock?
Travel is my favorite non-work activity, by far. In true designer fashion, I tend to return from trips with more photos of fonts and buildings than anything else, though.
6. What is the biggest challenge you had to face in your career so far and how did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge was moving from journalism into design, even though I'd been playing with design software since the days of Corel-brand software. After examining both sides of media credibility – the visual and the verbal – in the course of my graduate studies, I realized the two really need to go together to make an impact.
So I went full circle: returning to design with a multi-modal foundation in trust research.
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