Guest Felipe Coelho Kussik
Medit's UX/UI Designer and User Advocate
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Dave: Hello, and welcome to the podcast. I’m your host, Dave Albert. In this show, I talk about technology, building a company as a CTO, and co founder and have guests to discuss their roles in technology and entrepreneurship.
Today we’re joined by Felipe, our UI, UX designer, and user advocate. Thanks for joining us, Felipe.
Felipe: Thanks for having me.
Dave: And I didn’t want to butcher your surname. So if you would give us your full name.
Felipe: My full name is Felipe Coelho Kussik.
Dave: I knew I would not be able to say that which is why I did not even attempt it.
Felipe: It’s fine, Felipe’s fine. I like the way you said it. Usually people will say either Felipe like, like with the the accent. The delay is a or Felip or just Philip’s funny, our neighbor calls me Philips so like, he should go like Phillip good man. He’s very funny he says like with the very thick Irish accent.
Felipe: I like it.
Dave: I get called Albert, Albert. So I send him emails, thanks so much for your help on this, Dave. And then they come back. No problem, Albert. I don’t mind.
Felipe: Because you have two full names. Like, yeah.
Dave: Well three if you count my middle
Felipe: Do you have a middle name. What is it?
Felipe: William. Oh.
Dave: So in Irish it’s Daithi Liam
Dave: But it’s it’s David. We’ll by, my mother, sister, and wife.
Felipe: Which ones you prefer? Just Dave?
Dave: Just Dave.
Felipe: So it’s David William Albert. And you go by Dave.
Dave: Just Dave. Just Dave. I’m in a legal proceedings against the TV station. No, no. Yeah. So, um, biggest thing is, I just wanted to kind of get, you know, so this, this podcast is about startups and tech. And, you know, you’re such a good user’s advocate and UI/UX. Just kind of a bit of your background, how you got into it, what would you take inspiration from stuff like that so maybe just start with you know, how you got into the design world in general.
Dave: Trying to be an expert in one thing while still being a journeyman and the rest of them.
Felipe: Yeah, like it’s like, it’s it’s weird because I always thought that there will be, there was like they way to do it like I was always trying to do everything so like because I was working as a self employed like freelance but I have had like like proper client and and then as a small company I always thought that I could do everything and I was like doing like business side of stuff like handling clients and and managing expectations and contract and all that stuff and I was doing like plenty in like architecture in wire frames and then design and then getting the coding and I was like I was always like happy in that place doing kind of bit of everything but now that I’m doing design in the end I still get that feeling sometimes in It’s getting easier now. But I’m always like, why did I waste so much time? Like really focusing on it a lot of times now, I feel like this is what I should be doing for a long time so but in a way I was doing, So like so when I’m like getting my I was getting my LinkedIn profile and I had to like oh how how many years experience you have? I don’t know if I should say that I have like two years, one year which is when I started here, or should I go with like, 15 years which is all myy experience I was like, oh, what’s the. Yeah, I don’t know. It’s just pretty I’m enjoying a lot. It doesn’t matter because you’re never allowed to leave us. So there are no other jobs for you. Just this one.
Felipe: I hope that’s not a threat.
Dave: No, not at all. We’re just so happy that you know, you’re, you’re a part of the team. And you know, see Felipe came on as a freelance web front end web developer. But then over time, we decided to take more and more different little design tasks. And then we realized, Hey, why don’t we just let you take this whole thing and make it better. And the product has gotten so much better since when we were trying to use different vendors and freelancers to help us drive the product. Once someone was actually in the team driving the user experience and advocating for the user. Everything about the product has just gotten better and better, so anybody out there who is considering trying to do it without someone focused on that you’re going to have a much better time if you just try to make it happen. I mean, you know, it’s how everything goes. If somebody is solely focused on an aspect of something, it improves. If nobody’s focused on it, it won’t improve.
Felipe: Yeah, I think I think we, we talked these in our, in our team meeting like having a full time designer in this like, initial phase of a project or product like the importance of of like in we were seeing like that now. Now it’s now it’s getting better. But like a lot of my initial tasks were basically like, not fixing stuff but like, kind of rethinking things that weren’t working and like this is nothing like with, it’s more about it’s like you said it’s like someone focusing just on there and was like, we now have more information that we had in the beginning like when when the the the app was designed so now we and that’s it only works if you if you have a dedicated team or person.
Dave: Exactly, I mean you know you take a all designs start from the perfect state then when you get real life content that perfect state goes right out the window and so our initial designs done by an external agency were very heavily focused on imagery that was high quality. Content that was marketing based, so good keywords, nice short titles that were impactful. And then when you bring in medical content not made by marketers, a large portion of it is text heavy, very few images, if there are images they may be lower quality than what you can use as the hero of the piece of content. So, so once you actually throw the real world content at it, you have to make adjustments and if you don’t have someone there to constantly see these changes and that are needed then you know, you’re just trying to fit what you have into the design because that was the design not because it’s the right thing.
Felipe: Yeah, yeah, it’s like I think that though designing for like, all those states, like ideal state, empty state, error state or like when something doesn’t load or what I think that’s like, like all designers are aware of that stuff. But day to day it’s hard to do that because sometimes you like there’s pressure, you have to get this done. And then you end up forgetting all that stuff. And also like when, when you’re you’re working with an external company, I imagine I don’t know but I imagine there’s like the kind of it’s not pressure but the situation kind of changes because there’s the there’s the the presentation aspect of it. So like they have to get the designs done or have to get the designs ready to present to you guys because you’re the ones paying them as like their relation is with you and were now kind of the relationship relationship changes a bit where we’re designing not for 115, we’re designing for people using the app. So it kind of changes a little bit and I think it’s it’s it’s only natural like when you.
Dave: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you know, both the company that’s contracting someone and the company that’s doing that contracting have somewhat different agendas so the one paying is trying to get the best value for the least amount of money. I mean, that’s just the way the world works.The one trying to make the money is trying to deliver the most value as quickly as possible to remain profitable. And so there is no way to do all the things at a price that someone trying to get something as reasonably priced as possible. That’s just it’s not possible.
Felipe: It’s it’s very hard like even because a lot of say like with the user experience aspect of it, like you, you say your say that I’m like a user advocate as like I’m speaking for the user I find that very funny, but like a lot of it is is related most of the times to stuff that we are not directly discussing at that moment. So like when we are discussing like a new feature or some something that’s broken or something that’s not getting the expected results or like we saw in like analytics day we’re not getting like a conversion rates or whatever it is that we’re discussing at that specific moment. There’s always a lot of implications. So like we’re, if we’re talking about a screen that doesn’t look nice or that we forgot to do something, there’s usually a lot of like, fall back no, not fallback.
Felipe: Fall out. Yeah, like when you do something in one place ends up having an expected effect some other places.
Dave: Yeah, I would say cascading effects that’s just the way I talk so yeah.
Felipe: Yeah so like, a lot of times when when we’re talking something I’m, I’m thinking in like that only stick view like, it’s like there’s more to that than just getting that we’re discussing at that moment and when you’re dealing with a company or in that, in that sense, it’s hard to get that because it’s always it’s all about let’s close these let’s side is off and let’s move on. So there’s there’s that aspect to it. And I don’t know I don’t know if it’s impossible because that is some it is a business that exists so I don’t know impossible. It’s just really, really hard.
Dave: Well, no, absolutely. So that’s why I say you’re the user advocate because you really are, you’re the one looking at the overall perspective from the users point of view because the rest of us can’t necessarily do that, because we’ve got to look at it at the overall aspect of the development team. Or, or, you know, whatever the because it’s every one of those over what about this and this and this and this? There’s that for the user experience. There’s also that for the development, okay, well, if we make that change, there’s going to make this change in the API. And that means that the database changes. Yeah, and the data analytics have to change this way. So if one person were to try to think through all those different things effectively, at one time, I either their head would explode or they’d be a heck of a lot smarter than I am.
Felipe: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Because like there’s, there’s there’s a downside of that as well. where like, we can just be talking like otherwise we won’t get anything done. So sometimes, Oh, we need these like quick fixes or quick wins or like and it’s not they’re not bad they’re not, it’s just while we need supplies otherwise we just keep keep talking and just talking and then hypothetical and it doesn’t really where I don’t I don’t see it working like that but
Dave: That’s why I’m always telling you to keep pulling for perfection and sometimes we’re going to have to pull back really hard yeah towards the middle of good enough for now but if you keep pulling towards perfection and he keep otherwise if nobody was pulling towards perfection and we were continually pulling for good enough for now the bar would just keep getting lower so you can
Felipe: Yeah but but the like both bikes keep changing like the good enough like we talked about is like how are good enough kind of gets lower and lower like the more pressure days like we went to like meet the deadline or something like the good enough, it basically becomes like, Yeah, whatever. And, and the but on the other hand, it also keeps changing because like the more more time I spend, or anyone really spends, like trying to get perfect, it keeps getting higher and higher. And so I think the secret is in the like everything else is like balance. Just have to balance. Yeah, but I’m enjoying doing that stuff so definitely.
Dave: Like I said, the product keeps getting better. So if you’re building a product and you don’t have someone focused on user experience, and you know that’s that’s more than just does it look pretty? You know, it’s a whole lot more than that. It helps that it looks pretty. But it’s so much more about the psychology of usage.
Felipe: Yeah yeah. Yeah like the but it’s hard like even like with the new pretty and like make it perfect and like to me it’s not it’s not about that like it is because it’s what we’re seeing most of the time and it’s like the first, it’s kinda like the first layer of thing but the how you interact with it and how it how it feels and how easy it is to do something to perform an action in the app or anything really it’s more about that and it’s it’s hard to balance those even how nice it looks or how well it performs. So yeah.
Dave: You keep adding features, but also keep it intuitive. You know, we’ve all seen interface user interfaces like in, especially in older Windows applications where there were a million checkboxes and dropdowns. And I mean, just just look at Microsoft Word by, you know, 5-10 years ago, it could do everything. And they were all right there in front of you. That’s not intuitive.
Felipe: But that’s why they needed the little paperclip to help you.
Dave: Well, that’s all we needed in that, we just put a paperclip maybe a thermometer.
Felipe: Yeah, something medical. Yeah. Yeah. Stethoscope
Dave: Stethoscope . Looks like you’re trying to find some medical content.
Felipe: It’s very Irish. Very Irish. Yeah, let’s do it.
Dave: Maybe not. You have a special experience with WordPress.
Felipe: I do. Yeah, I have a lot of experience with WordPress
Dave: What was that?
Felipe: Like I, it all started well I started using like WordPress version like at one point it was like when they they added themes there was like version 1.5 or something something like that and I saw it because I was I was doing design like designing websites but I always need needed someone to make them work right like make them work I mean easy for clients to like enter new products or both like a blog or something and when WordPress when when I discovered WordPress it kind of opened a lot of possibilities like I could I could do like, I could be working websites they had like search that pages that you could like update in a very easy interface. So I started using it and then I became involved with the Brazilian community that was doing the translations because we were, we needed it to be in Portuguese because it’s easier. If you want there. So..
Dave: I wouldn’t be able to program it very well since I don’t know it at all
Felipe: The program is probably fine because it’s already done.
Dave: Well, I have seen some bad variable names in the past so, I know Portuguese.
Felipe: Yeah I mean so like broken characters, like yeah so like I and I had I had some my English was basic/intermediate maybe but I had some experience with translating stuff all all very informal but it is something that I always enjoy doing as a fun fact for your listeners, I translated the subtitles for The Office. The British Office.
Dave: No way I did not know that.
Felipe: Yeah yeah because just like it is also a while ago in like subtitles are be in Brazil like in essence like you download like a TV show informally and you need subtitles and I did some I did some, I translated some. I did all of the office it was only like 12 episodes I think. And I also did translation for a documentary about Wilco. the is called I am trying to break your heart. Yeah I did that because they were my favorite thing so I did it but this is I we shouldn’t be talking about this. This is probably illegal. They’re not online anymore but you can see you can get them or maybe you can I don’t know.
Dave: You didn’t do anything except translate.
Felipe: No, yeah yeah yeah. Anyway, yeah, so I yeah, that’s when I got involved in the WordPress, the Brazilian community and it was like the they were starting to become official because WordPress has like these each country has like their official community that like, so we started doing that and then I was involved in organizing the word camps I was I helped organizing the first two or three word games I think definitely first two I can remember and I also spoke at those word games. I had first one was my first talk was called WordPress for designers which I know something like specifically about how it was tool. It could be like a useful tool for designers who didn’t know how to code that equal kind of like get buy in, like making like portfolio website or like helping their clients and then the second one was called Total WordPress. It was like there was a bit more about how you could use all all parts of WordPress like plugins and it was more general stuff but yeah, and then I use WordPress as like my main tool for clients for most of most of the time. I don’t I don’t use it a lot anymore, because I’m a designer. I don’t have to. No I should think it’s it’s a very powerful tool and I have my my, my partner, my business partner, he works for automatic now the the company behind wordpress.com he works there. Yeah I like I like WordPress
Dave: No, I don’t dislike it. I worry about all the updates that need to be maintained and yeah plugins that need to be updated consistently because it’s such a threat factor for malfeasance like you know.
Felipe: Usually my experience is usually it goes well if you are, if you’re kind of doing it regularly you know it’s easier to do that because like now they have like for for minor versions. They can, they’re done automatically if you if you if you want but even the major versions, it usually goes well what can go wrong is usually like more to like bad plug ins or a bad theme that they they’re not keeping up to date so but then the issue is like you should probably get a better plugin and everything and like now the big one, the version five where they introduced with American Gutenberg the new editor and I don’t know if you you know..
Dave: I will look that up.
Felipe: Yeah, so basically it’s like a more robust in flexible editor like content editor so it’s very similar to Squarespace builder it’s mostly like a few other page builders that were on WordPress but my experience is that it’s better than the other ones I saw in it’s also more flexible and has more possibilities to improvement in audit so there was a big update but I think for two sites ICA they because they’ve been doing this for a while like it’s been like beta phase for for a while. Most themes and plugins the most the most popular ones are compatible so it should be fine to update as far as I know I haven’t I haven’t done in our websites yet.
Dave: Well it’s my own personal websites built on GitHub Pages so it’s all jekyll.
Felipe: Oh, I love jekell. I do, it’s the best I yeah, I really like it. And I was like, because I have, I was doing this yesterday, actually. I have a personal project about Seinfeld the I don’t know if you know that.
Dave: I think I’ve heard of that.
Dave: Yeah. It ran for a year didn’t it?
Felipe: Yeah those, a few years close yeah. Dave, Dave’s comedy buff. Yeah like yeah so I have this website is it’s Seinfeld related it’s called Moving into Seinfeld which will be translated to Seinfeld Movement. It’s like me and some friends we write about every episode of Seinfeld, we’re not doing that anymore but it started on I think 2007 or eight and then we did until season six I think and then just got tired of doing but it’s still online and it runs on jekyll. It’s hosted on GitHub, it’s really good because like, they basically just send me a text file and I like make like markdown. Very basic stuff and just commit to get up there. And it’s like, I really like it.
Dave: But this, this podcast, the RSS feed is built by just editing four lines of gamble. Yeah, upload the, the mp3 to after I do a quick bit of processing, like it actually takes less time to post it than it does to record it. Process, upload it to AWSS3 and then add that to the AMO file, commit it. Push it and it’s done. And then I have a transcriptionist who just takes the audio and transcribes it. And somebody else just sends it and then it’s a PR and then it’s done. Uploading is basically done, that was me clicking the green button on GitHub to to merge the PR.
Felipe: Yeah it’s really, it’s just it’s just nice being able to edit the the files directly, like seeing one that’s that’s why I like it.
Dave: Back before the bullet journal, the last episode I put out was about the quick take on Bullet Journal. Felipe and I are both bullet journal fans before that I used to try to take notes at meetups in well I use them for my editor so I was thinking
Dave: I’m king of the nerd at least the king of the Medit now. So I used to try to take notes in that and just go ahead and directly edit it and then could just push it when I got home. But now that I used the bullet journal I can actually pay a little more attention and trying to take detailed notes and so. I hear Hugo is even better than jekyll at like speed wise and some of the other things that it does it does pretty well but obviously it doesn’t work with GitHub Pages it’s just another static site generator
Felipe: Hugo? Oh okay, I I’ve used another one called Kirby
Dave: I’ve heard of that but I haven’t used it.
Felipe: It’s really really good and like I use that for for clients for a few clients actually. Because like I used to work a lot with artists and photographers so they needed an easy way to update their websites and I try using WordPress for that but it wasn’t wasn’t the best option for them because it was like basically throwing a bunch of JPG and that was that’s all they needed so WordPress always felt a bit like hockey like you had to like to make this as opposed is a galleries is like so and then I, I discovered Kirby which I think it works pretty much the same this you just throw a bunch of files and it runs and you just so how I use Kirby with clients is like I view the website ith as like a few pages like about page or contact page. In Kirby has like a very basic admin so they can either go to admin on the like browser enter password and they can like update their contact details or like a text on the about page but what I find very nice and they they like because that’s what they’re used to is that they can update the website using FTP so.
Dave: You can use FTP for anything as FTP, maybe.
Felipe: Yeah. But like at least my clients what because it’s something that they are familiar with because they use with when they’re sending the photos for printing. So they FTP to the company thingand so they know how to use it, which is basically like drag and drop. It’s not but that’s how they do it.
Dave: What was the, I just use the program all the time. I forgotten the name of it files that one. Yeah, yeah. Or what was the other one? CyberDuck?
Felipe: CyberDuck. D. Robert? Yeah, that one. Yeah.
Dave: That seems to be the one designers using.
Felipe: Yeah I because I think cyberduck is it’s the the one on Mac. That’s free and that’s
Dave: You can get Filezilla for free on the Mac too. I think more people uses..
Felipe: But yeah, the interfaces is a bit more like it feels a bit more windows. Yeah. Filezilla is a bit easier. CyberDuck is easier.
Dave: Yeah. Yeah, for sure.
Felipe: And so anyway, they basically just throw files there. And it appears very nice on the website thumbnails and all this stuff. Really nice such websites. I really liked it.
Dave: Between that and you know, the new server lists. So like AWS lambda is and Azure functions between the two of those things, you can do an awful lot without having to maintain infrastructure. So I don’t know there’s still a few a few bits that are harder for me to quite grasp how to handle security wise. So like, if you have a user actually locking in, that makes sense. So state is maintaining that way. But, you know, with typical servers, you can render things in the background. So like, if you’ve got some PHP key that does some remote call, that’s easy, because that never gets exposed to the user. So how you can do that I think that’s the one step that’s missing from making server list take over the world, with static pages. I mean, you know, so you could use GitHub Pages or you could just use s3 or any type of block storage type service so you know, process it with Kirby, Hugo, jekyll or whatever, and then store those static files in the bucket using the server list but I’m really intrigued by where that might go. But I think there’s one thing missing, you know, like, how do you connect to the database with security and every user doesn’t have a password to prevent someone from basically doing almost an SQL injection against it. So I don’t know. I have no answers on that one but I think that there’s just one piece of that puzzle that’s going to change a lot of the way smaller scale infrastructure. Like I think a lot of startups could could basically start with small server list. And GitHub Pages I mean, really year so it’s so close but not quite there. This is just Yeah, I don’t know. Anybody out there have any ideas?
Felipe: I don’t know either.
Dave: Anything else?
Dave: No? Well we can always do this again yesterday
Felipe: Yeah, let’s do it. I’ll went for it.
Dave: It was a great pleasure
Felipe: Yeah, pleasure.
Dave: Pleasure having you on the team and so how can people contact you if they so wish?
Felipe: I use.. sorry?
Dave: I was just gonna say, I know you’re a little bit off social media now.
Felipe: I’m off Facebook only. Well yeah I’m not on Facebook since last last year and but I’m on Twitter a lot and on Instagram. I still use instagram, I know it’s Facebook but um Yeah.
Dave: Have you seen the news for Facebook, are trying to merge all of their platforms?
Felipe: I did see that. Yeah, I don’t know. Like, I wish I could not use whatsapp but everyone’s in there. So..
Dave: I like Signal sort of. I like the idea of Signal better than some of the application of it but the app itself is fine there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the app but I think where it’s tied to your phone. That could be a problem.
Felipe: Oh yeah, I saw I saw a friend she was asking like for recommendations on on different messaging apps and I don’t know much about Signal but I remember seeing she was saying that like if you get a new phone you’re gonna lose it. Is that how it works?
Dave: Yeah,yeah so it’s directly tied to your phone number. So it’s based on the the whisper protocol which is what what’s app was anyway I know hard to say what it is now but it’s the open source version of it so there’s no centralized company that trolls signal it’s open source - FOSS free open source software. It works well but yeah, if if you Change your phone, you lose all your contacts. Which isn’t great. So, I don’t know what the solution is. Because the reason is, all connections are peer to peer, at least mine I haven’t read through all the code. So I can’t, you know, say with great certainty how the internals work. But basically, it seems like it makes that initial connection based on phone. And somehow, I don’t know, maybe there is some sort of centralized Traffic Manager for those initial connections. So, you know, like a central registry of phone numbers, but I, you know, there were authentication and maybe that authentication could be the point of failure where someone could man in the middle that then you know, you think you’re talking, you know, we think we’re talking to each other, but we’re both talking to the NSA and NSA sending us the messages or relaying the messages on to us.
Felipe: Yeah, like I don’t know. I know that there are other options and and like security wise all this aap I just I just don’t want to be part of Mark Zuckerberg daily active users and monthly active users in anyway so that’s that’s what I’m mostly like thinking about all this stuff now. Yeah.
Dave: So what is your Twitter and Instagram? I’ll add them in the show notes but just go ahead.
Felipe: Oh yeah. It’s @seufelipe, S E U F E L I P E both Instagram and Twitter. They’re the ones I use the most. I also use letterbox, do you know letterbox?
Felipe: It’s a social network for movies and it’s I love it like you can, I used to like logging movies I watch but also like getting recommendations and just reading reviews that are there’s a lot of good people writing there like really good reviews and all that it’s really cool letterbox I use that a lot I think Twitter, Instagram and letterbox they’re the ones I used the most.
Dave: Okay. Thanks very much.
Felipe: Thanks for having me.
Dave: And if anybody out there has anything to say about this episode or you have any anything you’d like to hear in addition from Felipe or for myself. You can always reach out [email protected] and on Twitter @Dave_Albert. Thanks for listening.
Until next time, remember any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.