An Interview with Twitter’s Yaron Schoen

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Yaron Schoen is the Lead Designer at Twitter’s New York office, a great user interface designer, and someone that has many enviable talents. One thing you’ll notice about the great designers of the web is that they all have multiple talents and hobbies. Yaron seems to lead them all.

I’ve been inspired by his taste in music, his beautifully simple interface designs, and his witty yet human writings, so I thought everyone should get to know this great man, designer, musician, husband and father. I knew he would inspire you and flood you with knowledge and shared intuition, so I sat down with him to ask him a few questions.

Tell us a little about yourself and how you got to this point in your life.

I am a designer that loves focusing on user interfaces and have been fiddling with them for over a decade now. My full time job is at Twitter where I am Design Lead at the NY office. I started working there after Julpan, a startup I was a product consultant for, was acquired by them last year. Before Twitter I freelanced for companies such as Travelocity, Charity Water, Readablity and more and before that I worked for several different agencies, such as Fi, as a designer.

Why design?

It pays the bills and I don’t have to shave or wear a tie.

What are the biggest challenges you face as a designer?

Definitely designing for multiple platforms (i.e. iOS, Android, Web, feature phones, tablets, refrigerators etc). Finding the fine line between consistency of the product you are designing for, keeping true to the environment (platform) that the interface lives in, and letting the brand shine through, is hard work. Now, when designing a feature, you have to think of how it will work in a zillion different devices with a zillion different operating systems in a zillion different screen sizes. Tricky stuff.

What would you say are your personal Principles of Design? (how you approach design)

In the beginning of the process I usually try to come up with as many possible ideas or solutions to the problem I am facing. The next step is stripping things down to their bare essentials. Only then do I start adding some of the ideas that I had in the beginning. That’s a very general approach though, every project is different really.

What are some of the things you’re most excited about on the web today?

Honestly, nothing and everything. It’s less about the web, and more about the things that surround the web. People are slowly understanding the power of it, and that it is more than just websites or web apps. It’s really exciting to see the Web completely revolutionizing industries that haven’t changed for decades (centuries?).

But on the practical side, I take comfort in the fact that there is so many shitty things that can be fixed, and it’s really up to us.

Pronounce Yaron Schoen

Trouble pronouncing his name? Yaron created a website just for you. Talk about user experience…

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I usually get inspiration from anywhere but the web. Museums, concerts, walks in my neighborhood and random acts of kindness. Anything but the web. A few weeks ago I got inspiration from my dentist.

What does a typical day in the life of Yaron look like?

Early morning with my family. Day time at the Twitter office in midtown. Evening with my family. Sleep. Repeat. Kind of boring, my teenage self would not approve.

You’re a man of many talents, what other things are you passionate about?

Thank you for saying that. If there was one thing I would like to do besides design, it’s music. There is something so mysterious by an art that you cannot see or touch. It never ceases to intrigue me.

What advice would you have for an aspiring young person looking to dedicate themselves to a life of code?

Be curious. Without curiosity you will never be able to dive into a problem and fully explore all the possible solutions. Without curiosity you’ll never be able to keep up with the latest technologies which are essential to your job as a web designer. Without curiosity, I’m not sure how you’d survive in this profession for long.

What will you always want people to know you for?

My good looks.

Conclusion

See, I told you. Yaron is one talented human being, yet a humble and eager-to-learn-more designer. He’s clever, insightful, and approachable. My advice would be to follow him on twitter, subscribe to his blog, and keep a look out for his super-secret projects that are forthcoming.

You may think it’s amazing that he leads design at Twitter, but I have a great feeling that we haven’t even begun to see the beautiful things that Yaron will do.

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