Aarti D'Cruz, Product Designer
To showcase our band members, every now and then we put a Spotifier in the limelight. Today's headliner is Aarti D’Cruz, Product Designer for Freemium in London. Put on your headphones, hit play, and read along!
Questions & Answers
Why are you a designer?
Design is problem-solving and simplifying complex things to make people's lives and experiences better. To me there is nothing more satisfying than producing work that takes a huge problem, breaks it down into its simplest form and creates something useful, honest, and impactful. The possibility this provides and the way of looking at the world through this lens makes me feel that I can do so many things in life. And it applies to everything, whether you’re designing code, bread, drinks, shirts etc. Making people's lives easier, providing delight in a beautifully designed product no matter what that is — is why I love design.
Describe your job at Spotify without using the words "design" or "designer."
As part of the Freemium space, I look at ways we can make Spotify more accessible for everyone around the world. Finding the right Spotify for people is important, not everyone listens the same way and we all have different needs. We look at how we can make Spotify work for all kinds of folks, globally.
Show us a picture of your desk, and explain why it looks how it does.
I don’t like working from home so I’m currently working in a co-working space in London. My desk is always pretty empty because of this, but here are the essentials 😎.
My laptop, the magic happens here.
A USB-C to 35mm dongle to switch between my phone and laptop, alas we live in a dongle world and I refuse to get bluetooth headphones.
1L water bottle — gotta keep hydrated.
This is the hat I’ve been living in all Autumn and Winter, it’s essential.
The most important thing, my headphones. Always attached to my head.
Tell us about a time you beat an intimidating design challenge.
At a previous job, I worked for a fintech company, and my team had a massive project where we had to change the way our overdrafts worked due to new regulation.
It was a tricky project as the new model was a lot more confusing than our current one and our customers loved our overdraft product because of how transparent and understandable it was. The challenge was to communicate the new model to our customers in an understandable way at all points across their overdraft usage while making sure we don’t cause more anxiety in an already anxious area of people's lives.
This involved a lot of collaboration with regulation and legal teams, as well as communication strategy etc. It was super challenging for me to balance all the stakeholder needs as well as making sure our customer got the best experience.
Working closely with user research to first gain insights and then with my squad to craft experiments was how we tackled this problem the best we could. User research was key in determining the direction and helping us make big decisions together as a team. I took knowledge from all sources (data, research, engineering, legal etc) and tried to create an experience that adequately balanced the business and user needs.
Name three non-designers you feel inspired by when designing.
Poetry is not a luxury Instagram account
I know this is an account rather than a person, but it is so inspiring. It makes poetry accessible to all and posts poems from loads of amazing women poets. Take a look if you want some inspiration!
Recently, I watched Tim Minchin’s Apart Together Live from Sydney show and was blown away by how honest, raw and captivating his music/storytelling was, even though his songs are usually comedic. It also made me quite homesick, being able to write anything that makes people feel something is a beautiful thing. I take inspiration from his raw honesty in trying to make sure anything I write also has this level of honesty and clarity.
Sharon Van Etten
I love Sharon Van Etten’s music, she writes songs that give a familiar feeling though I can’t quite pinpoint what it is. Her lyrics are relatable and hauntingly sad at the same time. I have memories of listening to her album Epic when it came out in 2010, and still never get tired of listening to it. Her music inspires me in both work and outside when I write my own music.
What would your self-portrait look like?
Any final shout-outs or things you'd like to share?
Huge shoutout to my Mum, Dad and Brother who always support me and are generally just amazing human beings. Wouldn’t be here without ya!
Books I recommend:
Poems: Songs of Waking by Jonathan Simons
Well-written SciFi: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
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