Q&A with Lead Product Designer Timothy Bray

By Grant Gorton • January 15, 2020

What is your role at KERV?

TB: As a lead product designer at KERV Interactive, I am responsible for designing the interfaces/graphics, experiences and interactions that a user would engage with while using any of KERV’s web or mobile products. 

What’s the most important aspect of your job?

TB: In the startup world, prioritizing progress is central to building a strong company at a fast rate. Design is typically compromised as a last step in many cases even though it is paramount to the success of a given product.

As a product designer it is incredibly important to educate, advocate and problem solve ways to make design an essential need for all steps of the product life cycle.  

What is your favorite part about working at KERV?

TB: There are many things I admire about this company; from the products they are creating to the strategies they are using to distinguish ourselves in the marketplace.

The thing I like most about working with a smaller startup team is the intimacy of our community. There is a sense of family amongst our workplace. You get to know everyone on a personal level and from that there is a greater desire to achieve for all parties involved. 

What do you think sets KERV apart from other interactive platforms?

TB: There are a multitude of things our strategists have set in place to make KERV’s products stand out from our competition. From offering highly dynamic interaction analytics to providing a vast range of options and control over the content advertisers are releasing.

Much of what myself and the design team have been working to contribute to this effort is creating an interface that allows users to dig into products and knowledge within a given video to a much deeper level. So much to the point that it transcends what you would get from a typical video ad experience.

What makes someone want to engage with an interactive advertisement? 

TB: I would say a lot of it comes down to content and control over content. The internet has created a new paradigm for control over the content you consume.

Before you only had a mute button to avoid the barrage of commercials you might encounter watching your favorite television show, but we now have many more ways to get our content without being held hostage for five-minute sprints.

This puts a lot of pressure on advertisers to make content that people want to interact with, which I actually think is a great thing. In my mind, a perfect use of advertising is to create content that people find helpful and useful in their daily pursuits, not a machine that doles out ideas randomly that are ultimately forced down your throat.

This is where KERV steps in. Not only do we take full advantage of advanced analytical retargeting strategies to reach the right people with the right message, we also present those users with an advertisement that allows them complete control to find the information in the video they choose on their own time.

On top of that, due to the deep immersive interactive experiences our player offers, many users will be delighted to find exclusive, intriguing and helpful content that might not be available any place else. 

How is designing for a product that’s unique to the space?

TB: Well, it’s a challenge to say the least! As a product designer, I understand the importance of building off of pre-established interaction patterns that people are used to. When a very new and unique product is entering the market you sometimes have to help users overcome slight learning curves.

During project prep, I spent a good amount of time exploring on-boarding instructions, tips and basic workflow guidance strategies to help users get acquainted with our system. Coupled with that, many challenges lay in innovating an easy-to-use application in an advertising space that has many placement, size and time restrictions.

Sometimes layout sacrifices and compromises have to be made to accommodate this new landscape. In the end it comes down to pushing your skills as far as you can and allowing yourself space and time to reflect and sometimes even fail.

The funny thing is that, as a UX designer, no matter what kind of goal you had in mind that you feel you were unable to meet, when you begin listening to the feedback of your users, they will always lead you to the path of product success.

In your opinion, what is a successful design process?

TB: Saying that I follow a strict human-centered design process isn’t really enough here. I can make it my everyday duty to adhere to a design process that is driven by user needs and accessibility guidelines. However, at the end of the day it’s my team and the mechanics of the organization that ultimately determine whether a product will be successfully designed. 

That’s why I make it a top priority to connect with the people I work with; create a channel of trust and communication and learn the best ways to work together.

The best way to work with a certain developer for example, may not be the best way to work with another so you have to be willing to make sacrifices and accommodations to assure that you work goes out according to specs and scope.

You have to become an advocate and evangelist for design. You have to make it clear why the work you do benefits everyone in the costs you save and the product success you can achieve together.

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