Barcelona, Spain πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡Έ

Connor Ashton

Product Designer

Hey! I’m Connor, a Product Designer at TravelPerk. I love to travel, explore the outdoors, make music, and of course... coffee!
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Where are you based as a UX/UI designer?

At the start of this year, I swapped Manchester in the UK for a much brighter Barcelona. After a year of UK lockdown, I really wanted to experience something new and challenging; Barcelona has always been one of my favorite cities so I was really lucky to be able to land a great job in a great city! 🌞


What led you into UX/UI design?

I'd like to be able to say I was born with a paint brush in hand and have always thought of how I could improve the user experience of everything I laid eyes on since I was six years old. The truth is, I actually studied economics at University and had little to no awareness of what UX/UI was at that time. However, I was really interested in the whole "startup" scene eventually leading me to trying to start my own startup. I learned how to develop in Swift (iOS coding language) and took courses in design so I could turn the idea I had in my head into a reality. I actually ended up building the app all on my own and fell in love with the process along the way. I then landed a job as an iOS developer and started moving in that direction for a while. However, I soon realised I enjoyed the creative and collaborative nature of design much more, so I shifted my focus onto product design and haven't looked back since.


Why are you a UX/UI designer?

Personally, I think the role of a UX/UI designer is super rewarding and engaging. It allows me to be creative, analytical, and solve problems which have a real impact. I come from a family of tradespeople and really appreciate having an actual "skill" - I see UX/UI as a skill for the digital age. You can take the principles of UX/UI and apply them to so many things in so many areas - just before I wrote this I watched a talk at Figma Config on designing ventilators for COVID-19 at NASA...crazy!! That's what keeps it exciting for me.

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What does a typical day look like for you?

The foundation of a good day for me is built around my morning routine (exercise + headspace). It sets me up for the day ahead and leaves me feeling accomplished. I'll then put some music on the Sonos and dance it out whilst making my morning pour-over coffee. I am currently taking it up on myself to discover the best coffee beans in Barcelona... so far every bag I have bought has been great, but I am still on the hunt for the perfect coffee so I will Β΄begrudginglyΒ΄ keep hunting πŸ˜„. Β With my morning coffee in hand, I review my agenda for the week and get ready for a morning stand-up with my team. This helps me focus on what I am setting out to achieve for the day.

After stand-up and maybe another cup of coffee (or tea... I'm not picky), I have blocked out 11am - 4pm for design focus time and follow a Pomodoro timer. Setting this time without meetings has been really good for my focus and productivity. Working from home has taught me to set boundaries when it comes to focused working and not getting swept away with a day full of meetings and distractions. It doesn't always stay completely free but it definitely helps.

For lunch I always try and get out for a walk around the neighbourhood. I'm currently living in Sant Antoni which happens to be a hub of good food and even better coffee, so a lot of my lunch is spent choosing a place to eat at or to take back up to eat on the terrace. After a year of WFH, I've found that it's so important for my productivity that I get out at least once a day - which isn't too hard when you have the perfect coffee and brownies around the corner.

I then typically have various meetings towards the end of the day. The recurring meetings I have are with members of my squad, across the squads in our tribe, or with all the other designers.


What is your current desk setup?

I've been lucky enough to find an apartment with a terrace which is where I spend most my time. My girlfriend and I DIY'd some pallet sofas to create a nice chill out-zone to work from. It's nice to be out in the fresh air and definitely a change from being cooped up in an office.

My company has also just moved offices right into the heart of Barcelona's Gothic Quarter so I'll be calling in there too from time to time. As much as I love WFH, I do miss being around the team and speaking to people.


And your Workstation setup across devices?

This is an illustration my girlfriend made of us after standup paddle boarding in Portugal as my iPhone background.


What work are you most proud of?

Whilst I've only just recently joined the company, I'm super proud to work on a world class product with the amazing team at TravelPerk. It's really impressive to see the calibre of work getting released every week, and getting to work with inspiring people who are so good at what they do.

The stuff I'm working on with the flights squad right now is super cool too, however, they are currently still a WIP and haven't been released just yet.


I am also really proud of the work I did at Orka where I joined as the first designer and the 8th employee. At that point, the team had the basic app built out using reusable ionic components and had just reached product-market fit. Since then, myself and the amazing Orka team worked together to roll out a series of great products around improving various points of the LAAS sector which now have tens of thousands of users and lots of positive reviews. Creating a product that has allowed numerous users to earn a living through is greatly rewarding.


Which Product recently blew your socks off?

I tried coming up with something original, but to be honest and as much as it might be cliche to say an Apple product at this point - I've recently picked up a pair of the AirPods Pro and have been super impressed with them. I've used them every day since.

I really appreciate products that blend seamlessly into your life and just fit around you perfectly. I'm constantly moving between activities, locations and devices and the Airpod Pros have just kept up perfectly. I can easily go from listening to workout music on my phone during my morning exercise to a video call with the team on my MacBook. I can activate the noise cancellation when I'm focusing on design work, and switch back to transparency mode while listening to podcasts whilst walking to the shop. They just work. Really well πŸ‘


What challenges do you face as a UX/UI Designer?

The challenges I face currently in my role as the Product Designer for the Flights Squad are around working with the third-party systems the whole flights ecosystem are built on. The industry can be quite complex and the systems they are built on can be constraining. It is a constant back and forth of what can be done, and impact vs effort.


What tunes do you listen to whilst designing?

An easier question would be what don't I listen to when designing... I have a musical background so have to have music in the background 24/7, and the genre changes weekly. Here is my Memorisely playlist:Β 



Three suggestions for budding designers?

  1. The more time you spend understanding the problem, the less time it takes to reach a solution
  2. Practice, practice, practice.
  3. Stay focused, take it one step at a time, and don't compare yourself to others.

Thanks for reading my story!

Barcelona, Spain πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡Έ

Connor Ashton

Product Designer

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