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Life in AdTech: Leveraging User-Centric Design to Develop Solutions for Clients

In our blog series “Life in AdTech” we showcase incredible StackAdapters. From client-facing Account Executives, behind-the-scenes Data Scientists, or our Product team at the forefront of innovation, everyone plays a vital role in providing the best product and service to our clients.

This month features Celina Laurette, a Senior Product Designer at StackAdapt. In this post, we will get an inside look at her journey into adtech, how design is an integral aspect of her role, and what trends she’s seeing in the industry.

How did your journey into product design begin?

I studied graphic design at OCAD University, and always assumed I would work on the agency side doing visual design or branding. After taking a summer course on web design and spending a couple co-ops doing interactive design work, I became more drawn to the multi-faceted and complex challenges of designing digital products. 

I think the iterative and collaborative nature of product design was what really got me hooked on it. This is what led me to becoming a Product Designer at StackAdapt. Always follow your curiosity!

What is the main focus of your role as a Senior Product Designer? 

Product Designers work very closely with the rest of the product team to make sure that we are designing solutions for our users that will help them overcome the unique challenges they face. We work with Product Managers, who help figure out what features should be built, and then as Product Designers we figure out how to build that feature.

My job is to synthesize product ideas into visual representations based on user research and technical feasibility. This could mean mocking up very rough wireframes within a digital whiteboarding tool, or using our component library to make pixel-perfect prototypes. My day to day changes depending on how far along we are into a project. 

Our designs always need to be realistic. To make sure that they are, we have open lines of communication with the engineering and data science teams throughout the design process and development. Amongst ourselves, the Product Designers make a point to regularly share our progress with each other for guidance and feedback. Sharing our work with each other often also keeps the team aligned with the standards of our component library for product consistency.

Can you describe what type of design you do and why it’s critical to creating solutions that support StackAdapt clients?

Product Designers at StackAdapt are ‘full stack designers,’ which means we’re involved in project efforts before the visual designing even begins. Being involved early on while we’re still doing research and forming the project scope means that we can approach design with a more holistic understanding of the project. With a product as large and complex as a demand-side platform like StackAdapt, context is key!

We always want to take a human-centred and inclusive approach to design and problem solving. By involving the people who actually use our product in our design process, we’re able to leverage their first-hand experiences to inform empathetic solutions.

Keeping our focus on the end users of our platform is critical because if you create features based on assumptions, you risk misjudging what is actually valuable for a StackAdapt user. This is why the product team has an understanding that ‘we are not our users.’ We value feedback from actual users so much!

What trends in programmatic do you think we’ll see take off this year?

I think we’ll see a lot of growth this year around in-game advertising. Gaming has really taken off because of the pandemic, and there’s increasingly sophisticated innovation around native in-game advertising. 

I think native in-game advertising will be a great way to create highly immersive advertising experiences by populating posters and billboards throughout a game’s setting. For example, if you’re in a race car game you might pass by a few billboards as you drive around the track, and these billboards can now advertise real life brands!

What is the most rewarding part of being a Senior Product Designer at StackAdapt?

At a fast-paced company like StackAdapt, no two days are the same. Each day presents new opportunities to be an advocate for our users through thoughtful design. As a B2B product, when we do a good job, our users are empowered to feel good at their jobs, too!

Right now we’re working on ways we can make our platform more inclusive. Digital accessibility is important for all users, and requires a careful and considerate design for everyone. I would definitely say that the most rewarding aspect of my role is getting to make technology kinder to the people who rely on it.

Designing within the intersection of business, engineering, and people in an evolving industry means you’re constantly learning. Reflecting back on how much programmatic expertise everyone on the team has accumulated over the years and how much we’ve all grown together is also extremely gratifying. 

In each new addition, we will be highlighting our teams and employees in our “Life In AdTech” series—stay tuned for more!

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