UX/Product/Brand Designer with 15+ years of experience. Worked with start-ups of 2 people and Fortune 500 companies alike. Lived and worked in 4 countries and 3 languages. Currently giving back to the community by consulting the up-and-coming designers.

My Mentoring Topics

  • UX Design
  • UX Career
  • UX Portfolios
  • UX Education
  • Start-up UX
  • UX Research
  • Low-budget research
  • Freelancing
J.
15.February 2024

Really great session with Maria. She listened to my situation and provided some really clear actionable advice for me to take the next step into a UX Career. Would highly reccommend anyone to book a session with her if they want honest and friendly advice & feedback.

A.
16.January 2024

Maria has a wealth of experience that she shares generously. We spoke about customer research and the challenges related to it. I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation and learnt a lot of nuances regarding UX and customer research. Thank you for your time!

G.
6.December 2023

I had a very pleasant and insightful call with Maria. She provided me with invaluable opinions from the perspective of an experienced designer on various growth paths for me. The story of her own journey as a designer was truly inspiring. Thank you for your time!

O.
25.October 2023

I had a great time talking with Maria. She has a lot of experience with the challenges I'm facing and gave me some actionable insights to try. Thanks, Maria!

C.
8.March 2023

Hi Maria, Thank you for a wonderful chat about your experience with freelancing. I was highly motivated afterward and got great tips and knowledge from our talk. It was wonderful to meet you, already looking forward to our next call. Caro*

M.
22.February 2023

I had an Amazing session with Maria, she was a really good listener, I got information about the way to work abroad and start a career, I enjoyed the session while going through the portfolio and prototype her insights were very useful I am glad that got to be a mentee of Maria and have mentorship with her Thank you so much, Maria Kubysh, for giving me valuable insights, spending time mentoring me

M.
26.October 2022

Superb mentor. I like her honesty. She gave a very honest opinion on my work and I appreciate that she was able to point out what's wrong and lacking and areas for improvement. I am so happy that I booked her. Thanks really is not enough. Definitely would book again.

A.
19.July 2022

extremely! I totally appreciate the time and feedbacks given. a really great part of the session was that you really listened and answered the queries, and highlighted areas I should look into, and those that I need not overthink.

The Non-Designer's Design Book
Robin Williams

Key Insights from The Non-Designer's Design Book The Four Basic Design Principles: Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, Proximity (CRAP) Importance of Typography: Different fonts convey different messages and emotions Usage of Colors: Colors play a crucial role in design, and understanding color theory is important Graphics and Images: The use of graphics and images can enhance or degrade a design Effective Alignment: Proper alignment provides a clean, sophisticated, and organized look Spacing and Proximity: These can create relationships or separations among elements in a design Designing with Repetition: Repeating some aspect of the design throughout the entire piece Contrast in Design: Making some elements stand out by contrasting them with other elements Design for the Audience: Always consider the audience for whom you are designing Continuous Learning: Design is an evolving field, and continuous learning is crucial An In-Depth Analysis of the Non-Designer's Design Book "The Non-Designer's Design Book" by Robin Williams is an indispensable guide for anyone who wishes to understand and apply the principles of design in their work, even without a formal design background. This book encapsulates years of design knowledge in a practical, understandable, and implementable manner. The core of the book is based on four fundamental principles of design – Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, and Proximity (CRAP). Each principle is explained in detail with examples, making it easy for readers to grasp and apply these principles in their designs. Contrast is emphasized as a powerful tool that helps certain elements to stand out. By using contrasting colors, sizes, fonts, or shapes, designers can guide the viewer's attention to certain parts of the design. Williams advises using contrast deliberately and with purpose, to avoid confusion and chaos. Repetition, on the other hand, is about creating a sense of unity and cohesiveness. Repeating certain elements, like a particular color, font, or graphic, can tie different parts of a design together. Williams stresses the importance of repetition in establishing a visual identity and enhancing the overall design's aesthetic appeal. Alignment is about creating a clean, organized look. Everything in your design should have a visual connection with something else, nothing should be placed arbitrarily. Williams gives numerous examples of how proper alignment can create order, organize elements, guide the eye, and improve readability. Proximity is about grouping related items together. It creates a relationship between elements and helps the viewer to understand which parts of the design operate as a unit. Williams explains how proper use of proximity can enhance the clarity and comprehension of a design. Williams also provides a comprehensive guide to understanding and using typography. Different typefaces carry different connotations and choosing the right one can significantly affect the message you're trying to convey. She delves into the details of typefaces, fonts, and how to use them effectively in design. The use of colors is another crucial aspect of design that Williams discusses. She explains the basics of color theory and gives practical tips on using colors to enhance the design and convey the desired emotion or message. Williams also covers the use of graphics and images in design. She warns against the overuse of clip art and emphasizes the importance of high-quality images and graphics that support the message rather than distract from it. Lastly, Williams emphasizes the importance of designing for your audience. Understanding who will be viewing or using your design is key to creating a successful piece. She advises designers to always consider the audience's needs, preferences, and expectations while designing. Overall, "The Non-Designer's Design Book" by Robin Williams is a comprehensive guide to the fundamentals of design. It is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand and effectively apply the principles of design in their work. The practical tips and examples make the concepts easy to understand and implement. As a professor dealing with these topics for many years, I can attest to the relevance and practicality of the knowledge shared in this book. It is indeed a valuable tool for continuous learning in the evolving field of design.

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Stop Stealing Sheep & Find Out how Type Works
Erik Spiekermann, E. M. Ginger

Key Facts and Insights Typography is more than just choosing fonts: The book places special emphasis on how typography is not just about selecting a font, but a complex art that involves understanding the impact of typefaces on readability, mood, and message conveyance. Historical context: The book offers a comprehensive and well-researched exploration of the history of typography, tracing the evolution of various typefaces and their applications over time. Readability and legibility: It expounds on the concepts of readability and legibility, highlighting how the choice of typefaces, sizes, and spacing can affect the ease and efficiency of reading. Type as a design element: Spiekermann and Ginger demonstrate how type can be used as a design element to create visual hierarchy, draw attention, and guide the reader's eye. Practical tips and guidelines: The book includes a wealth of practical tips and guidelines for selecting and using type, making it a valuable resource for both beginners and professionals. Understanding typefaces: The authors delve into the anatomy and classification of typefaces, helping readers discern the subtle differences between various families and styles. The impact of digital technology: The book explores how the rise of digital technology has transformed typography, from the creation of digital fonts to the impact of screen resolution on type rendering. The importance of context: Spiekermann and Ginger stress the importance of considering the context in which type will be used, including the medium, audience, and purpose of the text. Typography and branding: The book discusses the role of typography in branding and identity design, illustrating how type can convey brand values and personality. Case studies: The book includes numerous case studies that showcase the principles of good typography in action, providing readers with real-world examples to learn from. Interactive elements: The book features interactive elements that encourage readers to experiment with type, reinforcing the concepts discussed. Summary and Analysis "Stop Stealing Sheep & Find Out how Type Works" is an authoritative guide to typography. Written by renowned typographer Erik Spiekermann and E. M. Ginger, it demystifies the complex world of type and provides readers with the knowledge and tools they need to use type effectively. The authors start by debunking the common misunderstanding that typography is simply about choosing fonts. They argue that typography is a form of visual communication that requires a deep understanding of how typefaces can affect readability, evoke emotions, and convey messages. This assertion aligns with my own experiences as a professor and practitioner of graphic design, where the choice of type can make or break the effectiveness of a design. The book delves into the history of typography, tracing the evolution of typefaces from their origins in handwritten scripts to their contemporary digital incarnations. This historical perspective is invaluable in understanding why certain typefaces are used in specific contexts and how they have come to acquire their associated meanings. A significant portion of the book is dedicated to the exploration of readability and legibility, two critical concepts in typography. The authors provide clear explanations and practical examples that illustrate how factors such as type size, line length, and letter spacing can influence how easily and efficiently text can be read. These insights are particularly relevant in the digital age, where readers often skim through large amounts of text on screens. "Stop Stealing Sheep & Find Out how Type Works" also treats type as a design element in its own right, capable of creating visual hierarchy, guiding the reader's eye, and adding aesthetic appeal to a design. I appreciate the authors' emphasis on the strategic use of type, which reflects my own belief that good typography goes beyond aesthetics and serves a functional purpose. Throughout the book, Spiekermann and Ginger offer a wealth of practical tips and guidelines for selecting and using type. From understanding the anatomy and classification of typefaces to considering the context in which type will be used, these guidelines are a goldmine of information for both beginners and seasoned professionals. The authors' expertise shines through in their ability to distill complex concepts into understandable and actionable advice. The book also discusses the impact of digital technology on typography, highlighting how the creation of digital fonts and the constraints of screen resolution have reshaped the way we use type. This discussion is particularly timely, given the increasing prevalence of digital media in our lives. Finally, the book touches on the role of typography in branding and identity design, demonstrating how type can embody brand values and personality. This aspect of typography is often overlooked, but is crucial in creating a cohesive and recognizable brand identity. "Stop Stealing Sheep & Find Out how Type Works" is more than just a book; it is an interactive learning experience. The inclusion of case studies and interactive elements encourages readers to apply what they have learned and experiment with type themselves. This hands-on approach is an effective way to reinforce the principles discussed and promote deeper understanding. In conclusion, "Stop Stealing Sheep & Find Out how Type Works" is a comprehensive guide to typography that combines historical context, theoretical knowledge, practical advice, and interactive learning. It is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding and mastering the art of typography.

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Rocket Surgery Made Easy - The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Finding and Fixing Usability Problems
Steve Krug

Key Insights from "Rocket Surgery Made Easy - The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Finding and Fixing Usability Problems" Usability testing is crucial: The book emphasizes that usability testing is vital for any product or service. It is the process of making things easier and more intuitive for users. DIY approach: Krug advocates for a do-it-yourself (DIY) approach to usability testing, arguing that it can offer insights just as valuable as those provided by professionals. Testing early and often: Regular testing during the development stage can help identify and fix problems early, saving time and resources later. Less is more: Krug argues that comprehensive testing isn't always necessary. He recommends simpler, less formal testing methodologies. Importance of the right test participants: Selecting the right people to test your product is critical. They should represent your target audience as closely as possible. Facilitator's role: The role of the facilitator in usability testing is vital. They should be able to guide the participant without influencing their behaviour. Fixing problems: After identifying usability problems, you should prioritize them and decide which ones to fix first, based on factors such as severity and resources available. Communicating results: How you present your findings impacts how they're received. Krug provides tips on presenting usability test results effectively. Iteration is key: The book emphasizes the importance of iterative design. After fixing identified problems, retest to ensure the solutions are effective. Usability is a team effort: Everyone involved in the product's development should be involved in usability testing, as this fosters a shared understanding and commitment to user-friendly design. Usability is ongoing: Usability testing isn't a one-time event. It should be an ongoing process as long as your product or service exists. An In-Depth Analysis In "Rocket Surgery Made Easy - The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Finding and Fixing Usability Problems", Steve Krug presents a compelling argument for the importance of usability testing in product development. Drawing from his extensive experience, Krug introduces a straightforward and practical approach that even novices can use to improve their products or services, making the book a valuable resource for both beginners and seasoned professionals. Usability testing is a critical aspect of product development that is often overlooked. Krug emphasizes this, arguing that testing for usability is just as important as testing for functionality. He presents a clear, step-by-step guide on how to conduct usability tests, making the process accessible to anyone, regardless of their technical skills. The book promotes a DIY approach to usability testing, suggesting that anyone can conduct effective tests without the need for expensive equipment or professional consultants. This is a practical and cost-effective approach, particularly for small businesses and startups with limited resources. Krug also underscores the importance of testing early and often. By doing so, problems can be identified and addressed at an early stage, preventing costly overhauls later on. This aligns well with the principles of agile development and Lean UX, which emphasize early feedback and iterative design. Another key insight from the book is the idea that less is more when it comes to usability testing. Contrary to common belief, Krug advises that comprehensive testing isn't always necessary. Instead, he recommends conducting small, informal tests regularly. This approach not only saves time and resources but also allows for more frequent iterations, leading to continuous improvement. Selecting the right test participants is another crucial aspect highlighted in the book. Your testers should represent your target audience as closely as possible to ensure that the feedback you receive is relevant and useful. This is in line with the principle of user-centered design, which places the user at the heart of the design process. Furthermore, Krug highlights the importance of the facilitator's role in usability testing. The facilitator should guide the participant through the test without influencing their behaviour to ensure the feedback is unbiased and genuine. The book also offers practical advice on how to fix identified problems, emphasizing the importance of prioritizing issues based on their severity and the resources available. This is particularly useful for teams working under constraints, helping them make the most of their efforts. Krug also provides tips on presenting usability test results effectively, stressing the importance of clear and concise communication. This can help get all stakeholders on board and ensure that the identified issues are addressed promptly. Finally, Krug makes it clear that usability is a team effort and should be an ongoing process. This reinforces the idea that usability isn't a one-off task but a continuous effort that requires the involvement of everyone on the team. This fosters a shared understanding and commitment to user-friendly design, leading to better products and happier users.

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The Design of Everyday Things - Revised and Expanded Edition
Don Norman

Key Insights from "The Design of Everyday Things" The importance of user-centered design: Good design always puts the user at the center and considers their needs, preferences, and goals. The concept of affordances: Affordances are the potential actions that can be performed with an object. They guide the user on how to interact with the object. The role of signifiers: Signifiers indicate where the action should take place. They are crucial in guiding the user on what to do and where to do it. Error and fault tolerance: Good design should anticipate possible errors and include mechanisms to prevent them or make recovery easy. The principle of mapping: Mapping refers to the relationship between controls and their effects. Good mapping makes a product intuitive to use. Feedback and visibility: Users should receive immediate feedback on their actions. Visibility of the system’s status helps users understand what is happening. The concept of conceptual models: A conceptual model is the user’s understanding of how a product works. Good design helps users build accurate conceptual models. Inclusive design: Designs should be usable by as many people as possible, regardless of age, ability, or situation. The importance of constraints: Constraints limit the actions that can be performed and guide the user towards correct use. Iterative design and testing: Design is a process that involves creating prototypes, testing them, and refining based on feedback. An In-Depth Analysis of "The Design of Everyday Things" "The Design of Everyday Things" by Don Norman provides a comprehensive exploration of the principles that should guide good design. At its core, the book emphasizes the importance of user-centered design. This concept is not only about making things aesthetically pleasing but also about ensuring they are functional, intuitive, and easy to use for the user. It is the bridge between the user and the object's functionality. The book introduces the concept of affordances, which are the possible actions that a user can perform with an object. For example, a button affords pushing, and a door handle affords pulling or pushing. Affordances guide the user on how to interact with the object, making the design more intuitive. Complementing affordances are signifiers, which indicate where the action should take place. For instance, a handle on a door is a signifier that communicates to the user where to push or pull. These signifiers are crucial in guiding the user on what to do and where to do it. Norman also emphasizes the importance of error and fault tolerance in design. A well-designed object anticipates the possible errors a user might make and includes measures to prevent these errors or make recovery easy. This can be seen in software applications that offer undo functions or confirmation prompts before deleting files. The principle of mapping, another key concept, refers to the relationship between controls and their effects. Good mapping ensures that a product is intuitive to use. For instance, the controls on a stove should be arranged in the same layout as the burners they control. Norman also stresses the importance of feedback and visibility. Users should receive immediate feedback on their actions, and the system’s status should be visible at all times. This helps users understand what is happening and reinforces their sense of control. The concept of conceptual models is also central to Norman's thesis. A conceptual model is the user’s understanding of how a product works. Good design helps users build accurate conceptual models, making the product easier to use. The book also explores the idea of inclusive design. Designs should be usable by as many people as possible, regardless of their age, ability, or situation. This pushes designers to think beyond the 'average' user and consider a broad range of use scenarios. Norman also discusses the importance of constraints in guiding user behavior. Constraints limit the actions that can be performed and guide the user towards correct use. They can be physical, psychological, or cultural. Finally, the book emphasizes the importance of iterative design and testing. Design is a process that involves creating prototypes, testing them, and refining based on feedback. This process ensures that the final product is as user-friendly and effective as possible. Through these principles, "The Design of Everyday Things" offers vital insights on how to create products that are not just functional and beautiful, but also intuitive and pleasurable to use. It encourages designers to empathize with users, understand their needs and behaviors, and design products that make their lives easier and more enjoyable. As such, it is a must-read for anyone interested in design, usability, or human-computer interaction.

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Don't Make Me Think - A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability
Steve Krug

Key Facts and Insights from "Don't Make Me Think" Usability is king: A website should be self-explanatory and easy to navigate for users. Don't make users think: The more a user has to think about how to use a website, the less likely they are to enjoy their experience. Krug's First Law of Usability: A web page should be obvious and self-explanatory. Design for scanning, not reading: Users typically scan web pages rather than reading them in-depth. Eliminate distractions: Unnecessary elements on a page can distract from its main purpose and decrease usability. Effective navigation: Navigation should be consistent, clear, and visible across all pages. Homepage importance: The homepage is your company's face to the world and should clearly communicate its purpose. Usability testing: Regular testing is important to identify and fix usability issues. Mobile usability: With the increase in mobile browsing, mobile usability is as important as desktop usability. Accessibility: Websites should be designed to be accessible to as many users as possible, including those with disabilities. An In-Depth Look at "Don't Make Me Think" Steve Krug's "Don't Make Me Think" is a seminal work in the field of web usability, which places emphasis on the fact that a user's experience on a website should be as effortless as possible. The title itself is a fundamental principle of the book - users should not have to think about how to navigate a website or understand its content. In accordance with Krug's First Law of Usability, Krug argues that a good web page should be self-evident, where users understand its functionality without needing explanations. If a self-evident design isn't achievable, a web page should at least be self-explanatory, providing users with answers as soon as questions arise. A design that requires users to puzzle over how to use it fails the usability test. The book highlights that users generally don't read web pages, they scan them. Therefore, a vital tactic in web design is ensuring web pages support scanning rather than reading. This can be achieved through the use of headings, bullet points, and highlighting keywords. This aligns with the concept of information foraging theory, which suggests that users behave like wild animals hunting for information - they want to expend as little effort as possible to get what they need. An important aspect the book tackles is the elimination of unnecessary elements on a web page. Each added element on a page, whether it's a button, image, or a piece of text, competes with the important elements and can distract the users from their goal. This relates to the Hick's Law in cognitive psychology, which states that the time it takes for an individual to make a decision increases with the number and complexity of choices. Krug insists on the importance of clear and consistent navigation. This consistency allows users to develop a set of expectations as they move between pages, making the navigation process easier. This resonates with the concept of cognitive load theory, which suggests that human cognitive processing capacity is limited, so the less mental effort required, the better the user experience. The book places significant importance on the homepage. According to Krug, a well-designed homepage answers the questions: What is this? What can I do here? and Why should I be here? It should also provide users with a clear starting point. This aligns with the information scent theory, which suggests users follow clues to find the information they need. A clear, well-designed homepage provides a strong 'scent' for users to follow. Krug also discusses the importance of usability testing and how it can be done on a shoestring budget. He suggests that it's better to conduct small, quick tests and iterate on the design based on feedback. This aligns with the lean UX methodology, which emphasizes iterative design and constant feedback. In the updated edition of the book, Krug acknowledges the rise of mobile browsing and the importance of mobile usability. He suggests that the principles of desktop usability still apply, but the constraints and context of use are different. This resonates with the concept of responsive design, which aims to ensure a consistent user experience across different device types. Finally, the book stresses the importance of designing for accessibility. Inclusive design aims to ensure as many people as possible can use a website, including people with disabilities. This is not only a moral obligation but can also increase your potential audience and improve SEO. In conclusion, "Don't Make Me Think" is a must-read for anyone involved in web design or concerned with creating user-friendly websites. The book's principles and insights are backed by established theories and concepts in psychology and design, making it an invaluable resource in the field of web usability.

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Sprint - How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days
Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky, Braden Kowitz

Key Facts and Insights from "Sprint - How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days" The Sprint process is a five-day method for solving big problems and testing new ideas, developed at Google Ventures. This process is designed to shortcut the endless debate cycle and compress months of time into a single week. The Sprint process involves a small, cross-functional team and clear roles for each participant. Each day of the Sprint has a specific focus and activities, from understanding the problem to testing a prototype. The Sprint process encourages quick decision-making and rapid prototyping over extensive planning and perfect execution. One of the key principles in the Sprint method is the idea of "working together alone" to maximize productivity and creativity. The Sprint method also embraces failure as a learning tool, encouraging teams to fail fast and iterate quickly. The Sprint relies heavily on customer feedback and real-world testing to validate or invalidate ideas. The Sprint process is not just for startups, but can be applied in any industry or organization size. The book provides a step-by-step guide to planning and executing a Sprint, complete with practical tips and real-life case studies. The Sprint process is a powerful tool for fostering innovation, driving organizational change, and accelerating project timelines. Analysis and Summary of "Sprint - How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days" "Sprint - How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days" by Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky, and Braden Kowitz presents a unique method for tackling big problems and testing new ideas, developed by the authors during their time at Google Ventures. This method, known as the Sprint process, is a five-day framework designed to speed up decision-making and innovation. The Sprint process is a novel approach to problem-solving, designed to shortcut the endless debate cycle and compress months of time into a single week. This framework is a testament to the value of time-bound and focused effort in driving results. It challenges the traditional approach to project management, which often involves detailed planning and lengthy execution timelines. One of the defining features of the Sprint process is the structure it provides. Each day of the Sprint has a specific focus and set of activities. The first day involves understanding the problem at hand and setting the goal for the week. The following days involve sketching solutions, deciding on the best one, building a prototype, and testing it with real users. This clear structure provides a roadmap for teams to follow, ensuring that every Sprint is productive and focused. The Sprint process also emphasizes the importance of cross-functional collaboration. A Sprint team usually consists of 5-7 members, each with a specific role. These roles are not based on seniority or job titles, but rather on the skills and knowledge that each individual brings to the table. The Sprint method encourages a "work together alone" approach, allowing team members to work independently on their tasks while remaining part of the collaborative effort. This approach maximizes both productivity and creativity, allowing each team member to contribute their unique perspective and expertise. Another key principle in the Sprint method is the acceptance of failure as a learning tool. The Sprint process encourages teams to fail fast and iterate quickly, viewing each failure as an opportunity to learn and improve. This mindset, coupled with the rapid prototyping approach, allows teams to quickly test their ideas and adjust based on real-world feedback. This leads to another defining aspect of the Sprint process: its reliance on customer feedback and real-world testing. Rather than making assumptions or relying solely on internal opinions, the Sprint process validates or invalidates ideas through actual user testing. This provides teams with valuable insights and helps ensure that the solutions developed are truly meeting customer needs. Importantly, the book makes it clear that the Sprint process is not just for startups or tech companies. It can be applied in any industry or organization, regardless of size. This universal applicability makes the Sprint process a powerful tool for fostering innovation, driving organizational change, and accelerating project timelines. "Sprint - How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days" provides a practical guide to executing a Sprint, complete with tips, tricks, and real-life case studies. It equips readers with the knowledge and tools to implement the Sprint method in their own teams and organizations, and harness the power of rapid prototyping and iterative development. In conclusion, the Sprint process represents a significant shift in the way we approach problem-solving and innovation. It challenges traditional notions of project management and encourages a more dynamic, customer-centric approach. As an experienced professor dealing with these topics, I can attest to the value and effectiveness of this method. By embracing the principles of the Sprint process, organizations can accelerate their innovation efforts and solve big problems in just five days.

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