Senior UI/UX Designer.

Ivana was born in Sarajevo, in the former Yugoslavia, and found her way into UX design via neuroscience research, hockey refereeing, rock climbing instruction, and video game testing. She works remotely from Vancouver, BC as a senior UI/UX designer at Customer.io, and has lived in Croatia, Toronto, and Scotland. These days, she thinks a lot about the intersections of technology, identity, and data— and how they affect the products we build.

What does diversity mean to you?

In my role as a designer of software, diversity in this industry means that the teams behind technology are made up of individuals that are different in every possible way– race, gender identity, geography, and so on– and that those individuals’ opinions and thoughts are trusted and valued, even if they seem at odds with the majority (usually white, male) opinion. Most importantly, though, diversity to me means nothing without its opposite: inclusion. To me, it means perspective, trust, and humility. Having diverse teams means that.

How can we build more inclusive communities?

That’s simple, and yet (apparently) fiendishly difficult. Trust the underrepresented folks when they tell you you’re doing it wrong. Understand that empathy has limits. Understand when you’re not the right person to be building something– for example, I wouldn’t work as the primary decision-maker in any capacity on technology that is meant to solve a key problem for people of color. That’s the perfect opportunity find someone who genuinely has experienced that problem, put them in a position of power, and then trust them– even if their advice seems counter-intuitive. It’s counter-intuitive for a reason: because you haven’t lived it. Trust, learn, and help by empowering other people, not by doing the work yourself.

What is one thing you wish you knew five years ago?

It’s okay not to have the answer right away. It’s perfectly fine to take a deep breath and say, “I don’t have the answer to that right now” or “I’ll need some time to think on it, and get back to you soon.”

What is your advice to a young person starting their career or entrepreneurial journey?

You are never meant to have the answer to everything; if that is what is expected of you and you are able to do so, leave. As a designer of any level, you are never meant to be the be-all and end-all; your role is to bring ideas to the table which test assumptions and ask the right questions of users and stakeholders, to help move projects meaningfully forward. Your co-workers are your collaborators, those who you should be able to ask the “stupid question” without feeling stupid, and question the very fundamentals of what you’re doing. You are not expected to have all the answers all the time– you just have to help your team move forward and ask new, better questions, however that may be.