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29th April 2021

"English is not my first language, but design is!"

Joining us here at M&S in 2018, Lead Product Designer Aishwarya brought with her an extensive portfolio of User Experience Design having worked with high-impact brands globally since the start of her career over 10 years ago.

“I moved to the UK from India to pursue a Masters in Design and have been drawn into the world of User Experience Design ever since! It’s a role where we don’t just use design to make things look pretty. We use design to solve problems, ” says Aishwarya.

And for a business like ours which is currently going through a complete business digital transformation, that’s an integral role to play.

“Becoming a digital first business is core to M&S transformation and creating cutting edge experience design is imperative,” she explains. “The design team is at the heart of this transformation working alongside product team as we believe that perfect user experience should look good and work even better!”

So what does a typical day look like…

“A Product Designer, at its core, is a problem solver.”

For Aishwarya, her role is to solve problems for the end-users and ship high quality, user-friendly, pixel perfect products which are aligned with the business goals.

Working alongside product managers, UX researchers, data scientists and engineers to identify pain points, design solutions & to understand data sets to determine success of the product – Aishwarya and her team need to have a deep understanding of our users, their problems and how they think, behave, and interact with our systems.

“After understanding our users and their problems, we start to draft of our first solutions,” she explains. “There are various methods and workshops for ideating a process. At M&S we have a design system that allows us to quickly mock-up and prototype a design. This means we can rapidly test our designs that ensures a cohesive visual and interactive experience that matches our design principles. Then with our final design as a blueprint, our engineering team works in a series of sprints to build our solution. Working closely with the engineers, we go through a series of daily stand-ups and QA to ensure our solution is on track with the design.”

As a business that has become more and more data-driven, Aishwarya believes that designing user experience is incomplete without measuring and analysing the data of your product once it’s live.

“We carefully monitor to determine if we are moving the needle and making progress. That data helps us to make informed decisions for any following iterations. Product & UX design is this constant loop of analysing, designing, testing, launching, monitoring, and evolving through experimentation!”

“Delivering a seamless experience for customers is really rewarding.”

As Lead Product Designer, Aishwarya has made a huge impact via projects like the new Sparks loyalty scheme which has successfully reached 10 million customers. The scheme has enabled us to grow and unlock the power of data to make better customer decisions and deliver a seamless experience for the customers.

“I am super honoured to have played an integral part in this journey by leading the UX and service design for SPARKS. It really is a significant milestone in M&S’ journey to turbocharging digital transformation and as a designer it’s so rewarding to see the product you’ve designed have such a large reach. The new SPARKS is not only simpler and easier to use but is also building relationship with our 10 million customers through a more personalised experience.”

Why now for a career in UX at M&S?

We all know that retail is playing a critical role in these uncertain times and becoming digital first is not only the need of an hour but also something which is on the top agenda. M&S is revolutionising ways of working by introducing design led product thinking which will turbocharge online growth.

“This pandemic has accelerated the digitisation of customer interactions by several years,” says Aishwarya.” So if you are looking to make an impact, then now is the great time to work for M&S as the digital transformation journey has just started!”

So what makes M&S unique for a UX professional?

“We're Decentralised & Cross-functional,” she explains. “At many companies, designers are specialised and centralised, meaning they sit together as a team and are "contracted" out to work for other teams and stakeholders and are often divided into UX designers and visual designers. But here at M&S, product designers are cross-functional and are embedded on small product & missions’ squads, alongside a PM and several engineers. This makes collaboration quick & easy, increases the feeling of ownership and allow us to deliver better designed products faster.”

“With Designers managing the design process on their team all the way from problem definition to polished pixel, we often recognise deep knowledge or skills in a particular area, but that doesn’t stop anyone from going wide.”

Keen to explore UX Design opportunities here at M&S?

Why not take a look at our current opportunities? If you have a diverse set of design skills and experience, and the ability to work with a high degree of autonomy, it could be the step you need to take towards a rewarding career where your work could impact on millions of users.