Behind the Scenes: Marcelo

A Senior Product Designer breaks down what’s best about no two days being alike at Babbel.
Marcelop stands near the overground train tracks at Alexanderplatz

Babbel’s endgame is getting people to have conversations with other people, in a new language. There are fantastic folks here making that possible. So we sit down with them from time to time, to provide a glimpse into who makes it all work, what they do, and where their heads are at.

What’s your role at Babbel? What do you do in a typical day?

I joined as a Senior Product Designer. My day begins with a daily meeting with the Product Design team, where we align on projects and deliverables. Apart from that, no two days are the same. I’m working on different projects in different areas at Babbel. Some projects call for a more strategic view while others are more hands-on. So, my focus shifts constantly. One day I’ll be focused on the experience flows across our web channels, the next I’ll be working on functional app prototypes. Also, I have a closer relationship with the Project Managers I work with, which is crucial for creating a solid understanding of the problems you’re solving and what should be built — based on qualitative, quantitative research, data analysis, workshops, and so on. In the end, the main goal is the same: to build a language learning product that is helpful, funny, and memorable to our users. Babbel’s environment and work-life balance complement my objectives; people are very open and collaborative. Also, we have high flexibility and the freedom to work from home, so I can organize my days properly. 

This is a pretty international workplace. How does that influence your work?

The workplace here is culturally rich. In a given day, I can hear four to five languages being spoken across the office. I can’t imagine any other place where I could learn Roman slang, for example hahaha. Since we work in a language learning product, nothing could be more appropriate given we try to have our cultural values reflected in our products as much as possible. At the same time, working with people from different cultures and backgrounds can be challenging. The way you approach people differs a lot; there are more direct and objective cultures, which can be off-putting sometimes, and then you realize it’s just a cultural thing and it’s fine.

Are there tools you’ve brought with you that you find surprisingly useful?

The set of tools we designers use is pretty consistent. What I’ve been trying to do recently is run interactive workshops using Figma. It’s a collaborative tool that people can design and comment on in real-time. I’ve decided to experiment with it in different ways. Since we have a pretty solid design system components, why not let everyone in the development team come up with designs and suggestions? The results so far have been great and the team always have fun playing around and exploring new things together. It’s a good way to create a shared understanding of the projects. 

What challenges are you most animated by?

Wow. There are soooo many things being built and redesigned right now. The product is growing and it’s been reinvented in several ways. What excites me the most is working with the UX Research team on different prototypes and concepts, testing them with users and seeing that there’s real value and appreciation there. Alongside that, we have a dedicated Instructional Design team that always comes up with research and data about how people learn, how the content should be presented, how the learning progress should unfold, and so on. Also, we have dedicated UX writers in the team, whose input is crucial to craft interfaces that guide our users through their learning journey in a proper and smooth way. Due to that, I’ve been learning a lot about learning psychology and behavioural sciences recently.

What learning/growth opportunities have impacted you most?

Babbel offers tons of opportunities to learn and grow. There are so many workshops and trainings you can attend. From Design Thinking to Data Analysis to “How to PR Yourself” to German classes. So, every week there’s a new opportunity to learn something. Also, I’ve been learning a lot with the Product Design team. Every Friday we have a design critique session, where designers show and discuss work in progress. Those sessions are a valuable source of knowledge, both from the design and company culture sides, and ways of communicating and presenting things clearly. Also, our VP of Product Design, Scott Weiss is a great mentor. The guy has tons of experience under his belt and it’s been rewarding working with him.

How does working in a purpose-driven product affect your workday?

I was using Babbel even before moving to Germany, so I was already familiar with it. Language shapes the way we think, the way we create concepts, metaphors and how perceive the world around us. So, It’s rewarding to work on a product that enables people to learn, communicate and connect to one another. It makes those grey Berlin winter days easier to get through, hahaha.

Want to work with Marcelo? We’re currently hiring in Product & Design! Check it out.

Joshua Stephens

Joshua works in Babbel’s communications team, developing narrative strategy and storytelling in a variety of formats. He likes dogs, coffee, and books; dislikes socks.

Joshua works in Babbel’s communications team, developing narrative strategy and storytelling in a variety of formats. He likes dogs, coffee, and books; dislikes socks.

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