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Life at Color — Meet Katie (Product Designer/UX)

Ben Kobren

Tell us about yourself and how you got into Product Design.

I went to Miami University in Ohio for college to study architecture (fun fact: we were a university before Florida was a state!). Two years in, I realized I didn’t want to be an architect but I loved design. Our university had a program that connected students to tech startups for internships and jobs. I had never heard of UX design but a family friend was a UX Designer. During my junior year, I applied for a UX internship at a company where the COO was an alumnus of my school. So when I saw the internship opportunity, I thought “I could do this”. They then hired me full-time after senior year.

When you first heard of User Experience Design, what did you think? How would you define User Experience?

I didn’t know what it was. I knew design to be either visual graphic design, architectural, or building a physical product. However, I’ve come to learn that you have to think structurally and with a business and visual mindset with UX. My high school design teacher had taught me that “Art is an expression of yourself and for yourself. Design is for others.” User Experience definitely encapsulates that. It’s building products that other people enjoy and understand, and building it in a way that works for them. It’s not about you or what you think is best. It involves the users 100%.

What is your role at Color and what does your team do?

My role is a Product Designer. It’s very UX heavy. I build out components to tidy up our visual design and to figure out our visual style. Our team handles the entire product, from managing internal tools for our Lab, our Genetic Counselors, and our Support team, to thinking about external tools for our Enterprise and Health Systems customers. We also work on the interface for our core product which is where our participants experience Color. When people think of design, they probably think we’re just working on what participants see when they use Color. But building for our internal teams is just as important.

Katie (Product Designer/UX)

What’s cool is that our team is also thinking about the physical experiences, like the experience of receiving and opening our test kit and the experience of going to a physician’s office. In this role, I get to design experiences that aren’t totally digital.

What teams do you partner with everyday?

Definitely the Engineering team and our Product Managers. We loop engineers in early to understand the restraints, while the product managers help spark ideas, keep us on track, and help guide the vision. My team and I also partner closely with our Support team and Genetic Counselors, who are on the front lines with Color participants and have great insight about what’s working and what could be better. Our Sales and Marketing teams are also very helpful with refining projects and making sure we’re meeting customer needs.

How did you hear about Color and what attracted you to working here? What excites you about what Color is doing?

Prior to Color, I was part of a LGBTQ dating and social app that had a mission beyond itself. It was really exciting to help build a space for queer womxn, a community that had given me so much. I knew I wanted to continue to do mission-driven work. That’s when I came across Color on AngelList. Reading about how Color is making healthcare accessible, affordable and helping to put people in control of their health was very exciting to me. Color is giving people health insights so they can prevent things that should be preventable or have a better opportunity to diagnose something earlier at a more treatable stage. I’ve also always been fascinated by genetics, but I don’t have a background in science. I was really interested in Color for the mission. Then I met the team and they were awesome (they still are).

It’s easy to find a role as a designer and engineer where you’re building useful and interesting tools. But I think it is a challenge finding an opportunity that will truly allow you to do meaningful and impactful work.

It’s been almost 3 months for you here at Color. What has been your favorite memory at Color so far?

This is hard! So much has happened in 3 months. What’s fresh on my mind is our last FixIt Week, which is a week for our engineers to spend dedicated time improving and fixing things. I wanted to participate so I decided to look into how we can make our product more inclusive for our trans and intersex users. The experience was amazing! I got great feedback and support from different teams who all really wanted to help. I also connected with people in the healthcare space, outside of Color, that work closely with this community and connected me to different resources. When I pitched this initiative internally, the teams were really excited. I really believe Color can be an inclusive leader in the healthcare space. This again ties back to the work always being mission driven at Color. It’s also really cool for someone who is fairly new to spearhead something as big as this. We’re continuing to work on this project!

What is a Color tradition that stands out to you?

Our quarterly Walk to Work tradition, where there’s usually a small group of us that meet at 6:30am in the Mission and walk to work. We did it my third week at Color. It’s a 14.5 mile walk from SF to the Color office. When I first heard about it, I thought to myself this is crazy. We follow the Bart route, and it’s very interesting seeing the places that you pass on Bart that you never get off at. It also gives you 3–4 hours to talk to your coworkers about anything and everything. It’s such a great way to start the day. I love it so much that I organized a Walk to Work for my birthday, where we stopped for donuts along the way.

What do you like to do when you’re not walking to work and designing at Color?

I’m a SoulCycle addict. You can probably find me there! I also do illustrations in my free time. I try to make greeting cards and mugs on the side. I’m on a running team as well. Every year, our team goes to Tahoe for a relay race. We go around the Lake, which is 70 miles around. We do teams of 7 people so each person covers about 10 miles! I’ve been with the team since I first moved to San Francisco about three years ago.

What made you move to San Francisco?

I grew up in Chicago and Cincinnati. I love those cities but I was ready for a new experience. I’ve always loved the energy and culture of the Bay Area. Everyday, I’m learning something new and discovering a new way of thinking.

What would you like the world to know about you?

Life is too short to spend time on things that don’t mean a lot to you. Whether that’s inside of work or outside. I want to focus on things that matter not only to me but also to the world. It’s important that I take care of myself but I also want to leave things better than I found them. Easier said than done, but at least I’m trying!


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