Episode 10

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Published on:

22nd Jul 2022

S1 E10: Making These Rounded Half-Triangles (Miriam / @misaac85)

Miriam Isaac joins the show to talk about her origin story, how she got started studying fashion design but found her love for product design after moving from England to Israel, as well as her love for teaching others how learn UX.

We discuss what it was like designing in photoshop with slices back in the day, how responsive design brought about the shift from skeuomorphic to flat designs and how Cleanshot X simplifies Miriam's workday.

Discussed Links

Transcript
Eddie:

Welcome to episode 10 of the WebJoy podcast.

Eddie:

I'm your host Eddie in this podcast, we interview guests about their origin

Eddie:

story and what makes them excited and joyful to be part of the tech community.

Eddie:

I hope you enjoy today's episode making these rounded half

Eddie:

triangles with miriam isaac

Eddie:

Welcome to another episode of WebJoy.

Eddie:

I'm excited to have Miriam Isaac with us today.

Eddie:

Miriam, how about you introduce yourself, you know who you are, what you do, where

Eddie:

you work, just the general overview.

Miriam:

Yeah.

Miriam:

Brilliant, great to be here on WebJoy.

Miriam:

Really exciting.

Miriam:

So I am Miriam Isaac, and I'm a product designer living in beach,

Miriam:

Amish Israel married with four kids.

Miriam:

So, you know, lively household.

Miriam:

I grew up in Manchester, England with dreams of being a fashion designer.

Miriam:

But with a change of lifestyle, location, marriage, children.

Miriam:

I now work as a product designer for an incredible startup

Miriam:

in Tel Aviv, called Santo.

Miriam:

Yeah.

Miriam:

So that's me in a nutshell

Eddie:

Awesome.

Eddie:

How did you get into tech?

Eddie:

What brought design up as something that you were interested

Eddie:

in and shift your focus there?

Miriam:

Oh gosh, it's quite the story.

Miriam:

I was always creative from a young age drawing, designing, creating.

Miriam:

I knew I wanted to work in that field.

Miriam:

However, in those days we were always taught that it was too risky to go

Miriam:

into design, you know, you're gonna be a starving artist and on top of

Miriam:

that me and my peers, they didn't know about, you know, NFTs of those days.

Miriam:

Nowadays, yeah, go on.

Miriam:

Draw those monkeys.

Miriam:

Me and my peers were always encouraged to go for the practical

Miriam:

careers or for careers that would suit being a future mother or wife.

Miriam:

But for some reason I got into my head that I wanted to be a fashion designer.

Miriam:

And for some reason, my parents allowed me to pursue this.

Miriam:

Maybe it's because I was a girl and they didn't necessarily think I

Miriam:

needed to have that responsibility.

Miriam:

Because the boys were more expected in our community to

Miriam:

have that kind of responsibility.

Miriam:

Which of course seems a bit old-fashioned nowadays, but in the '90s in a religious

Miriam:

community, that was kind of the standard.

Miriam:

However, when I came to Israel, something inside me clicked and I

Miriam:

decided to stay and I met my husband.

Miriam:

We got married, but I found myself with no degree or money making skills.

Miriam:

I did some research and found that religious girls in Israel generally

Miriam:

went for graphic design courses.

Miriam:

So I took a course, after coming out of that course there

Miriam:

weren't like any opportunities.

Miriam:

So I took another course in web design and after I completed that course,

Miriam:

I somehow started designing and building websites for small businesses.

Miriam:

And this was back in 2010, and businesses were being told that you

Miriam:

need to be searchable online . You need to like have a business card online.

Miriam:

And somehow in the community, I became the person to go to for small websites.

Miriam:

I also think because of my non-art school background.

Miriam:

I was a very business and user focused designer from day one.

Miriam:

I was always curious about if the websites I designed were useful, valuable, usable,

Miriam:

and I was a very early adopter of any tool that would gimme any sort of web

Miriam:

analytics on the websites I was building.

Miriam:

usually in those days when you design, you just hand off the Photoshop files.

Miriam:

All the little slices . And all done.

Miriam:

and I would follow up with clients just out of pure curiosity,

Miriam:

just to know how did it do?

Miriam:

I was always curious about that.

Miriam:

I think because of this trait I was recruited by a local like eCommerce

Miriam:

business who needed a web designer that specialized in conversion.

Miriam:

While I was there.

Miriam:

I eventually became a UX manager leading a team of designers,

Miriam:

development, and writers.

Miriam:

This was because I was so interested in how we could improve the website

Miriam:

and business through this new fangled thing called user experience.

Miriam:

So yeah.

Eddie:

It's funny cuz you talk about slices in Photoshop and I definitely

Eddie:

was doing web development at that time.

Eddie:

I mean, at times it's so funny how much of a website might end up being images?

Eddie:

Rather than trying to recreate everything in CSS like we do now

Eddie:

where everything has to be responsive.

Eddie:

We would literally just grab sections of these images that designers like

Eddie:

you would create in Photoshop and just put images all around our website which

Eddie:

we could match just a very specific kind of window size, cuz you didn't

Eddie:

have mobile phones and iPads and all these different, crazy screen sizes.

Eddie:

. Miriam: Oh, yeah, for sure.

Eddie:

I remember to make rounded corners, you had to cut these little tiny squares,

Eddie:

I can remember like making these rounded half triangles, but then it

Eddie:

had too match the background as well.

Eddie:

Cause you, you could have transparent background.

Eddie:

To do opacity, you had to actually create a slice that was

Eddie:

opaque and that's how you did it.

Eddie:

Yeah, it was a funny time, but also a very creative time as well,

Eddie:

because there was no responsive.

Eddie:

So, and then I remember we went responsive.

Eddie:

We kind of had to take a step back creatively and we went very flat.

Eddie:

You know, cause we didn't know how to do shadows in CSS.

Eddie:

Yeah, that was definitely like you said, an interesting transition

Eddie:

because things were very pixel perfect and very elaborate on the web.

Eddie:

Very skeumorphic And things like that.

Miriam:

Yeah.

Eddie:

we had to do that step back because no web designer knew how to

Eddie:

recreate that stuff you responsiveness.

Miriam:

Yeah.

Miriam:

It's funny because people do attribute the flat design trend to apple,

Miriam:

but I actually think it was the web that started that because we were

Miriam:

making these very elaborate websites.

Miriam:

I remember we were obsessed with wood and wood paneling and then you

Miriam:

couldn't do that in CSS, you know?

Miriam:

So I feel like it came from web first and then like Apple took it on.

Miriam:

Interestingly enough.

Eddie:

I

Eddie:

remember lots of websites that did skeumorphic things, or even if you

Eddie:

were doing an under construction webpage, you would try to do some

Eddie:

kind of construction sign like that

Miriam:

Yeah, and also our headers were so elaborate.

Miriam:

We had these swirls oh my God.

Miriam:

We were obsessed with swirls and like leaves.

Miriam:

And I even made one website where I had done the typography in a sewing

Miriam:

pattern and under it these materials.

Miriam:

You cannot do this now.

Miriam:

it was definitely a joyous time.

Eddie:

Well, there's the challenge.

Eddie:

Now I wanna see someone try to recreate that in today's responsive world.

Eddie:

Let's there's the challenge out.

Eddie:

Someone figure out

Eddie:

how to

Miriam:

see.

Miriam:

That totally challenge is out there.

Eddie:

Well, obviously design has gone through a lot of transition while

Eddie:

you've been working in this field.

Eddie:

What do you think keeps you excited and interested in working as a designer?

Miriam:

I'm definitely a lifelong learner.

Miriam:

I do very much enjoy learning new things.

Miriam:

I do think it suits my character trait to be in an industry

Miriam:

that's constantly changing.

Miriam:

I also very much enjoy teaching.

Miriam:

I teach UX design to religious women across the world.

Miriam:

They could be in America or in England or in Israel.

Miriam:

And I really enjoy that.

Miriam:

Cause I think teaching is just a great way to.

Miriam:

Give back and keep that joy of designing going.

Miriam:

And it brings me so much joy to see how they grow throughout the year

Miriam:

and the work they produce at the end.

Miriam:

I get so much what we call in Judaism, Nachas, which is

Miriam:

another word for joy from them.

Eddie:

That is so great.

Eddie:

I love the focus on finding different underserved.

Eddie:

audiences where rather than just having, oh, here's the one or two places that

Eddie:

people go to learn and everyone has to go there instead nicheing down

Eddie:

and having different communities that get to learn that have similar life

Eddie:

experiences or ways of understanding.

Eddie:

I think that helps transition people in an environment where the learning

Eddie:

can be more focused to where they're coming from and what they understand.

Eddie:

So I love that approach.

Eddie:

That's really cool.

Miriam:

Oh, thank you.

Miriam:

I also consider myself self-taught in terms of UX.

Miriam:

I'm so grateful for the people before me, who just put out content online

Miriam:

and did all that kind of stuff.

Miriam:

Otherwise, I couldn't be where I am today, cuz I learned in a very

Miriam:

non-traditional manner as well.

Miriam:

So definitely like really into that.

Miriam:

Awesome.

Eddie:

Is that something where you all have a website or something

Eddie:

that people can get involved?

Eddie:

How does that work?

Miriam:

oh, so t's best if someone's interested just to contact me directly.

Miriam:

And we'll hook them up.

Miriam:

Yeah, and you can find me on all the platforms.

Eddie:

So if anyone is interested in reaching out, feel free to check out the

Eddie:

show notes and the links are in there.

Eddie:

We like to talk about in this podcast is something that brings you joy.

Eddie:

Have you used something lately that brings you a lot of joy and if so, what is that?

Miriam:

So I know it sounds really funny, but I really enjoy

Miriam:

this app called Cleanshot X.

Miriam:

and it's all about just making screenshots that are better screenshots.

Miriam:

I think it's really funny how we say we love things.

Miriam:

Like we love both inanimate objects and we love people, but I think the

Miriam:

reasons why we love them are different.

Miriam:

so I love Cleanshot.

Miriam:

Why do I love Cleanshot?

Miriam:

Cause it makes my day so much easier .As a designer, I'm taking

Miriam:

screenshots all day, every day.

Miriam:

And the fact that it just saves them on the side, on my screen, like in

Miriam:

the left hand corner, and then I could just grab them and I can just put

Miriam:

little notes on or make a little video.

Miriam:

It just saves me so much time and it's saving me pain, you know

Miriam:

it is solving a problem for me and kind of giving me pleasure.

Miriam:

Whereas we love people.

Miriam:

We love people in terms of because we give to those people.

Miriam:

Right.

Miriam:

I love my children because I give to them.

Miriam:

Of course, as they say, there's nothing greater than a mother's love.

Miriam:

And why does the mother love their children so much?

Miriam:

Cuz from day one they're just giving, giving, giving, you know?

Miriam:

So I think it's so interesting.

Miriam:

How from like a human, psychologists perspective when

Miriam:

we say we love things, you know?

Eddie:

Yeah.

Eddie:

It's definitely interesting.

Eddie:

I think that we kind of reuse that language in these different areas and

Eddie:

that it's almost opposite because when we love people to your point, we really love

Eddie:

the people that we're giving to, whereas in the tools and the objects and the

Eddie:

places that we love are really the things that give us enjoyment and satisfaction.

Eddie:

So it's almost kind of flipped.

Miriam:

Yeah, that is really interesting.

Eddie:

you know, With Cleanshot X, what is it in particular?

Eddie:

I heard you mentioned it'll hold them on this side.

Eddie:

You can add notes.

Eddie:

So is it the workflow?

Eddie:

Is there a specific tooling about the quality or any specific screenshot

Eddie:

features or is it really just the fact that it smooths out your workflow where

Eddie:

you're not having to mentally keep track of where you saved the files?

Miriam:

Yeah.

Miriam:

I think it's really the workflow because especially nowadays we

Miriam:

can have all these windows open.

Miriam:

Like we have Figma open and have a browser open, and slack or

Miriam:

WhatsApp open and it's so easy.

Miriam:

Like I can take a screenshot in the platform, it stays on my desktop.

Miriam:

I don't have to then open it up in Figma and then use whatever tools are there,

Miriam:

which aren't ideal quick markup tools.

Miriam:

it keeps it on the side.

Miriam:

You press into it, it opens up and it's got these tools like markers or ability

Miriam:

to white out or to zoom into areas.

Miriam:

The tools are made specifically for screenshots which it's that whole

Miriam:

theory of a product just not having too many features, you know, when a

Miriam:

product has too many features or too many things it could be overwhelming.

Miriam:

We all know Hicks law like too many options, too many problems

Miriam:

So whereas before I would have to bring into screenshot into Figma or

Miriam:

Photoshop and you're using tools that were designed for crafting screens, for

Miriam:

crafting websites, not for commenting on a screenshot saying move this here, move

Miriam:

that there, or that's wrong with this one.

Miriam:

that kind of stuff it out.

Eddie:

I love a tool that someone says, you know what, I'm gonna

Eddie:

make something that does one thing.

Eddie:

And it does that one thing really well.

Eddie:

And that is what their focus is.

Eddie:

And they know when to say no to features because it detracts

Eddie:

from the primary purpose and allows it to really stay focused.

Eddie:

That's awesome.

Miriam:

Yeah.

Miriam:

A hundred percent.

Miriam:

And I'm sure they probably sit there like, well, we could add this and

Miriam:

we could add that, you know, and I'm sure it's really hard not to do that.

Eddie:

It's been a great conversation.

Eddie:

I really appreciate you coming and joining the show.

Eddie:

It's been really fun.

Miriam:

Yeah.

Miriam:

It's been so fun.

Miriam:

I really thank you so much for having me.

Miriam:

I really enjoyed being here and I can't wait to listen to the

Miriam:

episode and all the other episodes as well that are coming out.

Miriam:

Yay.

Miriam:

Okay, bye.

Eddie:

Thank you for joining us for episode 10, making these rounded

Eddie:

half triangles with Miriam Isaac, you can find out more about Miriam

Eddie:

on her Twitter at M Isaac 85.

Eddie:

You can find the links to everything we talked about in this episode,

Eddie:

as well as a link to Miriam's Twitter in the show notes.

Eddie:

If you enjoyed this episode, help others discover it as well

Eddie:

by rating and reviewing it in your favorite podcast directory.

Eddie:

And don't forget to follow us on Twitter at web joy FM.

Eddie:

Thank you for listening and have a great day

Eddie:

Next episode on web joy.

Kathryn:

it was so fun.

Kathryn:

It was one of the most fun conferences that I've done.

Kathryn:

And it was great to get to run away to Miami while it was still like a little

Kathryn:

bit cold back home and be like, all right.

Kathryn:

This is work.

Kathryn:

I get to hang out here, under the Palm trees and talking about react.

Kathryn:

All right, I can get used to this.

Kathryn:

I think there's honestly.

Kathryn:

So much good to be said for online conferences, especially in terms of

Kathryn:

accessibility and allowing people to attend, who might not have previously

Kathryn:

been able to attend a conference in person cause in person has a lot of barriers.

Kathryn:

I'm glad that we've seen a rise in online conferences and at the same time,

Kathryn:

it's very hard to replicate the energy of a room full of people who are all

Kathryn:

really excited about the same thing.

Kathryn:

I enjoy doing both, but for me, I think especially after the extended isolation

Kathryn:

of COVID times, it's been especially gratifying to be back in a room

Eddie:

So.

Eddie:

Put yourself out there.

Eddie:

If you're interested in speaking at conferences and stuff.

Eddie:

I got rejected my first time.

Eddie:

It's okay.

Eddie:

I'm gonna take that and throw it to another conference.

Eddie:

And Katherine gets rejected plenty 60%.

Eddie:

So

Kathryn:

Yeah, I guess it's probably higher so it probably should

Kathryn:

have been like 65 or 70, but.

Eddie:

the longer the podcast goes on the higher than number

Kathryn:

It's just gonna keep getting the, the rejections are flowing in as we speak

Eddie:

"The Rejections are Flowing In" with Kathryn Grayson-Nanz

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About the Podcast

WebJoy
Find your happy place
The WebJoy podcast is an inclusive community centered on celebrating the diverse origins, skills, and experiences that make up the tech industry.

Talking with guests about their origin stories, what they love about working in their roles, and what they find joy in keeps this an upbeat and rather lighthearted podcast.

We approach the world with optimism and hope, while recognizing the flaws and challenges within our own industry and the world at large. We believe that if we work together, we can all find our happy place.

About your host

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Eddie Hinkle

Eddie's mission is to bring joy and empathy to the tech industry. He does this through engineering leadership, mentoring and podcasting. Eddie currently works as an Engineering Manager at Glassdoor, Mentors on ADPList and hosts the WebJoy podcast.