Elizabeth Alli shares her advice on approaching a career switch to product design and how to become a successful product designer and person. Read the blog below and listen to the full episode to hear about Elizabeth’s fascinating career path!
Full circle: from teaching piano to teaching product design
In episode 20 of The Product Design Podcast, Seth Coelen interviews Elizabeth Alli, a Product Designer, Mentor, and Founder of DesignerUp, where you can learn UX/UI and Product Design online!
Elizabeth shifted from her education in classical music to product design early in her career. This transition led her to become an entrepreneur that headed into Silicon Valley, where she continued to learn and grow in her craft and experienced many of the highs and lows of her career path. During our interview, Elizabeth shares what she has learned and offers advice on navigating a career switch and getting into product design!
How Elizabeth made the switch from classical music teacher to a designer
When Elizabeth was a child, she wanted to be a classical concert pianist. Her love for making music and performing was inspired by her family's love of classical music, opera, and good films. She went to performing arts high school where she studied classical piano and then moved on to university where she studied classical piano, pedagogy, sound engineering, and business.
Elizabeth eventually became a music teacher, started her private piano practice, and decided she needed a website to attract new students. Her brother Eric was in web design and development at the time, so she reached out to him to get started. She learned the ins and outs of WordPress from Eric and got excited about what she was learning.
Eric noticed her work and asked her to work on some client projects with him. She agreed to help him because web design allowed her to be creative and do many things she loved to do. Elizabeth also really liked the idea that she could go back and fix things that needed to be changed and that web design did not require the level of perfection expected when you step out on a stage to perform. A year after starting to work with Eric, they started their first agency together.
Journey into product design and Silicon Valley to Founder of DesignerUp
When Elizabeth and Eric first started their agency, they were getting a lot of requests for website redesigns where the existing templates were not working well for the less technical team members expected to manage the sites. Eric began working on white label solutions to help more clients with functional solutions for their less tech-savvy team members. Elizabeth and Eric decided to open a theme shop with their solutions, and it went well.
Over time, Elizabeth and Eric bootstrapped many different products and companies. Eric was offered a role at a startup in Silicon Valley. He took the position, and Elizabeth kept running the agency, the theme shop, and the other projects they were bootstrapping on her own. She learned a lot quickly about running a business and taking care of clients. Eventually, Eric asked Elizabeth for help on some work he was doing out in California. Soon after that, she moved out west to do more work in Silicon Valley, where she started to work on B2B and B2C companies and expanded her knowledge and skills further. Listen to the full podcast episode to hear about her exciting experience in Silicon Valley!
Currently, Elizabeth is the Founder of DesignerUp where she has created an online community that offers courses, resources, and support for mindful UX/UI designers. As an online mentor for many new product designers, Elizabeth has a bunch of valuable advice to share on deciding if you want to make a career switch and, if you do go into product design, how to approach your career path!
Considering a career switch: ways to help you decide if product design is right for you
Over the last couple of years, more and more people have gotten to a place of burnout in their current career, or maybe they have realized that you are on a dead-end career path. It is never too late to discover a new approach that will lead you to a far brighter future. Elizabeth shares some tips that she believes will help determine if product design is right for you.
“I do a body check. If there is something that energizes me, I keep wanting to know more, and I keep coming back to it. That's a pretty good sign to go in that direction. If it's something that's draining me and taking my life force away, and not bringing me joy. I am moving too far away from my value spectrum.
Advice to help you along your product design career path and in life
Elizabeth has had such an exciting career in product design, and the time she has spent in Silicon Valley has provided her with really great advice to share to help product designers in their careers and life. Here is some of the advice she shared during the podcast episode.
“You never know what worse luck your bad luck is saving you from. Even when bad things happen, be open and be grateful, no matter what's coming your way.”
Thank you so much, Elizabeth!
We had such a great time chatting with Elizabeth about her exciting career path in product design. It is incredibly interesting to hear how current product designers have made career switches from a completely different area of study. We are so thankful that she shared her advice and how being open to new and different opportunities has helped her along her career path. We hope that she inspired you to dig deeper if you are considering a career switch into product design.
Listen to the complete episode on The Product Design Podcast, which includes the highs and lows of a career in Silicon Valley, an extended conversation on Elizabeth's online community DesignerUp focused on helping product designers learn more about UX/UI and product design.
Don't forget to follow Elizabeth and watch as she continues to grow her DesignerUp community and positively impact the product design community as a whole! You can find DesignerUp on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Facebook! For Elizabeth's accounts, check the links below!
Share the Podcast