Patrik Inzinger is an independent designer, entrepreneur, and startup advisor with a passion for product & interface design. In addition to more than 17 years of working with brands like The Ritz-Carlton, Porsche, ERSTE Bank, and multiple successful startups, he’s also the founder of a healthcare company called appointmed.
This interview is a part of the Austria Design Map – a project that tells stories of the Austrian Design scene. The project is done by Brainster Alumni as a part of the Brainster learning-by-doing curriculum. Through this hands-on approach, students get real-life experience from working on products that come to life.
Brainster: Hi Patrik, thanks for joining this project! Designers have the sharpest approach to projects because they have a wide range of skills and knowledge that support the specialization in UX/UI design. What is, according to your opinion, the key aspect of entrepreneurship, helping you in designing products?
Patrik: I believe in experience as the most valuable factor in any profession. When I look back at my work from 10 years ago, I’m often baffled by the fact that I thought “this is the right solution.” 😅
Actively looking for work way out of my comfort zone, or even outside of our technology bubble, often gave me a unique perspective on challenging projects. Most designers probably didn’t want to touch those projects – giving me an advantage in certain industries.
There’s also more on that in a short article I wrote about “How to Design Software for an Industry You Have No Clue About“.
Brainster: You have 17+ years of impressive working experience. What is some top veteran advice for young designers wanting to make a career in Austria?
Patrik: When I started, it was tough to find resources on becoming a designer (at least something that was not written in English). Fortunately, this is no longer the case. In my particular situation, it even made me learn proper English as a valuable side-effect by working through articles, tutorials, and recreating some of my favourite designs back then.
Combine digging deep into those resources and courses and, at the same time, go out and do work. I don’t mean spec work for shady companies or “design contests”. But find real projects to work on that offer a challenge to learn more about designing interfaces and experiences. When I was 13, my first paid project was to build a simple website for a local bakery for a few hundred bucks. Anything that requires problem-solving on your end counts. Add to your experience one step at a time. You don’t want to start out rethinking online banking or healthcare.
Brainster: Appointmed is a company you co-founded. Can you tell us a bit about the problem it is solving and how did you manage to pinpoint it from the user research?
Patrik: At appointmed, we built practice management software to help healthcare professionals manage their business. Most of the solutions on the market are outdated and difficult to use. They actually prove to be a challenge rather than assistance in the work environment.
We wanted to create something that – literally – takes seconds to get started. Something so intuitive, even users without any technical background whatsoever can work with right away. No need for a handbook, expensive training, or costly software updates every once in a blue moon.
The most critical part of achieving this is actively involving your users in the process. We let people vote on new features, show early drafts to a select circle of enthusiasts within our customer base, and even take them out for coffee or lunch regularly.
It doesn’t matter what you are building. You always need to have one ear on the street to be nudged in the right direction.
Always try to get the answer to “What do you want to achieve?” instead of “How do you achieve X?”. It’s vital to work your way back from the desired end result, instead of getting people to tell you how to get there. That’s your job. You can find a more efficient way than someone used to the same workflow for years.
Brainster: Cool portfolio. Can you show us your 3 favourite projects and tell us why you like them?
- appointmed, obviously 😅. All kidding aside, it’s often hard as a designer to spend so much time on one project and not get bored by it. appointmed provides new challenges almost daily. It’s incredibly satisfying to break down the complexity of a doctor/therapist’s office into an easy-to-use and fun experience.
- Codeship. Working with Moritz and his team on a complete overhaul of their continuous integration service for developers was an incredible experience. I learned a lot during the project, and I’m super excited to see how far they have come since then. Looking back, this has probably been one of my favourite projects so far.
- Durchblicker. Durchblicker is Austria’s largest price comparison website for household bills. After their initial funding, they set out to rebuild the entire product (similar to what we did at Codeship) and get it ready for scale. The initial launch was terrible, though. As conversion rates initially plummeted, they even considered putting their old MVP back online. Thankfully, I convinced them to give it a bit more time, as their user base needed to adapt to those radical changes. Today Durchblicker is a thriving and profitable business. Even though it’s been almost six years, most of the workflows and decisions we made back then remain unchanged until today. This is unusual in the rapidly changing startup industry.
Brainster: How do you learn new skills connected to your profession? (Mentor, courses…)
Patrik: I don’t have any formal education in design and never went to college or university. Learning on my own has always been the way to go for me. I guess “autodidact” is a fancier word for it. Being highly motivated to solve any problem thrown at me served me well.
It’s never been easier to learn on your own, in my opinion.
Brainster: What are some key trends that the pandemic is going to enforce in the UX/UI Design sphere?
Patrik: Remote work. I’ve been an advocate for working remotely for more than ten years. Appointmed has been fully remote from day one. It seems like the pandemic worked as a turbo-boost for many companies to give it a try. However, there will be many that can’t wait to force their people back into the office. This is a huge missed opportunity. Rethink how work is getting done in those companies and improve their employees’ lives — ultimately providing a better work environment for everyone.