MG Meets Anjeli Melwaney, User Interface Designer At TikTok

Dive into the creative world of Anjeli Melwaney, UI Designer at TikTok, as she opens up about her recruitment process through Manning Global, offering a glimpse into her seamless transition. Gain a deeper understanding of her design principles, learn how she blends aesthetics with functionality, and take away valuable advice on staying organized in the fast-paced design arena! Plus, get a glimpse of her dream job as Anjeli unveils the mind behind the pixels in this exclusive ‘MG Meets’ interview…

Can you share your journey as a User Interface (UI) Designer and how you got started in the field?

I began my career as a copywriter in a small design agency, where I discovered the world of Visual Communication. Intrigued by aesthetics, my managers very kindly mentored me, allowing me to contribute to client projects. Eager to enhance my skills, I moved to London to pursue a Postgraduate Diploma in Design for Visual Communication at UAL. This vocational training redefined my design thinking with a functional-first approach. As I worked on diverse projects, I found my strengths in UI/UX Design and Motion Graphics.

What does a typical day look like for you as a UI Designer at TikTok?

Working primarily with smartphone interfaces, my role involves crafting landing pages or in-app ‘campaign hubs’ along with a range of other multimedia assets. Collaborating with others on the Content Programming team, we partner with creators and brands to feature regional events within the app, such as Fashion Month, The Cost of Living Crisis, Eurovision, Hay Festival, The Open and plenty others.

No two days are the same. As an independent designer on the Content Programming team, I’m always engrossed in creating landing pages for campaigns and programming them on our in-house app, ‘Magic.’ Each campaign is supported by a spectrum of assets that can span anywhere from creating a visual identity, and dynamic in-feed advertisements to sometimes even print designs for IRL events.

Could you tell us a little about how you came to work with Manning Global; how did you find out about this opportunity at TikTok?

It was an unexpected opportunity that came about in 2022 while I was actively looking for more permanent contract opportunities. Senior Business Manager, Alena, from Manning Global, reached out to me on LinkedIn and put me in touch with the Content Programming Team at TikTok. We had a couple of great candid interviews and before I knew it, I landed this dream opportunity that perfectly aligned with my aspirations!

Can you describe your experience with the recruitment process at Manning Global? 

It was a seamless experience! Everyone from Manning Global is very kind and thorough with their processes. I just had to follow the steps which they very kindly walked me through. Even now, there are times when Alena checks in on me to make sure everything is going okay. It’s a thoughtful touch that goes a long way!

What challenges did you face during the creative process, and how did you overcome them?

There are times when all designers go through creative blocks. While I don’t have a go-to strategy to overcome this, there are a bunch of different things I turn to. 

If it’s a lack of motivation, there’s this book called ‘Do Design: Why Beauty Is Key To Everything by Alan Moore’ that I love. This book consists of short stories that emphasise the interplay between beauty and functionality, which truly resonates with me. It always succeeds in bringing about a fresh perspective, drawing anecdotes from the world of aeroscience, philosophy and others to provide a holistic approach to design. 

If I need to draw more of an aesthetic inspiration, browsing platforms like Awwwards, Dribble and Behance that showcase the work of other agencies and designers is always inspiring. Ran Segall’s content on Youtube aka – Flux Academy – is a personal favourite for creative insights.

In the fast-paced world of design and technology, how do you stay organised and manage your time effectively? 

Staying organised is crucial in the fast-paced world of TikTok where a new trend is literally popping up every day. Project management tools like Asana work great to establish clear requirements, timelines, and deliverables. This allows the team to assign tasks to each other, track progress and estimate one another’s workload. Since the nature of our work is quite independent, the onus is upon us to stay organised. We have weekly and bi-weekly team meetings to share insights and plans so teams can collaborate cross-functionally.

How do you determine the success of a design, especially when it comes to mini-websites?

Design plays an important role in determining the success of a mini-website, landing page or as we call it, an ‘H5’. Design strategies such as hierarchy and colour theory navigate the users through the page creating an intuitive user experience aiming at high user engagement. We then assess metrics such as stay time, click-through rates, and other key performance indicators based on past campaign performances. Ultimately, a successful design is characterised by a high ratio between page views and engagement, with an aim of achieving a 1:1 ratio. 

How does TikTok support your professional development and help you stay updated with the latest design trends and technologies?

Fortunately, I have been given significant creative freedom when working on in-house campaigns. This allows me to explore different design approaches such as motion graphics, AI generations or even 3D, as long as the final assets align with the TikTok brand guidelines and the stakeholder goals are met. This is a great way to explore the latest tech in the market.

On the other hand, when it comes to partner collaborations, we usually work with the partner’s set of brand guidelines which exposes me to different company workflows and helps me gain insight about relevant trends in the industry. 

Can you share a project or campaign that you are particularly proud of? What was your role in it, and what impact did it have on the company’s goals?

My favourite campaign yet has got to be the TikTok Book Awards 2023. The primary objective was to celebrate the growth of #BookTok, TikTok’s vibrant book community using an Interactive Voting Hub. Users had the chance to pick their favourite authors, books and bookstores across seven unique categories.

It was one of the few campaigns where I had the opportunity to contribute to the entire design process, designing everything from the visual identity to user interactions and print collateral. 

The campaign concluded in a spectacular IRL event where the winners were announced and the community got to network with each other. It was wonderful to meet the participants of the #BookTok community beyond the screen and the feeling of seeing your work in context on such a scale is truly surreal!

This project not only showcased my design skills but also successfully contributed to the team’s goal of engaging and celebrating its growing book community. You’ll probably see us again this year at TikTok Book Awards 2024!

Balancing creativity with functionality is crucial in design. How do you strike that balance when working on projects that involve both artistic expression and specific functional requirements?

Function first, always! I strongly believe in the Bauhaus school of thought which advocates a design philosophy centred on problem-solving and a functional-first approach. It prioritises utility, followed by aesthetics. I have embraced this ideology in all that I do.

When working on a campaign, we start by defining specific goals we wish to achieve with the product/campaign. Once we are all aligned, I do extensive campaign-specific research on the psychology behind colours, patterns and user behaviour to create the most intuitive designs for a seamless user journey. It’s design, with purpose!

With the rise of social media, visual content has become increasingly important. How do you tailor your designs for various social media platforms, taking into account their unique specifications and audience behaviours?

When I’m not a designer, I’m a user. For me, it’s about consciously switching perspectives and observing my own behaviour as a user to inform visuals. It’s also best practice to take a nuanced approach and create responsive designs that can adapt to the unique requirements across platforms.

Let’s explore your creative side. Do you have any hidden talents or artistic pursuits that you enjoy? 

When I’m not working, you’re likely to find me in the kitchen, whipping up an old family recipe, or editing artsy photos and videos for social media. Friends love my creative expression via mini-vlogs and frankly, I’ve been contemplating starting a public channel to share it all with the world, but I haven’t come around to that yet. Perhaps, sometime soon!

What is your life motto?

The magic you’re looking for is in the work you’re avoiding” – Dipen Parmar. I love this quote because it motivates me to be in motion; to act first and think later (and to not overthink). I believe we learn more from mistakes along the way rather than perfecting a plan in our head and then executing it. 

Outside of the design realm, what are your other interests or passions that bring balance to your life?

I like to stay active and having a spectrum of hobbies helps keep the monotony away. My free time is truly unpredictable as I enjoy spending time at the gym, travelling, reading books, cooking, attending dance workshops, learning a new skill and my current favourite is listening to neuroscience podcasts. My ‘want-to-do’ list never ends… Although, at the end of the day, it’s the simple joys of life that is, a clean home, a freshly cooked meal and warm company that make me feel like life is in harmony.

If you were to create a playlist that represents your life journey so far, what are the top three songs that would be on it?

  1. Miss Independent by Ne-Yo – this song affirms the independent woman in me and gives me immense faith in myself, that I’m all I need for all I need.
  2. All That Really Matters by Illenium & Teddy Swims – the lyrics go like “cause all that really matters in the end… is love, love love!” A great reminder – one we often forget. Love is a powerful force that unites people, transcends race, language and it can be felt by our dear pets too!
  3. If You Believe by Patch Crowe is my current favourite – I realised while listening to this track that the reason children have this unwavering optimism is because they have hope for the future, that things will be better one day, which is what keeps them going. Moral of the story being, belief and faith can truly move mountains and that’s my current vibe. 

If you could have a one-hour conversation with any fictional character, who would it be, and what burning question would you ask them?

I’d love to chat with Amy Farrah Fowler from The Big Bang Theory and discuss all things neuroscience, psychology and perhaps even get some hands-on experience in her lab, running experiments on ourselves in different scenarios. Just the thought of this is exciting me!

What was the best piece of advice you were ever given?

To trust the process and find a silver lining in everything. It’s very easy to dwell on things that don’t work out, but it takes real character to believe in oneself and to trust that in the grand scheme of things, everything will always work out in the best possible way, considering variables beyond our understanding.

How do you manage work-life balance, especially when working on multiple design disciplines and being involved in various creative endeavours?

I totally get the struggle of juggling the different facets of life. I’ve found that giving my 100% to the task at hand works best for me before I move on to the next task. I remind myself that in some scenarios, things are better done than perfect. It’s a great way to be efficient with multiple tasks that can feel overwhelming and the meticulous me can always come back and fine-tune the details later with a fresh set of eyes.

If you could go back and give advice to your younger self when starting your career, what would it be?

I’d like to have sought out a long-term mentor. Someone experienced shadowing during my early years could have shaped my career trajectory better by learning the technical stuff but also those crucial soft skills that make a big difference in succeeding in the industry.

What’s one travel destination on your bucket list that’s not typically found in travel guides, and what intrigues you about it?

I want to travel the world, and I want to do it twice! I hear Madagascar is quite the hidden gem. I love tropical climates and being close to nature. I’m also quite the adventure junkie and Madagascar seems to have a great set of activities among their unique set of flora & fauna that I’d love to experience! Looking forward to ticking that off my bucket list someday!

Finally, looking ahead, what are some personal or professional goals you have set for yourself in the coming years, and how do you plan to achieve them?

Professionally, I’m working on enhancing my skills as a UI Designer by working on more heavy-lift projects, aiming to have some strong, holistic app designs in my portfolio. Plus, I wish to delve deeper into User Experience Design, so I can make my skill set a powerhouse combo of UI and UX.

On a personal note, I wish to build better lifestyle habits and unlearn some old ones. I’m on a mission to be more mindful in all that I do and operate from a place of love and passion rather than other not-so-great emotions. That space between stimulus and response is where I want my mind to be.

The rest of 2024 is going to be all about growth – personally and professionally – and I’m excited to see where my journey takes me! 

Time to ‘MG Meet’ Sheza Marinova, Graphic Designer at TikTok! In this exclusive interview, Sheza opens the door to her world, sharing the joy and fulfilment she finds in her role at TikTok. She also imparts invaluable guidance for aspiring graphic designers eager to thrive in the high-octane, innovative environment that TikTok offers!

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