Welcome to Design Career Stories—a new series where we explore why and how both new and seasoned designers like you found their way into design. Get perspective, advice, and guidance through their stories!
Today, meet Iker Fernandez, Lead Product Designer at Softr and Design Mentor in Dribbble’s 16-Week Product Design Course. Get inspired by Iker’s career story as he shares the pivotal steps in his career and offers advice to new product designers entering the industry.
Why did you decide to become a product designer?
For starters, my love for technology, widgets, software, and digital environments, combined with my passion for design made me want to explore this amazing path and become a product designer.
I’m an early adopter which means I’m always looking forward to trying and testing new software and apps. When I was a kid, I remember being excited whenever a new Windows version was coming and loved playing around with Winamp skins. I just wanted to be part of the creation of these things that amazed me.
How did you launch your product design career?
When I was 18, I started studying computer development at EASDi (in Spain) but realized I was more passionate about design rather than coding. So I decided to change directions and enroll in their Graphic Design program.
After graduating and completing an internship at an agency in Italy, I returned to Spain to start freelancing. Thanks to my technical background, I mostly worked on designing native apps, e-commerce platforms, and websites for clients. I was doing Product Design and UX, without even realizing it.
After a few years of freelancing and working with agencies in Spain where I combined Graphic Design, UX, and Product Design, I had the chance to move to the United States. There, I met many entrepreneurs who were building and releasing digital products, and I began collaborating with them as a designer.
It was a totally different way of working for me, and these entrepreneurs were incredibly inspiring. Bryan Harris was one of them. I learned so much from him, and that’s when I felt like I could truly identify as a product designer as the role is known today.
How did you land your first full-time Product Design job?
At one point in my career, I got in touch with Typeform, and I helped them with a project as a freelancer. It went well, so they offered me a full-time position in Barcelona. I worked at Typeform for three years, contributing to projects like the Developers Portal, leading the design of Typeform Mobile, and improving the overall creation experience.
After that, I joined Sage for a year, then I worked at Payfit for a couple of years as a Lead Product Designer where I designed initiatives for my Tribe, mentored some colleagues of the design organization, and managed designers on my squad. I’m currently at Softr, where my role is Lead Product Designer too. We are building a no-code tool that allows users to create apps in minutes from Airtable data.
How has mentoring played a part in your career?
During my career, I’ve been fortunate to be mentored by people that had a huge positive impact professionally, but that also helped me grow as a person. As a mentor in Dribbble’s 16-Week Product Design Course, I hope I can accompany others and help them learn and reach their goals, while we build a community around design.
Advice for new product designers
Product design is a very exciting job. It evolves quickly, so it’s very gratifying. There are many opportunities to learn, grow and make a good career. I transitioned from Graphic Design to Product Design in a natural way, thanks to my curiosity and self-learning.
Launch your product design career
Inspired to kickstart your product design career? Get mentored by Iker and other top product design mentors in Dribbble’s 16-Week Product Design Course. Graduate with a whole new skillset, an interview-ready portfolio, and the inside track to hiring managers looking for new product designers.
Enroll now to save 25% on the next course cohort starting June 6! ■