Jakub Milczarek – an UX specialist

May 10, 2016

Science lectures for kids
Science lectures for kids

He’s the biggest handsome man in the company!  Who is he?  Why, none other than Jakub Milczarek!

The day I spoke with Jakub he told me it was 10 °C in Łódź, sunny but windy.   This is his city, the third largest in Poland and situated almost in the center of the country.

Jakub, what is it like in Łódź?

It is very industrial – we have a lot of beautiful old factories from 19th and the beginning of 20th century. Sometimes people call Łódź the Manchester of Poland. :) Besides factories, which are under renovation and changing their purpose now, we have a lot of beautiful palaces and regal residences that once belonged to the factory owners – you can see many of them in the movie Promised Land (1975) by Andrzej Wajda (my favorite movie ever).  The factory depicted in this film, which was the largest 19th century textile factory complex, has been renovated to house an arts center, a shopping mall, and a leisure complex.

Łódź is also a very “green town” with numerous parks and small lakes. We also used to have many rivers, 18 rivers in all, now hidden under the city in special canals…

What is life like for you?

Maglic 2386 m the highest point of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Maglic 2386 m the highest point of Bosnia and Herzegovina

I have a partner and we are living together for some time. My parents also live in the same town and they are scientists – my mother a microbiologist and my father physicist but they do not work at the university any more. I do not have any brothers or sisters so am the happy, only child – probably that is why I can be stubborn at times ;)

In my free time I travel a lot – I have visited almost all countries in Europe. I love to think about challenges or quests and try to pull them off.  At the moment I am trying to complete the Crown of Europe – reaching the highest points of every country in Europe. I have already achieved this in 33 out of 47 countries and I hope to increase this number by another 3 or 4 this year.

In the afternoons and on weekends, along with my partner and some other friends, we search for GeoCaches – various sized boxes hidden in interesting places and often in very intricate ways.

Besides this, I am also philatelist and I am preparing a special collection – History of Post in Zgierz (my parents’ home town).

How did you hear about OTGS and what were you involved in before?

I heard about OTGS when I was running my own company WP-Expert. I had a team of five people (one of them is also an OTGS employee now) and we were building various websites – from small blogs to big enterprise services.  Of course to make our websites multilingual we were using WPML and for Post Types and Custom Fields – Toolset Types. I am also holding a PhD in forensic chemistry; I was working in that field for some time and later in the field of conservation chemistry. At the moment I work part- time for OTGS and part- time at Lodz Technical University, Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Sciences.

Your role here is UX specialist.  What does UX stand for and what is it you do exactly?

WordCamp Krakow 2014
WordCamp Krakow 2014

UX stands for User eXperience and UX Specialist work involves many duties. Every day, I try to change and improve the interfaces of our plugins. First I collect ideas from my own research, from colleagues within the company, from customers’ comments and requests. Then I prepare a redesigned interface, discussing it with our developers and management. Then I redesign again after which it is a good time to perform usability tests for which we invite selected customers. These tests are very inspiring and every time we find something that had been missed before. From time to time, I have to design a new interface for new features in our plugins. Every day I answer many questions from our developers, some small, some big – I am a first contact person for problems with UI (User Interface) :)

For my work I need to know the current trends on the Internet and I have to follow changes in WordPress UI. I read a lot of blogs and case reports to learn about other people’s problems with interfaces. Experience is the key for the UX Specialist – the more you try, design, test, play with, etc. – the better you are.

Loves and challenges?

What I love the most is that I am involved in almost all projects so I work with most of the people in the Company. That is a great experience because we can share our thoughts and visions which are coming from many different perspectives and even cultural backgrounds.

Sometimes it can be a huge challenge to convince people to consider some crazy ideas but, when they work, everybody is happy.

Describe a typical day

I start every day at 8.00 by first checking my e-mail inbox and any new tasks on YouTrack. It takes some time because I am involved in almost all projects in the Company but I try to limit that step to be able to concentrate on the bigger tasks for another 2-3 h. If I have time at the end, I check my inbox again and answer quick problems; the rest is postponed for the next day.

In the afternoon I go to the University (I should rather say I walk – it is about 5 km distance and it is good for our health to walk every day). I teach students there and, what is worth mentioning is that I am a mentor for one of the student scientific associations at the university. We are organizing more and more events to show both to students and also to the citizens of our city that chemistry is to be found everywhere and that science can actually be fun.

After work there is always plenty of time to do all the crazy stuff I mentioned while answering your question about hobbies and interests.  Every day is quite different for me and I really love it!

Have you given much thought to the future?

At the top of Jebel Toubkal 4167m the highest point in Marocco
At the top of Jebel Toubkal 4167 m the highest point in Marocco

I can divide my plans and hopes into three fields:

Company- I hope to polish UI and improve the usability of our current plugins. I would like to have more time for inventing new things, trying various ideas and introducing new features etc.

University – Besides my teaching duties, I would like to begin on some interesting new research.

My free time – I hope to complete Crown of Europe in the next 2-3 years :)

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