Stryborg Interview Series: Thais Souza

by | Jan 14, 2021 | Corporate Company Building

“The heart of UX is empathy”

Thais is Head of Design at Stryber. In this interview, she gives some insights about the importance of creativity in a data-driven world. She also explains Stryber’s new open source design system which was launched a few weeks ago. 

What are you doing at Stryber?  What is your role about?

I’m responsible for developing and managing all aspects of our design process, culture, and creative output. Together with our team of experienced UX/UI designers, we are responsible for building products that consider all the complexities of delivering business and customer value. 

What are you passionate about in your current role?

At Stryber we build ventures that people love. With a clear focus on specific and well-defined target customer segments and based on their insights and preferences, we really create a significant impact in our users’ lives. And I’m passionate about that.

What are the skills needed for your job? What makes a good Designer?

The heart of UX/UI is empathy. It’s vital to have a deep understanding of the users. A good Designer will not only think about the aesthetics of the screens but also about the functionality and value for the final users. As Steve Jobs once said: “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” 

Can you describe a project where empathy helped you and your team build a strong product?

Snäx is a good example where empathy and user-centric design was the core for the entire Design Process. In order to create the best user experience, we ran a Design Sprint focusing 100% on a deep understanding of the user problem.

After the Problem Definition we had a clear idea on what we should focus during our usability test and we were able to build and test our prototype in just 4 days.


After the Design Sprint was possible for us to answer our main hypotheses, such as:
Which kind of meals people would like to have in the fridge? How often people would use the fridge? What would make people use the fridge on a daily basis? And so on.

Because of our focus on empathy for our users during our design process, Snäx is a real success today, together along with many other ventures.

Tell us about Matterhorn: What is it and what makes it so special?

Every digital business faces a significant challenge when they begin to scale in terms of how to quickly develop products that users love while still creating a consistent user experience on every display. Balancing these priorities can be very difficult to execute.

To solve this, we created Matterhorn: a powerful open-source design system that is 100% focused on venture development. Matterhorn is not only a simple Design System, but it is also a web and mobile framework composed of several templates.

Do you have any success stories of using Matterhorn already? What was the experience like for the people who used it?

We have multiple ventures using the Matterhorn Design system as their base structure at the moment. LaraPay is a good example of that. Using Matterhorn, both Designers and Developers developed a complex FinTech app in a short amount of time while maintaining an excellent user experience.

What’s next for Matterhorn?

A typical misconception about design systems is that once they’re set or in this case once their documentation is published or their site is launched, then they become a complete and unchangeable project. In reality, a design system is never complete.

This launch is simply the first step of many in the direction of our Mission.

We still have a lot of important work to do, and our Design Team is very excited about it. 🤘

Here are a few more things coming in the near future:

  • Even more web and mobile components in our library
  • A design and development community around Matterhorn
  • Sketch and Figma full assets for downloading
  • Developing our visual foundations (creating our own Stryber_sans typography, iconography, and more)
  • More powerful templates for both web and mobile
  • And most importantly, making our design system more accessible, usable, and inclusive. For that, we want to not only follow the WCAG guidelines but also to create tools that will give full control of the screens.

What is the biggest challenge for you in your role?

My biggest challenge is dealing with multiple ventures, different business models, different needs, and different target users at the same time and of course providing the best user experience and quality in everything we create, both internally and externally.

What has been the most successful project you or your team has worked on?

We have worked on a number of successful projects, but I believe Snäx was one of the most complex projects we faced until now in terms of Design because we had to navigate a lot of different aspects of Design such as Branding, MobileApp, Packaging, Smart Hardware and even Photo Shooting. I can also mention the redesign of our Stryber Brand, Olly and LaraPay.

How do you define success?

Success inside a venture is when we can solve a real problem for our users by impacting their lives and achieving product-market fit.

What is your secret recipe for the mix of startup speed & professionalism & quality?

Stay focused, never lose the big picture, and automate your processes. This was one of the main reasons that we created Matterhorn: to improve speed, communication, and consistency across our projects. 

Is there a difference between the ‘normal’ startup structure and working at Stryber? If so, what are the differences?

The difference is that inside Stryber we deal with a number of ventures in different industries and tech stacks. Also, the capacity to run multiple design workshops such as Design Sprints and Jobs To Be Done is unique – that’s normally a one-time activity when working inside a typical startup environment.

How do you keep yourself educated and up to date in your field?

Nowadays, it is very easy to get lost in a sea of ​​articles and trends. I try to keep up to date by following renowned UX/UI professionals in the field such as Jeff Gothelf, Don Norman, Jared Spool, John Maeda etc. and through books and podcasts.

What’s some advice you can give to someone looking for a job like yours?

Always ask ” Why?”  and design to solve problems.
If I can give one more piece of advice, it would be: Be curious. Discover new things. Care.

Thais Souza is the Head of Design at Stryber Ventures.

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