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Appwrite Decoded: Sara Kaandorp

In this blog, we put our Design Lead Sara in the spotlight and share her side of the story.

At Appwrite, we value our people, the hard work they do, and the culture they create. Appwrite Decoded is an opportunity to get to know the Appwrite team just a little bit better and for us to celebrate the person behind the work.

We kick off our very first of this series with someone who has led Appwrite through many milestones, our very talented Design Lead, Sara Kaandorp.

From UX/UI to visual identity

Sara Kaandorp helps developers build like a team of hundreds by leading a successful design team with many talents. In this blog, we put Sara in the spotlight and share her side of the story.

Sara's family background, half Dutch and half Finnish, is not her only duality. Throughout her career, she has worked as a UX Designer in diverse industries, where she has gained experience and skills in both visual and product design. As she leads a team of four, she plays a central role in shaping Appwrite's overall look and feel from both a visual brand as well as the UX/UI of the product; a conscious decision to ensure that both product and visual design work closely together on a cohesive experience.

When it comes to her favorite aspects of her job, Sara emphasizes the dynamic nature of each day, highlighting the opportunities to work on diverse projects and aspects consistently. She gets to experiment with different design languages, continuously pushing boundaries with her team to ensure a better developer experience. Sara appreciates the chance for growth on both personal and team levels, highlighting the freedom of work that contributes to maintaining her excitement throughout her professional life.

"Designing for developers has been a unique and challenging experience; they tend to be critical and honest; however, I'm personally grateful for this, as it has genuinely challenged our team to continually improve our standards. When we create something exceptional, they express their appreciation vocally, and that's very rewarding."

Team dynamics and building like a team of hundreds

When it comes to being part of a team, and in Sara’s case, leading one, the key point is to unite people with diverse qualities rather than relying on those with similar qualifications. In her view, everyone has unique and impressive qualities, but no one has it all. Being a team involves supporting each other to cover all bases as a team, filling each other’s weaknesses, and, most importantly, placing complete trust in everyone throughout the process.

"I always try to match people with different qualities, and of course, what matches with the objectives of Appwrite."

Sara appreciates the fact that they have created an amazing team comprising successful, young, and passionate people who put considerable effort and creativity into their work. She consistently prioritizes keeping her team members motivated by maintaining a diverse workflow to prevent falling into the monotony of the same routine.

She believes Appwrite brings out the best in her by providing a lot of room for initiative.

"If you want to try something or grow in something professionally and personally, you can just ask for it. It's a safe and open space for you to achieve your best version and, in fact, build like a team of hundreds."

Working remotely and finding balance

Many companies had to pivot towards remote working during the pandemic, but where for most, it was a must, for Appwrite, it was and will always be part of the culture. Sara shares her experiences with remote work at Appwrite, the ups and the downs.

"Of course, remote working has pros and cons. I love the opportunity to collaborate with people from all over the world and getting to know individuals whom I may never have the chance to meet in person."

She values the combination of diverse perspectives and ideas, a dynamic characteristic that could never be taken for granted in creative teams. However, on that note, Sara acknowledges a downside; she finds it somewhat unfortunate that remote work can limit the opportunity for in-person team gatherings and brainstorming sessions. Her best tip on remote work involves avoiding a monotonous work environment.

"Change your working space, don’t stay at home, and use the opportunity to work from anywhere you want."

Milestones and the road ahead

She has experienced many proud moments at Appwrite, and without a doubt, the rebrand is one of them. The satisfaction comes from successfully navigating numerous obstacles within her team and handling them in the best way possible, which underlines the quality of their work. This project marked her first experience leading a rebrand from inception to completion, a significant milestone in her professional journey. She takes pride in the achievement, especially considering it was accomplished by a young, in-house design team. A close second had to be the redesign of Appwrite’s console, which is also an amazing milestone for Appwrite, which was led by Sara.

Her biggest goal at Appwrite is to continue growing both as a leader and as an integral part of the design team simultaneously.

"It's really important not to neglect your design qualifications even when you have a team of talented designers."

She is very excited to see what the future holds and to contribute to this huge community.

For anyone who wants to be a part of Appwrite, the advice is clear:

"Be a part of the community first. Observe what we do, explore the projects people are building, and discover how you can contribute. Take initiative and be yourself; it’s sincerely appreciated."

Sara concludes her spotlight with some advice for designers: Never overestimate your skills, keep an open attitude towards learning, try to understand the "why" behind things, and actively learn by asking questions.

"Practice makes perfect. Always work on some side projects to make your learning much faster."

It’s safe to say Appwrite’s design is in good hands.

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