Miguel Tavares, Lead UX/UI Designer from the Porto office, shares how his rich childhood and dreams led him to a creative career that would evolve into a leadership role at Metyis.

Meet Miguel Tavares, Lead UX/UI Designer in Porto.

Tell us a little about yourself

I was born in 1980, in a rural area of Maia, to a meteorologist and a teacher. I am an only child but was fortunate enough to always be in close contact with my grandparents. Their presence enriched my childhood in many ways. I could play in my grandfather's carpenter shop, or in the small plot of land that my grandmother kept. My father gave me my first computer in 1984 and I had plenty of my mom's books to keep me busy. Despite what might seem like "old man stuff" to some, I'm really thankful that I had the chance to play in the street with my friends or go on adventures in the woods.

As a child I always dreamed of becoming a scientist or an engineer, and I even attended three years of Electrical and Computer Engineering in college, but eventually did a colossal 180º and moved to advertising.

I live in Porto, a city I’ve always loved, with my wife and two daughters. One is already a grown-up; the other is entering her teens. We share the house with two cats and a big dog.

I am interested in many different things, but some constant passions in my life are physics, philosophy, history, music, lists, tools for thought, Star Trek idealism, oddities and gloriously bad movies — anything that really tickles my sense of wonder. My hobbies include doing absolutely nothing, boating in the Douro River, visiting random small villages, coding automations and tweaking knowledge management systems and methodologies.

What first sparked your interest in the world of design?

That would probably be the hundreds of books lying around my childhood home, with beautiful typography, photos and illustrations. Later, in my teens, I was an amateur artsy photographer, with an urge to convey clear messages in abstract ways. Then came a broader interest in communication, particularly in the process of assembling a message and the touchpoints with the recipient.

The emergent web technologies of the 2000s brought interaction into the mix, and my penchant for logical reasoning finally made me commit to the beauty and importance of structure and clarity. Design is all this.

What led you to Metyis?

I worked in advertising for many years but became disillusioned with traditional agency life. This made me pursue more focused graphic design work. Since I had been active in the development of websites and applications since college, I eventually realized that UX/UI was the place for me.

At my previous company, being in charge of a single product and as a part of a very small team made me feel like I was stagnating. The need to leave my comfort zone and surround myself with people from whom I could start learning again became impossible to ignore.

Precisely at that time, I saw on LinkedIn that André Covas, our Design Director was working at Metyis. Knowing him as a teacher from a UX/UI course I had attended, I thought to myself "This has to be good".

Funnily enough, one of the first things I noticed and very much appreciated during my welcome meetings was the huge number of people with zig-zaging career paths like my own (or even more so).

Can you tell us about your current role at Metyis?

Before joining Metyis, I had actively avoided leadership roles because I was uncertain of my motivation and capability in that area. This was openly discussed during my interviews to join Metyis as a Lead UX/UI Designer, and I was granted a transitional period allowing me to ease into the role with a safety net in place. I am thankful for the understanding and support I had at Metyis during this transition.

After playing that role consistently across several projects for little under a year, my doubts were cleared, and I came to some surprising realisations. First, I had actually helped people navigate challenges and grow; second, that my growth benefitted everyone almost immediately; and third, I hadn't encountered such a rich learning experience in a long while.

So, the leadership role that I initially hesitated to take on as part of my career path became its main driver and source of fulfilment. On other fronts, I also try to contribute to more streamlined internal processes and knowledge sharing and, of course, making clients happy by helping them surpass their initial ambitions and expectations for a project.

How do you feel UX/UI Design impact business?

Like we often say: "Good experience is good business". I truly believe that when UX/UI design is brought into a project at the right time, it has the power to dramatically improve it for everyone — clients, colleagues and users. That said, the ultimate goal of UX/UI design is to make good things as easy and accessible as possible.

Especially, considering the growing prominence of digital experiences in our lives, this mission takes on not only corporate significance but also humanistic and social dimensions.

How do you feel your team or function is making an impact on the business world?

I feel particularly rewarded when we're able to help a client benefit from the values of UX research, testing and iterative approaches. Additionally, there are some very exciting initiatives that will allow us to perform even better UX and CRO assessments, and the Metyis Design Studio has been actively researching applications of Generative AI since its early stages.

As a UX/UI Design Lead, what advice would you give to younger professionals starting their career in this area?

Find the aspects of Design that are close to your heart and brain. This could be anything — color theory, typography, data visualisation, accessibility, etc. And then invest yourself in knowing and doing as much as possible in those areas.

Put health and other people above all else. No professional success is worth achieving at the cost of those.

Constantly ask questions. Design is literally purpose. You can't design without the useful constraints of answers.

Cultivate wonder and curiosity. Even the dullest subject becomes fascinating after enough 'why's'.