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Aleksandra Baengueva on Award-Winning Work and Supporting Causes Via Design

Highly respected UX/UI and product designer Aleksandra Baengueva has utilized her talents with many notable brands and organizations through the years, including Gizmodo, The Root, The Onion, and Jalopnik.

Right now, Aleksandra is working with Chubb, the world’s largest publicly traded casualty insurance company.

Chubb may be a large company, but Aleksandra’s work centers on creating portals that agents from small businesses can use to log client info.

Aleksandra also finds time to lend her expertise to the volunteer organization Save Baikal, creating an award-winning website for the organization.

In fact, Aleksandra’s work has earned her numerous awards, and that’s exactly what we wanted to ask about during our recent interview with the designer, as a way of learning more about her dedication to the craft and the sheer range of her past projects.

TechSling: We’d like to ask about your award-winning design work. First, does receiving awards affect your work or sense of motivation in any way?

Aleksandra: I always focus on my work and try to create the best experience for users, mixing functionality with a good-looking design for a website. I’m very happy to be recognized by design communities and be noticed by talented people.

When I look at my work later, I always want to improve something. In my work, I’m a perfectionist, so I always find room for improvement. So every time I participate in a design competition, I try to make my work even better.

TechSling: Your work on the Root 100 website was nominated for a Webby. Can you tell us about this site?

Aleksandra: The Root is a website about the African American community, offering news about, and support of, African Americans. The Root 100 is an annual list of the most influential African Americans, ages 25 to 45. It’s a way of honoring the innovators, the leaders, the public figures, and the game-changers whose work from the past year is breaking down barriers and paving the way for the next generation.

This year’s list of honorees is a reminder of the beauty and brilliance of Blackness, at a time when the political and cultural landscape has grown even more challenging to the idea of Black achievement.

I created a design for this list of honorees and an individual profile page for each honoree. I also worked on the home page and a gallery. I worked on a design and collaborated with editors, developers, and illustrators to create it.

I also worked on another amazing project with the same team: The Root for Black history month. We described key moments in African American history, and I designed a timeframe and an interactive map.

These two projects are some of my favorites. We were working with great ideas and had great teams.

TechSling: The Save Baikal website has received a lot of awards attention. What were some of your key design choices for this site?

Aleksandra: Well, for background, I’m a member of the Save Baikal volunteer organization, and I helped them create a website.

Lake Baikal is the deepest and oldest lake in the world, and it’s the world’s largest freshwater lake by volume, containing 22–23% of the world’s fresh surface water. Lake Baikal is home to thousands of species of plants and animals, many of them endemic to the region. It’s also where I’m originally from. It’s a part of Siberia, not far from Ulan-Ude city where I was born and grew up. So this project was important for me.

I used the Webflow portal to build it, creating animated transitions and using an interesting layout and font. I also included a lot of candid photos from real events, and of course content from events about the cleaning and protection of flora and fauna. I’d like to say thanks to the team that wrote and produced this content.

TechSling: You also received a nod for your work on Kotaku. What were some of the changes you made to the site?

Aleksandra: So Kotaku is a website about gaming and related events. We changed the layout of a few pages and updated an article page. We also added logos based on the topic of each page.

TechSling: You’ve worked extensively with G/O Media. Was it difficult working on so many different sites for G/O, or did you enjoy the challenge?

Aleksandra: I like challenges, and I was happy to work with all of these brands. They are all different and have great teams. They cover a great variety of topics including technology, sports, cars, humor, movies, music, feminism, and news about the African American community.

I’ve never felt bored when working on these projects, and I’ve learned a lot about these fields. Also, all of these topics were fun to create different designs and interfaces for, starting with brainstorming and finishing with the designs for individual buttons.

TechSling: When your work is nominated for an award, do you take a look at the work of other nominees?

Aleksandra: Yes, I’m always curious about what others create. It’s a great resource for inspiration and learning. I like different media, not necessarily only websites. I also check illustrations, videos, industrial designs, and animation.

Moreover, I often check other resources where other designers, illustrators, photographers, and videographers share their work every day, like Behance and Dribble.

TechSling: To close things out for today, do you have any advice for designers hoping to reach similar levels of success?

Aleksandra: Stay curious and learn about new tools and trends, and get inspiration from other fields, too. Don’t be afraid or frustrated if something doesn’t work the first time. Some skills take time, so be patient and practice more. Think about the people who will use this product and try to help them.

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I'm a long time fan of tech innovation, especially its capacity to cross over into the realms of art and social justice. The paradigms are constantly changing, and we need to change with them.

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