Jul 4, 2022
Meet Jan - Design Lead at Wolt
At Wolt, design is at the heart of everything we ship. 💙 It’s in our DNA to craft delightful, finessed experiences for our customers. Our UX designers are problem-solvers. They truly shine in simplifying complex systems into thoughtful, polished user experiences that are grounded in real-world use problems and business needs.
Meet Jan Nikander, Design Lead of the Merchant Group!
Hello Jan 👋 Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I tend to describe myself as a cognitive scientist turned designer. My background in the humanities provides me with a solid grasp of human psychology and perception informing my everyday design practice, which I at least hope makes my work understandable, usable and sometimes even delightful to use.
Originally, my journey into design began in working in an user research agency, gathering user insights, which helped me build a foundational understanding of how humans interact with both physical and digital products. This allowed me to be better prepared for slowly transitioning towards actually building those digital services myself. From there, my journey continued to working in the gaming industry and later for multiple years in an IT agency, focusing on UX and service design. I have now been working with Wolt for two years.
And what’s your role like at Wolt?
Originally, I started as a UX designer at Wolt, but I have been working as a Design lead in the Merchant Group for one and a half years now. Our Merchant Group focuses on making Wolt an integral part of our Merchants’ daily lives in all the 23 countries Wolt is active in. Our goal is to give them tools and automations that are useful, efficient, reliable, and delightful to use. In doing so, we want to help our merchant partners get the most out of their business on the Wolt platform.
Having a solid experience of working on B2B products with a lot of complexity, Merchant Group’s problem space resonates well with me. My role here is a combination of being hands-on (working on practical design, wireframes, UI work, user flows, user interviews, workshops) and being a lead (orchestrating work within my team, but also between groups and verticals as well - facilitating and driving merchant design vision, understanding WHY are we heading in certain direction etc). And of course a lot of hiring!
What’s been your favorite project at Wolt and why?
My main project and the most impactful thing I have been working on at Wolt has been revamping the merchant onboarding experience, which is essentially, how our restaurants and other partners are getting started with using Wolt for their business. This is a very kind of “service design meets UX design meets UI design meets business design” kind of a problem. It was a huge, complex high-impact project with a lot of internal and external stakeholders, concerning multiple systems across the platform.
Our biggest challenge was that the process was very manual, distributed across different tools and unharmonized between Wolt’s markets. So when facing this task, we had to run extensive research to really understand the problem - the current process, how is it distributed across different tools and why, who works on what and when, and so on.
In the end, after extensive work and multiple iterations between all teams working together, we ended up with a simplified, self-contained UI flow used by both merchants and internal teams smoothly. It was a super difficult project, and admittedly frustrating at times, but as a UX designer, these are the most interesting problems to solve.
“Facing a really complex problem to solve, the one that requires a lot of digging and takes a lot of time, and then coming up with a solution? This is the “designer's high”.”
In three words how would you describe the design/design team at Wolt?
I think ambition — we have super ambitious people with extremely high attention to detail, being able to switch between zooming in and out all the time. Secondly, outstanding quality - the capability to deliver amazing things, fast if needed. And finally, fun — we have a great team and have fun working together.
What for you makes a world-class customer experience?
I believe it is linked with what I mentioned before — it’s the capability to look at the bigger picture without forgetting the detail. What makes a world-class experience is to have the experience polished from micro to macro. And in our case, people are super detail driven and willing to go the extra mile to never leave a single stone unturned.
What’s been your biggest learning at Wolt?
I think my key takeaway in a professional sense from working at Wolt is how to deal with scale. The immense scale of this product is so different from anything that I have done previously. Having tens of thousands of venues and millions of users pushes you to be very conscious about every design decision you take. Because with even the smallest change in one button you decide to do - there is always someone somewhere who considers the previous iteration of the button the best thing they’ve ever seen. On the other hand, making a certain interaction even slightly more efficient or engaging reaps immense benefits at the scale we operate in. This level of responsibility is a bit daunting, but some part of me enjoys it! It pushes me to another level of consciousness about the impact I have, not only business-wise.
Another thing is prioritization — you quickly learn that you cannot please everyone and you need to decide on what serves the majority best, it is a kind of balancing act that you need to perform. For that, I try to stay close to my end users, to the merchants, making sure to have my priorities clear at all times.
What's your secret in keeping creative? What are you inspired by?
First off, I have a very boring answer I guess… I have been rekindling my passion towards decision-making theory lately. I have been digging into this field in the context of digital products — how the end users make decisions and how to ethically steer them into a particular direction, designing for behavioral change, and so on.
Apart from that, although I am not a visual designer, I am really into typography. I have always loved a good piece of typography — it is really great to just walk on the street and pick up pieces of good copy out there, it makes me super happy (and maybe even more creative, who knows?).
Outside work, a big creative outlet for me as well is music — I am playing, and writing my own music.
The most random thing you’ve ordered with Wolt?
The most random thing I have ever ordered at Wolt was a homecoming gift for my wife when returning from the hospital after giving birth to our first baby! I honestly had forgotten about this tradition and needed to figure out some solution quickly :D So I ordered a necklace for her through our app — it was super convenient!
I actually buy Christmas presents as well from Wolt! I really detest going to the stores before holidays, so this is a great solution.