4 minutes read

Today you can find inspiration everywhere, even if you are going for a walk or opening your browser and you tap in Google words like “inspiration” or “ideas” or “interesting stuff”. Also, you can find inspiration in a book, in a movie, in a song or in an interview with some great people who are doing a wonderful job.

This is one of the reasons we are interviewing these people, we want you guys to find inspiration for your projects. Today we are talking to Jean-Marc Denis who is the VR @Google. He previously worked as product designer for Sparrow Mac and iOS that got acquired in August 2012 by Google and also, he developed the inbox for Gmail.

Official website: www.jmd.im 

Twitter: @jmdenisme

How did you get started in design and for how long have you been doing it?

“It’s fair to say that I have an atypical background. I was not very good at school and I was spending all my free time learning computer science by my own. I was learning so much interesting things at home that going to school was not fun or interesting to me at the time.

I dropped out of school when I was 19 to create a digital communication company with my best friend. I was mostly doing the creative part because I was really passionate about digital creation tools and art using this medium. I have been in the industry for about 15 years.”

What difficulties did you face at the beginning of your career?

“When I started, the industry was nowhere near what it is today. Everyone was pioneering in a lot of areas. I was lucky to have my own business to be able to experiment and learn a lot. All our clients had different needs and to be honest, we took some contract we were not sure to honor but we did what was necessary to deliver.

That was often meaning finding answers in books (one of the rare source of knowledge back then) and a lot of trial and error until we got it right.”

What is the biggest inspiration for your career?

“Game industry has always been a great source of inspiration for me. It taught me that a great game mechanics and experience was the root of success. Which is why I got really passionate about UX design.”

How would you describe your approach to design?

“I profoundly dislike over complicated things.

Reducing a product that might seems complex to be simple and elegant is like a game to me. A kind of puzzle that once finished is a seamless and enjoyable product”

[Tweet “A kind of puzzle that once finished is a seamless and enjoyable product” via @jm_denis”]

What values are important to you when you’re designing?

“I always think about the user first.

If you design for yourself you don’t always succeed because you are not often the common denominator. Knowing your user is vital.

I also value exactitude and delight. A product should be simple, with a tailored experience and great visual rhythm.”

Can you tell us about how you make decisions regarding your design?

“Your approach grows as you grow in your career and making decisions is based a lot on the size of the product you work on.

When working at Sparrow, our user base was way different than Gmail and Inbox. Not only personas but also number of users. Thats why it’s vital to take more time to tests your designs when you are going to add or (even more complicated) remove something from your product.

In any case, the decisions should be thoughtful and you should embrace data to a certain limit to help you take better decisions.”

[Tweet “You should embrace data to a certain limit to help you take better decisions via @jm_denis”]

What do you do to keep your ideas fresh?

“I like to explore new areas that I am not familiar with.

I learned photography and its deep ramifications. Lighting was a subject that kind of obsessed me for a while. It is such a simple and common element but is the source of great photos. Thats one subject among others of course.”

In your opinion, how have online design resources influenced the design that’s being produced today?

“Creating sketchdesign.io was something I was looking to do a long time. I did some articles about the software and how much benefits any designer could take away from it.

My medium articles got a lot of attention to a point that I was receiving a lot of emails from people intrigued by Sketch. I tried but couldn’t answer all the questions so I decided to put together a complete course, a premium master class which would answer theses questions and beyond.

I try to explain my tips and techniques to be more efficient using Sketch and from the feedback, a lot of designers discovered new tools or workflow to help them for their day to day work.”

What are the most important 3 tools for you? 

“Your brain and more precisely, your common sense.

Being a UX designer has a lot to do with that so never stop thinking about problems and how to solve them. Video games or any games which allows you to develop your sense of reflection is good.

Pen and paper or similar.

When iterating, nothing will beat theses tools. Its usually a good first step to map your ideas and put down anything you have in mind. Even if I usually goes to Sketch app pretty fast in my process, pen and paper are very powerful to explain and convey your ideas.

Any digital tool that allows you to design your ideas. It’s a general answer because it can be Sketch, Photoshop, Framer, Maya, Cinema 4D, After effects, the idea is the same.

Learn the digital tool that is doing what it needs to and master it as much as you can so you dont think about the tool and you spend more time designing.

Could you recommend two or more resources for designers that are reading our blog? (books, blogs, websites)

“I will admit that I am less and less going on dribbble for inspiration since a lot of designs are washed of feelings and thoughtful UX.

Since I recently switched position to interaction designer in virtual reality at Google, I tend to use Pinterest to create mood boards and collect images that inspires me I check out Designer News and Product Hunt everyday. For my new position I also browse Reddit and Road To VR  to fish fresh news about virtual reality.”

What is your daily motto?

“Learn and have fun as much as you can.

These create passion and without it, you will never design great things.”

Tea or coffee?

“Coffee in the morning and green tea in the afternoon!”

Thank you Jean-Marc

Robert Katai
Robert Katai is the Product Marketing Specialist at Creatopy. His work was featured on Adweek, Entrepreneur, Marketing Profs, Content Marketing Institute and other places.


  1. his twitter is @jmdenisme

  2. Thanks John. We will update the link!

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