The Scoop - Sabeeha Banubhai

Can you tell us a bit about yourself, your company, and your background in interactive development?

I had originally came to Open Window to study and become a Photographer and in my first year, I chose Interactive Design as one of my subjects. Throughout the year, I thoroughly enjoyed the process of understanding technology and designing and developing websites and emojis (this was back in 2014 😅). I did an internship at a company that built apps and I knew that this was the path I wanted to go down. I eventually double majored in Interactive Design and Interactive Development and simultaneously began my company – Jack Studios. At the time, I had learned many different skills and started freelancing in logo design, motion design, wedding photography, and building websites and web apps in PHP (yikes). 9 years later, I have built a successful design studio that focuses on designing custom software and digital branding for tech founders.

How did you get started in the field of interactive development, and what inspired you to pursue this career path?

After doing my internship at Flnt n Tinder back in 2014, I was intrigued by the concept of building out custom software – mobile apps specifically. For context, I still owned a Blackberry at the time and was interested in emerging technologies and being at the forefront of building those apps.

What do you think are the most important qualities for someone working in interactive development to possess?

The ability to look at the big picture while being able to still focus on the details. Having a deep understanding of the broad technology landscape while being a specialist in specific technologies. The ability to understand human problems and find and create technological solutions.

Can you describe a typical day in the life of an interactive developer?

Consider this, a dark room, two to three screen monitors, headphones, and Lofi background music, haha. When I still developed, I would spend at least 80% of my day coding and looking up new tools and technologies, the other 20% was spent in meetings with either my team or clients. I used to work at least 12 – 16 hours a day, when I got invested into a project I would forget that the world around me existed.

What do you think some of the biggest challenges facing interactive developers are today?

The ever-changing landscape of technologies: blockchain, AI, machine learning, NFTs. We are moving at a very fast pace and the ability and desire to keep up with the industry can be very challenging. As soon as you understand and master a tool or skill, you need to learn something new. It can feel like you are always behind.

Top 3 Podcasts?

To be honest, I do not have the mental capacity to consume podcasts 🙃

In your opinion, what is the most exciting aspect of working in the field of interactive development?

Being able to solve real-world problems and see the products you design and develop in the hands of real humans. There is a deep satisfaction from building an app or website or software that helps move people and the world forward.

Any favourite hobbies?

I thoroughly enjoy reading books, doing oil paintings, and staying active (yoga, gym, hiking, park run). Essentially anything that can get me off my devices – occupational hazard I guess 😅.

Can you share some tips for effective collaboration with designers, project managers, and other team members in an interactive development project?

Collaboration is an extremely important skill, you will very rarely – if ever – work on a project alone. You need to learn to understand what your role is and how you fit into the full process. I would say that you need to learn to understand yourself and your way of work and be able to communicate that with your team (how they should best get hold of you, which tools to communicate with you on, what time of day you work best when you expect to have specific tasks done). The ability to be honest and be able to navigate conflict with kindness has gotten me very far in being able to work well in a team.

How do you balance creativity and user experience when developing interactive products?

By splitting the two functions and processes. Spending time with people, clients, users, and consumers to design out an experience and interface and problem solve in one process and then taking the plan and executing it in the development process.

Can you tell us about a time when you had to work under a tight deadline, and how you managed to deliver the project on time?

The thought of this gave me PTSD haha. Back in 2017, I worked on a Banking App that had to be developed in a month by myself. I spent many hours trying to do it all myself before I learned that it was okay to ask for help. In the end, as a team, we were able to deliver a stunning app on time.

How would you describe the relationship between an interaction designer and a developer?

Like a brother and sister that can not see eye to eye. Haha. The best way I can explain is the struggle between a dreamer and a realist – the designer wants to do the best possible thing to solve the user’s problem and the developer is constrained by time and technology to bring that dream and vision to life. When the two better understand each other’s world, the better the relationship and the better the solution they can come up with together.

How do you measure the success of an interactive development project?

Based on Maslow’s Hierarchy, is it functional? It is Reliable and usable? It is Enjoyable to use?

Do you have any favourite free resources you can share?

ChatGPT-4 😅. As a developer, there is a lot of open-source code and research and tutorials out there, I stopped a couple of years ago so I do not think any of the resources I used to use will be useful, sorry.

What’s your go-to creative snack?

I quite enjoy Ice Cream 🍦 Paul’s Birthday Cake is a wonderful snack that gets the creative juices flowing.

What advice would you give to someone who is interested in pursuing a career in Interactive Development?

If you are someone who can sit for long periods of time, focused on achieving a goal, you will thoroughly enjoy the challenge that being a technologist brings. I would advise that you hone in on your problem-defining and problem-solving skills more than focusing on the different languages and tools out there. Being able to properly define what the problem is, is 70% of the battle.