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The face behind the interface

We spoke with Lana, our product designer, to talk about her experience designing for the community — and to understand what’s coming up in the next few months

Almost every day we get asked by an editor for a new feature on the Unbabel interface. We’ve even got a whole space dedicated to organising all the wonderful suggestions we receive, and deciding where to put them. However, there are lots of people working hard to make the editor experience better and turn your ideas into blueprints and designs — and the chief architect of this process is Lana Loncar, our Community Product Designer. I took some time to chat to Lana a few weeks ago, so read on for a sneak peek behind the scenes and to learn more about our unsung hero, and what we’ve got in store for the future.

Lana’s a bit of a big deal around the office, not least because of her dachshund, Alfie, who’s so long that we’ve genuinely consulted the Guinness Book of World Records to make sure he’s not eligible (not even close, sadly). But she’s also got one of the most interesting backstories of anyone on the community team. “I was born in Belgrade, and lived there until I was two years old, before my family left for Melbourne. I spent the majority of my childhood in Australia before moving back to Serbia when I was fourteen.” This has left Lana with a flawless Australian accent with the occasional dash of Serbian, and she’s one of the few true bilingual people (by the strictest definition) on the team. “I mix up words all the time!” she laughs. “I sometimes look at something and I can’t remember the word for it in the language I’m thinking in!”

We’ve always thought of Lana as an architect behind the scenes here at Unbabel, but it turns out she’s actually got a Bachelors and a Masters degree in Architecture. “I slowly moved into IT over my first few jobs. I was thinking about a career as a programmer for a while, and it took me a long time to work out what I’d be good at in the sector.” Lana’s clearly very conscious that it can be a bit tricky to find your niche in this area, and she tells me that she mentors would-be designers. “I try my best to mentor everybody who reaches out to me. I wish I had had something like that back then; I only had old books and random articles that I ran into. I couldn’t even have been sure if the authors were to be trusted!”

It turns out this background helps Lana think about what our editors need in the future. “Architecture and product design have a lot in common: for both of them you need to understand all of the desires and constraints of the people you’re designing for, and bring them together to create something that works for everyone. It’s all about breaking down complex problems with a wealth of information, but the key core skill for both of these professions is communication. You need to know how to speak the language of all these different people as well as advocating for the best experience for the person who’s going to use your product.”

So, what does the future hold for Lana? Well, she’s thrilled to be working here, that’s for sure. “Unbabel has a very strong vision and mission statement, and it’s very easy to get behind them as an employee. Building the world’s translation layer is a great thing to be doing, and as I get older, I am realising how important this is and how much it actually means to me.”

But that’s just for her — the big question on everyone’s lips still remains: what can the community expect coming up in the near future? ”I’d say that we are experiencing really interesting times now that Unbabel has acquired Lingo24. There is a bigger focus on the Community, especially the content our members work on and the tools that support them. Our long-term vision is to create more work opportunities.

In the short term this means there will be more work and more challenging content. Our tools will need to be centralised and supportive of new translation tasks, so expect some nice changes coming onto the interface! As always, we will keep improving the experience for everyone working within the community.”


As is customary with these profiles, we asked Lana to recommend a song, a book, and a film — and what she’d say to our community if she could say only one thing.

Song: Mark Ronson — Nothing Breaks Like a Heart (Official Video) ft. Miley Cyrus


“This has been on repeat for the past month or so. I think the video was released in 2018 and I hadn’t realised how good the song and the video were until now. Mark Ronson is such an amazing producer, because most of the songs that started with him are his ideas and he gets the best artists. I think what he did here with Miley Cyrus is mind-blowing, because she’s the new Dolly Parton. It’s a bit nostalgic, this was my mood the past month, but I think I will have other summer hits coming up.”

Book: The Culture Map by Erin Meyer

“It’s a book my friend gave me. Really interesting, especially for someone working in a multicultural environment. It talks about how people who grew up in different cultures might work or perceive a business environment and how they tend to communicate. It has different scales of how different nationalities are inclined to give feedback. I think it’s nice to understand the peculiarities of different regions. This has been a really interesting read recently.”

Film: Black Cat, White Cat by Emir Kusturica

“A masterpiece by Emir Kusturica, who is an award-winning Serbian director; this is definitely a Serbian classic to watch!”

And finally, if you could say anything to the community, what would it be?

“Sit tight, help is coming!”

The face behind the interface was originally published in Unbabel Community on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.