Heli Jeskanen

Usability and accessibility go hand-in-hand for UX Designer Heli

‘Right now, I’m working on the most important project of my career. To me, it’s important that I can help all user groups be acknowledged equally in the planning and design of digital services,’ says UX Designer, Chapter Lead Heli Jeskanen of her work with OP Accessible, and on topics related to accessibility in general.

Her eight years with OP have included numerous projects and opportunities, the latest of which is her role as Chapter Lead to develop the expertise and support the workplace well-being of her UX Designer co-workers.

‘From the beginning, I’ve been able to develop my work in accordance with my preferences and interests. I enjoy my new role in people management, but I don’t want to forget my practical work as a usability and user experience specialist.’

Heli has always found inspiration in improving the usability of digital services.

From a hobby to a career creating Design culture at OP

Already as a marketing student, Heli became interested in usability and great design as a sales intern for an online store. While still a business school and later communications and media student, she spent years designing and writing websites as a hobby and discovered a growing passion for the usability of online sites and services. 

At the outset of her career, Heli worked as a web designer and concept designer in various companies. She had a strong desire to learn more and develop as an expert in usability and digital services design in general. When, to her dismay, her previous employer’s branch office closed down while she was on childcare leave, it was time to take her career to a new direction. 

‘I read in a local paper that OP was setting up a new development unit in Oulu. The aim was to kickstart in-house digital development at OP. As design culture in the company was non-existent back then, I found it intriguing to be a part of starting something new in such a massive organisation,’ Heli explains.

Although Heli and her family lived in Tampere, the decision to move to Oulu was easy. Heli began work as an user interface designer at OP’s development unit in Oulu in October 2011.

OP Accessible, a project with true meaning

About three and a half years ago, Heli discovered OP Accessible, the most exciting project in her career to date. She has worked on numerous projects while at OP, from upgrading the op.fi website to re-designing paths to purchases. Now, Heli has a project in her hands that brings true meaning to her work.

‘The purpose of OP Accessible is to make basic banking and digital services available to all our customers – regardless of any limitations they may have. The project perfectly represents my values as a user experience designer,’ Heli explains.

Still, the importance of accessibility is not limited to banking services. The new law on the accessibility of digital services in force since 1 April 2019 is bringing changes to the toolbox of every Designer, no matter what line of business. Because design must treat all users equally, services must be simpler, faster to use, more intuitive, and available to everyone.

‘It’s no longer enough that a service looks good or is fun to use for only one user type or in a specific context of use. Still, accessibility is fairly unfamiliar territory for many UX Designers. We all have a lot to learn, myself included,’ Heli says. 

Greater responsibility through a desire to support co-workers

In January 2017, Heli assumed her first responsibilities as a supervisor alongside her project work. Currently, she works as Chapter Lead for UX Designers. 

‘My role has developed in precisely the direction I hoped. In addition to a variety of work projects, my job is to identify how our UX experts want to develop their expertise and career. I do my best to assist them,’ Heli explains.

In practice, she discusses the topics, asks questions and listens to coworkers. She looks after the workplace well-being of UX Designers and listens to wishes related to professional development. She identifies opportunities for people to work together and connects people who have something to learn from one another. Heli is also closely involved in recruiting and team formation for UX Designers.

‘I want to make things possible and help others move forward in their work. After a long career, I feel that I can offer genuine support to others.’

What does the future hold for Heli?

‘For eight years, I’ve had great freedom in influencing the projects I work on and the direction in which I’ve developed by skills. I haven’t really made any very long-term plans. I’ve simply been brave in taking up any opportunities for development,’ Heli says.

A large company offers more possibilities than one might imagine possible. Indeed, Heli describes OP as a small universe all on its own. Still, not all her tasks have been offered to her directly. She has launched many projects independently, based on her own interests.

‘In my present job, I am motivated by the number of possibilities and the chance to tackle them on my own initiative. I feel as if there’s no limit to developing as a professional and expanding my focus. I also have the freedom to switch to a totally different role, depending on my interests. I enjoy it here very much,’ Heli sums up.