#WorkItWednesday featuring Vance Banks (he/him), Sr. Product Designer

#WorkItWednesday is Grindr's feature on employees and programs at the heart of the work we do to connect the global queer community. In our latest installment, we chat with Vance Banks, Sr. Product Designer.
Zack Ramirez
Talent Acquisition Program Manager at Grindr
February 22, 2023
September 18, 2023
6
min. read
#WorkItWednesday featuring Vance Banks (he/him), Sr. Product Designer
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Meet Vance Banks (he/him), Sr. Product Designer working with Grindr since December 2021!

Vance has worked on several teams at Grindr, focusing on a range of projects from the core user experience to growth. While studying in Orlando, Fl, Vance had the opportunity to dip his feet into the gaming industry as a User Researcher and Producer where he found a passion for user-centered tech. Vance moved out to the west coast in 2012 after graduating with his MS in Game Design & Product Management. While browsing Grindr, he started networking with someone who told him about an open Product Designer role for a startup in San Francisco, starting his career as a Product Designer.

Check out Vance’s Grindr journey below and learn more about our open careers here!

Have you always worked in product design for the tech industry? What drew you to the tech or the dating space specifically?

I actually haven’t! Growing up, I always knew I wanted to do something art or design related. I originally had my eye on the video game industry, but I naturally gravitated to the tech industry over time.

I started my career in Product Design, creating designs for article pages in Photoshop for several big-name publishers across the US for six years. After that role, I moved to Colorado and dived into creating fashion production tools (PLMs) and live e-commerce experiences for users during the pandemic. While working for these companies was integral to my growth as a designer and people manager, I felt disconnected from the user. So when I discovered that Grindr was hiring for a Product Designer, I jumped onto the opportunity to help design user experiences for members of my community. I truly love working for an organization that allows me to work on projects that ignite my passion for design while being able to serve the community I care so deeply about.

Tell us why you joined Grindr. What do you love most about our mission and our culture?

When looking for my next opportunity, I wanted to create an impactful experience for users across the globe that was more meaningful than adding an item to their cart. Working at Grindr has allowed me to create those experiences by connecting LGBTQ members for friendships, dates, sex, and more.

Other than connecting fellow queer people with one another across the globe, I was driven to Grindr because of their mission to be authentically queer. I always felt I needed to hide a portion of myself working for other companies. Oftentimes, in the professional world, queer people are forced to do a bit of code-switching in order to fit in. At Grindr, I can be authentic and express my identity loud and proud. I never imagined being able to work for a place that so wholeheartedly accepts and celebrates me.  

What does a Product Designer for Grindr do? What sort of impact do you get to have in your role how does it fit into the bigger picture?

Being on the Product Design team means you have an impact on the visuals and user experience of the product. As a Product Designer, you'll work with the Product, User Research, and Engineering teams on the front lines to create new features and enhance the app's user experience.

During a project, you'll stay in close connection with the Product Manager and PMs in your pod, discussing the direction, goal, data (both quantitative and qualitative), and technical feasibility of the feature and providing design reviews for the engineering team.

While small, the Product Design team is always available to collaborate, critique each other's work, and share the apps that inspire us. Product designers are assigned to different squads focusing on areas such as improving the core experience to reassuring that users in unsafe areas stay secure. The multitude of opportunities to collaborate with such innovative, passionate, and brilliant colleagues is one of the things I love about my role here at Grindr.

How have you grown professionally while on your team?

Before coming to Grindr, I always worked with a tiny amount of users and little to no budget to conduct user testing and interviews. At Grindr, I've been able to lead user testing initiatives for my projects with an unlimited amount of eager users to provide feedback and the opportunity to design meaningful experiences for queer people. The design leadership, year over year, asks what areas we'd like to grow in and then provides us with opportunities to dive into those desired growth areas. It is refreshing to work for an organization that listens to its user base and informs the product roadmap based on feedback.

On another note, Grindr's social justice program, Grindr for Equality, supports the product teams on topics from a global perspective, allowing us to better understand the spectrum of the LGBTQ community. This information allows us to design experiences for users with a different perspective than ourselves. The queer community is colorful, broad, and diverse with its own unique sets of needs when building connections. Our success hinges on continuing to grow and develop our app to meet the needs of our global user base.  

What interesting problems is your Grindr team solving and what are you looking forward to for the future?

Grindr is a relatively senior tech company, having been around since 2009. We have been able to add a bunch of meaningful features while maintaining the functionality of the app,  even as the use case and user base has continued to expand. As one of the first and still largest social networking apps for the queer community, we have the unique challenge of navigating some of the historic technical pieces, while continuing to build and improve the experience.

To that end, we have been making great strides in polishing the app and creating an exceptional user experience. We are working on new and delightful ways to increase user engagement, building modes that match user intent, enhancing the chat experience, and designing new platforms to help users connect while continuously championing the queer community.  

Do you have a favorite memory of working at Grindr so far or a moment that stands out to you that really captures what it is like to work here?

In my experience from previous remote roles, there can be a sense of disconnect from your colleagues when most of your face-to-face time with them is spent through a Zoom window. However, that feeling doesn't exist here at Grindr. Everyone is very intentional about integrating people into the Grindr team. It is refreshing to work for a company where people really care about each other and treat our colleagues as part of a community.

Because we encourage folks to bring their whole selves to work, when we do get the opportunity to meet in person, conversation and energy stay authentic with their remote persona. Not to mention, the people at Grindr know how to party!

If you are interested in joining a team that values authenticity and collaboration, with a mission of supporting the global LGBTQ community in connecting, you should check out our open roles today! Not to mention - its just plain fun here.

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