Table of contents

My Design Internship Experience at RootFi

My Design Internship Experience at RootFi

Table of contents

Introduction

Hey there! I'm Esha Nair, a sophomore at Parsons School of Design, where I'm majoring in communication design. In Spring 2023, I made the exciting decision to take a gap semester, and during this period, I had the incredible opportunity to work as a UI and graphic design intern at RootFi. Throughout the last six months, I've been fortunate to be guided by Tushar Sudheesh, RootFi's Product Manager, and Ishwar Gogineni, the co-founder and CEO. It's been an inspiring journey, and I'm thrilled to share my experience with you!

Initial Impressions

In the early days of my internship, I wasn't quite sure what to expect from a full-time work environment and how I would fit in with the team. However, the founders of RootFi, Ishwar, Parth, and Sidharth, fostered a fantastic atmosphere that instantly made me feel welcomed and energized.

Initially, Tushar encouraged me to explore innovative websites on awwwards.com, even if they weren't directly related to our B2B SaaS marketing website. This exercise allowed me to delve into the CSS, HTML, and JavaScript components that constructed those sites using the 'inspect elements' function on Chrome. I realized the boundless possibilities of creating stunning interfaces using the building blocks I had learned about in classes and I couldn’t wait to apply this creativity to my internship.

My Role and Responsibilities Overall

During my internship at RootFi, I had a diverse range of responsibilities, all focused on graphic design, UI/UX, and branding. These responsibilities encompassed various tasks such as web design, product design, motion graphics, 3D software, and coding to create assets for the website, dashboard, and social media.

Overall, I had an impact on:

  • The marketing website, including the landing page, integration pages and the blogs
  • The dashboard and the RootFi Link
  • The assets we used across LinkedIn and Twitter
  • Influencing the future of RootFi, by making a well-documented Brand Book

Impact and Lessons Learned

One of my major achievements was collaborating with Tushar to restructure the entire marketing website, using the 3D software Spline to create captivating assets. Restructuring the website was a fun process - we started out by mapping out a network of all of our webpages physically onto a white board. We then created wireframes with several permutations and combinations of how we could structure each page on the website. Our landing page was definitely the most intricate thing I’ve helped build - from the structure to the assets, to the animation.

The RootFi marketing website landing page featuring an animated 3D asset I created on Spline.

Letting go of fear and learning to experiment

Prior to my experience at RootFi, I used to get so anxious about creating anything that wasn't perfect. I was my harshest critic, and if the end result wasn't 100% satisfying, I'd start doubting my abilities as a designer. This fear held me back, and I missed out on exploring the full potential of my projects.

This changed when I joined RootFi, thanks to Ishwar and Tushar, who played a major role in encouraging me to experiment. For example, in my first few weeks, I created several mockups of the landing page, although none of them ended up as the final design, ideas from those early mockups contribute to the design language today, like the vibrant colours in our social assets and the use of 3D elements throughout the website.

Letting go of my fear of imperfection was a liberating experience. It allowed me to iterate quickly and explore different ideas without taking things personally if they didn't work out. Behind every post, page, or asset you see on the website today, there are several drafts exploring various possibilities on Figma. Embracing this approach has made me a more confident and versatile designer.

A handful of landing page mockups I designed during my first month that served as inspiration for our branding.

Several assets I designed that were used in our blogs as well as on Linkedin and Twitter.

The power of animation

Another significant learning experience was mastering the creation of animated prototypes of UI elements using Figma. Collaborating with Tushar, I conducted in-depth research to construct functioning elements like buttons, icons, progress indicator bars, and more, particularly while working on the RootFi Link and dashboard. Animation in UI elements turned out to be a game-changer, not just for adding a cool factor but for helping users understand how the dashboard functions. For example, I created an animated refresh button to show users that their dashboard was actually being updated. It was fascinating to see how certain choices in UI could impact users' understanding.

Some buttons I created along with a couple of animated prototypes.

Always keep the customer in mind

As I assisted Tushar in designing the dashboard UI, I had to keep the Ideal User Profile (IUP) in mind, which was a learning experience in itself. Understanding the hierarchy of information became crucial, as I had to constantly consider what users should see first and what could take a backseat to make sure actions flow seamlessly.

To design the RootFi Link, we began by considering the Ideal User Profile (IUP) and asked relevant questions. Starting with a simple flow chart, we outlined the most logical steps for a company to connect. This flow chart was then broken down into individual steps, leading to the creation of multiple wireframes for each stage.

Designing the RootFi Link proved to be quite intricate, as even minor interface changes could significantly impact the user experience. This contrasted with our experience designing the marketing website, where we had more freedom in terms of design style and size. We had to account for limitations, such as fitting ample information into a confined space, ensuring responsiveness for smaller screens, and crafting clear and concise copy to foster trust.

After numerous iterations, mockups, and prototypes, we successfully redesigned the RootFi Link to be user-friendly, featuring a logical flow of steps and essential information on how to connect a company.

Dozens of mockups we created for the Link flow.

Few of the final designs for the RootFi Link

Organised files = Seamless collaboration

Finally, I came to appreciate the importance of consistent naming conventions. They not only kept things organized but also helped me collaborate more smoothly with front-end developers. Having a systematic naming convention for files made communication between design and development teams so much easier! In the past, I didn't pay attention to this because I mostly worked on projects independently, so being messy didn't matter. Now, having worked with developers, I can't imagine not using standard naming conventions for all my files.

Never stop learning

RootFi encourages a curious and research-driven approach to our work, allowing me to explore beyond my immediate tasks. This approach led me to delve into learning at a deeper level and through hands-on experience. Currently, I am on track to get a web developer certificate from FreeCodeCamp, exploring 3D software like Spline and Blender, and honing my motion graphics skills in After Effects. RootFi’s atmosphere reminded me of the importance of evolving my practice, staying open-minded, and embracing technological advancements.

When you’re stuck, embrace feedback

About a month in I hit a rough patch; each time I created a new asset I felt like I was starting from scratch. While I was still producing work, my pace had slowed down and I felt a little lost. Though I was nervous, I had a meeting with Tushar and Ishwar and explained why I felt stuck, and I prepared suggestions for how I could work better. I’m grateful that Tushar and Ishwar were incredibly receptive to my concerns and helped me come up with a plan. We decided to implement taking more ownership of my weekly tasks and adding me to the major task of building the brand book. From then on, my work gained more structure, allowing me to create assets faster while maintaining a consistent brand identity.

Logo redesign and animation: An opportunity to put my skills to the test

A major task I collaborated with Tushar on was coming up with a new logo. The old logo was made for a previous product and didn’t necessarily embrace the mission of what RootFi does today.

Tushar and I brainstormed together and came up with over 100 versions of the new logo. Tweaking and finalizing the new logo taught me how much thought goes into translating language and ideas into visual symbology. Once the new logo was finalized, Tushar asked me to create an animation. I’m grateful to have been given creative control over the animation and am so proud of the final result!

If I was asked to do this at the start of the internship, I would have probably been too nervous to ask for criticism. Having learned how to embrace feedback, I showed my drafts to everyone in the team and friends and family. I even reached out to peers and a professor at Parsons to get feedback. This exercise also helped me hone my After Effects skills too!

The Brand Book: Where it all came together

The highlight of my time at RootFi was undoubtedly the brand guideline Tushar and I meticulously developed over the entire duration of my internship. It was a transformative process, as we completely overhauled the company's design language to embody the product and our identity as a company. We reimagined the logo, colours, typography, visual elements, and social media assets, essentially flipping the design language at RootFi on its head. A brand guideline is essential to ensure consistency across our visual assets across platforms, no matter who the designer is. A lot of thought and intentionality when deciding went into determining how to keep our visual elements aligned with our company’s identity.

A sneak-peek into our brand guidelines.

Conclusion

Throughout this experience, I grew both professionally and creatively, and I'm incredibly grateful for the opportunities and challenges that RootFi provided me during these six months. I learnt how to work better in a team, reflect on my weaknesses and come up with solutions, ask for feedback, and deal with conflict. I am extremely thankful to Tushar for being an amazing mentor and trusting me to join him on projects that were so central to the design language of the company.

It was through this internship that I truly fell in love with UI design and branding. Over this time, I have confirmed my passion for this career and feel genuinely excited about the future. This fall, I will be returning to Parsons empowered to explore new creative avenues and push the boundaries of my capabilities.

These last six months have been transformative. I attribute the shift in myself and my design process to my time spent at RootFi. The hands-on experience of working with a dynamic team in a real-world environment has prepared me for the possibilities that lie ahead in my academic and professional journey.

Lastly, I will cherish the memories I have created with the team at RootFi. I've had the pleasure of meeting some of the most hardworking, passionate, and positive individuals, and I'll genuinely miss them.

Ready to embark on your design adventure? Join us at RootFi! We're hiring! 🚀

Introduction

Hey there! I'm Esha Nair, a sophomore at Parsons School of Design, where I'm majoring in communication design. In Spring 2023, I made the exciting decision to take a gap semester, and during this period, I had the incredible opportunity to work as a UI and graphic design intern at RootFi. Throughout the last six months, I've been fortunate to be guided by Tushar Sudheesh, RootFi's Product Manager, and Ishwar Gogineni, the co-founder and CEO. It's been an inspiring journey, and I'm thrilled to share my experience with you!

Initial Impressions

In the early days of my internship, I wasn't quite sure what to expect from a full-time work environment and how I would fit in with the team. However, the founders of RootFi, Ishwar, Parth, and Sidharth, fostered a fantastic atmosphere that instantly made me feel welcomed and energized.

Initially, Tushar encouraged me to explore innovative websites on awwwards.com, even if they weren't directly related to our B2B SaaS marketing website. This exercise allowed me to delve into the CSS, HTML, and JavaScript components that constructed those sites using the 'inspect elements' function on Chrome. I realized the boundless possibilities of creating stunning interfaces using the building blocks I had learned about in classes and I couldn’t wait to apply this creativity to my internship.

My Role and Responsibilities Overall

During my internship at RootFi, I had a diverse range of responsibilities, all focused on graphic design, UI/UX, and branding. These responsibilities encompassed various tasks such as web design, product design, motion graphics, 3D software, and coding to create assets for the website, dashboard, and social media.

Overall, I had an impact on:

  • The marketing website, including the landing page, integration pages and the blogs
  • The dashboard and the RootFi Link
  • The assets we used across LinkedIn and Twitter
  • Influencing the future of RootFi, by making a well-documented Brand Book

Impact and Lessons Learned

One of my major achievements was collaborating with Tushar to restructure the entire marketing website, using the 3D software Spline to create captivating assets. Restructuring the website was a fun process - we started out by mapping out a network of all of our webpages physically onto a white board. We then created wireframes with several permutations and combinations of how we could structure each page on the website. Our landing page was definitely the most intricate thing I’ve helped build - from the structure to the assets, to the animation.

The RootFi marketing website landing page featuring an animated 3D asset I created on Spline.

Letting go of fear and learning to experiment

Prior to my experience at RootFi, I used to get so anxious about creating anything that wasn't perfect. I was my harshest critic, and if the end result wasn't 100% satisfying, I'd start doubting my abilities as a designer. This fear held me back, and I missed out on exploring the full potential of my projects.

This changed when I joined RootFi, thanks to Ishwar and Tushar, who played a major role in encouraging me to experiment. For example, in my first few weeks, I created several mockups of the landing page, although none of them ended up as the final design, ideas from those early mockups contribute to the design language today, like the vibrant colours in our social assets and the use of 3D elements throughout the website.

Letting go of my fear of imperfection was a liberating experience. It allowed me to iterate quickly and explore different ideas without taking things personally if they didn't work out. Behind every post, page, or asset you see on the website today, there are several drafts exploring various possibilities on Figma. Embracing this approach has made me a more confident and versatile designer.

A handful of landing page mockups I designed during my first month that served as inspiration for our branding.

Several assets I designed that were used in our blogs as well as on Linkedin and Twitter.

The power of animation

Another significant learning experience was mastering the creation of animated prototypes of UI elements using Figma. Collaborating with Tushar, I conducted in-depth research to construct functioning elements like buttons, icons, progress indicator bars, and more, particularly while working on the RootFi Link and dashboard. Animation in UI elements turned out to be a game-changer, not just for adding a cool factor but for helping users understand how the dashboard functions. For example, I created an animated refresh button to show users that their dashboard was actually being updated. It was fascinating to see how certain choices in UI could impact users' understanding.

Some buttons I created along with a couple of animated prototypes.

Always keep the customer in mind

As I assisted Tushar in designing the dashboard UI, I had to keep the Ideal User Profile (IUP) in mind, which was a learning experience in itself. Understanding the hierarchy of information became crucial, as I had to constantly consider what users should see first and what could take a backseat to make sure actions flow seamlessly.

To design the RootFi Link, we began by considering the Ideal User Profile (IUP) and asked relevant questions. Starting with a simple flow chart, we outlined the most logical steps for a company to connect. This flow chart was then broken down into individual steps, leading to the creation of multiple wireframes for each stage.

Designing the RootFi Link proved to be quite intricate, as even minor interface changes could significantly impact the user experience. This contrasted with our experience designing the marketing website, where we had more freedom in terms of design style and size. We had to account for limitations, such as fitting ample information into a confined space, ensuring responsiveness for smaller screens, and crafting clear and concise copy to foster trust.

After numerous iterations, mockups, and prototypes, we successfully redesigned the RootFi Link to be user-friendly, featuring a logical flow of steps and essential information on how to connect a company.

Dozens of mockups we created for the Link flow.

Few of the final designs for the RootFi Link

Organised files = Seamless collaboration

Finally, I came to appreciate the importance of consistent naming conventions. They not only kept things organized but also helped me collaborate more smoothly with front-end developers. Having a systematic naming convention for files made communication between design and development teams so much easier! In the past, I didn't pay attention to this because I mostly worked on projects independently, so being messy didn't matter. Now, having worked with developers, I can't imagine not using standard naming conventions for all my files.

Never stop learning

RootFi encourages a curious and research-driven approach to our work, allowing me to explore beyond my immediate tasks. This approach led me to delve into learning at a deeper level and through hands-on experience. Currently, I am on track to get a web developer certificate from FreeCodeCamp, exploring 3D software like Spline and Blender, and honing my motion graphics skills in After Effects. RootFi’s atmosphere reminded me of the importance of evolving my practice, staying open-minded, and embracing technological advancements.

When you’re stuck, embrace feedback

About a month in I hit a rough patch; each time I created a new asset I felt like I was starting from scratch. While I was still producing work, my pace had slowed down and I felt a little lost. Though I was nervous, I had a meeting with Tushar and Ishwar and explained why I felt stuck, and I prepared suggestions for how I could work better. I’m grateful that Tushar and Ishwar were incredibly receptive to my concerns and helped me come up with a plan. We decided to implement taking more ownership of my weekly tasks and adding me to the major task of building the brand book. From then on, my work gained more structure, allowing me to create assets faster while maintaining a consistent brand identity.

Logo redesign and animation: An opportunity to put my skills to the test

A major task I collaborated with Tushar on was coming up with a new logo. The old logo was made for a previous product and didn’t necessarily embrace the mission of what RootFi does today.

Tushar and I brainstormed together and came up with over 100 versions of the new logo. Tweaking and finalizing the new logo taught me how much thought goes into translating language and ideas into visual symbology. Once the new logo was finalized, Tushar asked me to create an animation. I’m grateful to have been given creative control over the animation and am so proud of the final result!

If I was asked to do this at the start of the internship, I would have probably been too nervous to ask for criticism. Having learned how to embrace feedback, I showed my drafts to everyone in the team and friends and family. I even reached out to peers and a professor at Parsons to get feedback. This exercise also helped me hone my After Effects skills too!

The Brand Book: Where it all came together

The highlight of my time at RootFi was undoubtedly the brand guideline Tushar and I meticulously developed over the entire duration of my internship. It was a transformative process, as we completely overhauled the company's design language to embody the product and our identity as a company. We reimagined the logo, colours, typography, visual elements, and social media assets, essentially flipping the design language at RootFi on its head. A brand guideline is essential to ensure consistency across our visual assets across platforms, no matter who the designer is. A lot of thought and intentionality when deciding went into determining how to keep our visual elements aligned with our company’s identity.

A sneak-peek into our brand guidelines.

Conclusion

Throughout this experience, I grew both professionally and creatively, and I'm incredibly grateful for the opportunities and challenges that RootFi provided me during these six months. I learnt how to work better in a team, reflect on my weaknesses and come up with solutions, ask for feedback, and deal with conflict. I am extremely thankful to Tushar for being an amazing mentor and trusting me to join him on projects that were so central to the design language of the company.

It was through this internship that I truly fell in love with UI design and branding. Over this time, I have confirmed my passion for this career and feel genuinely excited about the future. This fall, I will be returning to Parsons empowered to explore new creative avenues and push the boundaries of my capabilities.

These last six months have been transformative. I attribute the shift in myself and my design process to my time spent at RootFi. The hands-on experience of working with a dynamic team in a real-world environment has prepared me for the possibilities that lie ahead in my academic and professional journey.

Lastly, I will cherish the memories I have created with the team at RootFi. I've had the pleasure of meeting some of the most hardworking, passionate, and positive individuals, and I'll genuinely miss them.

Ready to embark on your design adventure? Join us at RootFi! We're hiring! 🚀

Integrate faster with Integration Labs

Integrate your product with 20+ accounting, payments and e-commerce platforms today.