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How to distill the essence of UX

Santa Monica, December 14th, 2017

Californian agency Distillery likes moving fast, sharing its knowledge with start ups and enterprises helping them to grow and develop. Only five years old, the full-service software design and development agency has offices around the world with a strong Russian connection.

The head office is in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, where its inspirational founder CEO, Andrey Kudievskiy lives. A Stanford University Graduate, Andrey started his career in tech at the age of 19. Only five years later, he had set up his first company and played a key role in creating a successful cloud synchronization startup that was sold to a Fortune 500 company.

Distillery provides services related to app and web development, product strategy, data science, user experience, interface design, security testing, and IoT. In 2017, the agency was named to the Inc. 5000.

When it was founded in 2012, the company was called Weezlabs, changing its name to Distillery in 2016, because it better suited the company’s essence.

The name Distillery comes from our “no-fluff” approach to projects,” explains Andrew Reinstein, Distillery’s UX Designer. “Simply put, we try to solve complex problems by “distilling” them down to their most important parts and focusing on what matters the most.”

Andrew started his professional UX career at Distillery and has seen it grow. He gives us the inside track on the company.

What strategy do you use to manage the agency’s fast growth?

We focus on maintaining the right balance between sales and execution capacity – between how much our team can sell and how much we can deliver. We’ve learned that it’s easier to build up your delivery capacity once we have an influx of sales than the other way around. Our sales processes and staffing mix help us make sure that we can maintain that key balance. We focus on sales being slightly head of delivery, and not vice versa.

In your opinion, what ingredients are key to create a successful UX design?

I think that UX Design really comes down to having empathy and understanding for the users. Understanding what users want and need while creating an easily digestible experience is hard without getting to know who your users are, understanding what is important to them, and remembering that you’re designing for your users.

Can you give us some examples of examples of your experience dealing with usability studies, eye-tracking study, field study, or focus groups?

We tend to prefer individual user tests or even remote testing to focus groups in order to spend more time and observe user motivations in more detail.

When we do not have the luxury of performing in house studies, is a tool that I really like to use. The ability to quickly test any of our designs or flows with real people is something that is hard to duplicate.

Can you tell us about a project you worked on, and that was especially successful?

One of my first projects at Distillery, was a mobile app called Netvest. Our client came to us with the concept that ordinary people should not need to be genius in order to be successful investors in the stock market. Working together with him and our team at Distillery, we created a mobile application for seasoned and novice investors to learn from successful investors that create content for the app. Since its launch, Netvest has won several awards and is highly rated on Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store.

How do you imagine the UX concept to work in the future?

I do not see the key principles of UX changing too much as we progress in the future. Putting your users first and understanding them will always be the most key components.

However, I think the adoption of UX and products that UX serve will continue to evolve into other tangential areas as they become more popular. Virtual Reality and Self Driving Cars seem to be additional areas where the field is going to keep expanding.

Name a challenge your team is currently facing

We have offices all over the world, so one of our biggest challenges is ensuring that everyone is on the same page and communicates regularly.

This can call for some early or late conference calls and Slack messages, but in the end it’s worth it to have the teams working together rather than in individual silos.  

What piece of advice would you give a recent grad looking to work in digital marketing?

Keep learning.

Whether you are learning to use different pieces of design software, researching methods, or exposing yourself to different technology platforms: UX is a field that can change very quickly. So take advantage of any opportunity to learn something new.

Are there online publications, professionals, industry leaders you follow?

Nielsen Norman Group is probably my first go to with any research related questions.

What would you work on if you could choose any other job?

I really do love working in UX and find the technology field to be interesting and challenging. There are not many things that I would change that for.

However, even within UX there are some different verticals that I have yet to experience, that seem fun.

I love playing video games in my spare time, so getting the chance to design and contribute to that type of experience would be a lot of fun. Add in the changes that Virtual Reality is bringing to that landscape, and I think there are some really interesting experiences that can be crafted.

What do you like doing in your free time

• Watching movies with my wife
• Going out with friends
• Playing Video Games
• Watching Football

Thanks Andrew!

By Geny Caloisi.

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