Elias Ragnarsson, Mobile Product Manager

Elías R. Ragnarsson

You’re leading Tempo’s mobile initiative as its product manager and designer. Why mobile? Why B2B?

I’m a gadget geek who has had a special interest in mobile since the time of single line monochrome displays and pagers. I guess the Star Trek nerd in me likes the idea of a computer in my pocket. Interaction and interface design on mobile is also a particular interest of mine. Everything on mobile changes very fast and you need to think on your feet while solving similar problems, as you need to with other platforms, but in a different way.

I come from a background of app development and gaming, so B2B has been a very interesting challenge. I like to focus on the end user and how Tempo Mobile can benefit him or her.

What are the strengths of mobile compared to desktop or web applications?

Each platform has its strengths and weaknesses. For mobile, it’s all about quick glances and getting jobs done quickly. As such, mobile design tends to be centered around common tasks you do regularly or information you access often, while secondary tasks are put into the background to be accessed when needed. The desktop, however, is much better suited for higher information density. In a perfect world, the screen you are using shouldn’t matter; you can accomplish your tasks with ease on whatever device you have available.

How important is design to you in the product development process? How do you connect the two?

Design is very important. It’s a part of the development process from the very start to the end. In my mind, design and development aren’t really separate at all; both influence the other throughout the development process, from concept to product.

How do you approach empathy and prioritization in your work? How do you know when to say No?

You try to see things from a user’s point of view, what’s important for them to get their work done, and what’s blocking certain users from completing their tasks. Prioritization is usually not too difficult, as it’s a matter of how many will benefit from a certain feature, the scope of the feature, and so on. Thankfully, I don’t have to say no often—only if it’s a request that may be detrimental to other features, or such an edge case that it might complicate the app too much for other users.

What are your biggest challenges and how do you manage them?

For me, the biggest challenges on both the technical side and the design side are making the app accessible and compatible with a very large number of different configurations. One of Tempo’s strengths is how configurable the products are for the customers, but that does provide me and the mobile team with an interesting challenge on keeping compatibility and providing a good user experience.

It goes back to prioritization; you try to assess the scope of the problem and try to come up with a solution. Sometimes, that means you compromise, and sometimes that means you need to go back to the drawing board.

What trends do you see in mobile development? What excites you?

There are certain trends that have yet to find their footing, but I find them exciting. I like the idea of wearables like watches for very quick interaction. However, the devices aren’t quite there yet, in my opinion. I think that in a generation or two, things might be different. I wear a smartwatch every day mostly to manage notifications, but it’s still not seamless enough, in my opinion, for much beyond that. I cannot yet complete a task on my watch faster than pulling my phone out of my pocket.

I find the convergence of devices—where you can seamlessly accomplish your tasks — interesting.

What’s a typical day for you at Tempo like?

I know it’s a cliched answer, but there honestly is no such thing as a typical day. I usually have some meetings scheduled, so I tend to structure my days around them with tasks that I want to finish. In the mornings, I schedule tasks throughout the day. Since I handle both the design of the app and am also the product manager, I try to make sure I don’t shift focus too much during the day. Jumping from one task to another completely unrelated task ends up with nothing being done well. That sounds really uninteresting when you say it out loud, but it’s actually pretty interesting.

How would you describe the company culture at Tempo?

It’s open, very friendly, and motivated, and I’m not just saying that because my boss will probably read this. Just today, I overheard someone saying “more parties are better than fewer parties”. Which I think describes life here at Tempo pretty well.

What do you like best about working at Tempo?

I get to work with a great team of people on challenging projects. That’s what really matters in the end. I’m also fortunate enough to be working on something I have a particular interest in. It’s also great that there aren’t really any walls here at Tempo, figuratively that is. Everybody is willing to help each other out and every voice matters.

How has your background benefited you in your role at Tempo?

My fascination with technology, UI/UX design, and mobile and particular is pretty much a perfect fit for my role here at Tempo, so I consider myself very lucky. Since my focus is on a different platform than the core Tempo products, I think that I bring a different perspective to the design and functionality of the core products.

What advice would you give others seeking to work in this field? What qualities do you think are important?

Find your interests and build on them. It sounds simple, but when you work on something you are truly fascinated with, you’ll build up a wealth of knowledge and insights that are unique to you.

What song / music do you listen to when you need to go into “work mode”?

That’s a surprisingly difficult question to answer. I’m a metalhead, so there’s quite a bit of metal, but it really depends on my headspace and what I’m working on. However, I find when I really want to block out the external world and work, I tend to go for something that’s not very melodic, since melodies can be distracting. Meshuggah is especially great for me when I want to focus on the work, it’s loud, complex, and relentless, and for some reason it helps me to focus.