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Mari-Ell portrait

TWN life: our UX designer: "My heart belongs to accessibility and the environment."

Sigrid Viikmaa & Mari-Ell Mets

We continue with the TWN life blog series, where we get to know the talented team members of Trinidad Wiseman (TWN) across all roles. We’ll talk about the work life and hobbies, what they did before joining TWN, and also throw a few curveball questions in as well. Today we will introduce our UX designer and accessibility expert Mari-Ell who’s been in TWN for 5 years.



"Colleagues certainly associate me most with the keyword - WCAG."

How did you become a designer and accessibility specialist? What positions have you had at TWN?

I have always wanted to do something creative as well as apply my science skills and logical thinking. This led me to IT, because when writing code, the "construction" materials will never run out, as opposed to, for example, architecture. Mix in the intuition I got from my artist parents, and you have yourself a very multifunctional designer. 


Colleagues certainly associate me most with the keyword "WCAG" - Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. This is the subject I wrote my Bachelor’s thesis on, and it has become an important topic in the society as well as my heart.


I feel that by raising awareness of accessibility, I am making life a bit easier for people with special needs, the elderly, and many others. 


I have been working at TWN for 5 years now and during this time I have been in the role of both a UX and UI designer, a front-end developer, an accessibility specialist, as well as a lecturer. I like to do a mix of different things because it keeps life interesting. For example, it’s nice to sometimes write blog posts or perform at an event for a change.



"I need diversity and at TWN I can have different roles: one day I write articles, the next day I interview, on the third I test, on the fourth I design and on the fifth I do some exciting training course."

How did you join TWN? How is TWN different from other companies? 

Me joining TWN is a pretty funny story...:D One day, a friend sent me an ad for World Usability Day Estonia (organized by Trinidad) web design competition on Facebook, where the first prize was the newest iPhone. 


Of course I felt the urge to participate! Since I didn't have any design programs at the time, I created the designs in PowerPoint. Yes, you read that right! :D I didn't win, but to my great surprise, the design caught the eye of the organizer and I was invited on an office tour. I later came to Trinidad for internship and then to work aside from university.


Today, destiny has arranged so that I am actually working for the same client whose website I  redesigned as part of that design competition, and I am also honored to be the host of this year's    World Usability Day Estonia conference :)


TWN is different for me from other companies for having the opportunity to do so many different projects and perform different roles. One day I can write articles, interview on another, test on the third, design on the fourth and do some exciting training course on the fifth.


Mari-Ell on board of the ship



"I love the idea that at TWN we are not only working on one or two systems, but really impact the lives of many people by contributing to hundreds of Estonian digital services. "

What do you think are the values of TWN? 

When I took the job, I was told that this was a position for a smart and independent person – sounded like me :) I know that being hard-working and conscientious, it is easy to burn out. So it’s good that I can, if necessary, take a small walk at lunchtime and plan my own time, as long as the work is done and the client is happy.


I love the idea that our work really does have a significant impact on many people's lives. We are not only working on one or two systems, but contributing to hundreds of Estonian digital services.



"I relax by dancing my heart out to my favorite tunes."

What are your hobbies and how do you relax? 

I actually have a musical background - I sing and play the guitar. I've also been dancing for years, and I even briefly joined TalTech cheerleaders.


I relax by dancing my heart out to my favorite tunes, getting pampered with my friends in some lovely SPA, or going hiking or traveling with my partner.


When I go on a trip, I like to capture everything - on land, underwater or by flying a drone, and put it all together into an awesome music video.


Which travel destinations would you recommend to colleagues, and why?

Hands down, BALI. I have travelled quite a lot, and Bali is a spot that I still had very, very high expectations for. My expectations were exceeded, and Bali is one of the few places I would fly back in a second. Complete fairytale atmosphere, rich culture, friendly people, low prices and the nature... just please let’s not throw trash in the bush, okay?!


Mari-Ell in Bali



"I’m passionate about creating as little waste as possible and buy everything from dry ingredients to laundry liquid package-free."

Do you have any strange habits? 

I do have one environmentally friendly habit: since I’m passionate about creating as little waste as possible, I go to the grocery store with my own cans, bags and bottles. I buy everything from dry ingredients to laundry liquid package-free.


My favorite stores for shopping package-free are Biomarket and Balti Jaama Turg. I hope that in a few years' time this will not be labelled as a "strange habit" :D


But to be honest, the most environmentally friendly things are the ones we DON’T buy. For me, the book Goodbye, Things by Fumio Sasaki was a great guide to getting rid of things and starting a more minimalist lifestyle. To me, a minimalist lifestyle means focusing on what’s really important to you and removing any other distractions.


What would you do if you had so much money that you wouldn't have to work at all?

If I had that much money, I would invest in education and eco-friendly technologies, and try to contribute to making life better for as many people as possible. And, of course, I would continue to discover this wonderful world we were born into :)


Best advice that’s ever caught your ear? 

"Be the change you want to see in the world."


Mari-Ell aboard a cruise ship




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