The Humans Behind the Bots: Elise Boyd

At Rasa, our team is building the standard infrastructure for conversational AI. Behind the scenes, the people of Rasa come together from diverse backgrounds to solve today’s most interesting challenges in NLP and dialogue management. We’re pulling back the curtain to highlight a few of the humans behind the bots.

Today we’re talking with Elise Boyd, Senior Growth Designer at Rasa. We’ll learn Elise’s story and explore the day-to-day projects and technologies she's passionate about.

Hi, Elise. Tell us about yourself! What was your path to joining Rasa?

My origin story starts with my very first website, Elise’s Rugrats Page. My sister and I created it in 1998, and it quickly became one of the most popular Rugrats pages 💅 We’d get emails all the time from other kids wanting to make their own website, so we set up MatMice, a webpage builder which helped 1.7 million kids build their own online homepage. Since then, I’ve been hooked on making the web a more accessible and fun place to be!

After graduating university, I led design for a digital publisher in Sydney and New York, and helped grow the publications to a combined 4M pageviews a month. A few years ago, I made the dream decision to move to Berlin, where I started freelancing and met Alex, Alan and the early-stage Rasa team.

I designed the Rasa branding and marketing website for what, at the time, was a small open source project. My role eventually grew into freelancing for a few days a week, supporting Rasa with all kinds of design & development. I was super excited when a role opened up for me to join the marketing team full-time last year!

Some of the early Rasa team at the Chatbot Summit in 2017

Take us through a typical day as a Growth Designer. What types of projects do you work on?

No day is the same, but a big part of my role is treating our marketing website, blog, forum and docs as products in themselves, and trying to figure out how we can improve them, as well as keep them consistent with the overall Rasa brand.

On any given day I might jump between designing a new page on rasa.com, designing a new microsite for an online event (like our upcoming L3-AI conference), reviewing PRs from our developer, creating graphics for a new video series, or working on our design system.

Which areas of your work are you most passionate about?

Ultimately, I’m excited about the possibilities that conversational interfaces open up, removing the friction of GUI interfaces.

Day-to-day, I love the intersection between design and engineering - being able to design really expressive, creative things but tied together with components and systems that make it really quick to prototype and test assumptions. I also love the challenge of making things easy to use, while still being beautiful and delighting users.

What’s an important problem you’re solving at Rasa?

On the marketing team, we’re working on making sure that all developers, data scientists, conversational designers, and product people can get the most out of Rasa. Everybody has a different learning path, so at the moment, we’re working on creating more content (whether it’s webpages, videos, blog posts or more) to make sure that everyone’s journey is supported.

How would you describe Rasa in three words?

Friendly, passionate, (super) smart

How do you collaborate with other teams at Rasa?

As a marketing designer, I interface with every other team to provide design support - for example, helping out the research team with visualizations for academic papers, or helping the sales team with creating pitch decks.

We use Slack, so most of our conversation happens there, combined with face-to-face conversations and Zoom calls to flesh out ideas more. Other teams can also submit design request GitHub tickets, and we’ll fit them into our weekly sprint planning.

We also have bi-weekly “Growth team” meetings where the marketing and developer relations teams get together to discuss common topics.

What does a culture of diversity mean for you at Rasa?

To me, it means that every day when I go to work, there’s a safe space where everyone’s ideas and opinions are heard, without fear of judgement. I think more perspectives and backgrounds also foster creativity, and make things fun - every day I get to connect with people from other cultures and learn about them.

At the end of the day, a culture of diversity benefits everyone, and moves us closer to our mission of “AI assistants that work for everyone”. You can’t design and build something for everyone without, well, everyone!

How has working at Rasa helped your professional development?

I’ve learned so much growing a brand from a small open source project to a 50+ person company (and beyond!) I’ve also met some incredibly cool and inspiring people along the way, who have helped me become a better designer and better all-round human.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned lately?

That not everybody has an inner monologue! I think it’s an important reminder that everyone experiences the world differently, in very invisible ways.

What’s the best career advice you’ve received?

Anything in Mike Monteiro’s “Design Is A Job” is golden, and is a must-read for any designers just starting out in their career.

The other thing that I think about a lot is really well summed up in Tobias van Schneider’s blog post here: “The day we become better designers is the day we start looking outside the design industry for inspiration. It’s the day we start reading books about philosophy, psychology, art or science. It’s when we stop hanging out with only designers and start making more friends in other industries. When we start a new design job and ask to sit next to someone from a different department.”

So, start looking into other fields - there’s a huge amount of inspiration out there!


Thanks Elise! You can find Elise on Twitter and at eliseboyd.com.

Want to team up with Rasa? We’re hiring! Find open positions on the Marketing team and other roles on our Jobs Board.