Alberto Calvo

I design things that matter

I’m a generalist designer who is passionate about solving relevant problems in a simple, inclusive, and ethical way.

Me smiling in front of a laptop full of stickers. It wasn't mine, I promise

About me

Responsible technology, design, and product

I started my career in 2008 as a Frontend developer in an advertising agency. And, although my primary focus since then has been on designing, my web experience has accompanied me throughout my career.

My eternal curiosity has led me to be interested in how mobile platforms work: their interaction patterns and their more technical ins and outs. And that desire to learn helps me better understand the details that make a difference, save my team time, and improve my communication.

I have a great interest in the responsible use of semantic markup, typography, color, and words. Mainly because of their potential to be prejudicial or exclude people, and because I know that better results are achieved at all levels if you do things right. I try to apply everything I have learned about inclusive design to my work, and I also invest my time in helping raise awareness (in Spanish) about the matter.

But for my work to have more impact, I needed to learn to analyze and understand problems first, define the goals and scope of each project, and identify its risks and dependencies. Then, I can make more informed decisions and size, phase, or make the necessary trade-offs to achieve excellent results. I also try to involve the rest of the team to help shape the idea in its earliest stages. In my experience, this eliminates many uncertainties, and everyone’s communication and engagement is substantially improved.

Something more personal

I was born in Costa Rica, but I have been living in Spain since I was four years old. I left my city to come to Madrid in 2007 to pursue a professional dream, which hasn’t stopped growing since then.

I have a wife and two little children who are my compass and my engine. Even though they drive me crazy at least five times a day, they make me always learn and rethink life’s essentials.

I love movies and traveling around the world, and, since right now, my role as a father and the COVID-19 prevent me from enjoying those as I would like, I have found a way of escape by gradually renovating and decorating the house we bought one year ago. It helps me clear my mind, work with my hands and apply my creativity in other ways.

Nowadays

I work for a Spanish mobility company called Cabify. Right now, I’m in charge of leading the design system, defining a common language for all platforms, encouraging teams to collaborate more with each other, and creating together a solid foundation that helps us build better products for our customers.

Pretty pixels

Great visuals can turn a good product into an excellent one

Here are a few examples of things I contributed to look and work even better:

Cabify Prisma CMS, 2020
Cabify Prisma CMS page builder, 2020. Evolution of my initial concept designed by our Web team using our Design System.
Cabify for Business journey creation, 2020
Cabify for Business journey creation, 2020. Designed by our Business team using our Design System.
Cabify Rider app, 2020
Cabify Rider app, 2020. Designed by our Rider team using our Design System.
Cabify Corporate Social Responsibility web section, 2018
Cabify Corporate Social Responsibility web section, 2018. Co-designed with Marta de la Fuente.
Sketch logo, 2016
Sketch logo, 2016. Co-designed with Marcelo Marfil.
Pilot: a movies and TV shows app that never got released, 2016
Pilot: a movies and TV shows app that never got released, 2016.
Starwave: music app player concept, 2013
Starwave: music app player concept, 2013.
Starwave: music app concept, 2013
Starwave: music app concept, 2013.

What people say about me

Some nice things people that have worked with me over the years wrote about our experience together:

  1. Alberto is an inspiration because of his passion for striving for the best. He also leads by example, and many people at Youzee found his enthusiasm and dedication both inspiring and motivating, including myself. I learned a great deal from Alberto.

    Fran Pérez, direct design manager
  2. Alberto is one of the most talented product designers I’ve worked with. His work is smart and clean. So focused on patterns, user behaviors, and business goals, away from trends and fads. Working with Alberto, I’ve learned a lot of tips and tricks about HTML/CSS and how to make magic with simple lines of code. He is always willing to help and collaborate with his colleagues—obsessed with optimizing teams’ workflow to be more productive. I would love to work with Alberto again in the near future.

    Jorge Correa, design coworker
  3. Putting it plainly: Alberto has the biggest CSS knowledge base I’ve encountered in my career. And he’s always interested in new ways of doing things, even from outside of his field. For sure, he’s in the top three of best product guys I’ve worked with.

    Javier Álvarez, engineering coworker
  4. I had the pleasure of working with Alberto in Jobandtalent and some other personal projects. He is one of the best product designers I have met. As an engineer, one of the things I like most about him is his ability to glue engineers, designers, and product guys together to create great stuff. He has vision and always takes a step back to get the big picture when designing a product feature.

    Guillermo González, engineering coworker
  5. If I have to describe him in one word, that would be passion: passion for doing the best work in any aspect of a product’s development and design, passion for creating the best solution for the user, and passion for learning and discover how to improve things. Alberto is one of the smartest product guys I’ve ever worked with, and the more I learned. I hope to work with him again.

    Eduardo González, engineering coworker
  6. Alberto didn’t just implement my original ideas but looked at different ways to build on and improve them to achieve better results than my initial plans. He also didn’t shy away from advising if any of my ideas wouldn’t work well in the design. Something not everyone is prepared to do, and that I really appreciated at the time. His technical knowledge, coupled with his willingness to see the project through to completion, meaning he’s a valuable asset to any client or company, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend him.

    Jono Hunt, client
  7. One of the best students I’ve had over the years I have been teaching. Creative, tireless, and always wanting to learn more and more. He always takes what he does very seriously, and he’s very accurate. In class, he showed a great interest in the contents of it and beyond. He learns very quickly and is constantly searching and learning new things on his own. You can tell he loves it. Besides, he always showed a very positive attitude, friendly, and collaborative with his peers.

    Ángel Corral, teacher

Résumé

Cabify

Principal product designer, Design system Jun 2019 – Present

The design team reached a point where it was essential to define a shared design system that would avoid fragmentation and make us more efficient. I decided to pass the baton to someone else on the Web to continue the project, already on track, and step forward to help the team in this crucial area.

We took advantage of our previous experience in the Web to lay the foundations of typography, color, and layout for our apps. And with this, we began to create the basic components that were fundamental to migrate all our projects and workflow to Figma. The system’s coverage has not stopped growing since then, and little by little, we are taking it to other projects, aside from product.

I have worked intensively to improve communication between designers, focus on common goals, create appropriate rituals and channels, and distribute the system’s ownership among the entire team. And it’s giving us great results.

At the end of 2019, a Frontend engineer joined the adventure to bring everything we had created in design to production. Adoption is continually improving on internal and external projects.

Other significant tasks I have carried out

Senior design manager, Web Oct 2018 – Jun 2019

During this second stage, my focus shifted to driving the growth of the design team in general.

After having mentored her for nine months, I gave more autonomy to Marta, the designer I was supporting on the Web, intending to provide her space to grow and level up within the company, a goal she achieved a few months later.

On the other hand, I helped scale the design team, co-defining a hiring process according to the changes that were taking place in the company: from the challenge and its evaluation criteria to the entire interview process. We grew quite a bit that year, attracting highly talented people with great humility. For us, the perfect recipe.

In the Web team, we reached a point where the different countries in which we operated needed to communicate many nuances that we could not convey from a global website. For this reason, I promoted the creation of Prisma: a custom CMS that would allow us to mold it based on our own particular needs, and thus solve this significant content localization problem that we had, apart from other security, permissions control, and performance problems.

Senior product designer (Team lead), Web Jan 2018 – Oct 2018

When I came to Cabify, there was no Web team. A sole engineer was dedicated to reactively executing any requests that came to him from different departments—which worked in silos—and a part-time brand designer with no technical skills. Chaos reigned.

My first responsibility was assuming the role of Team Lead + Product Manager and assemble a team that would remake the web from scratch with quality. I set team dynamics, which helped us work in a more organized way and with clear objectives. I carried out 1:1s every two weeks with each team member to ensure everyone was okay and motivated. We had a rocky road ahead of us.

The most significant challenge was to channel our efforts towards things that generated the most value in the medium-long term. For this, I had to educate, convince, and help the different stakeholders finally align with each other. That was key to be able to define together a strategy and goals for each new section. The Web team had the mission to direct the course and cohesively shape those new sections.

In parallel, I began to define and train the team on the foundations of a new design system for the web, focused on typography, color, and layout. I promoted the use of semantic markup to improve accessibility and SEO.

We redesigned the main sections of the site: Home, Driver, and Business, moving away from the pure marketing and brand approach that until then had led the project and focusing the discourse on the product and our value proposition. We based all these on an exhaustive investigation of the company’s and our potential clients’ needs we conducted.

The team grew, and we brought in a Product Manager and an Engineering Manager to spread the workload.

Designer, Sketch Aug 2015 – Dec 2017

Please note some of these designs have evolved very nicely over time, built on top of the foundations I worked on.

Technical improvements

Support section redesign

Release process: Automation and awareness

Licensing and sales

Documentation section enhancements

Extension ecosystem and Developer documentation

Significant app improvements I contributed to shipping

Senior product designer, Jobandtalent Nov 2014 – Aug 2015

I helped the company to improve its processes, learn to formalize product definition properly, and started a shared design system for all the platforms, which were severely fragmented.

Freelance designer Jun 2014 – Oct 2014

I worked on a couple of projects. The most significant one was the Flexibits’ website redesign, which has evolved quite a bit from what I left.

Designer (Contract), Sketch Nov 2013 – Apr 2014

I was part of the team that brought you Sketch 3, which revolutionized the design app industry.

As a contractor, my role was to design and develop a whole new website to introduce the latest version to the public. The goals were to sell more copies of the product by giving the brand a more professional look and providing a cohesive and consistent experience throughout the site. We expanded it with new content.

At the same time, I participated in the app design process with feedback, ideas, and testing. The rest is history.

(Sabbatical) Mar 2013 – Nov 2013

After experiencing two consecutive company closings within six months, I decided to take some time to breathe, travel, and clear my mind.

Product design lead, Spartanbits Sep 2012 – Feb 2013

I helped the company with the internal organization, defining the design process and the operability between the Product Design and Engineering teams.

Simultaneously, I participated in product strategy decisions and started defining deep interaction and user experience changes inside the Go!Chat application, both on Android and iOS. Sadly, the company closed shortly after I started.

Senior product designer, Youzee Dec 2010 – Sep 2012

Member of the founding team, I worked on defining the company values, culture, the brand, and the product from the concept to the final state, participating in all kinds of top-level strategic decisions.

Shared responsibilities

During that time, I learned how to define and shape products properly, and I did it with a fantastic team: Fran Pérez as director, and Sergio Ruiz. Jorge Correa joined us later and brought fantastic ideas and experience to the team. Apart from shaping, we periodically made design critiques, on which we together improved the visuals, interaction, and words of the product.

Direct responsibilities

User Interface designer, Tuenti May 2010 – Dec 2010

Tuenti was the biggest social network in Spain, with 9.1 million users when I left. I worked with excellent professionals from 15 different countries and learned a lot from the experience. My time there was short, as the opportunity to join Youzee as a founding member came in, and I couldn’t say no.

I took care of the Games platform and improved the overall UI, HTML, and CSS with the rest of the team.

Arnold 4D (Havas worldwide)

Senior frontend developer Jul 2009 – May 2010

I was still a one-man-department, taking care of all the HTML, CSS, and some JavaScript. I had direct contact with clients, explaining our work and technical strategy. I also coordinated freelance work.

Frontend developer Mar 2008 – Jul 2009

I was a one-man-department for more than a year.

I coded several huge sites from scratch and also tweaked and changed a lot made by others. I developed a bunch of top-level coding skills and the ability to work under pressure.

Colophon

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for your time!

It only took me seven years to update this site, and it‘s far from perfect, but it‘s definitely better than nothing.

In case you are curious, you can find the code of this site, built with Jekyll, on GitHub. And you can find me on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Cheers!