Betty Hensellek, PhD
UX / UI Designer

Insights into my Design Thinking


Experience & Qualifications

My 10+ years of work experience as a researcher & designer means that I can effectively plan, research, execute, manage, & disseminate projects, ranging from concise single-week assignments to complex multi-year ventures.

I am skilled in end-to-end design, including:

01. UX Research

user & competitor research; personas & user stories; information architecture; user testing

02. UI Design

Lo-Fi wireframing & Hi-Fi prototyping; design systems & style guides; icon design & illustrations

03. Communication

leading team & facilitating dialogue; documentation & presentation of work

My primary design tool is Figma, but I am likewise proficient in Adobe software & love learning new tools that aid both the research and design process (e.g., I recently discovered Whimsical!). I work well in agile environments where I can communicate with my team & document my workflow through tools such as Jira & Confluence. I can present fact-driven research coupled with compelling designs to both internal team members & external stakeholders.

screen shots while working on the DogDiscovery team

Design Principles

01. Research

results of user & product research should always inform & be reflected in the design

02. Context

context of a specific product or service should shape the decisions within the design process

03. Structure

regardless of the product, goal, or aesthetic, the design should follow a logical (i.e. user-tested) framework & its elements should be consistent


I am am strong advocate for continued learning throughout one’s life, especially in this field of technology where novel ideas, skills, & tools are multiplying ad infinitum. I am likewise passionate about teaching & mentoring the next generation of researchers & designers.

Having traveled & researched in over 40 countries, I am particularly enthusiastic about initiatives that facilitate cross-cultural communication. Furthermore, growing up in a bilingual immigrant family, I am devoted to working on projects that are accessible to diverse audiences both in terms of design & content.


Specialization in Design Systems

I am passionate about researching, building, & maintaining design systems, including style guides for visual design & sticker sheets for icons, illustrations, interactive elements & components.

As an expert in the history of art & design, I believe that all UI design choices should be intentional. Design decisions need to be deeply intertwined with both UX & product research.

Furthermore, I love making workflows more efficient & practice atomic design system principles. I take full advantage of tools that aid with the automatization & consistency of responsive component building, notably utilizing Figma's Component + Instance, Auto Layout, & Variant features.

Mini Case Study: My Portfolio

Being a designer to a T, I indeed sketched my portfolio website, drew lo-fi wireframes & then built a prototype. I devised a design system that would represent myself + pull together & brand all of my professional documents.

designing portfolio website on Figma

screen shot while working on my portfolio's design in Figma

design system for typography for portfolio website

my typography decision is based on: 1) accessibility: all are open source on Google Fonts 2) women-designed: as a woman designer, I highly value this attribute as one that could best represent me & my work

design system for grids for portfolio website

the grid, sizing, & spacing system is built around a 6px base; relationships are created using either halves or thirds, depending on the element

design system for color for portfolio website

color choice is a long-standing personal favorite combination of split complementaries. The subtle olives, bright turquoise, & deep cyan palette paint my sacred natural space: the forest. The deep red-orange, on the contrary, sparks a strong CtA, if needed.


Interconnecting the Past & Present

My paths to creative inspiration are intertwined with my love for the history of art & design. Though my creativity can be sparked by work in the modern digital world, it most often emerges from encounters & experiences in the physical world.

Everything we create today– whether a museum, mug, meme or microchip– is built on past design systems. Absolutely nothing within our visual environment was or will ever be created ex nihilo. Thus, I am endlessly exploring historical, cultural, & biological interconnections through time & across space.

Aesthetics & Multi-Layered Design

There is something to be said about aesthetic taste, & an innate sense for organizing discrete visual entities into a harmonious unity. Day-in & day-out I am thinking about & assembling the puzzle pieces that make up my own visual world from dressing myself to decorating my home; no part of this process is meaningless & every item included has a story to tell.

This knack for style & design undoubtedly brought me to my career: I love experimenting with how past analog design systems can be interlaced with modern digital design systems. I strive to articulate each decision that I make in the UI design process in order to always create meaningful & contextualized associations.

left to right: a former apartment with posters of exhibitions that I have visited lining the staircase; details of an outfit including an ikat scarf I picked up in Indonesia, trousers I made, & jewelry I found traveling in Iran, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Russia & Turkey; an old stool & chair that I reupholstered in fabric that I brought back from Turkmenistan



My formal education has led me think more critically, research more thoroughly, design more creatively, & communicate more effectively.

I earned my PhD in the history of art & design from Cornell University (2013-2020). There I undertook research, interpreted data, & disseminated results through presentations & publications. My doctoral dissertation was about premodern fashion design systems across Central Asia & Iran. I won over $250k in research funding based on both project designs & qualifications, including fellowships at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (2017-2019).

I received my MA in art history & archaeology from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University (2011-2013). There I gained my broad knowledge of the history, theory, & criticism of art & design across time & space.

I received my BFA in studio art & my BA in art history from the College of Design, Art, Architecture, and Planning, University of Cincinnati (2006-2011). There I built a solid foundation for creating within 2-dimensional spaces, alongside how to approach decision-making processes.

left to right: presenting new research about premodern fashion design for a conference at Cambridge University; studying the design of ancient rock sculpture in the Fars Province of Iran; studying an ancient Iranian plate at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (PS. I made this blouse & embroidered the plate’s image onto it for a museum event!)