Some time ago we published an interview with Maria, one of our UX Designers. This time her colleague and UX Designer in crime, Małgorzata answered questions about the understanding of user experience design, the process of creating digital products, services as well as software development that meet users' needs. Read the following talk and learn why design should be invisible to internet users.
- What does it mean to you to be a UX Designer?
As a joke, I often respond to this kind of questions with something like ‘I draw squares and rectangles’ as a job, but wireframing is just a tip of the iceberg. In many cases as a UX designer, I have an opportunity to shape services and new digital products even from a scratch, co-creating with clients, targeted users and our team. It means a lot of voices, motives and reasons to take into account. It’s a real rollercoaster of working with different experiences, business reasons, often tight timelines, tricky technical requirements, and very subjective ‘I like it’ or ‘hate it’ feelings - pretty satisfying and challenging thing to do on a daily basis.
- How did you get into UX Design?
During my studies, I’ve realised that ‘doing experience design’ might be ‘a nice idea for the adult life’. I had a solid background (cognitive sciences and marketing mix works out pretty well in this context).Unfortunately, what I lacked was obviously experience in IT field related to UX work. The only way to move from A to B was to get some (it’s definitely a field where you learn by doing), so I’ve started to collect my experiences. You might be surprised how competencies gained from working as a copywriter, two times as a strategist (both in marketing and interactive agency) as well as an IT business analyst can contribute to being a UX designer. And there's also ‘the knowledge’ part related to UX field which never ends.
- What are the main responsibilities of UX Designer?
It strongly depends on the project or even the specific situation - from brief consultations like ‘what do you think about this or that solution’ to diving into details of designing services and products from the scratch to next phases of releases or redesigns. Besides, sometimes with Maria, my colleague and UX Designer in crime we, even conduct internal workshops (because you can always improve something and workshop meetings are a great sandbox for this kind of job) or lectures (there's always some UX knowledge you can share with rest of the team).
- What is UX design? Why does it matter?
In most general meaning, UX design can be described as shaping the end user experiences and interactions with the company, service or a product.
You can actually design (or at least try to) each situation, aspect and detail of the experience - from creating a seamless, efficient user journey from point A to B (that connects ‘offline’ and ‘online’), to great and funny copy that reflects the brand identity in most boring forms placed in the app. There’s always plenty do to.
- What is Service Design? How does it combine with UX?
Currently, it’s almost impossible to draw a line between user experience design and service design. If a customer has to choose between two coffee shops that are in the same location, serve the same coffee at the same price, they will go to the one that offers ‘better experiences’. The same rule applies to ‘online’ solutions. The trick is that great user experience design goes far beyond giving customers what they say they want.
- What does it mean that something is ‘well designed’?
Great design is ‘invisible’ to the user. To make it work (with profit for the business) as a UX Designer, you have to merge clients needs, technical possibilities and limitations, new trends, ever-changing product environment and business in the form of logical, efficient actions and smooth experiences. It’s universal, it doesn’t get old, it pays off with a profit for the business and customer satisfaction.I think this is something that you can potentially describe as ‘well designed’.
- What is your design process? Describe the design methods that you follow.
I don’t have anything like ‘the pattern’ or ‘the process’. It all depends on the design challenges you’re currently working on that should be supported by particular steps, methods and tools you find suitable for this specific task. I definitely start from understanding targeted users and our client perspective (motivations, business objectives). This helps me to specify some baseline that allows defining the ‘goodness’ of the solution.
- What makes a good (or at least a decent) UX Designer?
The art of listening (communicating only for ‘being a talker’ may be a huge waste here), asking right questions and (sometimes) not paying attention for the declarations, but observing the outcome. Being open to criticism can also be really helpful.
- What are the advantages of UX workshops with clients? Are there any disadvantages?
In most cases, the first idea usually just isn’t the best one - that applies to each aspect of our lives. As design thinkers say: fail fast, fail often, fail cheap. Workshops session(s) gives you the opportunity to do it in the mentioned way, so as a result, you’re able to forge most promising solutions and sort them out (in more physical shape than an only rough idea) taking into account different perspectives before you jump into the development phase. There’s no such thing as ‘good solution’ per se. The ‘goodness’ of the solution has to be defined per product context (and most desirable - measurable).
In my opinion, workshops are one of the most efficient methods that are accurate for the creation and teaching/learning experience. Both aspects are equally important if you want to deliver something meaningful.
Obviously, you have to invest time and effort to complete the UX phase. Moving from a rough idea or particular design challenge to well described and somehow verified solution takes time and a lot of hard work (of pro troubleshooters). It’s still cheaper and less time consuming than fixes on the ‘living’ development. As the alternative, you can consider jumping right into the development phase, but in my opinion, perfect execution of a faulty plan won’t bring you any closer to building an excellent service or product.
- What are some of the biggest challenges you face as a UX Designer?
Being a voice of reason, looking for common ground and finding meaning among clutter that you start with at the beginning of the project. Learning the art of rephrasing the design challenge like moving from ‘we want to raise the awareness and sales within newcomers’ to ‘how can we offer more personalised and easy to understand service that is tailored to needs of young adults entering the banking services’ that you can further work with.
For me, the biggest challenge is the fact that you have to switch smoothly between forging the product on ‘high level’ and designing bits and details like microcopy, seamless interactions as well as fully understandable and frictionless solution that really brings value for the users.
- Is UX Design similar to UI Design? What’s the difference?
UI is an integral part of the UX design, but definitely, UX is the much broader term. UX design moves smoothly between concrete and abstract elements of the product, where UI is mostly a solid, visible piece of work that relays on this layers of more abstract UX works.
- What would you say is the next big trend in UX design?
The great thing about UX design (and working in the IT industry) is that currently we have more and more possibilities and solutions to create new services and shape the way people are interacting with the world. Definitely, the technology industry will push some of the ideas to the wider audience. Solutions such as voice interfaces (in the form of Siri or dedicated devices and services like Amazon Echo) and artificial intelligence have a lot of potentials. I’m still waiting for ‘something big’ for VR that will be commonly used in the future.
- Where do you get inspiration from? Who in the industry do you follow and read?
This is where the fun part starts. As a UX Designer, you tend to find inspiration anywhere. Obviously, it’s a lot easier to spot something that doesn’t work and, believe me, learning from mistakes is one of the best sources of inspiration here. I’m still a ‘heavy user’ when it comes to articles published by Nielsen Norman group. From time to time I’m catching up with podcasts from Nie Tylko Design or User Defenders. On a daily basis, I like to browse through Twitter feed from Luke Wroblewski or just browse latest articles on Medium under #UX.