1. Design is not just a pretty skin.
When American CEOs are echoing how important design is, many people think about shiny and cool interfaces. But it’s more complicated. Caution, a Steve Jobs quote is coming!
“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”
So, besides the aesthetic outlook, an extremely important part of the design is how the interface works in the users’ hands. What will the user see first, and what will she perceive later? What processes will she go through, in what direction are we trying to draw her attention? How and why will she understand things? Why will she remember us?
The nice outlook is just the tip of the iceberg; a good UX designer can help you with way more profound questions that might turn out to be important from a business perspective as well.
2. Good design improves understanding
Most of those who try an SAAS product but don’t subscribe for it do so because they don’t exactly understand how the application works and how could they benefit from it in their own lives. At the first use, we have maximum 5-10 minutes to give answers to the user for those questions. Tutorials are futile attempts, because no one will watch them – we know from experience. The real interface of the software has to be designed in a way that explains how it works.
3. Design is about experimentation
In order to create a successful design, we have to do loads of experimenting. Johny Ive, the star-designer of Apple, has created 561 prototypes before debuting with the final version of the Leica M camera model you see below. If one of the world’s leading designers has to do so much experimenting, how could you expect anyone to create something perfect at once?
4. Good design is teamwork, and you have to take part.
Many people believe that when they have something to be designed, they just make a deal with a designer and only meet again when the designer is handing over a wonderfully completed design. Well, bad news: it doesn’t work like this. Design is the result of loads of experimenting and testing.
We consult and design for firms building digital products every day. The designer needs constant feedback in order to proceed in the right direction. No one knows your business better than you do, so you actively have to take part in the design process. The designer leads the process and summarizes the outcomes, but your intellectual capacity is needed for this just as much!
5. Design must be measured and tested
It is the design that outlines what users understand in your product. Design determines what they see and in which direction they proceed. Seeing all this, it is evident that such an important factor has to be measured and tested. Research is an inherent part of UX design.
For example, in our team two persons solely work on testing our ideas; there are thousands of methods and tricks to do so: user tests, fieldwork, A/B tests, interviews, remote tests, guerilla tests, 5-seconds tests, ghetto tests, grandma tests, etc. And then there are the analytics and statistics. Without applying these, you whistle in the dark. Choose a designer or a team who are constantly aware of these areas.
+ 1 Extra: Design is not a project; it is an ongoing process
Lastly, a trivial mistake: to take design as a single project. A company that produces digital products needs constant programming, marketing, sales – but it needs constant design just as much! There is no such thing as a finished design. There are always new functions on the rise, and old functions always need to be improved.
We work in a subscription-based model with our clients, because they recognized their need for constant support in design. A developer team without a design team is a few bricks short of a load. Sometimes they just cannot see yet how to “get the missing bricks”…
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