Thinking Out Loud

"Straight from the horse's mouth"
Danielle Warner Visual Designer

5 principles every designer should be thinking about

I’m always aiming to learn new approaches and keep on top of trends within our industry. Having recently attended UX in the City conference, as well as a number of seminars, I decided to summarise and shared some of the principles that came up in conversation.

1. Make it real

After attending a web seminar ‘7 Proven Tactics to Sell Service Design’ by Marc Fonteijn I was inspired to use his tactic ‘Make it real’ to help me push my concepts forward in future projects.

Service design is often devalued as as an approach, as it’s still relatively unheard of by people outside of the industry, so how are you supposed to sell your ideas and approach to clients or internal stakeholders?

Marc’s talk focussed on making the service design process real to clients by relating the process to real-life experiences they have encountered “such as booking a hotel room”. The thing is that everybody can understand the value of service design as we are all customers and have at some point felt the service we received was broken or below par. By introducing the service design process in this way you can identify the problem then build upon what your client already knows.


2. Be visible

“UX isn’t the hero of the story, collaboration is.” James Lang (User Research Lead, Google).

When you’re in the throws of a huge project it’s easy to become siloed in your own work processes and forget how valuable your colleagues input can be. James Lang shared an insight into the inner workings of Google; he reminded me of the importance of collaboration, no matter how busy you are.

By ‘being visible’ and keeping a collaborative working environment you’re ensured to get the most informed solution to your problem as it will be powered by the insights of a range of people with varied skill sets.


3. Design for the future

With technology advancing so quickly it seems almost impossible to keep your designs relevant. As new digital experiences become dialogue driven and predictive, they know what you need even before you know what you need. So how are we as designers supposed to keep up?

Designing for the future can certainly seem like a daunting task but Basak Haznedaroglu (Director of Design, Invision) shed a light onto the one thing that technology needs us to provide - the human touch.

In the era of smart technologies, designers need not only to craft an effortless and engaging service but we also need to ensure that each service has a personality.

Basak explained that by translating real world interactions into digital interactions through design, we become the social conscience of a product; not only keeping our designs relevant but also making them feel more human to a user.


4. Don’t rush to the solution

As a Visual Designer, I’m often guilty of jumping the gun and imagining the final product as soon as a brief comes my way. Christina Connelly (Senior UX Designer, BBC) reminded us of the importance of the ideation phase and not to jump to a solution too early in the design process.

By using the ‘Crazy 8’ exercise (a fast paced exercise used to generate ideas), Christina pointed out that by forgetting quality (at this point) and generating a large quantity of ideas can be used to our advantage. By taking the best bits from each idea and combining them in one concept, you can arrive at a more collaborative (and potentially more informed) solution.

This technique stops you from becoming fixated on one initial idea and keeps your mind open to further concepts for solving a problem.


5. Always add value

This seems an obvious statement to make because of course you want to add value to your clients’ products/services, right? What I really mean by this is adding value to existing products /services that may have been overlooked or seem to be working ‘just fine’.

Llara Geddes (Head of UX, Beauty Bay) taught me that by really honing in and then reflecting on your user journeys, you will be able to identify any points of interest that are currently unexplored or overlooked.

Just because something is already working doesn’t mean that it can't be improved.

We use tools such as Hotjar, Optimizely and Google Analytics to understand how users are interacting with products to make them work harder. Clients often fall into the trap of thinking services need to be improved at scale or at a product level, but by honing in on points within existing services we can soon start to improve experiences and drive further value.