As a junior designer, way back when, I visited our local design museum (I studied in London, UK, so my local design museum was fortunately the rather impressive Design Museum in Shad Thames) and fantasied over how great it would of been to be involved in, say, designing a Charles and Ray Eames leather recliner, or Dysons Cyclone Vacuum cleaner.
Now I’m doing stuff I feel proud off, in the field of UX/UI, I thought it worthwhile to see if I could mirror the process these great designers took and document it from a UXers perspective. So, here we go. I started with the following criteria:
- Give users choice.
- Competition Analysis
- Design with familiarity in mind
- Prioritise features that add value – the “Magic Moment”
- Beautiful execution
- Todays’ Brave New World
Give users choice
Every webinar, every ‘How to be an entrepreneur’ book will tell you your product must satisfy a need. Depending on that need, depends the success of your idea. Whether it’s a form-follows-function piece of furniture or an App for you to share your world.
Connecting with friends and family, providing great stories and articles or accomplishing a business requirement all satisfy a need. This way they can either generate revenue or provide a vehicle to generate revenue. All good.
But if you can do it better than the other guy, then you're on to a winner.
With furniture the choice in evident, for Eames the following was noted:
1940s technology couldn’t realise the seamless compound curves his chairs required, so Charles and Ray used a government contract designing splints for World War II soldiers as an R&D lab to solve the fabrication problems – and they did it better, by default, than all their competition.
Not just the most popular and not just your direct competition, but the most relevant and sometimes reviewing other offers outside your industry, this is where you can find the real competition. Look how these competitors organise their search fields, how their sign-up user flow is and how easily they translate these experiences cross platform. Study why you think the most obvious solution hasn’t been used, if Business may have dictated UX or somehow technology has constrained expectations.
Competetitor Analysis isn't about plagiarism - please appreciate your compadre's work and don't rip them off!
Design with familiarity in mind
Understanding other teams solutions to complex problems is a useful method of skipping lengthy and expensive, if innovative, workshops. But I’ve always said, you can only play the team put in front of you. If your company, your line manager or your organisation cannot or will not invest in innovation, you have to make do – and this shortcut is one way.
Prioritise features that add value – the “Magic Moment”
Obsessing over the details is what I do best. UXers have sometimes been accused of not looking at the big picture, honing in on split-line details, or heaven forbid, typeface choices too soon. But these are the best bits for me, assembling all these elements in a beautifully considered digital canvas is magic.
Recently I have (finally) attained sign-off on several complex user flows, both low fidelity and high, that have potentially many differing directions, both technically and subjectively. And I purposely did this all with wireframes. Once passed through to the design phase, it became noticeable that not only more UX issues arouse but decisions made in the wireframe stage were being re-visited. Not good.
So there is an argument right there, to bypass the wireframe stage and jump straight to creating a beautifully designed UI. As proper sign-off only really happens there.
Todays’ Brave New World
So, documenting the process did have some cathartic effect. Dieter Rams and James Dyson probably did it naturally better than I could, I have produced UX products that have business value and satisfy a need – exactly like my design heroes.
I still think it would of been amazing to be involved in the design of iconic products – but who is to say that we are not creating a brave new world and that todays designer’s children wont look back and think todays products, todays furniture or todays digital UX and judge them the same as the iconic products of our past.
This is but a another contribution to the design community by spindelegs. Please leave a content or message direct at info[at]spindlelegs[dot]co[dot]uk