User Experience is an emerging field within the tech space and as such, I believe it is important to share what we have learnt so we can all be better practitioners. It also fits nicely within the agile way that we work here at DiUS. Retros are a large part of how we grow and improve so I decided to survey my team about what they have learnt in the last year.
I hope you enjoy the highlights from the UX team at DiUS.
– Amir Ansari, Head of UX –
The end of 2015 marked 1.5 years at DiUS and my 15th as a designer in various forms – but the first where I really questioned the way I’d worked previously. After years on the quest for perfection – the value of things being pixel perfect is diminished, the user is key and the push to work less and do more has become part of all the projects we work on.
All big changes but designers have a seat at the table now, we’ve traded a lot of the craft and technique of implementation for our power to shape and influence at a conceptual level. Development has become more complex, designers have less of a hand in how things are constructed and built – but help set the direction and wave the user flag every single day to the team.
I still love a finely crafted pixel-perfect icon though – who doesn’t?
– Tom Wall, Senior User Experience Consultant –
You are only as good as those you surround yourself with
Sol, Damon, Tom, Katie, and Inna at a recent hack day.
As design is becoming more understood and valued, the demand for designers has increased, so much so that demand is outstripping supply. It is extremely hard now to find good and talented designers – ones that don’t have egos and don’t expect salaries beyond their worth.
This is where General Assembly has filled the gap – providing opportunities for talented designers to upskill in niche disciplines such as UX. I recruited four of my UXers who had completed the UX course from General Assembly. Not only are they awesome, but they are passionate, egoless and know their worth.
Lastly, I learnt how awesome I am at hiring – I have the most awesomely talented, friendly, caring and loving bunch of UXers I have ever worked with!
– Amir Ansari, Head of UX –
Excited by how technology is changing user experience
I’ve learnt that user experience design is more of an overall experience than just the experience on a site or app. Last year and this year (so far) I am seeing how web technology is maturing, especially with the increasing shift into the cloud. I also see more frameworks, standards and libraries coming into play that make high-fidelity prototyping, sharing and front-end development much easier.
So far I see how current software developers and the advances in that realm are driving designs, but I still see that good design, research and design thinking will always be something that is required.
As a UX person working for mostly an IT company (that is becoming more UX driven), I am fascinated by how complex algorithms are being used to drive more automatic technologies and I am excited by how these are being implemented with some of our big clients.
– Damon Royds, User Experience Consultant –
Problem-solving is a team sport
As a graphic designer, broadening my skills into UX design seemed like a logical progression for me. I’m passionate about emerging technology and get a kick out of problem-solving. I have learnt, however, that the role has required a shift in my design approach that I didn’t fully grasp a year ago. In the past, clients would look to me for the solution. Whether it be a new logo, a website layout or animation, it was my ability to design visually beautiful things that made me valuable. As a UX designer, I felt the same pressure to have the answers and instantly provide the solution.
Since being part of a multi-disciplinary team, I’ve learnt to appreciate that problem solving is a team sport. With a problem that is clearly articulated, the entire team can play a hand in finding a solution. Group activities, such as sketching out ideas with developers and stakeholders have been useful strategies to share the task of problem-solving and have been valuable in generating practical solutions that can be critiqued and quickly iterated upon.
UX design works best as a process of collaboration where we work together to solve the problem.
– Carl Thompson, User Experience Consultant –
Shaking up the way we do things
Sol and Katie as unicorns.
Having worked on multiple digital projects as a Visual/Interaction Designer, where the Interface was often the last layer that had to be plonked onto the existing wireframes, list of requirements or Interaction Diagrams – I am glad that the area of UX strategy has evolved and is giving these top-down, rigid methods a decent shake-up.
Lightweight research, collaborative ideation sessions, early prototypes, iterations and constant collaboration are the new go-to approaches, that make the role of a UXer so much more exciting! I have been learning loads during my first project with DiUS and it’s been an awesome journey, always keeping me on my toes!
– Katie Siebert, User Experience Consultant –
Learning never stops
Where do I start? The more experience I gain within the design field the more I find myself needing to learn every year. Is it the ever changing technological landscape? Is it the all-encompassing label of being a ‘user experience’ designer, which is trying to morph us all into unicorns? Or is it being exposed to such large amounts of information? I don’t know. What I do know is that my mind is always hungry for more knowledge, and the rumbling tummy must be feed.
So back to the question; what was the key learning in 2015? For me, it was the realisation that I can’t afford to stop learning. Each new client project, each user testing session, each new industry that I’m exposed to, each conference and workshop that I attend teaches me a little more, but also highlights just how much more I need to learn.
– Sol Pandiella-McLeod, Principal User Experience Consultant –
Finding the right place to work, really is everything
Some of the team at lunch in Melbourne.
2015 was a year of many changes and lessons learned. One of the more memorable changes was leaving a job of five years and joining DiUS. I re-learnt that when it comes to your happiness, it’s important to stick to what is important to you and never lower your standards or values.
I’m a people person, it’s hard not to be when you work in UX, so naturally it is important for me to work in an environment that has good culture and great people. After meeting Amir I knew that this was a place I wanted to work for. But it was only when I joined DiUS, that I really saw that the people who work here are seen as real assets and are valued individuals rather than a number. As I’m writing this I can already see how corny this sounds, but I really do love the people that I work with. Not only is everyone super talented in what they do, but we have a lot of very good eggs in this company.
When it came to values, it was important for me to know that in an organisation, UX was taken seriously and included throughout the whole life of a project, rather than an afterthought at the end. You’d be surprised how many companies say they do UX, when all they do is UID (User Interface Design). So when it came to making a final decision between which company shares the same values, on how to best approach UCD (User Centred Design) and UX, DiUS was an easy choice because they take no shortcuts when it comes to the user!
– Inna Fourer User Experience Consultant –
Well there you have it, some of the learnings from a packed year of consulting at DiUS. Have you had similar experiences as User Experience consultants? If you have any comments feel free to reach out to me on social media.