Jeśli jeszcze nie czytaliście wywiadu z Cristiano Betta, pierwszym z prelegentów MCE2015, którego wzięłam na spytki, możecie lekturę nadrobić tutaj. Dziś zapraszam Was do rozmowy z drugim prelegentem. Tym razie nie o mobile commerce, ani płatnościach mobilnych. Dzisiejszy temat jest wyjątkowo bliski temu, co robię na co dzień w mobee dicku. Moim rozmówcą jest Joseph Cieplinski i rozmawiamy o UX Design.
Joe jest dyrektorem kreatywnym małej nowojorskiej agencji Bombing Brain Interactive. Agencja ta produkuje własne aplikacje mobilne (do jej najsłynniejszych projektów należą Teleprompt+ i Setlists), ale często realizuje projekty na zlecenie klientów. Okazało się, że z Josephem myślimy bardzo podobnie o projektowaniu rozwiązań mobilnych. Wyszła nam naprawdę przyjemna i ciekawa rozmowa.
Joe wystąpi drugiego dnia konferencji Mobile Central Europe, 06. lutego 2015, o godzinie 10, z tematem „Design As if No One is Watching”. Tymczasem przygotujcie sobie kubek pysznej kawy i zasiądźcie do lektury.
What are the common pitfalls of design?
One of the first mistakes many of us make, even those of us who have been doing this a long time, is forgetting to focus on the users of our products. The temptation is to build something to impress ourselves or other designers, rather than the people who will use the things we design every day. We’re all guilty of this. We must always ask, “How will this help make the experience of using the product better?” If the answer is “It won’t, but it looks REALLY COOL!” we must throw it away and start again.
Another common pitfall for designers is allowing others to see us as painters rather than architects. We’re not here to merely make things look pretty at the end of the process. We need to be involved in every step of product development, even if we are primarily visual designers. The earlier we get involved in the decision-making process, the better the end product will be. And we need to stay involved until it ships. We can’t simply drop our mockups into the hands of an engineering team and walk away. If we’re on a team building a product, we must make an effort to understand the roles and needs of everyone else on the team, so we can all work together most efficiently and help make the best decisions.
Third, designers must always be ready to defend their choices and be prepared to speak out against decisions that negatively impact the product’s usefulness. Too many designers don’t see themselves as equal partners with engineers, marketers, and salespeople. And so they allow themselves to be treated unequally. Design is as important a part of the success of a business as any other; but too often, when other groups within the organization don’t see it that way, we don’t stand up. We run to each other to complain, rather than pushing for change. We snub our nose at the people who “don’t get it” but we don’t ever try to educate them. And when the product fails, that’s as much our fault as anyone else’s.
Many people call themselves as an “UX Designers”. I am sure that one person cannot be a good UX Designer. A good design should be a result of collaboration of interdisciplinary team, including at least: strategic designer, user researcher, information architect, graphic designer, interaction designer, etc. What do you think about that?
I completely agree that an ideal team would include all sorts of designers, each specializing in the areas you listed. In the independent app development world, where I spend most of my time, we usually can’t afford to have such a large team, and thus many of us try our best to cover the duties of many of those roles at once. If you have very creative and talented engineers, sometimes they also do a great deal to pitch in on design decisions as well. You make the best of what you have available, of course. But having a team is always preferable.
If you can get yourself into a situation where you are on a team, and that team is comprised of very talented people, that’s the best place to be. Very few people create great software alone.
I like your statement “The best design decisions are the ones people don’t notice”. Why people cannot say why the like some products?
I think for most people who aren’t trained in design, they simply don’t have the language to describe what they like and don’t like. When something is designed really well, it simply “feels right.” I think it’s a good thing that most people don’t tend to notice the small attention to detail, the hours that designers spend, the many, many things they tried that didn’t work. They shouldn’t have to. That’s our job.
If someone is bragging on and on about how well designed something is, there’s a chance the designer was trying too hard to show off. Great design should be unnoticeable in day to day use.
Like a great actor or musician, a designer is most impressive when it looks effortless. Maybe that leads to our craft being under-appreciated, but great work is always under-appreciated.
Can you give some example of a product which was famous for a while and was a way more pretty than useful for users?
One good example: A few years back there was a startup called Color that made quite a stir for a short while. It was a sort of photo sharing app, and it generated tons of buzz, due partly to its great design and smart founders. But it ultimately went nowhere fast, because the app didn’t do anything particularly useful. It generated a ton of buzz for a few months, then petered out into nothing. Because the app had no substance.
There are similar startups in the Silicon Valley every year making the same mistake. They try too hard to show us how amazing they are, rather than let us discover it for ourselves. They spend all the time and money on window dressing, rather than building a house in which you’d actually want to live.
At the beginning of running my blog, I have came up with a “3P” principle for mobile app design. 3P stands for polish “Piękne, Proste i Praktyczne”, which means “Pretty, Simple, Useful”. If the app gives the user added value, solves their problem faster or smarter than any other way AND is effortless in use AND looks pretty good – this is an ideal mobile app. Simple as that :) What are your “3P” apps that you personally use?
Pretty, Simple, and Useful. I like that. A few apps I feel fit into that definition that I use all the time:
- Deliveries, by JuneCloud. Great little app for tracking packages being delivered to your home. Made for iOS as well as Mac.
- OmniOutliner, from Omnigroup. I use that app all the time for making simple outlines.
- Castro, from Supertop. Excellent little Podcast app for iPhone.
- Fantastical, from Flexibits. Great calendar replacement for Mac and iOS that uses natural speech parsing for creating events and reminders.
- Byword, from Metaclassy. Great, no-distractions text editor. I use it to write most of my blog articles.
Closing, could you provide us with some tips how we can design better mobile products?
I think the sooner we stop thinking of mobile products and non-mobile products as different things, the better. In the early days of the iPhone and Android, people saw mobile as a special use case, for devices that were small and underpowered. And so they built mobile experiences that were small and underpowered.
But it’s a mobile world now. We want to do more and more with our mobile devices. And so while it was a good lesson for a brief while to keep mobile apps simple and single-purposed, we need to adapt our applications to be increasingly powerful without losing that simplicity and design focus. That is the true challenge for the next decade, as we see more and more connected devices of all sizes and shapes.
The simplicity in usability was a huge step in the right direction with early smartphones. But the underpowered nature of the applications was a step backwards at the same time. We need to build more complex applications without making them complicated to use. Easier said than done.
We need to stop thinking of mobile as a special use case, in other words, and start seeing it as the way things are. The world is not going back to being disconnected anytime soon.
Thank you, Joe. Good luck on MCE2015 and see you there!
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