1. How did you get started in the User Experience Design field? And what would be your advice to new comers to the field?
12 years ago I was a designer and front end developer frustrated by the lack of planning that went into most Web products. I started reading books like “Information Architecture for the World Wide Web” and “The Art and Science of Web Design” and began experimenting with IA, usability testing and wireframing. It got to the point where I was doing so much UX work that I stopped doing design and dev altogether. That’s when I realised that I’d become a UX designer.
My advice would be not to change your job title the moment you learn what a wireframe is, but to slowly transition from one discipline to another based on knowledge and experience. So if you’re a designer or a developer in a large (or even small company) try to get to a situation where you’re doing more and more UX related tasks until that becomes the bulk of your job. Then you can quit your job, change your job title and re-invent yourself as a UX Designer.
2. What’s the one thing that always works in User Experience Design?
Thinking about the problem and sketching out possible solutions before jumping into Photoshop or your favourite code editor to start building.
3. What product, service, thing would you like to redesign and why?
There are far too many broken experiences on the Web to nominate a single product or service. However I think banks are a really good candidate. I use Internet banking on a daily basis and am amazed how out of date traditional banks are compared to Square or Simple. So I’d love somebody like Virgin Money to come along and genuinely want to do something interesting and innovative.
On the subject of money, I’d love to fix some of the old dinosaurs of online payment like World Pay or Sec Pay before companies like Stripe and Square completely eat their lunch.
4. Can design be a source for an important social change? How can we achieve that?
The goal of design is to make peoples lives easier and more joyful, so I see it as a nobel profession with a net positive effect. Some companies like IDEO and Frog will tout the World changing effects of design and there are definitely examples of this. For instance the single use syringe designed by Marc Koska to prevent the spread of HIV. However most design improvements are personal and incremental so I’m not a huge fan of the current trend to glorify design.
That being said I do think that companies like Square, Simple and Stripe are making millions of peoples lives marginally easier by improving online payments, while GDS in the UK and Code for America in the US are helping to improve civic engagement and the delivery of Government services. So there are a lot of people using their design skills to improve their immediate environments, rather than selling more units of fizzy water. So that’s got to be a good thing.
5. What’s your latest design inspiration?
I don’t believe that design is a wholly creative pursuit that benefits from the classic concept of inspiration — so no strolling in the fields being inspired by the wonders of nature for me. Instead I see design and a process for solving problems, and am inspired by interesting challenges and the ability to experiment with novel solutions.
Thanks for the interview, Andy!