Achieving delightful mobile user experience is quite a challenge. It happens only in collaboration. You can make your mobile app as good as possible, functional and effective. What makes apps delightful is quite a mystery, that has to be discovered. In this Skill Talk, Dhayan Kumar, co-founder, F1 Studioz, shares his mantras for making design a delightful journey of discovery both for the designer and the user. Dhayan’s love for football comes naturally as he got started:
“There is a difference in calling yourself a passionate footballer versus being passionate about football. To be latter, you just need to read, watch and talk to like minded people. But to be a footballer /designer you also need to do it yourself day in and day out.”
Getting started as a UX designer for mobile apps
Start with self-learning even if you have a formal degree in Design from a reputed design school. Academic courses prepare us with fundamentals. We need to build on them through practice. This is where different skills come into the picture. UX design is a small drop in the large ocean. People can enter this field from architecture, product design and so on.
Skills that create delightful customer experience
Creating a delightful experience is not just in the hands of designers. But, they have a major share of the pie. In terms of skills you need to be a visionary, try to challenge your product vision, then define the product goal. One of the key skills is to study the products and redefine the problem.
Role of UX in mobile apps
Wireframes and prototypes are deliverables in design phase. UI is just 5% of UX, UX has much larger scope to play. For example, look at how Uber has revolutionized cab booking with a mobile app with just one click. They must have started with the question, ‘can we redefine the cab booking experience with one click?’ So the UX starts from there. So this is a skill in itself – redefining the problem – why is it a problem, does it really exist? Right problem you are trying to target? Lot of effort goes into answering these questions. Look at Slack, it’s a productivity tool, but it’s made more delightful, they want to make sure it’s not boring and dull even though it is a productivity app.
Be innovative and practice creative problem solving
Even before getting into creative problem solving you need to understand the rules of the game – like in football or cricket. So, that’s how the design schools can help. At the same time, what design schools don’t teach is – latest technologies, current trends, for example, web standards, mobile standards, touch devices etc. This is something you have to learn on the job. Learn the standards for IOS, Android, Windows – it’s not like one design fits all. And you don’t need to reinvent the wheel.
When you understand the rules of the game, you can become a Messi or a Ronaldo who have special skills, that’s why they stand out from the rest. At the same time, being a strong and smart team player is essential.
Research and analytical skills are key to making design decisions
Understand what others have done using the standards, be aware and apply the knowledge. Let’s say you have an idea- create totally new experience in online shopping. There are already tons of examples. Why is it that they have done it particular way, so it’s to do with deeper level of analysis. Few things can be business reasons, or other reasons. Myntra, Flipkart or most of the e-commerce apps don’t even allow you to browse without installing the mobile app. It may be a pain for the end users but it’s a business decision.
After defining the business and user goals, it becomes easier to make design decisions. Otherwise we tend to lean towards wrong direction. Designers have to make sure these are set, to avoid random comments from product team or management.
Put yourself in the shoes of the end users
Take a step back, ask the right questions at every stage. It takes effort to freeze on right features. So, to achieve simplicity it’s not so easy. Bring your end users into picture, the use cases for what you are solving. For whom are we designing. For example Uber is designed for someone who has basic knowledge of smartphone. Unravel the assumptions and recreate the persona.
Rather than being subjective, one needs to be objective. Le the business heads define the business goals, your job is to make sure that you meet the end users goal. You can create the Wow effect only when these two meet in a very nice way and it doesn’t become a pain for the end user. For this you need to do research for competitors, have enough data so you can back up your decisions.
Designers should be involved at every end user touch points. You can broadly classify them as discovery, design and deliver. The only way to push your creativity is being open, collaborative and willing to challenge your design designs at every level. Try to get feedback from co-designer, be open, be collaborative. Moreover, effective collaboration with engineers is a must to achieve what you had envisioned.
Designer’s job is to orchestrate all the ideas, but still retain ownership for the overall product vision. So, here creativity cannot be taught. It needs exposure and experience to tell the story. Trying to be different and trying to communicate the same thing in different ways – isn’t it very exciting?