Generally speaking, when people hear the term “user experience” or “UX” they think of interacting with websites and/or applications. They’re not wrong. However, as the design industry continues to evolve, user experience has become so much more than that. Now, UX is a process that involves thorough discovery research, aesthetic and functional visual design, testing and validation, performance and analysis, and more.
Here at Americaneagle.com, UX is at the core of what we do. Below, we spoke to one of our UX experts, Danny Setiawan, Senior UX Architect, to learn more about why UX is so significant to a website’s (and a business’) success.
1. Tell us about yourself: How did you get into UX and what is your experience in the space?
I’ve been doing UX for over two decades now. I studied graphic design in college and then went to grad school for multimedia which later led me to web design, and eventually UX. Initially, I was drawn to the visual aspect of it all – I enjoyed making things look good. Later on, I was introduced to Adobe Flash, a program that allowed you to make things interactive, and I fell in love with the concept. Interactive design allows you to take the user into account, figuring out what they like most and what’s going to help them the most.
2. In your opinion, how does UX contribute strategically to a company's overall success?
How UX contributes to a company’s success is really apparent when looking at the pandemic and how everyone moved to digital. These days, companies need to have a digital presence to be successful. There are so many websites and apps out there that are hard or even frustrating to use. So, how are companies going to make money if they’re making things hard or frustrating for their customers? They need to give customers value – and they have to make it easy for customers to receive the value. That’s where UX comes in.
Additionally, UX allows companies to protect users from themselves. It helps companies maintain their brand and reputation. Take Netflix, for example. The streaming company actively reminds users that they’re going to be charged for their subscriptions. By doing so, Netflix is showing its customers that it doesn’t want to take advantage of them and their money.
3. What are two important skills a UX designer should possess, and why?
The two skills a UX designer should possess, in my opinion, don’t fall within the traditional realm of design: they’re the ability to empathize and the ability ask questions.
Here at Americaneagle.com, we use a five-step design thinking process. The first and last step have to do with empathizing with the user. First, we empathize with the user to understand their needs and how the product we’re designing solves their needs. At the end of the design process, we’re also empathizing with the user by testing the solution, ensuring there are no biases in place, and that we’re solving the problem in a way that makes sense to the user.
Along the way, as designers, we need to work with different functions – developers, marketers, quality assurance, etc. We need to understand all of the stakeholders needs as well as how the product we’re designing solves their needs. It’s not just empathizing with the end user. It’s empathizing with all of the people that touch the product throughout. UX designers need to ask questions about how the product fits into the bigger picture, and what’s actually feasible to build. We can’t deliver benefits to the user if the design is something that our developers aren’t able to create.
Mastering these two skills will allow designers to be successful in UX no matter which tools or technologies they’re using, and no matter how much the industry evolves.
4. What kind of research methods do you use for new design projects?
The kind of research we do goes back to the design thinking process we use. Because we empathize to define users’ problems, we conduct a lot of survey’s to quickly obtain a lot of data. This then allows us to identify the specific personas that we want to talk to, in order to understand any issues they face. From there, we typically do one-on-one interviews which vary from phone calls, video calls, in-person meetings, and sometimes a walkthrough of the product to get a deeper understanding of the problem we set out to solve.
5. What tools do you use for prototyping?
Most of the products we create now are using Graphical User Interface or (GUI), so we use Sketch with InVision.
6. What are some of the challenges you face on a regular basis, and what do you do to overcome them?
One of the biggest challenges UX designers face is the ability to connect the dots between the UX design project and the business value of it. It can be difficult to convince stakeholders the value of a certain design or feature. For example, testing or research. When most people think of design they typically think of a pretty picture (like a button). But in order for us to get the pretty button to deliver business value, we need to figure out everything else in between such as the path users took to get to that button.
7. Tell us about one of your most successful UX design projects.
One of my most successful UX projects was actually years ago when I was just starting out. It was a production interface project and we were tasked with finding a way to allow multiple groups of users to work on PowerPoint presentation at the same time. It was a larger project so there were multiple teams working together including the research team to collect the data, the design team to design the template, the QA team to test it, etc. The project was pretty complicated so when it actually worked, I knew it was something I would remember accomplishing, especially as a new designer.
8. Where do you go for UX design inspiration?
It depends on what I’m looking for, but I get most of my design inspiration online. If I’m looking for Inspirations for visual design such as a dashboard, I’ll go on Dribbble. If I’m looking for an interaction pattern within a dashboard, such as how to allow users to customize it, then I’ll go searching different websites. And lastly, if I’m looking for more general UX inspiration, I’ll go to YouTube and Medium.
9. What are some tips and tricks you've learned over the years for improving the UX design process?
The design process is the same at the core level, but the technology is constantly changing. I would say my top tip is to be open minded about change and learn from the people around you as well as your juniors. One of the reasons why I love teaching UX courses is because I have the opportunity to learn from junior designers. They’re new and have that open-minded, beginner mindset.
10. What's one up-and-coming trend in the UX space?
One trend that we’re going to see really take off is mixed reality, or virtual reality and augmented reality. We’re already experiencing this with apps we use all the time – Snapchat and Instagram – but it’s going to get bigger and better. It’s going to be game-changer because right now, we’re designing for just the rectangle. But soon, we’ll need to be designing for all different kinds of physical spaces.
If you’re looking for a digital partner with extensive UX experience, look no further. Americaneagle.com has worked with hundreds of companies to design user experiences that are enjoyable, intuitive, and specific to your target audience. By considering the site architecture, functionality, and front-end user needs, we create seamless visitor journeys that deliver your brand’s intended message. Contact us today to get started.