Earlier this year, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to attend the User Experience (UX) New Zealand conference, hosted in Wellington. Given that my background is in Engineering, and more recently Software Development, it was quite different to any conference I have attended previously!
What is design?
Many people (including myself, until recently) believe that the term design only relates to “graphic design”, i.e. using Photoshop to make things look pretty...but there is a lot more to it than that!
Design is a process that begins with understanding the real problems that users have, through to planning how a user might interact with a proposed solution, testing options with real users and eventually developing the “look and feel” of the solution.
Carrying out a robust design process early in a project (or iteratively during agile projects) not only reduces uncertainties and risks, but typically also results in better outcomes that work clearly and logically as a whole. This means that you can build the “right thing” once, rather than going around in circles.
Before the conference I assumed that it would just focus on software (websites, mobile apps, etc.), but design actually relates to anything that is created, built or manufactured – think about a well-designed kitchen, for example. Interestingly, this took me full circle in my career, linking back to my undergraduate Mechanical Engineering degree which included lectures on industrial design.
We can all engage in design!
In the Abley Software Development team, we are working to become more aware of design, and taking a holistic approach to projects so that we can develop better solutions. As Developers, we tend to start thinking about how we will technically develop a solution, without making sure we completely understand the problem that needs to be solved, so we are now consciously trying to break out of this cycle. I believe this same approach could benefit other areas of our business, and also our clients.
Do you have any awesome videos I could watch?
Yes! You can check out all the presentations from UX New Zealand 2019, and I would especially recommend Cara Kleid’s presentation “Tales (and tools) of a UX designer in East Africa”, which is a really effective introduction to design and laden with great photos and funny stories!
Blog written by Stacy Rendall, Principal Developer & Research Specialist