Danny began by addressing the common confusion about what ‘UX really means’; he emphasised that the design discipline cannot be considered as a synonym for usability, but should focus on creating a delightful and persuasive experience for the end-user. He revealed that the best UX aims to create an ‘addictive’ experience, and make the product constantly meaningful for the user; so the user continually comes back for more. He cited Harvest as a fantastic example of this; the popular time-tracking device is not only functional (through simplifying how an employee logs their timesheet), but also very trustworthy, accurate, fast and insightful (via its reporting tools). Danny also explained how the tool uplifts the user’s mood by displaying an inspirational quote on blank timesheets, starting the day.
The Difference Between UI & UX
The talk continued to clarify the difference between UX and user interface (UI), which is often confused; UX reaches far beyond the visual aspects of design (or UI), to focus on all interactive, technicalities and marketing of the product iteratively. The UI is only one of the outputs and although it has a process behind it, professional UX is delivered via an extensive methodology such as user centred design (UCD) with user involvement at its core. Here, Zack Davidovich, the co-founder of Founders Nation, weighed in to further advise the attentive crowd that UX must therefore come first in the design process; the first person to be responsible for UX in a start-up is the owners themselves.
Motivations Behind Great UX
Danny elaborated about how the most successful user experiences have highly motivated teams behind them. The redesign of Firefox Developer Tools, led by UX engineer Darrin Henein, was used to exemplify great motivation behind UX; the brand wanted to bridge the gap between novice data hackers and highly experienced software engineers, so they devised ways to enable ‘beginner’ users to feel more empowered, instead of intimidated, when using their application. On the surface of the interface, it’s easy for a newbie to hack into the code, whereas veteran developers can dig much deeper. Both users enjoy a pleasurable interface, with much thought behind its consistency and terminology. Danny highlighted a great quote by Darrin: “complexity is allowed, as long as it doesn’t breed complication”.
How UX Should Happen
It all begins with assembling an experienced team, placing a UX expert at the core; the product or service must be produced with the ‘future in mind’ and be sensitive to the continued emergence of new devices. He touched upon responsive web design and how this can help to provide a great experience everywhere, on all platforms and touch points). The most important message from the talk was that on-going and tangible research is at the heart of creating great UX, ensuring that it is always customer and data driven. The design should be iterative and begin as low fidelity, but development should be sprinted with the technical team; Constant presentation of the designs, about twice a week is important so that feedback is constantly received.
On a final note, Danny touched on the Kano model, which helps organisations, see (via surveys) if their product is perceived as basic, performance orientated or exciting by their customers. Overtime Danny explained, a product’s perception can drop depending on competition, market demand and the psychology of how abundant the product or service actually is. This model is useful with MVP planning, as it forces the entrepreneurs to think about where their product will sit.
The slides from Danny’s talk can be found below.