UXRiga 2017

Seems like UX is dying, because everything is ready already – or is it?

Award-winning ICT teacher and supervisor Margit Tennosaar works at Symbio as a UX/UI designer. She believes that good user experience is a basic right in software business. Being a front-end developer as well, she gets chills when she sees optimized and well-developed code.

At the end of February 2017, hundreds of UX related people gathered in Riga, Latvia. Their aim: to exchange experiences, analyze where we currently stand and share ideas what will be happening next in UX designing. Three days event UXRiga 2017 was a great opportunity to take time to think about the UX profession.

Emails, phones, calendars, appointments, traffic, wasted calories, next train delays, next month’s weather, secret life of neighbor… there is so much information around us nowadays. Newspapers, magazines, lifestyle blogs, info stands… and of course the Internet. You can find guidelines and ready-made solutions for everything. As Michel Tofahrn, Service Design Lead at Fjord Berlin, pointed out: “We are become so good that it is almost perfect”. For the new generation, it is easier to say “Google it” than explain the point. Seems like UX is dying, because everything is ready already.

Dr. Agnis Stibe, Social Engineer at MIT Media Lab, reminded to us that it is time to see UX wider and deeper than it has been so far. UX in the future is about making the world a better place. Imagine a triangle where you have attitude, behaviour and environment (UX). Well, one item can influence the others. In other words, we can change people’s behaviour and attitude through the environment. If tech is everywhere then you’re never alone anymore, and you have to see the connections and the bigger picture.

As said earlier, we have tons of guidelines and best practices every day for almost everything. Our best experts are real users who always know what is wrong with the design. And yes, sometimes it can be a problem that solutions are too well designed. Zoltan Kollin, UX designer in Ustream, an IBM company, encouraged manipulating rules for the sake of better user experience. Everybody is a designer (to ourself), but the real designing job starts when you have to design for somebody else. It can be challenging to figure out what the user really wants.

Job To Be Done (JTBD) masters Eric M White, Founder at Motile, and Alan Klement, Principal & Author in Klement Insights, showed a formula for innovations. And as usual, it looks really simple – you just have to ask “what?” and “why?”. For example, the user wants to be able collect all appointments and emails into one place (“what?”) because he/she wants to have control over their life (“why?”). Desideratum is something that is needed or wanted. Is it control, growth, self-expression, recognition, belonging, caring, competence or understanding? You will need to figure it out and then (re)design your product from your customer’s point of view. In Symbio, we use Design Sprint method to give our customers ideas where to go next. Five days of hard thinking and prototyping with the customer will give new perspectives on what the customer really wants. In Design Sprint we team up innovators, tech specialists, a UX specialist and a customer. That is how innovations are born.

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” Oscar Wilde

Andy Budd, UX designer and CEO at Clearleft, draws attention to fact that everything can be copied within weeks. But what is difficult to copy is brand and user experience. We have to understand that design is much more than choosing the right colors and fonts. It is the DNA of your product. Because of automated tools it is quite easy to make a pretty design. Today’s question is not about how software looks, but it is how it feels to use.

How to survive when there are more than 1 billion websites and uncountable amounts of apps, and your one and only business idea seems to be not so special anymore? How to compete with the big fish that have resources to copy your idea and make it their own? Mogens Møller, CEO & Co-founder & CRO specialist in Sleeknote, indicated that big companies have a lot of money but sometimes they have a lack of personal touch. Most important is to not copy what others do but figure out your own Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Yes, knowing your users is really important but before that, maybe even more important is to know what you can offer and what makes you special. If you try to sell everything to everyone you will end up with empty hands.

To sum it up, you have to admit that everything changes so quickly that even UX design is not the same anymore. It is not enough to have designers included to the project only in the planning and testing phase. Designers’ role has been changing. Nowadays, design is planning, understanding, recognizing, analyzing and improving. Design is inseparable. Say welcome to design thinking. Real users want to get things done. Quickly and smoothly. And you need UX designers, because it is their job to figure out what the user wants. Really wants.

And yes, UX is dead, long live UX!