NOTA AICEX: Innovare è più semplice che inventare perché non c’è la “sindrome da foglio bianco”. Tuttavia spesso si dimentica di fare le cose semplici, di coinvolgere e informare i clienti e di imparare dai nostri errori.

Embed from Getty Images

Innovating is much easier then inventing. Let’s face it starting out with a blank canvas is most people’s nightmare. I am no exception. I’d rather start with something than nothing. But at times we are faced with starting something from scratch so, how do you deal with the blank canvas syndrome? Firstly, I’m an application designer. I don’t really like doing web sites I find them boring and ultimately not very challenging. So we will be looking at this type of UX design. Most application interfaces are stemming from a business process that either has been running in another format or is a standard reusable process eg. registration, view customer details, edit/update of data or a standard business workflow that you may be familiar with at some point. Now if I am worth anything as an interaction designer I should now be directing you to the reuse of design patterns, or the location of a good pattern library.  But I can’t, because I don’t use them. No, I’m not a deluded hero of the design world, well certainly haven’t been knighted yet. But I just like moving away from standard conventions, not that they are necessarily bad, they aren’t. I just like to go outside and breathe the fresh air a bit. You know, fill your lungs with that fresh air type of thing. Anyway, here’s how I approach design.

  1. The brief. I was once handed a brief on a post it note. Yes, you heard right. I’ll surmise for you. Peter, make it better. Now, to me that’s one of the best set of requirements I’ve ever had. Freedom! Just make it better. This is what I did first.
    • Break it down to it’s simplest form. Regardless of obstacles, rip it apart to it’s most basic and start drawing boxes and arrows. If you can get it down to a couple of boxes you’ve done it. I brought mine down to 3.
      1. Who am I – Identification
      2. What do I want – Qualification
      3. How can I get it – Application

For me I need to personal the process. If the process includes authentication into a system then that’s ‘Who am I’. This is simply how does the system identify me. The next thing is what do I want to do. If I authenticate then that means I want to do something. This may be your busiest section. The last thing is how can I do the things I want or need to do. This is the fun part of innovating the business process. This is also the place where you will met the most resistance from locked in business people or small minded BA’s. I have worked with some brilliant BA’s in my time and it is an absolute pleasure and I have worked with the smallest minded BA’s and it was some of the the worst experiences of my career. So, break the task down to it’s simplest form from the brief, or post it note. Make it personal, bring it down to a human level, an experience level. Because ultimately someone is going to have this experience eventually.

2.  The design. This is the fun part and something I tend too get in trouble for. Why? Because I get bored very easily and that means I like change, while most people don’t. I do admit though that consistency is important and we do need to keep things looking and working in a similar way once authenticated. Now, in saying this I do allow myself to push the boundaries a little and progress the current design otherwise we are getting old and boring and no one wants that, just ask Apple. If your looking at a redesign well then freedom is at your finger tips and innovation is just ahead.

At this point you may be wondering why I haven’t mentioned colour and flat design etc. Easy, I just don’t care. I’m after an interaction design not a colour palette.  I’ve seen plenty of beautiful designs with hopeless interactions and work flows that suck. Unfortunately nice design equates to people thinking it all works efficiently which is sadly no always the case. Now ultimately I may be stepping on a few BA’s feet here but I think UX Design is all about the entire experience, end to end. A BA can understand the complexity of the business process or business requirements which is required by UX to be able to make informed decisions and push back at process to make it more efficient for the overall experience. A graphic designer is there to make the whole thing look great, guided by UX to make sure things are consistent and conform to standards blah blah blah. As UX our responsibility is to make the experience as efficient as possible. Notice I didn’t say pleasant. Most things people have to do that isn’t associated with social networking or media in some form is regarded as work i.e. filling in an insurance claim, medical claim, banking, loan forms, work orders etc. Most of these things aren’t necessarily met with joy and excitement as they are things we have to do not really things we love to do. So, don’t let anyone tell you that people must feel warm and fuzzy when they use your new interface. Absolute rubbish!

Does a work flow need to be a flow? Or just a series of events that can be done independently of each other. I looked at a work flow recently that was reduced to one page and no more next buttons. 8 pages of flow down to 1 page of options. How was this done?

  1. I broke the whole flow down to it’s most basic form. What was it that needed to be done at a minimum to be successful.
  2. I then took those things and put them on a page then asked is there a sequence or do any of these things have dependencies. The answer was no. So now I could place these things on one page so the customer could choose anyone to start with. Now, I can hear you saying but what if they just do one thing and submit. Down the bottom of the page I have some text that says ‘you are not ready to submit’ the ‘not ready to submit’ text is sitting in a button in a negative colour say orange. Now when the customer completes all the items then the button turns to ‘you are’ on the button ‘ready to submit’ coloured in green. So we have visual feedback informing the customer of the completion of the task. The beauty with this design for this type of process is that customers were able to come in at anytime and complete items during a two week period but not able to submit until the end of the period, so as they received information that they wanted to complete they just logged in updated info and then submitted on the appropriate day.
  3. What this gave us the chance to do was review some of the other items in the flow and we even joined two together which made  a simple case 3 clicks to finish. (I’m not one for counting clicks but to prove a point I thought I’d throw it in there.)
  4. The layout was based around a work bench idea with tools to the side and information displayed in the middle. So as you progressed you would clearly see what you had done right in front of you. Which incidentally acted as a review screen before they submitted, and not one next button in sight.

There are other details we had to iron out but ultimately the design stayed the same. One warning is a change like this will bring about a certain amount of hesitancy from the customer so the best way to introduce a change of this sort is to beta trial it to them. Give them the option to try and it while the existing one still is functional. If it’s a new service then you may need to introduce the new way of doing things. People need to be informed of change as it is accepted a lot better when warned it’s coming.

In summary, things to remember.

  • Push the design boundaries without compromising the  already established form.
  • Reduce complex to simple and see what it’s really made of.
  • Check dependencies and combine where possible
  • Give users freedom yet keep them informed
  • Start with ugly and efficient then beautify
  • Beta test if possible otherwise inform customers of change
  • Don’t throw anything away. If it doesn’t work on this one it may work somewhere else.

To Infinity and Beyond.





Effettua il login con uno di questi metodi per inviare il tuo commento:

Logo di WordPress.com

Stai commentando usando il tuo account WordPress.com. Chiudi sessione /  Modifica )

Foto Twitter

Stai commentando usando il tuo account Twitter. Chiudi sessione /  Modifica )

Foto di Facebook

Stai commentando usando il tuo account Facebook. Chiudi sessione /  Modifica )

Connessione a %s...