Today we talked with our user experience team to find out their approach for creating a new user experience on mobile. They discussed with us their process and thinking about how they created the design experience for myMail. We’d love to hear from other user experience designers, myMail users and anyone else who has some thoughts on creating mobile user experiences. Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
Alexey and Yuri, User Experience Team
That’s good news for us :) We’re making a series of publications on designer social network Behance with the detailed view on how we came to the My.com identity and product design. You can read about the logo and iOS design process. Follow our accounts on Behance and Dribbble to see new information as we share it.
Q. How would you describe the process of creating and approving the designs?
Design is a mix of art, problem solving and engineering. You should make it beautiful and desirable, modern and engaging. At the same time, you’re working on a product that should solve business problems for your company and it has to be useful for users. Along with all this, you should think about technical limitations but go further and make things that seemed impossible before. This means you should be a design pro, a business insider, a user’s best friend, and a technological enthusiast.
If you want to know about exact design process — it’s pretty standard. We do user research to know user expectations and behavior. We do market research to know what competitors are doing. We work closely with product managers to get the product idea right and to make it into the form of design. We iterate often to work out the details of screens and flows. We prototype a lot to see transitions, gestures, complex interactions and usage scenarios before making them into final product. We test the product again with users. And we are constantly reading through feedback and analytics after it’s released.
You can also see a detailed diagram of our workflow for identity design at Behance.
Q. What limitations did you face and how did you overcome them?
It’s always about finding a right balance — with the limitations of time, technology, and people on a team. You want to do so much but you have to ship the product as fast as possible. You have a non-stop flow of great ideas but they need real-usage testing to be proven as successful. You imagine crazy interaction concepts but you should understand limits of technology. And you need to keep your team large to have more concept ideas yet dynamic to not get bogged down with transactional costs.
Q. What tools did you use?
We use the full spectrum of digital and analog tools. From anything you can sketch your ideas with — paper and pen, whiteboards and markers, sticky notes and walls – to professional software mostly from Adobe Creative Cloud suite — Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, AfterEffects, Edge Animate. There are also so many great utilities and small applications to automate design and remove routine work! PNG Express and Cut’n’Slice Me to deliver design to mobile developers; quick and dirty mobile prototyping tools like Flinto, inVision, Marvel; templates and stencils right in Photoshop like DevRocket; HTML5/CSS3 animation codebases like CodePen and GitHub. It’s a great time to be designer now — you can do so much and you can do it yourself! The idea of visual programming praised by design thought leaders is becoming real.
Q. What things inspire you?
We get a lot of inspiration from well-known websites like Behance, Dribbble, Pinterest, Awwwards, One Page Love etc. We also dig technological press like Engadget, The Verge, Fast Co.Design, Wired. And you should monitor app stores constantly to check what’s happening in the app world. It’s also great to try new gadgets — new mobile OSes, wearables, TV boxes and platforms, etc. And of course we’re reading through zillions of professional articles and books to stay relevant.
Q. What advice would you give aspiring UX designers?
Research before starting and doing!
That’s the best way to know what users expect from your product and technology at all, how they behave in details, what habits and fears do they feel, how do they use competitor’s products. It allows you to build the product for them, not you or your misconception about them.
Think and sketch before making any pixels!
You have to consider so many business requirements, user expectations and technical limitations that the number of solutions you can make is infinite. So your goal is to limit the problem and solution space cheaply. Sketches and co-design workshops are the best way to do it. You can better agree on what the design will be before putting days and weeks of effort in any software. Because sketching in software is way more expensive and takes longer.
Experiment a lot and don’t be close-minded with standard patterns!
See what competitors are doing, where they’re successful and where they’re failing — and why. What’s hot in the industry now and what will be popular next year. Don’t be blindfolded by mantras — try new interaction patterns and approaches. We have so many technical limitations, time constraints and user habits that they’ll bring you down to earth anyway. Don’t limit yourself before even trying.
Fight for your ideas!
I’m talking about limitations once again — they influence what you do every day. Managers will say “it won’t work”, developers will say “it’s impossible”, users will say “I don’t get it”. But if you strongly believe that you’re doing the right thing and your design is the best way to solve the problem you should go on and give them enough proof and arguments that you’re right. Be it research data, design fixes or just persistence. That’s the only way to move forward and increase your credibility within the product team.