A Non-”tecchy” Take on UI/UX – Bolser’s Guide to Innovation
by Milly Ziethen
When scrolling through the Leeds Digital Festival schedule cherry-picking events to attend – and ideally learn from – I was drawn towards Bolser’s Innovation in UX/UI. Maybe it was the acronym. Maybe it was the fact it was held within a 3 metre walking distance from quality beer. But Innovation in UX/UI sounded super interesting – even for someone with little experience in development like me.
So I headed on down to popular local haunt Northern Brew Co.
The verdict? Turns out even for non-”tecchys” , UX/UI is genuinely interesting! And for the benefit of the not-so-tech-minded who are probably asking themselves right now what UX and UI even mean, after Ashley Bolser’s engaging talk I can officially answer that for you.
The Non-“tecchy” Guide to Development Jargon: A Glossary
UX, short for User-experience design, refers to the process of improving the feedback and satisfaction from users with a product by enhancing the design, usability and enthusiasm experience though interaction with your product or service.
In contrast to UX, we have UI – or User-interface. UI is the relationship between humans and machines. The interactions that occur between them should benefit both the machine and the human operating it – the goal being that the machine can be controlled and operated from the human end, whilst the machine feeds back information that helps the operators with their decision-making process.
If you think this sounds difficult now then…well, ok – it’s tricky. It can take a while for people to get their head around the difference between UX and UI, but it can be a lot of fun as well once you understand how the system works.
Innovation takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight. As Liam Hutchinson, Consultant in UX design and Strategy at ThoughtWorks, and one of the event speakers, points out: ‘Innovation happens through having a great product strategy.’ And these strategies are implemented little-by-little over time.’ Despite what our preconceptions of an innovator might be – there is no “EUREKA!” moment. No one pulls the “perfect” idea straight out of a box, so don’t expect perfection at the very beginning.
‘Start of with something that solves a problem and adds value.’
Like Apple, Uber and Facebook, you need something that disrupts the market as we know it. That might sound a bit of a big ask for someone just starting out, but remember: everyone starts small.
But being a disruptor has its challenges: as soon as you set a market trend, you must constantly improve to stay ahead of your competitors. And as Liam reminds us: the competitors you have tomorrow don’t exist today. So stay focused to stay innovative.
When you start to develop an innovative idea, you soon will likely soon realise that you’re stuck in a circle. Jack Hartley, UX/UI designer from Cocoon, a company that is redefining home security systems, is very familiar to this truth. ‘The whole process is a loop.’ You will identify a need or problem to solve, you will improve the usability of the product’s features based on painstakingly-researched customer feedback. After that you will validate your changes through a prototype, or so-called ‘beta’ versions and user-testing. Then you will refine your thinking, enhance your amendments, and pretty much everything and anything else that’s unclear. In the end (with a lot of hard work and a bit of luck) you will develop a functioning product that doesn’t reduce its users to tears, by prioritising functionality, customer need, and your business priorities.
But don’t be fooled into thinking you’re finished – you’ll soon find the next problem and the whole circle will start again. You are never “done” with an innovation. Once you start, Hartley emphasises, you have to worry about it like it is your child. Never leave it alone, and always try your hardest to make it better.
In the end, it’s happy, loyal customers that will keep you afloat. And they sure won’t return if you don’t show you care and consider their feedback. Sure it takes time out of your day to scroll through endless reviews, but you have to invest in your innovation to get satisfied user. This whole paragraph can basically be summed up by Adam Fellows, who joined the Innovation in UI/UX panel from EE:
Innovation + happy customers = continued success.
If you still don’t really know where to start navigating the UX/UI process, I have a little guide for you on “How to get the best results and be successful” by Hanneka Kilburn, Head of Design from Bolser, one of Leeds Digital Festival’s Associate Sponsors, and nominated for One to Watch 2018 at the Leeds Digital Festival Awards 2018. Bolser owns over 85 apps in both the Google and Apple App Stores, has worked with numerous companies like KFC, EE, XBox and many more. That EE bill you pay with your app? Yep. That’s Bolser. I don’t know about you, but I think they know what they are doing and we can trust their strategy!
First of all, explains Hanneka, you have to bear in mind that digital design is always changing and that we have to find innovative ways to improve the product, which can be done through the following:
Collaborate with your team. Everyone needs support from time-to-time. ‘The most success comes when we have the whole team in one room,’ Kilburn says. That includes your designers and marketing agents, as well as customers (or, more realistically, their feedback). Most important? Full transparency. You’re working together not against each other. Ideas can come from anywhere, so don’t hold anything back.
Focus on what’s really important at first: the usability and functionality of your program, idea or invention. Come up with a concept first before considering aesthetic. You get nothing from a beautiful font you were searching for for hours if you don’t even know what to put in the menu of your program ( -guilty!)
3. Plan ahead
Pretty self-explanatory: focus on accessibility and localization. Where will you launch the app, programme or innovation? When will you launch it? Again, don’t focus on design yet, that will develop during your journey and you will come up with ideas along the way.
Probably one of the most – if not THE most – important point in UX/ UI is evolution. You have to go with the time and go with flow. Sure, ask yourself what is needed – but also, what is wanted? Keep optimizing your innovation by using feedback you get from users, for example gaming livestreams or more options to “like” a post. Never stop improving your idea, as there is always more that you can do.
5. DO Sweat The Small Stuff
Details are important. Ultimately, they will make or break your program or app. Think about ways that will make using your program easier (ideally without changing a huge amount – we all remember the Instagram-logo-change-freakout of 2016).
I don’t know about you, but armed with Bolser’s expertise, Hanneka’s handy guide, and a whole load of inspiration from #leedsdigi18 I’m ready to get creative and innovate away!
Bolser Digital Agency is an award-winning digital agency based in Leeds and an Associate Sponsor of Leeds Digital Festival 2018, with a line-up of fully-booked events over the course of the festival!
Find out more about Bolser and their innovations in UI and UX by visiting their website.