Why am I here?
It's the 13th of February and tomorrow is the best day of the year! And no, not because it's Valentine's day. It's because it's the first day after I submitted my last two assignments for Digital Skills Academy and I'm a proud owner of a Bachelor of Science degree in Digital Technology in Design.
So my last two assignment pieces in front of me unfinished, what else would I be doing than looking up my next course? It was difficult to chose my major... I was hesitating between Design and Project Management and the latter won. I have thoroughly enjoyed a super busy year delivering two digital projects, the first an app concept showcased on a responsive website and a product demo video, and my thesis project, a beautiful e-commerce website for a real industry partner. All the work carried by our online team, this was really a great experience for me to get a good grasp of what it takes to plan, monitor and close a project, deal with clients and manage people in an online environment and most importantly to understand Business.
Don't get me wrong, I didn't chose Project Management because I'm not creative, quite the contrary. I always loved art and drawing and having done art school I'm a skilled artist with a range of tools, be it pencil, charcoal, pen, paintbrush, clay, or anything else my hands start to fiddle with. I just have it, I always did.
What was missing all these years was motivation. See, I'm a natural overthinker. Too academic and too structured to be one of those free-spirited artists who can get lost in the creative process. I need direction and reason and before making any move I will ask the question, WHY. I only ever made a painting if someone asked me to, only ever draw when someone needs me to do it for them and in fairness, I do it well. I just can't do it without giving it a purpose.
So...what's all this rant about then..?
Well, UX, obviously. I fell in love with UX design before I knew what it was. The pure idea of designing concept had me. I'm a firm believer that the success of a product is mostly determined at the concept stage. There are no bells and whistles in the world that can make a bad idea into a good product. In a world when 9 out of 10 startups fail, there are no budgets to waste on launching products without carrying out a thorough research. In a world where literally every idea you'll ever have, someone else has already thought about it (unless you are Elon Musk...are you??) you must make sure your design fit the costumer like a pair of gloves... a better pair of gloves than your competitor.
The moments I enjoyed the most in my past year were when I had to research, analyse my findings and formulate business ideas and concepts from what I've learnt. I love diagramming and visualizing concepts and UML diagrams were my best friend when I had to bring 7 people at different time zones and locations to be on the same page about an intangible product concept. I loved testing and watching how people interact with our prototype and the impact small changes can make to a product never fail to amaze me.
So here I am! Eager to get started and get my teeth into a project as a UX designer! What I saw in the introduction so far looks promising, and I'm looking forward to meet everyone on Wednesday in our virtual bubble!
As the old saying goes, IT is a solution to a problem. So us, UX problem solvers literally have to start with looking for trouble. Thankfully (?) there's plenty of inspiration out there, essentially everything from little annoying things to pressing issues to global problems can be a puzzle to solve.
My chosen UX problem is something that comes from years spent with theatre and film productions. There is a large pool of independent performers and producers out there who don't have agents and as you might imagine that comes with a lot of admin work to be done! However... directors, well they want to direct and actors... they want to act ... nobody really wants to do the emailing, scheduling, confirming availability, updating spreadsheets, applying, applying, applying, replying, replying, following up, another applying, then applying, then replying and it just never ends. During this process a lot of good candidates fall through the cracks and a lot of juicy roles don't get applied to because, well you can't always attach a photo, a CV and a video file to an email on your mobile while you are working at your day job.
I identified this larger area as my UX problem but I didn't want to pin down yet which aspect to focus on. I reached out to three friends: an actor, a director and a producer, and conducted a semi-structured interview with them to see what do they highlight as the most frustrating problem.
An interesting observation was my actor friend came up with other app ideas too, such as a show-reel editor, scene partner finder, self-tape recorder and even a self-employed accountancy app. I think these are all very interesting topics to explore. Talking to my producer friend made me realize how important the calendar function is from their perspective and how this could extend the app use life-cycle as they could use it after the casting process to schedule rehearsals, shooting days, photo calls etc.
The two personas I created would mainly use the profile, messaging, calendar, and contacts features. I'm looking forward to explore further because I have a feeling this list will be smaller and more streamlined at the end - you can't be everything for everyone!
One of the secret ingredients of a good app is "do one thing and do it right". Nobody likes an app that does a hundred things and it's so confusing that even after using it for a year, you're still not completely sure you're using it right way... My favorite example of this has to be the DublinBus app, which is like a hybrid between an app and a website...just too much information to make you feel frustrated and ultimately fail to find what you came for. It's also very slow for a real time info app, but the biggest flaw is the user journey is not working! Unless you know exactly which bus do you need to get, in which case you probably wouldn't use the app in the first place. You can't get from A to B if you're not familiar with your destination area - clearly the designer didn't have a persona in mind who just moved to town! I changed this app to a simple little app that does one thing: lets you save your usual stops and shows you real time information for them on a jolly simple interface! Job done.
And that would be it for this week. Looking forward to the next class and next step of my UX journey! (also if you can think of any good names for this app, please leave it in the comments! :) I'd love to hear some ideas!)