What Happened At the Advanced UX Design Workshop

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UX or User Experience is an integral part of any product or service. It deals, as you can assume, with the experience that the user receives whilst using the product or service. If a user finds it cumbersome to do something, that can be a telltale sign of bad UX, which in turn can lead to a negative effect on your product.

With that in mind the Advanced UX Design Workshop was held on the 29th of November 2016, at the MAS Innovation Center. The MAS Innovation Center affectionately referred to as “The Hive”, is quite spacious and we managed to find an adequate location where we could see and hear without any disturbances.  Despite a few technical difficulties the workshop started more or less on time.

The first speaker for the day was Lee Bazalgette.

Lee, the Director at Colombo Design Studio spoke to us about Designing for people.

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Lee Bazalgette addressing the audience on Designing for people
Image Credits: Startup Sri Lanka

Lee had previously made this presentation at the Sri Lanka Design Festival and thought it apt to do it again. He started off by saying that in order to design for people, be it an app or a website, you don’t really need to be a genius.

“UX is all about people.” – Lee Bazalgette

When talking about user experience or UX, what we really mean is people. When designing, it is very important to note that no two people will be the same. There will be differences such as age, gender.

“With age comes experience, but also confusion.” – Lee Bazalgette

There was a once a man who was really good with electronics. So good that he could programme his VHS to record a television program 3 weeks in advance. One day, this man decided to get a PC. When he had to use a mouse, he found that he had no clue how to use it, despite his extensive knowledge of electronic equipment and fast learning skills. Lee uses this example to show how even the brightest and experienced of minds can fall victim to age, thus breeding confusion.

We are faced with exciting and interesting tools at our disposal. But it’s also important to understand interface norms and how they affect your user experience. The aging population is an important factor to take into consideration so as to improve the experience of your users across all ages.

His next topic was Design.

“If nature didn’t make it, then WE did.” – Lee Bazalgette

The problem with designers is that they are self-centered. This makes sense, he says as you can never experience what others have designed as you’re constantly comparing it to what you have designed. UX is not only about creating an experience for yourself, but rather, creating an experience or (X) for everybody who uses it. One of the biggest flaws that anyone, especially Designers makes is to assume.

“Assume makes an Ass of U and Me. ” – Lee Bazalgette

You have to be careful, actually you have to be very careful in making assumptions. If you make a decision just based on assuming that someone would do something, that can lead to dire consequences. Lee then spoke about something he calls the “Designability matrix”. The Matrix uses 5 factors to judge a product:

  • Functionality – How functional is the product
  • Makeability – Can you make it happen?
  • Affordability – Is it within budget?
  • Desirability – Does it look nice?
  • Usability – Is it well designed for people?

He then spoke about the complexity of design vs components used. As the complexity of a product increases, the components used will also increase. He then used an example of L’oreal to explain how it wasn’t really designed for humans, but rather just to advertise L’oreal. Using a number of examples ranging from cars, to buses to nature to shampoo bottles, Lee explains each of the 5 factors of the Designability Matrix.

With a few more explanations, Lee’s session drew a close

The next speaker for the day was Hiraash Thawfeek, Co-founder and CTO at Creatley.

Hiraash began by explaining that good UX principles and methodologies must be a culture that comes from the top. Everyone should be thinking about UX. On the other hand, while it is an important skill to cultivate, it’s also not something that everyone is good at. In order to apply good UX methodologies to your product or service, you need to find people who are good at it. Once you have found them, the next obvious step would be to let them be an integral part of everything you do.

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Hiraash Thawfeek addressing the audience on where UX fits in
Image Credits: Startup Sri Lanka

First and foremost, you need a process that uses a user centric thinking. You also need something that will give you a big picture of what you are doing in terms of a UX perspective. This is where a User centered design canvas comes into play.

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An example of a User centered design canvas
Image taken from http://uxmag.com/

This is something that gives you a ground to validate your UX. Put forth by It is an abstract concept that keeps you focused which UX designers can also use as a guiding technique. He then proceeded to explain the cells in the canvas. The canvas takes the form of a grid with cells and rows, each with its own characteristic.

Throughout the session, Hiraash constantly urged the audience to improve. Once you build something, you measure how it performs, then you learn from your mistakes and your achievements. This is done via a number of important steps. You need to validate assumptions, and constantly set up metrics and always be willing to learn and also be on the lookout.

“What you measure has to be measurable, comparative and actionable” – Hiraash Thawfeek

With a few more words of advice, Hiraash’s talk came to an end.

With both sessions done, it was time for a small Q&A session.

Questions ranged from how to improve responsiveness in websites when it comes to mobile use, to the layout of elements in buttons in websites. The questions also dealt with how to exploit functionality of new Operating systems, for example with Apple’s new 3D Touch technology. Incorporating these functionalities into your product can draw customers to your products which in turn is beneficial for you.

With that, the Advanced UX Design Workshop came to a close.

Anas Akram from Startup Sri Lanka took the stage  to deliver the vote of thanks. In terms of moving forward, those who had signed up for the workshop would receive emails about upcoming UX workshops. Anas also explained how SLASSCOM wants to make Sri Lanka the next IT Hub. With that regard, countries such as Singapore are ahead us, but with hard work and given enough time, they feel that we too can catch up and leave our mark on the Global IT Industry. With that, the Disrupt 2.0 Advanced UX Design Workshop came to a close.

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