What is Product Design?

I came across this article trying to explain why every company next hire should be a Product Designer.

What is Product Designer? Is it just a new or latest trend? Or is it a role that will stick around?

I can’t answer you that. But after reading this article, I notice that Product Designer is just a new role name with attributes currently required from existing roles such as Product Manager, Business Analyst, User Experience Designer and User Interface Designer.



Make Good UX by using Fewer Words

A few years ago, I got my company to sponsor me in a technical writing course. I don’t remember a lot of the course content now. However, there was 1 lesson I will always remember, the teacher used a lot of writing examples from Ernest Hemingway. She described his writing as:

Clear, concise and Ernest has the ability to describe (or tell a story) in the least no. of words possible without losing the message.

It’s stuck with me. Even til Today.

And then I came across an article about making better user experience by using fewer words. It gave 3 examples of how he reduced the no. of words without losing it’s message. One such good example is Fewer words 101: In the classroom. He reduced the original sentence from 16 words to 2 words. And it was all the reader needed to know!

In the context of this article, he described the objective of using fewer words as:

It’s how UX writers reduce the text to create experiences that let people to do more of what they want to do — not waste their time reading explanations of how to do it.

Not that different from the lesson I learn many years go?

The Make-Up of a Good Design

We have so many products around us. Some works well for us but some don’t. I have read numerous articles explaining what makes a good product design. However, I find this particular one interesting because the Writer doesn’t try to explain what a good product design is. She just thinks of random products around her and how people use them. And then draw a chart on what makes a product useful (e.g. a forklift), enjoyable (e.g. baking cookies with Kylie Minogue in person J), easy to access (e.g. A blunt eyebrow pencil).

You can make a product both enjoyable and easy to access e.g. Watching Kylie Minogue concert on TV.

You can also make a product both useful and easy to access e.g. A telephone.

Or you can make a product both useful and enjoyable e.g. A private jet.

The trick is to make a product with all 3 qualities above: Useful, Enjoyable and Easy to Access e.g. Smartphone. I call it the sweet spot of good design! Or rather the writer calls it The Holy Grail of Good Design.

So if you start thinking in the context of a software product, you would want the same thing too:

1.       A good user experience (Enjoyable)
2.       It solves a problem (Useful)
3.       User can access from any device with Internet connection (Easy to Access)

The writer goes on to give “art” and “design” a very simplistic definition: “art’s primary intention is to elicit emotion, design’s is to solve a problem.” With the combination of art (Enjoyable user experience) and design (Useful). And if the price is right (Easy to Access). You will end up with a product that is loved by your users.

User Experience Design is not what you think

This is kind of what I expected. Basically it’s saying that user experience design is not just about the app or user interface. It’s the user experience that comes first.

One example that I like is ‘Making Returns Painless’. Every time you order something online and you want to return for refund. It requires you to walk to post office and pay for postage and no way of knowing if money will come through after posting the item in mail. However, there’s a company that refunds to customers as soon as they requested. And then ask their customers the best time to pick up the item. All customer had to do is request for refund. Money transferred into their account immediately. And then wait for them to pick up.

Great user experience without having to design an app!

You are the best user researcher ever!

I like this article because it’s saying that you don’t need a dedicated resource to do user research. Anyone can do it as long as they know how to frame the question and a few other things.

One I really like e.g. is probe behaviour not intention: It’s not useful to ask how many times you intend to go to gym. It’s better to ask how many times have you been to gym in the last 2 weeks. It’s about finding out what your users are doing today.

Nice read for you when you’re traveling or whatever you’re doing at the time!

What I got out of this article:

  • Ask open ended question without leading user. Basically, do not put words into user’s mouth.
  • Get user to be specific. It’s not much point when they say it’s very helpful. It can be because the app gives them ability to track delivery real time or it can be because it’s easy to order a product.
  • Ask about behaviour not intention. As described above.
  • Keep user on focus so they don’t start going on about a topic they have a lot of opinion about. This distract you from answering the question that must be answered.

In short, you are the best user researcher every!

Think Experience at a Restaurant. Not features.

Taking your customer to a restaurant without finding out what kind of food they like and just take them to a restaurant you are familiar with. From your customer point of view, this is arrogant. This same philosophy can be applied to building a feature in a software.

It also touched on how BT outsourced their call centres to India and caused an outcry. Now they have to reverse their decision. Imagine the cost! Customers care about being listened too and often the front line staff are the customers only opportunity to communicate with a company.

However, the software company I’m working at has always had a call centre based in Sydney. And this is one thing that we are doing right.

The rest of the article went on to talk about implementing the process to deliver customer experience. It’s basically about Customer Understanding, Measurement, Governance, Strategy, Design and Culture. I don’t find the process ground breaking. However, I like how they describe their philosophy by comparing to asking your friend what kind of food they want to eat before booking a restaurant.

So think experience at a restaurant. Not features!

You can read the full article here.

Snazzy Animation

I came across this article and saw some really snazzy animation effects people are doing now with web forms and all. I really like the credit card payment form.

I believe the new version of Telerik will be able to achieve similar effects see this here. You can see it allows interactive effect when you hover over the line chart using your mouse. The version we have now is quite average as there is no interactive features.