CG. What kind of creative patterns, routines or rituals do you have that help you achieve your desired UX & UI?
Arun. I start with the user persona, which is important to understand the users’ needs, behaviour, expectations, and general psyche, and thus build the product around these factors. Once I have a detailed persona set up, I research ways to best match business goals with the persona.
During this process, I create workflows, user journeys, and eventually wireframes, keeping the stakeholders in the loop at all times. Many designers tend to skip the wireframe phase due to the time it takes. However, I find that those extra few hours at the beginning stage can potentially save several days of rework.
Next, I usually look up to the clients’ competitors, in order to validate my ideas and approaches. Dribble and Behance are also great resources to look for general design inspiration.
CG. How do you narrow down to a specific element and work on making it more important? How does your core thought (the subject of your work or the way it is executed) make its way from initial ideas to the final output?
Arun. There is no magic here. I make sure the user and his experience remain at the core of entire product’s process. As mentioned earlier, starting with user persona helps a lot. A quick hack is to ask yourself questions like, ‘what does the user intend to do?’ ‘What is the user’s expectation here?’ and ‘Is this the best way to do this?’ at every step of the process.
While listing down possible features, which could be built-in the product, I usually identify and separate the ‘must-haves’ from the ‘good-to-haves’. One of the must-haves becomes the USP, which becomes an integral part of everything from initial idea to the final output.
CG. How is your approach different from others around you? What inspires your work and develops your style?
Arun. I don’t think my approach is very different from other designers. But I spend a lot of time researching, a.k.a. sharpening the axe, before actually starting the design. And this has worked very well for me so far.
Apart from that, I make sure to put a lot of empathy into each project I work on. I believe empathy towards the user is what makes or breaks a product. A lot of research goes into every successful design you see today.
CG. What are the key points you consider along with the client before you start working with a new product/company?
Arun. I ensure to completely understand the client’s goals of a project. If it’s a new product, I usually start with a basic market research, followed by user interviews. As a UX & UI guy, my priority is to build a bridge between the user’s expectations and the business goals.
There are times when the client would ask for more features. While the client can see its benefits, it also adds risks of building too many features your users might not even want. For a successful product, you need to draw a line between what you can build and what you should.
CG. We live in a multi-media world where people want quick information and fast response rates. Creative businesses have wide opportunities but also challenges. How has this affected your style of work?
Arun. This is actually a good problem to have. With more challenges, the product designers are getting increasingly innovative in solving problems. We’re seeing an entirely new level of design thinking across product designs, especially digital products. From iPhone to Hyperloop, innovation is constantly being driven by challenges.
This hasn’t really affected my style of work directly. Being a one-man consultancy, the biggest challenge I face is to manage all the non-design tasks which I manage with few auto-responders and the quality of my portfolio.
CG. How important is the UX & UI for the success of any project? And how do you make the client understand the same?
Arun. There is no such thing as ‘no UX’. A product either has a good UX or a bad UX hence it is very crucial to focus on creating a good UX from the beginning. If you use something and don’t feel great about it, then either the UX is badly designed or not designed at all.
The business value of UX design is so colossal; one can simply not afford to ignore the importance of a good design in driving your product’s success. It is even more important for young businesses and start-ups, as they usually lack a brand reputation to fall back on. In the last few years, the start-ups have been able to give head on competition to the industry behemoths.
I get a lot of clients who either do not know about UX design or have a misconception that it’s just a small part of UI. While onboarding the clients, I usually give them a few examples to explain the importance of investing in good UX.
CG. Your advice to budding UI and UX designers?
Arun. Design with empathy and have compassion for the user. If you want to guarantee a great experience, you need to learn how to fulfil the precise expectations of your users, with the minimum of effort. Focus your attention toward the design problem instead of individual design preferences may help.
Paint the back of the fences. Pay close attention to details. Sometimes the difference between your product and your competitors’ is a number of details you put in.
Lastly, if you’re a designer and new to freelancing, brace yourself for a lot of struggle in the beginning. Everyone does it, everyone starts there, including the top designers you keep hearing about. If you don’t get work outside, make sure you work on the inside.
When you work hard, it shows. You work doesn’t only need to be a client’s project. Build something on your own, and don’t be afraid to show it off. You will get negative feedback; use it wisely to get better.