In this week’s interview we’re going to dive into what it takes to truly understand your users, and how to achieve a successful design with the skilled Luke Grohovsky. Luke has 15 years of digital experience in animation, user interface design and information architecture.
He’s worked for agencies large and small with clients ranging from CNN, Volkswagen, NBC, Harley-Davidson and Adult Swim. He’s also worked client side for Fortune 500 companies like Target and Best Buy. Currently he is a Senior Experience Designer with SapientRazorfish.
Q: Please share your past and current experiences in the field of UX, and how you got involved in user experience design to begin with.
A: It was never a career path for me. I’ve always been interested in art and technology and it just evolved from there. I started out making Claymation and Lego animations in grades school. I then got into developing games and apps in high school and went on to get my BFA in college.
I wasn’t a great student but I was passionate about visual storytelling. I bounced around from print designer to 3D animator to Flash animator to web designer and had my own studio for a while. I worked in small agencies and large corporations, and all of this helped shape me as the experience designer I am today.
Q: In your opinion, what do you think the next big trend will be in the design industry?
A: As we start to think about all the many ways someone can interact with a product or brand, the role of an experience designer goes beyond digital interfaces. We’ve already seen this in product design with things like voice. I see it broadening even further into physical spaces and system design. We will start to look at the entire customer experience more holistically as the practice of UX branches out well beyond digital interfaces.
Q: What would you advise a UX designer just starting out? What information do you wish someone had shared with you when you were beginning your career?
A: First, you need to have an open mind. Rarely will you end up where you originally thought you would. When you’re just starting out it’s the best time to try various techniques and methods. This is the time to build your skillset and understand what you’re passionate about. You most likely won’t be doing very exciting work early on.
I had my share of crap jobs but you will most likely learn many skills that will help you develop your own path. This field changes quickly, it’s impossible to predict what opportunities will be available tomorrow, but it’s important that you know you can always carry the skills you learn forward.
Q: What tactics do you use to make sure your design is successful? Do you have a favorite user research method?
A: User interviews can be useful but I lean more heavily on prototyping and testing. What people say they do and what they actually do are always different. Clients will always say they want a clean, easy to navigate website. A prototype gives them something to react to, and provides a solid understanding of the problem you are trying to solve. Don’t become attached to your designs as they aren’t meant for you.
Q: What challenges do you face as a UX designer today? What solutions do you propose to other designers facing similar issues?
A: We need to anticipate change and be willing and ready to adapt. The problems we solved last year are not the problems of today and won’t be those of tomorrow. The challenge is to continue to make great work and stay relevant.