Companies that want to dazzle their customers and stamp out the competition are coming to understand just how essential UX is for their success. We see this now especially as companies have been increasingly hiring UX architects to work in-house.
One such architect is Patrick McColley who has more than 15 years of experience in design. In this interview, he shares his expertise in creating successful UX for your business.
Q: How do you define what you do?
A: XD or Experience Design is something I like to think is a better term for what I do. When the concentration is mostly on moments of engagement, or customer touch points, as opposed to elements of design. XD puts value on the experience beyond digital. As a company’s brand goes beyond just the user experience with an application, so should the thought process of a unified brand experience.
Q: In your opinion, what are the top three mistakes designers commonly make?
A: One– Starting a project without including UX early on. When you wait too long before thinking about UX, it can become harder to highlight functionality around existing design. User requirements and insight can help generate design and content ideas, and keep focus on the requirements and needs of the end user.
Two– Designing for yourself. It is one thing to put yourself in the user’s shoes, but another to think that you are the average user. Your goal is to help the user get to the next step of a pleasant and positive experience. Too often designers get caught up in a design idea or trend they really like and forget that it can deflect from the UX.
Three–Not setting a standard or guideline for UX. Having proper guidelines can help keep any team on track. Inconsistencies and really disrupt a user’s experience.
Q: What are some key differentiators you recognize in a successful design?
A: Some key differentiators I recognize in a successful design include asking yourself if thought has been put into letting the user easily find “what is next.” Does the experience change because the user is on a mobile device and they have different needs? Is the interface simple and clear?
Q: What is the most popular and innovative trend that you recognize in the design world these days?
A: Personalized service available to all. A tailored experience for each user is becoming readily available in multiple industries. It is both scalable and affordable for a designer to consider giving users a personalized experience like never before. A combination of user history and trends provides information that can be used to suggest sale items, propose vacations, or recommend news articles. As we provide more information through wearable devices and connect more to our digital world, there will be even more preferences that can be included.
Q: How do you prepare a new design launch, and how do you make sure your design stands out from your competition?
A: First thing I do is try to understand the problem. What is the job of the design? What does the customer want or need the design to accomplish? Gather as much information as possible before I start.
Then I look at the competition to see what is missing. How are these users accustomed to getting this information or this service? How do I make the experience better, simpler, and more memorable? Are there other companies doing it better outside of the direct competition? Emphasize what is unique about the brand, if service is what the company is known for, keep that as the design strategy. Every change or function is weighed against the position.
Q: Let us in on some of your secrets… where do you look to for inspiration? For innovation and revolutionary ideas?
A: I find innovation by staying connected to a community of UX designers and thought leaders. But I like looking for inspiration in everyday things, watching what people do and how they interact with the world. I am also a big fan of new technology and games. So I tend to explore anything new and then try to make a connection to any design projects I may have.
Follow Patrick on Twitter for more helpful insight into user experience design!