Every day, for the next 7 days, I’m doing a brief Q&A with a UX pro, who’s taking part in our 10 minute speed sessions to fix your website UX. This is an amazing opportunity for you to get 10 minutes of free, one-on-one feedback on your website UX!
Tell me a little about your UX knowledge/practice:
My introduction to UX happened serendipitously. In University, I studied Semiotics; the theory of signs and symbols, and how we relate to them in the world around us. Semiotics is essentially visual linguistics. With it comes big aspects of cognitive science, social psychology, philosophy, memory studies, and art history. While in school, I would research ways in which Semiotics could tie into the digital realm. The answer was Human-Computer Interaction. I decided to double-down my remaining studies on this facet of the design experience. This gave me great insight into how people think, and the cognitive biases that dominate our psychology.
Understanding people, their motives, fears, and way of thinking, allowed me to endeavour into UI and UX Design. During my studies at Sheridan College, where I was pursuing a Post-Graduate Certificate in Interactive Multimedia, I applied to be part of the Fellowship Program at Myplanet, a User Experience Design agency. Being at Myplanet was a huge milestone for me as it was my first big push into this industry. Since then, I’ve moved into the product space of this industry. The ability to nurture a product, see its successes and learn from its weaknesses, is something that I fell in love with as a Product Designer.
Who have you worked with/for?
I have had the pleasure of working at companies such as Myplanet, 500px, FreshBooks, and Mozilla Foundation. While designing for 500px, I learned to motivate and engage users. During my time at FreshBooks, I learned to focus on user flows while designing for mobile interfaces. At FreshBooks I also learned to be humble as a designer; to maintain an egoless attitude towards human-centred design. Presently at the Mozilla Foundation, I’ve been constantly learning about the mental model of creation and consumption on the web. It is fascinating. We have a mission of teaching and promoting web literacy. We are working to build innovative tools, support communities, teach and learn, and shape the environments in which the open web is made possible.
Which project are you most proud of?
One of the projects that I hold in high regard is the FreshBooks for iOS7 Redesign. As a team, we were tasked in bringing the ethos of Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines to the FreshBooks product. Any mobile designer can tell you it’s easier said than done. One has to straddle the line between adopting interface principles from the OS, but also maintaining brand personality and uniqueness. We challenged iOS conventions, such as borderless buttons, and tested our assumptions. We learned from users in an iterative manner. We had the support of our stakeholders, as our decisions were backed by user research and user testing. We also took the opportunity to develop a style guide, which allowed us to make swift changes to the iPad version of our app. On top of all that, having a killer team never hurts.
What do you consider the biggest problem with websites today?
From a UX perspective, I think an opportunity for websites to improve would be to adopt a spatial conceptual model. By thinking of a user flow as fragments of spaces, we can shift our websites from still life pictures to a narrative-based journey. Human beings thrive on stories, it’s the only method we use to capture and collect memories. The more websites we see that can adopt this narrative-driven UX model, the more memorable and successful they will prove to be.
What quick fix could any website owner make to immediately improve their website?
An easy fix for websites it to increase legibility! The age of the 14” CRT Monitors are long and gone. Give users readability and legibility by increasing your font size across your entire website—or at least on the parts of your website that receive the highest amount of content (such as a blog article). Trent Walton has used this technique perfectly. He chose readability as a design principle, and made sure that the work on his website always follows this rule. Readability will ensure that people that land on your site are more captivated to stay and sip their coffee while reading your latest updates.