Over the last year, user experience (UX) has been a hot topic of discussion around Omnitech. So much so that a group of us that are passionate about UX decided to get together over our lunch hour on Mondays. At our gatherings, we find ways we can implement the always changing trends into our projects, whether through discussion or research.
As the graphic designer of the company, I was the obvious resource for UX related issues. I have a passion for finding ways to both make something visually pleasing and to make something easy for users to use, but when projects became bigger, I needed some extra help. So I relied on the tools at hand and became more vocal about the importance of integrating UX into everything we do. As I talked more openly about UX, more people became interested in learning about it. I was surprised at how many engineers were actually interested in UX, and it made me super happy (like Bob Ross painting happy trees kind of happy).
From the beginning, we set out to fully understand what UX entails. We started researching by reading some books including my favorite “Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited” by Steve Krug. In the book, Steve uses real-life instances on how to apply UX into projects, no matter how simple it may seem. That is the hard part about beginning to learn UX in a technology field; we take for granted how we naturally navigate a site, not always considering how much skill or experience a user has with computers or websites. Another reason this book is my favorite is that it is written for both web designers AND developers. It helps bridge the gap between the fields by finding common ground.
We also started talking about best practices in UX. The more we talked on this subject, the more we found that UX does not necessarily use best practices in every situation. Of course, you have a few standards here and there such as placement of buttons, “ok” versus “cancel” or the contrast of information viewed indoors versus outdoors. We decided that each project has a UX of its own; none are really like the other. We want to make projects work around our client and their users – not some cookie-cutter approach.
How can we make each project work for a business’s user base when each user base is unique? That is where we are in our group discussions. How can we implement user research and user testing into our company culture? We plan to introduce this into our future projects. Maybe it is information gathering in an early discovery phase where we watch current users interact with an application. Maybe it is doing user testing in phases over the course of development of a project. Whatever the answer may be, we want to find ways of staying current on trends while progressing our UX knowledge, ensuring we give our clients the best experience for their users.
This is just a small part of what we have learned and discussed in our group during our adventures into UX. Next up will be monthly lunches with our Engineering lunch and learn team to share some of our thoughts. I hope this gives you a better understanding of what we hope to accomplish for the present and into the future…we’ll keep you updated.