The Evolution of UX Design—Interview with Polidea’s Lead Designer
Polidea has turned 10! It’s a round anniversary worth celebrating, as well as a great jump-off point for reflecting upon the past, facing the present, and looking boldly into the future. For this reason exactly, we sat down with our experts to discuss how their field of expertise and they themselves have changed over the years. We have created a series of interviews entitled “Tech Stories.” First up—Agnieszka Czyżak, our Lead Designer, who will focus on UX design.
To put it mildly, a lot has changed on the User Experience design front. But first, tell us what was your first experience with UX design?
I learned the most about design in Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design (CIID). I was there for a summer course which was more intense and insightful than a year at the Academy of Arts at which I was then finishing my MA. At CIID, I’ve learned about the service design process—which UX design is a part of—but most importantly how crucial it is to gather insights from the users and how to apply them in the process. After that experience, I was learning by… doing. While working in a startup, I had a lot of freedom to experiment with design and the process.
What kind of design tools did you use in the past and how do they compare to the programs you work on at Polidea?
The toolset and workflow we have now are definitely much more efficient and usable than at the beginning of my career. I relied on Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop with wireframes and UI design. Mind you, those tools were not meant for these purposes. Exporting assets to developers was a nightmare. At some point, at Polidea, we even created an internal tool called Basset which helped us in that matter.
Now, we use Sketch and Overflow for UX & UI Design, Zeplin for handing over the designs to developers, inVision and inVision Studio for prototyping. I feel that with those tools we can finally focus on quality and best user experience rather than worrying that something will crash.
However, the creative suite from Adobe still serves us in branding & graphic design, which is where we find it to be irreplaceable.
Definitely “design” means now much more than before. We say “designers finally got a seat at the table” and that means we’re involved in business and strategy decisions. We influence marketing and sales, therefore, the whole customer experience is designed and human-centered. The great news is that it works! According to the McKinsey report “The business value of design”—“Companies with top-quartile McKinsey Design Index scores outperformed industry-benchmark growth by as much as two to one.” Here’s the explanation of how McKinsey Design Index is described:
Another new area that grows is Design Leadership—design teams are big enough to require strong leadership. There are great conferences like Leading Design that gather leaders from top tech companies so they can share their experiences. Books like Design Leadership from O’Reilly help young leaders switch from hands-on work to management.
Before User Experience and User Interface were introduced, how did designers use to go about their work?
We started as graphic designers or programmers with design intuition, then there was a rise of Information Architects and now there are so many design-related job titles that it’s hard to say who does what. We have product designers, interaction designers, service designers, UI designers, UX designers, UX writers, UX researchers, and more. In every company, the job title stands for something a bit different. At Polidea we have Graphic Designers, UX/UI designers and me as a Lead Designer.
There is also this discussion about “should designers code?” which has been going on for a couple of years now, and UX Engineer seems to be the answer to that skill set.
What do you think will change in the UX designer profession—considering the development of design tools, AI etc.?
I believe there will come a time of focusing on no-interface experience. Right now, we begin to design modules instead of fixed interfaces because there are so many devices and screen resolutions that every component has to be scalable. At some point, the interfaces will be even more flexible and immersive or even just voice-based and designers will have to adjust to it. People are surrounded by information and they have to make so many small decisions every day that design has to become smarter than ever, relying on intuitive gestures and minimalism.
If you are interested in UX design, we have many articles about trends and processes, as well as interviews. And if you have a project in mind, let us know—we will be happy to discuss it with you!