The Voice-Based Future of UI—Interview with a UX/UI Designer
Ten years ago, when Polidea began developing iOS and Android apps, our phones had lots of buttons and small screens. We have come a long way since then. Now, we marvel at mesmerizing, huge OLED touch-screens. However, at the same time, we face a new sort of challenges. To understand the past, present, and future of UI design, we talked to a UX/UI Designer—Kama.
How you became a UX/UI Designer? What is your “origin story”?
I got my first phone in primary school for an honor roll, it was a Nokia 3330. Then, I got one with a color screen, the next one had a camera. I was always interested in phones and wanted to have the latest model.
Regarding the profession, I studied industrial design. I was focusing more on 3D product design. Often, we concentrated on a problem, not a solution, which could be reached—as it had happened in a lot of cases—with an app. It was back then that I really got hooked in. The world is moving forward, and maybe it’s not a good idea to make more stuff but create a solution—like an app—instead. I further developed this interest during an exchange in Helsinki, where I focused on the app design.
What do you think will come next? Is there a chance that we will see Star Wars-like holograms any time soon?
In my opinion, the number of Voice User Interfaces (VUIs) will increase. There are a lot of them right now but—to be honest—they could be better. I hope this trend will grow and those interfaces will be translated into multiple languages.
As regards the holograms, we will have to wait some more. I do wonder, if we really need them. Right now, Augmented Reality is on the rise, for example, the AR tech called HoloLens. It solves a lot of problems; for instance, we can get assistance from a plumber who will show us how to make the repairs in real-time.
I think we will take the VUI route. Nobody wants to have a person appear from our watches, similarly to the Google Glass which provoked many controversies.
How did the introduction of smartphones change the approach to User Interface?
Most importantly, it offered a lot more possibilities for the designers. The screen got bigger and so did our chance to show off. Gestures were added to the Touch User Interfaces (TUIs). Now, it’s much easier to use a phone but not for everyone—for example, people with disabilities. However, blind persons are using phones more efficiently thanks to VUIs and pre-defined gestures.
The screens are getting bigger and bigger. The result is that we can’t comfortably use our phone with just one hand.
Recently, I gave a talk concerning the topic of accessibility. There was an exercise to create an Insta Story with the other hand, meaning the not-writing hand. The buttons are at the top, so it’s difficult to click on them. I’m under the impression that people are getting more and more skilled at this since they use their phones every day. It’s not comfortable but we can—and will—do it.
Whenever you think of apps, the terms UX design and UI design come almost hand-in-hand. How do you differentiate them?
They are closely connected and often mixed up. UI is the visual, UX is the functional part of a design. UX hits closer to home than UI which is complementary to UX. First, we talk to the users and learn their needs. On this basis, we prepare mockups or interactive prototypes and research it further with the users. UX is more important because even with the most exceptional UI, a project will be ruined without a good UX. On the other hand, awful UX can destroy the effect of a beautiful UI.
With not much space to go on, how can you make a user-friendly interface for smartwatches?
I own a smartwatch and I would be so happy if it was voiced-controlled. I have a few commends set up in Siri which open the apps. However, that is not the case for all of them. The interface is so small that you cannot fit an entire app in there, only the essential interactions.
On a more personal note, can you use apps without analyzing them at every turn?
[Laughter] True, it’s difficult for me to use applications and not analyze them. One of my “occupational hazards” is that I spend a lot of time browsing online. The problem is that most of the sites do not work well in RWD (Responsive Web Design). Sometimes, I will not buy something because the website has a bad design. I think “yeah, I would’ve done this better,” while other times “oh, that’s interesting, I must remember that.”
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