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Awesome founder Firat Parlak stopped into our New York HQ for a Wine + Design fireside chat earlier this week. Here are a few of the many UX insights we picked up when he spoke to the NYCDA community:
1) User Experience is like designing a floor plan
The best way to understand UX is outside the digital realm. When asked to describe UX in layman’s terms, Firat used architecture as one of his examples.
“When you’re entering a building, how the floor plan is designed defines the experience,” - Firat.
Imagine being an architect whose goal is to treat each visitor to a unique visit. How do you guide the visitor through the building? Can they get from Point A to B with little to no guidance other than format? Are there bugs everywhere, hindering visitors from getting to their destination? The same problems plaguing this building also plague digital applications.
Firat also highlighted day-to-day design in places like restaurant experiences. While something like prepared tip amounts on your check may seem small, this tweak makes the user experience all the more efficient, convenient, and friendly. Recognizing UX in everyday life, essentially, makes it easier to execute online.
2) Designers aren’t normally business-minded, yet businesses are always looking for good designers
“Clients need the talent, but it’s hard to find this talent because [designers] aren’t very social.” - Firat
What initially sounds like a slam actually rings true in addressing common tensions between clients and designers. Through Firat’s journey from Craigslist freelancer in the early 00s to creating Awesome, he found that designers don’t want clients directly interfering in the process of drawing up and implementing design. On the other hand, clients don’t often speak design lingo, or only seek design they like rather than design that’s most practical for their users. Front facing, for some designers, represents an obstacle to the creative process, and some clients can be downright rude in a non-constructive manner.
To combat these experiences, Firat discovers talent and serves as a bridge between them and clients while using project managers to serve as an intermediary between the two. He also strives to create workspaces comfortable to designers, ensuring that they work in the most creative-positive spaces possible.
3) The biggest mistake beginner designers make is undervaluing their services
New designers are eager to hit the ground running and start getting experiences. In many creative fields, people are told that the only way to “get their foot in the door” lies in doing free work. While some bill it as “portfolio building,” other people seek to get projects done as cheap as possible. Make no mistake: this is exploitation.
When asked about the most common mistakes beginners make, Firat warned that clients will always try and take advantage of designers who are starting out. “It doesn’t matter what experience you have,” Firat said to the NYCDA crowd, “you must have an attitude that your work is valuable.”
Firat also highly recommends that beginner designers never pitch screens for free, charge hourly rates for all work, and always draft & sign contracts to define terms. It saves you time, money, and prevents anyone from pulling a fast one on you.
4) Wireframe and test immediately. Then refine, refine, refine
There’s no better way of finding things out rather than getting user feedback immediately. Firat advises to produce wireframes immediately because “innovation could change what clients want right away,” leaving you in the dust after all that time spent trying to get things right the first time.
If you spend six month researching what you think clients want to get it right the first time, you run the risk of a company like Apple releasing a product right away that disrupts what consumers want. Not to mention, you lose time on building something for clients to have, and valuable feedback for how to improve a prototype. Don’t be afraid of prototype mistakes! It’s a fast, fast world in tech, and it pays not to be late.
5) It’s never too late to start learning UI/UX
A banker of six years asked Firat if he had any advice for someone who wanted to start designing but didn’t know where to begin, other than having a drive to learn.
“There’s no particular time to start, so long as you’re hands-on gaining experience starting today,” - Firat.
Using banking as an example, Firat advised to first start with thinking about redesigning experiences that a banker would be have that would be better if they redesigned it. “Whatever you’re exposed to from experiences day-to-day, think about redesigning them and use mockups with tools like InVision and Balsamiq,” Parlak said. “As you do that, you’ll discover different resources, read more things, and it’ll improve your design skills.”
Envisioning daily improvements to practicality in any aspect of life is the building block for mastering user experience and user interface. Visit our Facebook page to see the full fireside chat video, and visit nycda.com to check out our upcoming guest speaker events, and learn more about our classes.