Ollie Francis and Becky Taylor from UX Consultancy Deckchair are the tutors for our 10-week part time UX design course. Having worked for many years in industry before teaching the curriculum, they come with great insights into the evolution of UX design over the years. 

Ollie talks to us about how concentrating on the User Experience enhances their offering to clients.

Ollie Francis – Founder of Deckchair

As someone who started my career in the design space more than 20 years ago, I often reflect on how I arrived in the world of user experience. 

As projects became more digital and more complex, my overriding sensation was that the creative part of my brain understood that me and my team needed to shift from the subjective world to an objective one. We needed to start designing with facts, rather than instincts and experience alone as we had done before.

This was for a few important reasons:

1 – Things went wrong

 “Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes”, Oscar Wilde once said. We often learnt the hard way what the right way was. As we tackled bigger and more complex digital projects, we learned that we needed to craft and follow a more user-centred, evidence-driven process to ensure our projects didn’t fail.

2 – Clients became more savvy and more risk-averse

They started to challenge our solutions, often with good reason but more often due to their own previous bad experience. 

Digital projects are expensive and clients also learned the hard way. We needed evidence to back up our approach and the solutions we were offering. 

Conducting user research, gathering and analysing data, including using other peoples’ research and referencing conventions, gave us strong supporting evidence to put our clients’ minds at rest.

3 – Tech and developers evolved and they needed more solid designs to work with 

Mobile took over the world, forcing coding practice to evolve, and projects became more intricate. 

Letting the visual design lead the project, and allowing designers or clients to change designs at their own whim meant that seemingly small design decisions had critical effects further down the line in web development. A design wouldn’t translate to mobile, it wouldn’t have the desired effect for a user, or it would suck up days of extra development time and budget when the dev team worked on making our concepts real.

By building on user needs, with real user stories, and working in collaboration with developers early to map user journeys and site maps, we found we saved time and ironed out technical issues early. Suddenly developers didn’t hate us anymore – we were teammates instead!

4 – We could measure our impact

The simple fact is that the more user-centric we become, the better our solutions are and greater still, we can prove it. As we learnt to use research, data and analytics, we could measure the results, use hard numbers and most importantly relay actual user feedback to prove our solutions were solving their problems. 

5 – Projects were more successful

Now we understood the users’ better and were creating solutions to meet both their and our clients’ needs, our projects were more impactful and had significantly higher success rates. The users’ experience was hugely enhanced, they achieved tasks quicker and described the joy when completing those tasks. Our clients achieved their goals and objectives sooner and with higher conversion rates. Development teams thanked us for our input rather than scorning us. 

There is always an important place for creativity and instincts in the design world. But when creativity is partnered with user-centred design principles and solid digital processes, projects are successful, teams and clients are happy and the users’ needs are met.

As experiences become more interactive and users have more complex needs, designers with UX skills have a far better chance of creating things that work, solving real-world problems and guaranteeing themselves a place in the creative industry.

Our next UX course takes place in our ‘Live Remote Classroom’ starting on the 14th May in the evening. Suitable for designers and those with no experience this course works with a live client project so the students come out with a real portfolio piece at the end of the 10 weeks.