The dentsu Creative Academy is a platform offering learning modules and creative inspiration for all dentsu creative employees. Interviews are featured to promote new modules as they are launched on the platform, to get know our people, and to connect our colleagues around the world.
This month’s interview features Principle UX/UI Designer, Géza Szekeres. Géza has curated the UX module and responded to the below interview on the topic.
1. First up, what are the biggest challenges you face as a UX designer?
It’s quite tricky to find the sweet spot in a project's life cycle where UX designers have a chance to shine. We’re always trying to push things forward, but sometimes it’s difficult to break out of comfort zones. Another challenging situation is before work begins, there may already be a solution in mind that may not entirely solve the problem at hand. So quite often being a UX designer is like juggling on a tightrope. But hey, no risk no fun!
2. What does the term ‘design thinking’ mean to you?
People like to label abstract ideas. “Design thinking” is one of those ideas – a buzzword but in a good sense. It has helped us creators and thinkers to spread the message of how to change stiff ideas. In my interpretation, design thinking is a certainty. Safeguard for creating the right solutions for real and existing problems. By applying design thinking with a human-centred mindset, solutions can be meaningful and beneficial to the masses. It’s a fundamental approach to solve many types of problems where creativity is utilised to find an optimal solution for both the user and business. It requires understanding all needs, interests, pain points and goals on both sides. Perhaps most importantly, it has to be iterative with constant validation of our ideas. Great products have always used and will always use this approach, only the label or buzzword changes.
3. What are your favourite apps for UX? Why?
I’m a big fan of Figma. Our team has been using it as their primary tool for the last three to four years. It is extremely efficient in any phase of a project, be it high-level mock-ups, complex and detailed UIs - you name it. It’s a killer tool due to its real-time collaboration, cloud-based accessibility aspects and its magnitude of features enabling designers to work quickly.
Another great app that I use often is Codepen. It’s a web-based front-end coding framework (HTML+CSS+JS), where you can model prototypes without setting up any environment and you don’t need to mess around with publication processes. The source editor is browser-based, so you can edit your code from anywhere and asset management is included. I highly recommend it if you like to code.
4. What’s the difference between UX design & UI design?
There are plenty of debates in the digital design industry about where one stage ends, and another begins. Back in the day, these phases and roles were strictly separated to support a waterfall-esque workflow. The old-school approach says that UX design is more about understanding business goals, technology and users through research, journeys, wireframes, while UI design is more about polishing and making a rough concept come to life. I think these borders have since blurred.
By the onset of the agile product design era, diverse teams grew up together, exchanging skills and optimizing workflow in a lean and flexible way. UX designers have developed skills in animation and interface aesthetics, while UI designers have adopted a deeper understanding of business and user goals. In parallel, both fields have moved closer to research and service design. Today, I think there are more similarities than differences between UX & UI design. Both require skills of visual storytelling, the ability to emphasise and an analytical mindset.
5. What is your favourite project you’ve worked on at Isobar? What made it so memorable?
Most of my favourite projects to date involve Telekom, my main client. I recall one project where they were in need of a solution to display their wide service portfolio (5 Mobile plans, 3 Internet, 3 TV and 2 Landline). Our solution was a gamified drag-n-drop style portfolio manager platform where users could calculate their mix easily. It was at the dawn of touch-screen devices, so it had a great impact on user experience, as well as a beneficial effect on their product and sales strategy.
Another favourite project happened a couple of years later when we did some exciting work on Telekom's on-demand Set-top-box solution (this was long before smart TVs and Netflix became popular). At present I’m collaborating very closely with Telekom’s internal agile team, so there are more exciting projects to come.
6. What advice would you give to someone looking to start a career in UX?
Just like in any other profession, you’ll only get experience by doing it. So, try to work closely with senior stakeholders and leaders with whom you have chemistry; Push your limits, ask for feedback but stay humble and curious; Learn something new every day and try to implement it at the first opportunity.
We need RAD people – who READ first to save others’ time, ASK to be certain of how things work and DO instead of having it done for them. Don’t try to solve everything right away, give yourself time first to understand people and the problems they face.