One of the highlights of EXPAND London, a new startup event taking over London’s tech scene, is General Assembly’s (GA) exclusive skills sessions. Amit Patel, a freelance UX Designer/Product Manager, who runs user experience workshops at GA and who will be presenting at EXPAND, shared with us insights into the industry and tips that make a successful product.
You have an experience of working at a startup. What were the biggest challenges you, as a UX designer, faced?
The initial role that I had at a startup was not a UX designer, but as the Product Manager. Since we didn’t have a UX role, I had to take over that as well. The biggest challenge for us was the lack of feedback from the users, simply because there were two of us (I was working alongside the CEO), so all of our decisions were going to the developers without strong user experience testing. So definitely, finding the users to test our product was something that kept us awake at night. Fortunately I had General Assembly (GA) and Queen Mary University connections, so in the end it amounted into personal connections that were used to source users.
What advice would you give newbies trying to get their product on track but who don’t have those kind of strong personal connections?
Definitely use social media. It is a great tool for finding contacts. There is a strong UX community on Twitter and LinkedIn, so do make use of it. Share the things you are working on to get some feedback or just see what others are doing. Networking for a fresh startup or UX designer is as important as for any other learner. I would also recommend attending meetups. Remember that user feedback is king for the UX designer, whether it comes from the target audience or just a bunch of friends and relatives, or even people outside of your circle of contacts.
Besides making connections and staying on track with the industry news, how important is social media specifically, and digital presence more broadly, for a Talent looking to kickstart their career?
It is obviously an advantage to be able to link a potential employer to your blog, website or portfolio. You should definitely highlight whatever adds strength to your candidature, be it your Twitter feed that shows you are on top of the industry conversation or other social media platforms. Today it is all about digital, so definitely make sure you can properly represent yourself by adding some multimedia to your profile.
Never lose that sacred connection with your users if you want your product to live.
What is the first rule of UX design every newbie should know?
Always build your product for users. Make sure that you keep users at the forefront of whatever you are designing. You don’t want to build stuff based only on your personal preference. You are building something that the users will actually use and enjoy. Never lose that sacred connection with your users if you want your product to live.
What was the favourite project you designed and why?
My favourite project is actually my side project that I am working on right now. It is a side project which deals… with side projects. I met a lot of people here at GA and just generally friends who have brilliant ideas for an app, a business and such, but they never pursue it, simply because they don’t have the right people to help them. So, I am building Grupo to help them find other people to work with them on their side project. It will match people by interests, skills, scale of availability, and location. It will match you up with your passion and a side project you will be happy to contribute to.
Did you follow the first rule of UX design and already test the idea?
Yes, I have been a diligent UX designer. I have already tested it and had an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) up and running. Honestly, I am just passionate about the idea and hopefully, we will launch in a month or two.
Remember that user feedback is king for the UX designer
Good luck with that! What UX blogs, resources or books would you advise aspiring designers to check out? Those you think will help them in pursuing and realising their passions.
There’s quite some stuff out there, but here are some of the recommendations for everyone interested in getting the knack of UX design including product design. Some of the must-reads: The Elements of User Experience by Jesse James Garrett and Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited by Steve Krug. As for tools I recommend Sketch, OmniGraffle, Axure, Balsamiq, UXPin for wireframing and Marvel, POP, Invision for prototyping. Some of my favourite sites are 52 Weeks of UX and DesignTaxi. I’ll give you more tips when I see you at EXPAND London!
What will you offer EXPAND London attendees in your UX dedicated workshop?
It will be an introduction to UX design (what is it and how does it work), the types of roles that are out there and principles of usability (there are five of them and I will go into each). It won’t be typical classroom stuff though, I use a lot of real-life examples. You will finally know why your favourite apps make you excited, what is the mechanism that makes you stick to the specific product and more. Can’t wait to meet everyone interested to dive into UX design at EXPAND London!
Always build your product for users.