Michał, our UX and Design Manager, was recently interviewed by Tomasz Skorski, a lecturer at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities and the author of UXLabs.pl with 15 years of experience in the IT business.
In the interview, Michał talks about an Agile design process, the education of UX Designers and the profits of their cooperation with programmers, the transparency of a UX Department so important in enterprise environments, and the verification of the results of UX Designers’ work.
Tomasz Skorski: Could you please introduce yourself? Say something about what you do, what’s your name, and how you found your way into UX Design.
Michał: I’ve been working in UX for almost seven years. For almost a year, I’ve been working in Pearson IOKI, where I’ve created and a team of UX Designers I’m currently leading. There are about 160 people in the company right now.
TS: I’m curious about the way you go about your projects in Pearson IOKI.
M: As for Pearson IOKI, we have to remember that the Design Team is very young. We’ve been working together for less than a year and there are a couple of people in the team. We’re doing our best to actually work together. Once we get the business requirements from the Product Owner, we’re faced with the technology branch of the company. We don’t immediately think about the direction we want our design to go, but we start with an idea which we confront with the technical limitations during, for instance, workshops with the developers.
TS: UX is becoming beneficial to the organisation and provides the answer whether the project was profitable or increased user satisfaction. It is not declarative anymore.
M: I believe so. Our work is not limited to design which in itself is just a fraction of what we should be doing. The product development process is often based on a variety of problems usually caused by people’s failure to communicate or share sufficient information. I think that once a UX Designer becomes a part of the process, learns it and realises what’s not working right, it is their job to improve the process.
TS: Does Pearson IOKI always work in an Agile model or are there some projects done in a typically waterfall model?
M: Pearson IOKI is divided into SCRUM teams responsible for specific areas and we cooperate with most of these teams. SCRUM has been developed, for the large part, to facilitate the communication within large structures. I was mostly taught the Agile approach and I think it’s more effective. I realise, though, that the UX Designer has more responsibilities for what is happening right here, right now and that we have to plan and react to issues immediately.
TS: How do you inspire people to keep developing and educating themselves?
M: There are two things I could talk about. First, every now and then, every member of our team can write down and describe their problems, what they don’t like, and the direction in which they would like to go. We analyse it and turn it into tasks. These issues are usually very rational, real, and understood by UX Designers. They are all achievable – they’re just a matter of time and effort. On the other hand, it allows us to make better use of this person’s potential.
TS: Who, in the UX Design world, is your inspiration?
M: Earlier on, it was Luke Wróblewski, but more recently it’s Andrea Resmini. I had a chance to talk to him at the latest conference in Lausanne. He had a couple of interesting observations which went along my distrust of making guesses about interface solutions. I liked what he said during the workshops: that there are many UX Designers who wake up in the morning and they are illuminated with that awesome solution. The go to work, they do what they came up with and they’re happy with their solution. But it’s by no means supported by knowledge, a strategic thought, or a holistic approach. It’s just a creative incubation which, once you’ve had a proper rest, lets ideas hatch that you believe are right, but it’s still no more than a guess. That’s why he’s been a great support for my way of thinking recently.
TS: You’re a large corporation. What do the recruitment process, employing someone new, and the job interview look like?
M: I am present at the interview, among others. The most important thing for me is to see how the candidate thinks and whether there is a system of informed decisions and steps backing up what they do. At this point, this design process is one of the basic things we want to see. On the other hand, we pay attention to drawing skills and the ability to properly approach the interface that’s to be, let’s say, redesigned.
The full interview is available at: www.nietylko.design