The Google Developer Group (GDG) Port Harcourt organized a UX Master Class for the 14th to 15th of August – last week Friday and Saturday, and as one of the early applicants, I got an invite to participate in the event. The venue of the event was Focus Hub, a growing tech hub in Port Harcourt and it was to this place that I journeyed on Friday along with Kelechi Ogbonnaya and Michael Matthew of Netopps Digest.
GDG Port Harcourt is a collection of young and talented developers who are interested in developing automated solutions to problems while using Google technologies. The User Experience (UX) Master class is one of the events organized by the GDG and it teaches interested people what they need to know, to think about and to do to launch the right kind of product for specific users. As a content developer to whom any string of code different from “System.out.println” is a complete anathema the thoughts of the class initially scared me, but it did not take long for me to discover that User Experience had nothing to do with code. The following are some of the things I learned from the class.
Focus on Users
This is one of the fundamentals of UX. It is easy to design products, but the emphasis at all times should always be on the user. Whatever design is incorporated into the product, whether it is an app or otherwise, the focus should be on what the user would like to see and do with your product. Designing the product to meet the user – rather than your needs, is what provides the perfect user experience.
Do your research
Another fundamental of UX, this one states that before launching a product, you should always carry out as much research as you can. Research the product area – this refers to the particular industry or aspect in which your product is focused, and your competition. Irrespective of whatever product you develop, a competitor likely exists. Researching that competition gives you an insight into the product the competitor offers and provides an avenue to identify the loopholes present in the product so that you can easily plug it.
Strive for simplicity
The KISS rule is a fundamental of UX. Nobody likes an app or a product that is too complex to use. This does not mean that the product should not solve a complex problem or have a complex mechanism in its solution – read, a bunch of strings of code, but the application of the product should be simple to users. For example, the principles behind mobile telephony would confuse a lot of users, but the ease and simplicity with which a user can access a network from almost any location is what makes the user experience so interesting.
When designing a product for a user, make the most important actions the easiest to perform. If you build an ecommerce app and the Checkout point is difficult for a user to perform, you mar the user’s experience and this would go a long way in damaging your retention curve.
Never stop learning
This everlasting lesson is also a fundamental for User Experience. No matter what you do or how far you go with your product, never stop learning. Keep researching ways to improve your product while ensuring your user remains satisfied.
Solve big problems
Your product should always focus on a big problem. Identifying the big problems in society is not a very difficult task and what the user experience class taught in this respect was how to understand big problems and create simple solutions for them.
“Go Wide, Go Narrow, Test and Iterate!”
Creating the perfect User Experience goes through 3 phases which are founded on the principle above. The first phase is where you collect the requirements necessary for the product, evaluate your competitor and size the opportunity. The second phase is the really practical part of UX and is shown as a cycle of Designing the product, Testing the design on users, Analyzing the feedback from the user, Refining the design and going back to Design. After a good design has been gotten, the next phase is when you launch the product. User Experience does not end after launch. Metrics on sale and retention, user feedback and FAQs would be collected and evaluated and you would then go back to the design table.
In the task given to my team, we tackled the problem of a persona called Kainda who is a 24 year old part-time Economics student and Bank Account Manager. Kainda spends money using mostly electronic channels to shop for food, entertainment, fashion etc. and is worried about her spending. She is interested in saving up money to buy clothes and she would also like to keep track of her expenditure. We came up with a concept to satisfy Kainda’s needs by first identifying her major problem before narrowing to the smaller problem. In the end, we created a concept for an app that not only helped Kainda to save money, but also helped her to keep track of her spending on all the different categories she was spending on.
I truly enjoyed my experience with the GDG UX Master Class. It was thrilling to reason with the many brilliant young people who also participated. Some of them were developers already affiliated with Google, others were artists, writers – like me, and tech enthusiasts. Solutions developed from the UX Master Class were later collated for programming by GDG programmers. And I am already looking forward to counting the dollars the app designed by team would rain in very soon. GDG Port Harcourt has other events lined up for the year 2015 and I am eagerly waiting for their announcements so I can participate again.
NB: This post was originally published here