Today’s designers are solving business problems

Tom Greever talks about the evolution of experience design and the challenges — and opportunities — facing designers today.

It’s no secret that design is playing a more prominent role within many organizations. Designers are becoming fundamentally linked to the development and success of products and services versus their more historical role polishing the appearance of those products and services. I recently sat down with Tom Greever, UX Director at Bitovi, to talk about the evolution of UX design, challenges that design professionals face today, and some of the keys to the success of the modern UX designer. Greever describes the evolution:

“Traditionally, the only problem we were trying to solve was to make something look better. It was a problem of just aesthetics, but now our designs have to solve for things like ease of use, or conversion, or user engagement. We’re solving business problems. We’re helping businesses achieve their goals through design, and if we can’t do that, then our designs aren’t any good. We’re not creating the right experience. They’re not providing value.”

Design communication is key to user experience

It’s one thing to design a great user experience and another to see it through to fruition. UX designers are working with a wider variety of stakeholders, both within organizations and with clients. Greever stresses the importance of designers being able to work with management, finance, marketing, development, and others in a team-based environment where communication is key to success:

“Designers don’t always think in rational or logical ways. We make a lot decisions just based on our intuition and our intuition can be really good at solving these problems, that’s why we’re good at design, but it’s almost never enough to convince a stakeholder that you’re right, especially when they disagree with you on the decision. So it’s really critical that we learn to communicate and articulate our design decisions in a way that helps them understand what we’re trying to do and hopefully see that we’re right…There’s really a lot at stake. Communicating about design to non-designers is absolutely critical to be sure that we’re creating the best possible experience for our users, for our market.”

Design’s foundations are user-centric

And let’s not forget the user. Greever says user-centered design and empathy are the foundations of a good design:

“This is really at the core of a user-centered design approach. What problem can we solve for people, right? Solving that problem requires that we set our own ambitions aside, that we learn to develop that empathy, so that we can see what actually needs to be done. We won’t even know the problem if we don’t have empathy, but when you do that, then you find that it actually makes good business sense, because people want to buy products that fulfill their needs in that way.”

You can listen to the entire interview in the player above, or through our O’Reilly SoundCloud stream.

This interview is part of our ongoing investigation into Experience Design and Business.

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