Design Thoughts

10 Learnings in 10 Years (Part 4)

7. Video demos with voice-over and contextual annotations could be compelling design documentation that most developers would love to engage with (2014)

enterprise platform developers in Beijing, China

Allan Paivio, a psychologist, hypothesized Dual Coding theory in 1971. In a nutshell, theory suggests that recognition and learning could be significantly enhanced by presenting new information in both visual and verbal form.

This is one theory that designers often successfully apply in the design of interfaces. The principle is just as much applicable in UI design as it is in case of design documentation that gets passed on to dev and other product teams. For several years now, I have relied less on verbal-only form of documentation. Although I am always on a lookout for novel and more engaging ways of doing just about anything, this alternate method of documenting design solutions mostly started with development teams in Beijing (primarily Chinese with a modicum of English skills). To be fair, I know Chinese as much as I know Greek. It was all the more responsibility on me to make sure that I do everything that helps them understand the vision.

My early experiments with interactive video demos supported by voice-over and contextual annotations turned out to be a great way of communicating just about everything I wanted in a given UI prototype. This practice instantly became a hit in the design group I was part of. Documenting design solutions in interactive video formats not only gave my Chinese colleagues an opportunity to be familiar with the solution in a much more engaging way, but I could feel a noticeable difference in their “more confident”, “more aware” presence in weekly review meetings.

Example of design documentation portal setup for remote development teams. Portal had interactive video demos, UX notes, mockups, review comments all in one place (Beijing 2014/15)

8. Don’t detest coding. Embrace it. At least be aware of possibilities (2015)

cross-functional teams in KSA

Making delightful and relevant experiences happen is often an arduous journey, full of challenges for which designers may not always have a perfect solution.

For the most part of my commercial endeavors in the realm of UX design, I worked with product organizations that have very dedicated core engineering teams with a clear understanding of what is waiting for them in the coming sprints. During this time, I was not particularly required to practice a fair bit of coding that I learned during my academics.

In March 2015, I moved to KSA to take up a consulting role that till today requires more and more efforts into making delightful experiences happen. “Making delightful and relevant experiences happen” is often an arduous journey, full of challenges for which designers may not always have a perfect solution. Embracing engineering mindset helps to a great extent. Easier said than done for those who have zero background in coding beautifully designed solutions. But isn’t everything in the world is? I consider myself a bit fortunate there, having studied in a partly engineering-led design undergraduate. Regardless, one needs to put him/herself in the shoes of a developer more often in the never-satiating quest to discover technological possibilities.

All it takes is some sincere start; there is no better satisfaction for a designer to witness end users realizing satisfaction and delight, a result of flawlessly engineered solutions.

Continue to Part 5

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