1.5 years at Viki, a retrospective
I would like to take a throwback through the past one and a half years at Viki.
This is not a motivational or a how-to article. Just some personal thoughts that I think it’s important to write them down. (So I can remember them well and pay more attention to them)
Design is a collaborative effort
Sharing and sketching ideas together is a crucial part of the design process. Not only it allows us to build a better understanding of the problems, but also helps the team to quickly uncover potential solutions earlier. In other words, it keeps everyone on the same page right at the beginning of the stage. I believe that this approach is vital because it makes the whole session more engaging and dynamic. Plus, it also helps me to understand the business objectives better before deep dive into the details.
Focus on the users first, not pixels
Say goodbye to the old “Dribbble-first” mentality and focus more on the actual real use case. A call to action button needs to look like a button. A dropdown list should look and behave like a dropdown list. Stick to the conventional approach that does not required users to use their brainpower to understand the information.
Alway ask, “Who are we designing for?”, “does this approach fit into our defined personas?” Identify the actual needs(through data) and design the solutions around it.
Adopt “data-informed” mentality
Everything we proposed or launched must always be supported with strong data points. The designs need to be inspired by data. For instance, some Viki users previously used papers to note down their last watched episodes, some even bookmarked using their browser. At the end, these stories(data) inspired us to design the Watch History feature for them.
Adopt “test what you got” mentality
Constantly test the designs with real users to find out what works for them. And do remember that we are not the users.
It is OK to say “I don’t know”
If you are not sure or don’t know something, just simply admit it and ask for help. Some people will take that as a sign of lack of experience. They are wrong. I think we should seize those moment to learn, explore, and understand things better.
“As the Zen masters say, keep a “beginner’s mind” and keep expanding your knowledge with curiosity. The more you learn, the more you expand your horizons. This life’s journey is a school. You are here to learn, improve and grow.” — Paramjit Kaur
What I have not finished over the past years?
Learning to be a more inclusive designer. According to Heydon Pickering, design work is deliberation. Design is about providing solution to a problem, aesthetic is something we would regard as the ‘icing on the cake’.
One mainstream understanding is that we must design for the extreme users first, because it will eventually benefit for the rest of other users. That is the basic of effective inclusive design approach.
Moving forward, what do I want to learn as a designer?
- Work: Understand more of the business strategy behind each new project.
- Work: Learning to understand Viki users better.
- Personal: Continue to improve on the core methodologies.
- Personal: Discover more about VR and its UX use cases.
- Personal: Master basic Sign Language (taking a proper course).
What has frustrated me or challenged me?
- Getting to know the users better. Not getting involved into the process.
- Lack of persuasion skills in getting engineers to buy-in the designs. (e.g. Interaction and motion)
- Facilitate good design sprint sessions.
- Not able to ask better questions.
- Public speaking. (meetup events)
- Using “No, but…” too much in sentences during discussions. It will shut down ideas and it is not good for collaboration. Instead, I need to try to use more “yes, and…”. I got inspired from an Improv practice, saying “yes, and…” implies that you are listening to what other are saying.
Teo Choong Ching.