Part 3 Designing Salable; the role of the designer is to translate the needs of the team…and the user

image of wireframes from picjumbo.com

Interview with Dan Sturman, Salable UX/UI Designer

In part 2 we talked about how a UI is never really finished and how to use feedback. In the final part, Dan explores perfection and being challenged.

Interface design…what you’re doing is waiting to gain feedback. Then you get to remake it, implement/create something new…put something in, that you really wanted at the beginning. You never really finish it and therefore you’ve got to be okay with that?

The design ego that you can have — that wants to do the most beautiful thing you can do — is pulled away from you. It probably won’t get realised perfectly by the dev’s because they’re busy, and maybe you’ve made some mistakes that they don’t want to implement, etc. So the idea is that perfection doesn’t exist…if you want perfection, you can go and paint on an easel.

You’re gonna make sure the documentation author thinks this is suitable…it’s in the same language as what they’ve produced. There’s all these different collaborators and it’s important that the designer is nothing more than a translator of the needs of the whole team, not revered as a sort of source of inspiration. Your gift and your frame of expectation is that you can translate needs into a plan for development. And hopefully, what you put together is something you’re very proud of. Ideally, what you want is something people can just get to work really well with, they understand it. And then once they’re done with it, they can put it aside until they need it again.

With that feedback loop…you accept that a line hasn’t been drawn because it’s an evolving organic thing. It’s got ‘life’ because it’s going to keep moving and changing. It means the things that you thought were going to work, for example, could be blown out of the water.

So that could be unsettling, but equally quite interesting?

I secretly like it, because the things that you get the most protective over — or the most attached to — are things that probably took a long time to get to….to click in your own head. It means it probably won’t be that intuitive…probably a bit too heavy. And maybe you can’t bear to cut it because you’re biassed due to the effort it took.

I don’t think we’re saying there’s no room for things that have to be worked out. If you’re trying to allow for lots of different users, that can be tricky, can’t it?

Sometimes when looking at UX design, the simplest thing you could do is something in two clicks and part of me knows that’s true. But I’m thinking; ‘I’m sure I could do it in five clicks — that felt as simple as a two…I’m sure I can make it work!’

You’re trying to challenge yourself? Or are you playing devil’s advocate?

I’m fighting the common wisdom. Because once in a blue moon, you will actually come up with something that is more functional from the common wisdom. The standards that can be applied to all use-cases…but occasionally you’ll be correct, but not always! It works perfectly well, but you’re also thinking ‘I’m sure there’s a better way to do that.’

How do you feel about where we are right now with Salable?

I’m really happy with it. We’re now working on integrated documentation…making bits better, making it nice. There’s still UI things that we’re fiddling with and every one of those makes me happier…a little bit better, a bit tidier. I truly believe that every iteration will be the best one.

Designing Salable was an interview with Lou Walden

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