It is not always easy to find out what you are passionate about. I identified my area of interest when I started my internship at FAIR, where I was given the opportunity to work with the Experience Design team. If there is one thing I learned during my internship, it is the importance of doing what you genuinely like and enjoy. You can only give your best when the nature of your work drives you.
FAIR’s approach to creating customer-centred design solutions is the same. The ultimate goal of the FAIR team is to deliver a UI/UX design that guarantees an exceptional user experience. To achieve that, we always draw up detailed plans first, which include timelines set according to the customer’s expectations and the required tools before delivering effective UI/UX solutions.
What does Experience Design Mean at FAIR?
Before I move to my personal experience, I think it is important to talk about how we have developed a user-centred design practice at FAIR. In her latest blog, our Design Manager and my mentor, Kim Bonavia, highlighted the significance of adopting a customer-centred approach to creating design solutions and how it contributes to providing exceptional customer experience.
Everything at FAIR stems from the team’s dedication to building quality digital experiences, whether it’s through streamlining back-end operations, enhancing customer experience, cloud migration etc. Experience Design is a part of our services that lead to creating those exceptional digital experiences.
Our approach to creating UX designs enables the businesses we work with to provide their customers with the best online experience by recognising and addressing pain points. Understanding the target audience of our solutions helps us develop designs that fulfil the needs of the customer before catering to their wants.
Working on my First Experience Design Project
When I joined FAIR, I only had experience in technical fields. During the first ten weeks of my internship, I was trained to use the systems at my disposal but was given enough exposure to realise that my true passion was in design. I shared this with FAIR’s leadership team who offered me another internship to work with the design team on a major project.
For the next ten weeks, I worked with the team on one of FAIR’s biggest Experience Design projects. I was assigned multiple tasks, from the admin-heavy updating of Jira tickets to the exciting design changes in the actual work-in-progress Figma file. It was an entirely new experience and I was thrilled to be a part of a project I was passionate about.
But we didn’t jump into designing straightaway. As per FAIR’s best practice process, the team first held extensive meetings with subject matter experts (SME) to understand their requirements and get into the nitty-gritty of what was needed for the project to be considered a success before visualising the solution. This stage involved thorough planning and my team welcomed my input on the timeline and the tools I believed were necessary to deliver an effective design within the set timeframe.
Being a part of customer meetings and the planning process made me much more committed to creating a high-quality design to enable quality user experience, one that I would be proud to associate my name with.
Moving to UI/UX Full-time
By the time my internship ended, it was already decided that I would join FAIR’s Experience Design team as a full-time member. I was immediately assigned to a UX/UI design project where I was assigned to create two application designs, each having a different user type. I was both excited and anxious about how I would tackle it.
In the project’s initial phase, I met with the SMEs and attended many remote design workshops, which we conducted to understand the customer’s requirements. From these workshops, I created initial designs to be reviewed by the SMEs to ensure we were on the same page.
The SMEs were open and didn’t hold back during our workshops. They were generous with feedback and often, we had long-winded discussions to reach a common ground in several areas where we had differences in opinion over the functionalities of the design.
Proceeding two iterations of the design with SMEs, we conducted usability testing with five users matching the targeted user type. The qualitative and quantitative results validated my design and gave the SMEs confidence that this is a desirable design. Subsequently, minor changes were made to refine the design according to the usability testing results.
After a few weeks of hard work, we eventually made it to the halfway mark of the project where the first application design was completed and signed off. It was meant to be split into two phases, both spanning over three weeks, with a two-week break in between. We skipped the break, however, since the customer was very happy with our progress and continued full steam ahead into the second phase.
The Second Phase: Creating a Customer-centred Design
After spending some time on planning and discussions, our team headed to the drawing board again and, armed with the customer’s feedback and vision, started working on the design for the second version of the application. We kept the customer onboard throughout the process so they could be across everything and could provide feedback when they felt the need to do so.
A few weeks and redesigns later, the second half of my first project came to a successful end following a similar process to the first half. We faced some blockers and had to change key pieces of functionality midway through the project, but the end result was an effective design solution and a happy customer.
Working on my first Experience Design project didn’t just teach me about the technicalities of design. It also taught me a handful of intangible factors that are essential not only at work but also in my personal life:
- Passion drives ambition: In my previous roles, I had always focused on what was needed from me without any drive to step up. But now that I’m following my interests, I genuinely enjoy what I’m doing and strive to deliver customer-centred designs that would not just be acceptable but exceptional. My entire team shares this energy and passion, which makes FAIR a special place to work at.
- Identifying areas of improvement: It is simply impossible for anyone to know everything. Self-reflection is important to identify where you can improve because that is what leads to finding lasting solutions. Going through the struggle to find a solution to a difficult problem is what leads to personal growth. In my case, the challenge was to overcome my fear of putting my technical skills to the test. I have come to realise that as long as you have a mechanism to work through these challenges and a team you can lean on for support, it becomes easier to make it through these roadblocks.
- Teamwork is the key to improvement: Two heads are better than one and that also applies to the world of design. When you have another person to assist you – whether it is reviewing your work, giving feedback and advice or discussing your ideas – chances are you will produce your best work. In my most recent project, I would turn to my team members for advice whenever I struggled to create an elegant design solution. With their help, I contributed to a final design that I was proud to put my name on.