This week we have an opportunity to talk to a very special guest. The interview happened when our intern Olli stumble upon a blog post on Boagworld and was amazed by the content of the article. Olli quickly shoot an email to the blog’s owner and was surprise to get a very immediate response from Paul Boag himself.
This week we have an opportunity to talk to a very special guest. The interview happened when our intern Olli stumble upon a blog post on Boagworld and was amazed by the content of the article. Olli quickly shoot an email to the blog’s owner and was surprise to get a very immediate response from Paul Boag himself. It is quite difficult to define Paul’s work under one definite term as he has done so much in his career. Paul starts to work with the web since the dawn of the internet and has remains a very active figure in the web design industry. He is a co-founder of Headscape web design agency and an owner of Boagworld’s blog. Paul is also an avid writer with numerous articles featured in .Net and Smashing Magazine as well as an author of various books on web design. With over 20 years of experience working, helping, and solving client’s design problem, Paul is the perfect candidate to answer our questions on UX (User Experience) design.
1) Why did you get involved in UX Design?
I studied as a traditional graphic designer. While on my degree I got a work placement with IBM working on their first multimedia PC. While on that placement my department started to get requests to create websites (this was in 1994). The rest, as they say, is history.
2) Could you tell us about the most interesting job you have undertaken?
I love projects with clear, measurable objectives. This enables me to judge just how successful the recommendations we make and the changes we implement actually are. Take for example our work with Wiltshire Farm Foods. Over 5 years we were able to increase their ecommerce sales by 10,000%. That is extremely satisfying. Even more satisfying is our work with charities who are seeking to increase donations. You get the satisfaction of seeing a measurable increase, while also knowing you are helping people.
3) Your company, Headscape, promises to provide clients with a “unique experience.” What services do you think Headscape provides that sets it apart from other UX designers?
We are user experience designers, rather than user interface designers. A lot of people call them UX designers but they actually just design user interfaces. The user experience extends beyond the website or mobile app. All kinds of things impact the user experience from corporate organizational structures to internal company policy. We tackle both user interface design and these kinds of governance issues.
(Examples of Headscape’s work can be found Here.)
4) You have a methodology that you call “client centric design.” Can you explain the difference between that and user-centered design?
User centric design says that meeting the user’s needs comes before anything else. However, ultimately the website has to serve the business first. There are a lot of sites that offer a great experience for the user but generate no return for the business. These sites are failures. Although in most cases a good user experience benefits the business too that is not always the case.
(Please don’t forget to check out Paul’s eBook and podcast, if you wish to learn more about client centric design.)
5) Regarding building client relationships and client interactions, could you explain any methods you may have in keeping clients focused?
It is simple actually. Work with the client. Don’t just take a brief and then go off. Include your client in every step of what you are doing. Make them a part of your team.
6) UX Design seems to involve interdisciplinary skills ranging from psychology, communications, marketing, etc. How do you suggest designers acquire these skills? For instance, are there any good books or other resources you can recommend?
UX designers spend too much time reading web design books or articles on the latest CSS techniques. Instead they need to broaden their reading to include business studies, marketing and psychology.
7) You offer consultancy clinics, as opposed to just full-blown consultancy projects. Could you explain the difference and clients’ reception of the clinics?
To understand the differences watch the video here:
The response has been very positive. In fact offering consultancy clinics has led to some very big projects.
8) You are an accomplished author and have written four books in addition to writing articles, maintaining a blog and twitter account, running the agency, etc. How do you find the time, and what’s your method for time management?
I use a technique based on David Allen’s excellent book Getting Things Done. I also make use of the pomodoro technique. All my tasks are managed through a program called Omnifocus. For more of how I do this watch:
9) Since this interview is directed towards people interested in a career in UX Design, could you offer some advice as to how to break into the field? For instance, would you recommend getting a degree in UX?
Whether you want to get a degree or not is entirely up to you. Not having a degree certainly won’t stop you getting into the field, but it is useful to have.
As for more general advice — I honestly don’t have any. When I got into web design it was a different world. In 1994 there were no courses in web design. Hell there was no web design industry. My experiences have no relevancy on what a designer today would go through so there is little advice I can give.
10) And finally, what do you think is the biggest mistake that new UX designers make?
Often it is seeing the world in black and white. When you enter a new field you cling to rules about how things should be done to give yourself confidence. In truth every situation is different and you need to make a judgment call. Even the most concrete of best practice will not always apply.