I mean, I was not about to be the biggest fool…

Hey there. My name is Peace Solomon; everyone calls me Peace, so yeah, sure you can too. I am starting my product design journey after several…several months of procrastination. But I feel like I finally got the push I needed. And I would be documenting my experience, sharing the lessons I learn as I move. Hopefully, I can keep up with weekly updates, well we would have to wait and see.

A little background story, in 2020, I took a keen interest in product design, which many of you know as UI/UX (User Interface/User Experience) design. UI/UX design is actually an incorrect terminology, as I would explain later. I remember “almost perfectly” recreating a design in about 30 minutes in my first week of learning. However, the condition of my system discouraged me. I mean, how fun can it be when you are creating a design and your system keeps blanking out every ten to fifteen minutes. Hopefully, I get a MacBook this year (fingers crossed).

Back to my story, I applied for the Cowrywise design fund sometime last month and truthfully, I didn’t think I would get it because I am never lucky with this scholarship thing. Funnily enough, the congratulatory mail came on April 1st, so I still did not believe it because I mean, I was not about to be the biggest fool that day if it ended up being a prank. I finally believed when I got the mail containing the details for the scheduled class put together by Cowrywise and Àsà Coterie. The sessions were mind-blowing for real, way better than I expected, and I am more inspired than ever to push through with this passion.

Two facilitators from Àsà Coterie took the sessions; I would be sharing some of my key lessons from both sessions. One of my key lessons was the definition of “design” given by one of the facilitators as “the intentional made real.” I like how short this definition is and how it hits the nail on the head. The definition implies that you have to be intentional about creating a design; that is, you must have formed the desire or aim to create a particular design. After that, you must go through specific processes to bring that intention to reality.

Another key lesson for me is how we, as humans, interact with computers has not changed much since the invention of the computer by Douglas Engelbart and his team in 1968. In the “Mother of All Demos” video, it is easy to see how Douglas mainly was focused on breaking down the processes carried out on the screen so that the audience can understand and be able to operate on their own without stress. This can be likened to modern maximization of user experience, ensuring that the user of your product can easily maneuver around it. The on-screen collaboration demonstrated by Douglas and Bill is similar to collaboration evident in Google Apps, Figma etc. Trust me, you should see the video; you would be amazed at how far technology has come. P.s I think Douglas Englebart should have gotten more recognition than he did during his lifetime. But oh well, it is no news that this life na pot of beans.

I was also fascinated by learning how human-computer interaction (HCI) involves different disciplines such as engineering and psychology. HCI has been popularly defined as “the study of people and computer technology and how they influence each other.” A simple example to explain this, as given by the facilitator, is a calculator where you, a human, input certain information and the calculator gives you feedback- thus, interaction has taken place. This interactive computing system deals with only humans and computers and the study of their effect on each other when they interact.

The HCI design has six goals which include protecting the user from unfavorable circumstances such as antivirus software; providing the required features for the user to achieve his or her goal such as budget-tracking apps; ensuring that the user can achieve his or her goal with the available features with ease such as Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs); ensuring that the user can achieve his or her goal in time such as the presence of navigations; ensuring that the user can quickly learn and use the system and ensuring that the system is appealing to the user.

Another important point is that as a designer, you should never forget that your job is to make things simple for your users. Don’t be so focused on creating innovations that may be complex for the user to operate. Thus, leading to poor use and efficiency of the product. Also, I learnt that UI/UX design is an incorrect terminology because UI is an integral part of UX. This means that you have to have a certain level of understanding of UI before being described as a UX designer, which is a better way to put it or rather a product designer. However, to be referred to as a product designer, you need to have the ability to carry out UI design, UX research and product thinking.

Those were the major lessons for me during the sessions, but not to worry, if I remember anything else, I will share it in my next post!

I also read two excellent articles, and I would like to share things that caught my interest from reading them. In “Choosing your journey” by MJ Blenhart, I was reminded that there is no limit to what we can do as humans if we set our hearts to it. With our adaptive nature, we can create and choose our personal journey as we all have different (or rather unique) outlooks of life. I also loved how placing priority on the element of humanity was emphasized in “The lost art of injecting humanity into product design” by Richard Bailey compared to the priority most companies place on the newness of innovation. The more priority placed on user experience, the greater the rates of converting leads into customers.

I hope you learned a thing or five; I’d see you soon.

Hopefully.

One down, many to go.

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