Flexibility, Attention to User Needs, Constant Learning
Graphic Designer David Chávez has been helping software development teams deliver custom apps and websites for the last four years as part of GAP’s near-shore development team in Costa Rica. Originally an art major in college, Chávez came to the world of web and application development from a small advertising company that dabbled in website design.
“I got interested in web design and application design, but I had to learn a lot to become the team member I am today,” he says. “As a user interface (UI) or user experience (UX) designer, you have to really understand the limits of the app or the website, as well as how users want or expect it to work. It isn’t just about making something attractive – it has to be functional, too.”
Step-by-step Planning is Paramount in UI/UX Design
Chávez works with developers in Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, and the U.S. and with a range of U.S. based clients. Sometimes, he’s assigned to as many as three development projects at a time.
“You can never forget that the user is the final determinant of how the app or website will be used. It isn’t just about making something that looks good, there are specific requirements that Google has for Android applications, or Apple has for iPhone and iPad apps – but even if you understand those requirements, the most important thing is to make sure that nothing in your design puts up a barrier between the user and completing their task. Whether it’s making an online purchase or filing a report, whatever the user wants to achieve has to be simple, easy, and somewhat obvious,” Chávez adds.
He says that it’s vital to follow the correct steps in the process:
- Gather documentation
- Develop a sitemap
- Define user profiles (personas)
- Create a flow application map
- Build the wireframes
- Prototype and user test your designs
The importance of usability and heuristic evaluation can’t be overstated according to Chávez. He likes being part of the process from the beginning, participating in daily scrums or stand-up meetings, and playing a role in the software development process as soon as the client’s requirements are defined. “Constant communication with the client, the final users, and the developers is critical. This isn’t a job where you go off and create in a vacuum. You have to be part of the team, and keep the user’s needs in mind at all times.”
What it Takes to Be Great UI/UX Designer
Chávez says that the biggest difference between being an artist or graphic designer and being a UI/UX designer is that there is no place for ego in web development and design. “In this job, you have to know how to deal with changes and new features, especially in Agile projects where the pace can be dizzying,” he explains. “There’s no room for a big ego. Your job isn’t to please yourself. It’s to deliver something that works for the users and the client. It isn’t about making something pretty, although an attractive design is always preferable. It’s about making it functional.”
His advice for anyone considering a career in UI/UX design is straightforward. “Humility goes a long way towards success in this field. Get rid of the ego monster. Learn to be adaptable, and to take feedback as a way to improve your work.” After that, he says the keys to success in the field include:
- Explaining your decisions, and how they help the user
- Making your design points clearly and concisely
- Listening to what the client, developers and users have to say
- Adapting your designs to make them more practical and functional
Much of the work that Chávez does as part of the GAP near-shore development team is to design for mobile devices. He specializes in mobile devices, so it’s important to him that all of his designs not only meet the specifications Google or Apple provides for apps on its mobile platform but are scalable for other devices.
“You have to update your knowledge on a daily basis. New things come up every second in digital media,” he explains. “You have to be willing to be learning constantly.”
Chávez says that over the past four years he’s learned to savor the satisfaction of delivering an application to the client and they really like the final outcome. “I never get over the thrill of seeing the application that I helped to create in the app store or published live on the web.”
Latest posts by David Chavez (see all)
- What Traits Does a UI/UX Designer Need? - January 19, 2017
- The User is King: Software Application UX Do’s and Don’ts - October 11, 2016