Mia Bromige / August 20, 2020

UX adventures in lockdown and beyond

Mia Bromige By Mia Bromige

Mia Bromige, one of SOARIZON's UX designers, shares her experiences working with SOARIZON users during lockdown, her favourite tools, and why it's important to ensure that channels of collaboration remain open.

It's month five of working from home for me, and I'm writing this from my home office which has now been decorated with post-it notes and whiteboard doodles, accompanied by my favourite hot chocolate. With all the necessary equipment provided to me by Thales, I have comfortably made this area of the house my own, and don't people know it.

As a User eXperience (UX) Designer for SOARIZON, the concept of remote working was not unfamiliar. Even before the global COVID-19 pandemic, the team embraced flexible working practices and we were already regular users of Microsoft Teams and other sharing tools.

We have always prided ourselves on our user-centric design, or the fact that we build our service based on the feedback of our users. For the UX team, that means having regular contact with customers, collecting information, testing out hypotheses and design flows.

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What is UX?

UX design is the process of designing an experience that puts the user at its heart. When you sign up to a new digital service or platform and you find it somehow 'seamless' - that's good UX at work. It's about finding the tools and process you're looking for easily, in the places you'd automatically look. It's about the interface being so intuitive, that you can use it easily, even if it's in your second language. UX applies to offline experiences too, but it's most commonly used for online and software applications, where the slgihtest difficulty in usability can turn off potential customers easily.

Good UX practices in lockdown

During the lockdown, the importance of user research and engagement was just as important, if not more and the lockdown hasn't stopped us. With an opportunity to truly leverage our remote-working tools, we have been able to continue engaging with customers. This was crucial as we were able to gain deeper insight into how this unpredictable situation had affected our customers' businesses and drone operations.

Now, people say that UX Designers who spend an entire day on their computer are missing the point. However, now more than ever, online tools have unlocked the capabilities that allow us to continue to carry out interviews which were once conducted face-to-face, remotely. For me, this has encouraged conversations, not only with local customers, but with customers all over the world. There is no better way to understand your market than engaging one-to-one with your customers - as many of them as you reasonably can.

I recently invited various users to (spoiler alert!) a remote sneak peek of our new map interface. We wanted to make sure we were optimising the screen real-estate across the use of desktop, tablet and mobile devices. Through our moderated live sharing tools, we were able to talk to customers whilst they navigated our prototypes, describing their initial thoughts on the interface.

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Not to forget the obligatory introduction of my new puppy, Hugo, who times his entrance perfectly.

My top 3 tools for UX collaboration remotely:

  1. Lookback for remote video sessions. This tool has helped us to digitise our previously manual and labour intensive interview process, helping us to capture the information that we need as well as real-time reactions and non-verbal cues from video interviews - just as important as written or considered feedback.

  2. Typeform - a simple tool for creating quick, easy to follow and aesthetically pleasing surveys and questionnaires. using this tool has helped our users feel comfotable giving us their feedback and its data output tools are great for cutting up the data we need post-survey.

  3. Figma for managing collaboration between Design, Development and Product Owner. This great collaboration tool enables us to tell a visual story when planning new developments and helps us to make user flows and connections. We're heavy whiteboard-users in the SOARIZON team and figma really helps to keep that discipline going.

Now I know these tools have been available long before the lockdown, however the opportunity to continue collecting valuable user insights remotely have kept us moving and engaging to make sure our focus on customer interaction does not stagnate. From surveys and questionnaires to video screen-recording sessions and unmoderated self-testing, we had evolved our UX ways of working to suit the post-COVID world, however long this current climate might last.

As I write this, lockdown is easing, but what the new normal looks like presents great opportunities not only for UX Designers but for everyone. Through this difficult time, we have been able to unlock new ways to innovate and collaborate with our team and our customers which makes me very excited to see where that takes us.

The future for SOARIZON UX

For me, I'll be splitting my working life between the SOARIZON office to get back to the constant banter and nerf gun battles that I fondly miss with the team, and my post-it note emporium that I have created over the past five months to get some heads-down design work complete!

Lockdown hasn't slowed us down, and we've got some very ambitious plans on new developments and releases for SOARIZON, helping us to bring even more value for our customers. Check out our roadmap to see what's coming next, and please do get in touch if you'd like to join our user testing community.

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