Designing Digital Products that are Truly User Centric
by Seven Peaks on Dec 29, 2023 4:00:00 PM
Joining Morphosis as its first employee was an unforgettable experience. After two years as a junior UX/UI designer, I sought new challenges in design. Returning to Morphosis, I found my calling in the ttb project. Now, with nearly a decade of experience, I'm excited for what the future holds.
A Beacon Leading to UX/UI
My UX/UI journey began at KMITL, where my Communication Art and Design studies exposed me to a diverse range of creative disciplines, from logo design to photography. Web design, however, ignited a spark. Unlike graphic design's freedom, websites demand an understanding of code and structure. Yet, building them felt like magic – lines of code transforming into vibrant, interactive experiences.
My web skills even landed freelance gigs during my studies, leading to a year of freelancing after graduation. And then, fate intervened – the opportunity to join Morphosis.
Becoming the First Employee
Morphosis, in its early days, was a cozy home office where we honed our skills on client projects. Each completed piece was a victory, but it also ignited a yearning for something deeper, a chance to truly shape a product's story.
The agency model, while valuable, felt like a puzzle waiting to be completed. I longed for the immersive experience of in-house design, where I could contribute to every chapter of a product's journey. So, I set out to find a new opportunity, one where I could leverage my design dreams into a product's very essence.
Gaining In-House Experience
I joined another agency after Morphosis, which at the time, had a more comprehensive team structure. It included designers, developers, QA, PMs, POs and more.
Working there provided me with valuable experience. I learned the dynamics of collaborating with diverse team members, and the projects were not just about designing and completing tasks. Some were long-term projects spanning over a year, requiring an understanding of data, code, design, and client requirements—multiple dimensions to operate and excel in.
Later, I transitioned to an in-house company with its own digital products, presenting a new set of challenges. Unlike agencies focused on acquiring customers and completing projects for revenue, an in-house setting ties the company's survival to the performance of the products we create.
A Decade of Takeaways
My early design days were fueled by the naive belief that beauty equated to brilliance. Experience, however, unveiled the real world's complexities. Beyond aesthetics and rigid principles, I began to consider factors like product feasibility, developer toil, and ultimately business bottom lines.
"Good design isn't a strict adherence to rules, but a dynamic dance between business alignment and real-world needs."
Each project possesses unique challenges, and so blindly applying theory without context is a recipe for disaster - resulting in work that misses the mark entirely.
Jeremie Tisseau, CEO of Morphosis, stands as a pivotal figure in shaping my design journey. He not only gave me my career start but also laid the foundation for my growth with his clear explanations of design basics and client expectations. He instilled in us the "why" behind every decision. My former colleagues, designers and PMs alike, and including our CEO, further enriched my understanding by sharing their expertise in communication and investment, opening doors to the business world.
Yet, as we advance, the well of advice often evaporates. We're presumed "grown-up" and expected to know it all. This is why the hunger for learning in our formative years is crucial. Those around us become invaluable mentors, eager to guide us on our path. Embrace their wisdom, for it will pave the way for your future success.
Hunger for Improvement
My guiding principle in UX design is identifying a product's strengths that truly resonate with users. Though research, UI, and business weren't my initial draws, their confluence now reveals this sweet spot of user fulfillment and product potential. That, in essence, is the heart of a value proposition.
Today, my focus is laser-sharp; crafting UX that genuinely resonates with users. "Meeting user needs" is a broad, daunting phrase, and is everyone's goal. But research, diagrams, and the like are just tools.
"The key, I believe, lies in empathy."
Another pivotal figure in my journey was a senior UX researcher, a master of unearthing truths. I absorbed his thought process like a tiny seed taking light and blossoming into its own. Years it took to truly grasp his perspective and metabolize what he had to offer.
Entrepreneurship is another calling. In a market-driven world, product success isn't just about user delight; it's also about viability. It's about aligning research with business realities, ensuring sustainable value creation.
Finally, a personal ambition: building a product myself, even a prototype. It's a test of my knowledge and experience, a chance to prove that it doesn't just sit on shelves—it translates into impactful outcomes. High titles hold no allure; my hunger lies in mastering the skills that bring products to life and thrive in the real world.
From Mentored to Mentoring
Instead of drilling my team in design basics they can already grasp, I focus on nurturing their questioning habits. Questions like, "What's the goal of this task?" or "Why this approach?" cultivate a critical mindset and help them uncover the design's deeper purpose.
Task prioritization is another key skill I like to impart. When they struggle with sequencing tasks, I'll prompt them with questions such as "What's the main function of this page?" or "What do users do first?" These guide them toward step-by-step thinking and logic-driven decision-making.
For Aspiring UX/UI Designers
To aspiring UX/UI professionals, a crucial first step awaits: self-discovery. Define your desired path within this realm. Is it UI that sets your heart ablaze? Then lean into it. Devour design fundamentals, track evolving trends and conquer Figma with mastery.
For those drawn to UX research, a thirst for knowledge is key. Immerse yourselves in research theory, hunt for hands-on experience in research and usability testing, and hone your data analysis skills. UX designers sit at the crossroads, demanding equal fluency in both research and design. Embrace diverse opportunities to build a robust skillset. Remember, intentionality fuels excellence.
"Never settle for blind action; true understanding is the bedrock of strong work."
Speaking of foundations, today's generation enjoys an enviable advantage. Back in my day, Figma and Sketch were mere dreams. We wrestled websites into existence with Photoshop, meticulously slicing image files and wrangling resolutions. Now, accessible tools and myriad learning resources propel eager minds forward. Courses bloom across the internet, both affordable and potent. Dedicate a week to Figma, and watch your design potential unlock. Yet, prioritize purpose over aesthetics.
"Let logic be your compass, crafting experiences that resonate, not just interfaces that impress."
“Sharpen the axe before cutting" resonates deeply with me. When the stars haven't aligned, and unknown factors remain uncertain, I hold back. My aim is not just progress, but the best possible outcome, born from meticulous planning. I constantly evaluate if we're on the optimal path, with a backup plan tucked in my pocket for every "what if." Rushing in aimlessly is a waste of time I prefer not to spend.
Quantity without purpose holds no allure for me. I reject the empty virtue of blind effort. My focus lies in crafting work of genuine value, even if it's just a single, impactful piece. For me, a level of quality that truly delivers surpasses mere quantity every time.
Thananan (Fluke) Jungjenchaiyanan, Lead UX/UI Designer at Seven Peaks
Thananan, a seasoned UX/UI designer with a decade of experience navigating both agency and in-house environments, brings his passion for design, philosophy, technology, and psychology to life in every design project. He believes the key to UX design lies in empathy, and one should sharpen the axe before cutting.