What is UX and Why Does it Matter?

A desk covered in papers with drawing of smartphones, pens and an actual phone.

Q&A with Ryan DeGorter, UX Designer

Bad user experience. I bet we can all think of the last time we visited a website or used an app and thought, “Why is this so difficult!?”. At Signiant, we pride ourselves on ease of use and providing a great user experience for all of our products.  So much so that we have an in-house UX Designer working side by side with our engineering, product, and marketing teams. While I’ve been working closely with Ryan since he came on board at the end of last year, I finally had the opportunity to sit down with him to learn a bit more about UX and how he applies it to everything he does.

Q: What is UX anyways?
A: Great question! User Experience (UX), is harmonizing all the intricate business objectives, and technology features into something that the customer can interact with. Now, that being said, we all know user experiences that are not quite up to par. Whether it is a confusing website for buying something online, or dealing with flight delays at the airport. The goal is to make that interaction seamless and intuitive so it is enjoyable for the customer.

Q: Why does it matter so much?
A: In the end, if you are building a product for a person to use, you need someone that focuses on the human side of things, since technology can easily dominate the discussion. A designer just so happens to approach problems by putting the person at the centre of it. My job is to get everyone to think about our target users, and help bridge the gap between what people interact with and the technology.

Q: How does UX work with different teams at Signiant?
A: Oh, I could talk about this forever, but the main thing I try and do is get people to live and breathe who their customer is. That way we all have a common understanding of what we are trying to accomplish. Now, that can manifest into different activities – whether I’m working on the details of the UI with development, or defining the future product direction with the business teams. I also try and make sure the UX reconnects the user with our brand, so working with marketing is also important.

Q: You talk about customer feedback a lot. Why is it so important?
A: Everyone has an opinion on what the design should be. Our customers keep those discussions grounded on what is important. Since I’ve been here, we’ve had the opportunity to talk to a number of customers on how they use our products and what they would like to see in the future.

Q: Before coming to Signiant, what were you doing?
A: Before Signiant, I was at BlackBerry for over 7 years. I got the opportunity to work on a variety of things including hardware, software and some wild out-there concepts. No matter what we worked on, it was always centered around people. We always started projects by visiting customers – even before putting pen to paper. Eventually we had them play with our inventions so we could refine them based on their input. I was able to work with many types of designers as well including visual, motion and interaction designers. It really showed how awesome (and complex) this line of work can be. But the true lesson was learning how to integrate ‘design thinking’ across different types of organizations including engineering, marketing and product management.

Q: When you aren’t working on our Signiant products, what are you doing?
A: My wife and I have a Samoyed who takes up a lot of time. From skijoring to agility, he keeps us active and outside. You can find me on the cross country ski hills when there is snow, or watching the Maple Leafs or Blue Jays when there isn’t.

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