How An Architecture Graduate Arched Towards Interaction Design
From being an architecture graduate to being an IXD in Gojek's Design team, here's a GoTroop's journey.
By Lui Eryando
When you started learning UI design, if the words “I’m probably not a good designer” kept ringing in your head… Well, you’re not alone. I, for one, hadn’t even heard of the term Interaction Design. Yet, here I am, working as an Interaction Designer. Here’s my story.
I was an architecture major in college and my portfolio revolved around designing ‘real’ and ‘concrete’ things — quite literally. My understanding of product design was limited to designing tangible objects like mugs, pencil cases, and any other products that are, in my opinion, “real”.
And then, Gojek happened
I joined the Gojek design team as an Interaction Designer and began learning basic design principles such as spacing, composition, and layouting. I also had to unlearn some of the things I thought I knew about purpose and perspective.
But luckily, architecture and product design have a similar framework, and both are user driven. Architecture caters to the user spatially, while digital product design caters to the user in a digital environment. So, I was actually a little bit familiar with product design before I started doing it. But, since I was hired as an Interaction Designer, I still need to learn more about User Interface.
The work of Interaction Designers is mostly designing your daily app as you see it. We design the look and feel of the app as well as ensuring it is usable. Our main goal as the Interaction Designer is to make sure you have a great experience throughout your product.
In Gojek, we follow a specific set of principles which will ensure this is the case for all of our products. And yes, these principles are also how I learned my Interaction Designing basics. Learning these principles as a newcomer in the digital product space really helped me to narrow down what kind of things I’d to learn first, and then everything else can be a branch of said principle.
Gojek’s Interaction Designers (or IXDs) follow these main principles:
Let me walk you through each principle.
Having a consistent design improves usability of the product. It allows your users to understand your design patterns better, in turn making the behaviour you created to be used more easily. Consistency is not just limited to how it looks, but also how it works. This principle’s importance ascends itself, as consistency is not important only for the sake of consistency. Consistency is important for its impact on other aspects of design. To help us with this, Gojek uses the Asphalt Aloha design system, the preview of which can be found here.
Usability is the degree of how effective your product/design can be used by the user to reach a specific goal. This is considered as a key principle because it talks about effectivity and the efficiency of your designs, while also overseeing the engagement the user makes to your design (how do they feel), while also keeping track of the error margin that happens, and also how easy it is to use your design.
While designing you should always consider usability, how easy it is to use, how confusing the flow might be, how clear the interaction points are, and how clear the goal of the screen is. By keeping that in mind, not only can you ensure the understandability of your screen, you can also start to see how usable your design is.
Always ensure inclusivity. Accessibility does not only mean we need to cater to people with physical disabilities; some situations would also make users unable to perform certain tasks. For example, someone that is carrying something on one hand would enable the user to be able to use only one of their hands. Or another case would be when the user is opening their phone in brightly lit surroundings which would will make the user have a hard time perceiving their screen.
Having a beautiful product will also increase user engagement. This is evident when talking about Aesthetic Usability Effect. This effect basically states that when you have a well-designed product, users will be more willing to accept minor issues, compared to when you have a not-so-well designed product. Referring to theUsability section, one of the thing you have to take account for is the margin of error and the engagement, now, if users don’t have issue regarding the error, and still provides a positive engagement, because your product looks good, it will be assumed that your product is highly usable.
After absorbing these basic foundations used in my day to day work, I can now start designing a User Interface with confidence. Previously, I was suffering a really bad phase of Impostor syndrome (My fellow Interaction Designer wrote an article about this), which mainly caused by me not knowing what to do every time I got a new task. Having those four principles as my guide in my day to day work helped me focus on what matters from a UI Designer perspective, solve the problems, and come up with a design while following those basic principles.
This really jump started my journey as an IXD. Remembering that I’d spent 4 years learning architecture, I wondered if it’d be too late for me to learn about new things as I thought my brain had filled up it’s capacity with only architectural knowledge.
But with the help of the senior IXDs, it was as complicated as I assumed it would be. I have continued to learn new tricks along the way of my journey as an IXD. Always start with the basics — everything else will follow.
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