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iHub UXlab By Mark Kamau / September 16, 2013

The groundbreaking UX class from 14,000 miles!

1 Comment

This is the first time we have tried this, and I certainly don’t know of anyone doing user experience classes virtually from 14,000 miles to Africa. In this sense, last week was a groundbreaking one for user centered design for Africa.

We always say technology eliminates boundaries making the world more even. This was certainly true with the seamless delivery of one of the best User Experience presentation I have had.

Beyond the coolness of this fact, there was some real substance on the day and here are some key takeaways;-

Users want the outcome of being delighted

We develop services and products to solve problems first and foremost, but the experience of using these should be a delight to the user.  While you and your team build amazing code and spend hundreds of hours and process behind the scenes to prepare the product, the user doesn’t really care about that. They are outcome focused and therefore all they care about is;

  1. Am I getting the outcome I desire from this service or product?
  2. Am I getting frustrated while getting there or is it a delightful experience? Period.

Its About Human Beings!

It is essential that while building products, we are not arrogant and have a learning attitude. Often, we put on our expert hat and execute. This is the enemy of delivering the best we can. Get out there, talk to people and find out their stories, find out how your product can solve their problem better. Design, Build, Test.

UX is about teamwork

Many user interface designers confuse UI for UX. They therefore sit behind a computer, do their adobe thing and claim to have created the ‘UI/UX’  for….

This drives me mad.  If you are doing it alone, not talking to any user to understand their needs and context, then that is not UX. Please stop abusing the word. It is much more than our graphical and aesthetic sense. UX is about human interactions for insights.

UX Development

There is a common myth that developers have nothing to do with UX. The fact is, the more we understand our users, including the development team, the more we cater for their needs even in the code we build, because we understand better the why of things. Developers should therefore be involved in understanding at the very least, the personas their building for.  It then stops being merely system development, but becomes User Experience development.

If I could describe Erik Flowers’ presentation in on word, Inspiring would probably it. It challenged us to aspire for a higher ideal when developing products. To have a passion and really care  about who we are designing for.


This week

All week we shall be doing specific deep dives into the different areas of user experience. The participants who include start ups and university students will be going deeper into the process of forming an idea, validating it with users, building prototypes and testing them with users. These are all critical skills for successful products and services and I am happy they will be learning them practically.

This morning Shikoh Gitau of Google will be conducting classes of proper ux research and fundamentals of prototyping. Tomorrow Erik Flowers will give another one of his virtual masterpieces on prototyping.

About Erik Flowers

Erik Flowers is a UX zealot who is constantly evangelizing the principles and ideals of user experience design, putting passion and creativity into everything he does. His goal is to make things that delight and bring positivity into the world.

He has been working in the world of Internet design for 15 years, designing products for individual consumers as well as the largest of enterprises @Erik_UX



Author : Mark Kamau

Mark Kamau is passionate about User Centered Design and the potential smartly designed technologies have to solve African challenges. He has over 10yrs experience in the multimedia space with regional and international experience. He is passionate about Africa, design thinking and technology in a global and localized, African context. He is the User Experience Lead at the iHub UX lab working with start ups, corporates and academics in the ensuring products built in Africa are user centric. He spends the rest of the time growing a user experience culture in Africa.

1 comment
  • Sebastian Mitchell at 20:22:31PM Monday, September 16, 2013

    Many user interface designers confuse UI for UX

    Similarly, many designers confuse “UX” for “usability”… ;)

    User Experience design is concerned with people’s emotional reaction to a product (indeed, a whole *brand* – customer service, the landing page, marketing materials etc); usability is aimed at making a digital interface more cleanly match human capabilities and thought processes, to increase the product’s efficiency and empower the user more.


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