UX Design in the Realm of Startups

Genco

This week we had the ever dapper Genco Cebecioglu,  CEO and Creative Director of Junction Design, speak to us about UX design for startups.  Junction Design is a Toronto based visual identity, UI/UX design studio. Their clients include Mobilicity, Virgin Gaming, and Metrix Group, to name a few. Genco had a lot to say about the successes and pitfalls of starting your own business, so if you’re ever planning to do that, you might want to read this.

SPEAKER PROFILE

Genco, like most of the other guest speakers, is a graduate of Sheridan’s web design program from eight years ago. After graduating, he worked as a Senior Designer at Normative, then later worked for EcentriArts as an Interactive Designer.

While working for EcentriArts, Genco worked on a design project for Canada’s National Ballet School. Although it was not required of him, Genco re-designed their wordmark and it was a huge hit. It’s a pretty clever design that uses the first position of the feet that students learn in ballet school. The wordmark is currently still in use to this day!

National Ballet School of Canada

Canada’s National Ballet school provides elite dance training to students across the country.

It’s a pretty impressive feat to design for a company that is so well established.  I wonder how it feels for Genco to see his wordmark whenever he passes by the building. Must be neat.

Genco went on to start his own company with his brother called Junction Design. They specifically highlight the importance of user experience on their vibrant orange website. (On a side note,  is orange the ‘it’ colour this year? I feel like it is since a company like ING Direct is even changing its name to Tangerine.)

Junction Design

Junction Design uses a parallax scrolling feature on its site. Anything that uses parallax scrolling effectively is cool in my books.

UX ENHANCES INTERACTIONS BETWEEN USER AND PRODUCT

User Experience design is not just interface or graphic design. It optimizes interactions between the user and the product. UX is a part of User Interface design. I believe that the two should never be separated from one another (they’re like soul mates).

UX is essential to web design because if a website doesn’t give the user the experience they expect to have–or one that exceeds their expectations–they will turn to another site that does. It isn’t surprising, then, that most startups fail in their first few years. This is largely due to the fact that the product/service is not a real need, and user experience was not taken into consideration. Other factors could also hinder the business’ success such as the lack of a market, revenue stream, or user acquisition plan. Thank goodness our web design program  here at Sheridan has a class where we’re learning how to create a solid, sustainable marketing plan.

Junction Design Work

Junction Design’s body of work consists of UX design, visual identity, and responsive development projects for businesses both large and small.

HOW CAN UX SOLVE THE PROBLEMS OF STARTUPS?

Genco told us about a friend of his who started his own house inspection website. Because of a poor marketing plan–amongst other things–the site didn’t take off. However, the app that was made alongside the inspection site was a hit. This app allowed people to take photos of their home and upload it, rather than meandering through the inspection site. The app provided quick, simple and convenient results because it was easy to use. Five hundred people downloaded the app when it was first released, whereas the site didn’t generate as much traffic as anticipated.

UX played a major role in this scenario because the pleasurable user experience came from the instant gratification that came with the app, rather than the cumbersome website. I guess the point of this story is that a site or app must cater to, and focus on, the needs and behaviours of its users. People tend to not have a long attention span on sites, but they enjoy quick, thoughtless things like snapping a photo on their phone and uploading it to the web. I think web designers are really designing for the impatient user, the one who gets distracted a lot — like you and me. There’s no such thing as an “average” user because people use the web for different reasons and through a variety of ways (e.g. mobile, desktop, tablet etc). Behaviours on websites also vary from person to person.

THE APP I WISH I HAD WHEN I WAS A KID (If smartphones were invented in the 90’s)

Genco and his team worked on the UX design for Singspiel, which is an app created by Waterloo designers that gives you feedback on your piano performances.

singspiel

Singspiel allows kids to receive and compare performance results while earning trophies. Its interface mimics that of major gaming consoles so it doesn’t feel like they’re practicing. (Oh, how I remember the days when I had to practice piano every day after school. It was a pain, but it was worth it.)

The app’s target audience is children who play instruments and want to share their music to others. The designers made sure that the app seemed like a game; that it used clean, short copy and simple buttons because kids tend to get distracted very easily–as do adults.  However, kids learn fast (unlike some adults).

WEB DESIGN AND THE STARTUP ROUTE

Genco encouraged us to think about starting our own startups if an entrepreneurial career is the route we want to take the future. As for me, I want to test the waters first before I even think about going entrepreneurial–if I ever do. Still, I’m amazed at the variety of job opportunities there are for web designers. We can literally work for any company because there is always a need for good web design.

He told us not to waste our Grad show opportunity because some of the best people in the industry are going to be there to see us and our work. We’ll never get an opportunity like that again, so we’ve gotta do it well. I’m already trying to think of some ideas for the grad show site. I feel like every year must top the previous year’s design. Last year’s grad show site is hard to beat, but I think we can do it (right guys?!!!).

PARTING ADVICE

• Don’t sell yourself short. Companies do need you (arguably more than you might need them), so don’t just jump at the first job offer. Consider your choices carefully before making a decision.
• Take your class work seriously, and don’t leave assignments until the last minute
• Go to company sites to see if you’re a good fit. Make sure your end product is tailored to a company you might want to work for.
• Your resume should be short with key highlights. No one has the time (and attention span) to read two or more pages of why you’re so awesome.

Stay Social! Connect with Genco on Twitter!

Thanks for reading. Until next time!
Abby

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