Why UX Matters – Interview with Sr. UX Designer Sara Tavasolian
Ever found yourself hitting the wrong button and then flipping through the manual in a frenzy, trying to figure out how to get that thing to stop doing what it’s doing? If your answer is yes, you’ve been an unfortunate victim of bad UX.
UX stands for User Experience and is defined as all aspects of the product, such as a landing page, website, the product itself, the community, the service, all of it – as experienced by users. And it is a fundamental, but often neglected, part of the success of software. Why? To put it simply, UX is important because it tries to fulfill the user’s needs.
Today, UX is at the forefront of tech and is pivotal for the success of modern businesses. We’ve asked the mastermind behind the UX and design in Howwe, Sara Tavasolian, to give us a glimpse of her ideas, vision, and view on the importance of good UX.
– What is the impact of a great user experience in a product like Howwe?
In 2021 we focused on optimizing our UX which has helped us increase our user engagement and boost retention rate.
During my time here at Howwe, I have learned that there is one common denominator between all goal management platforms: being able to disrupt and challenge the status quo within an organization to create a lasting change. Organizations often need the discipline to execute their goals, and a great way to achieve this is by creating sequences of positive user experiences supporting the required behavior in our platform.
It really boils down to understanding our users and how our solution can help them achieve their goals. We know that conversion rate can increase tremendously with intentional user research, and good UX impacts our business significantly, especially in times of fluctuation of execution software. A great user experience that creates a lasting impact involves putting those affected front and center.
– What is the UX vision for Howwe?
Our vision will continuously empower our users by creating optimistic possibilities in all of our digital ecosystems, and the user experience is an integral part of achieving that. I believe being comfortable with ambiguity and creating opportunities to advance our understanding through rapid experimentations and iteration cycles will enable us to innovate on features and keep addressing our users evolving needs.
– How would you describe the user experience in Howwe?
As an execution software, Howwe is easy to adopt and implement. The user interface is easy to recall on subsequent visits. We continuously aim at creating an optimal experience in our platform. However, to be successful in our application as a company, you need to identify your organizational challenges at scale, and those valuable insights will become a core part of succeeding in your company’s goals. The importance here is facilitating those difficult conversations and building internal consensus with Howwe as your compass.
That said, we always consider the user needs at every phase of our product development life cycle and ensure that they are in conjunction with our methodology. We have a structured research framework embedded in our product team’s processes to involve users very early on. Thanks to our user and internal discoveries, we realized that our users had difficulty locating certain features. Following this insight, we changed our strategy to improve the overall usability of the navigation.
– How would you describe UX in B2B products in general?
While other goal execution platforms are mainly leaders-focused, we strive to create a culture of inclusivity and diversity. By offering this leap in value, we want to give our users an entirely new experience.
Compared to some of our competitors, we also address eliminating the complexity in our product as much as possible. For example, we don’t require our users to have specific industry knowledge but rather a shift in habits and behavioral change, which is crucial to any success. Leaders and teams need to be aware that patience and perseverance are essential to see a subsequent return on their investment in our product.
– It’s sometimes said that “You only notice UX when it’s bad”. What’s your take on that?
That is the nature of our work, and to succeed in this field you need to have an understanding that great UX and design work will go unnoticed. As designers, our objective is to ensure that the experiences we design are solving a real-world problem and must be intuitive and easy to use. That comes with great understanding that the backstage work will naturally not be instantly visible, which can be translated as a great sign.
– How does a great UX affect behavior change?
Implementing design solutions to behavioral change is very complex.
In Howwe, we focus on creating a sequence of seamless journeys where users feel successful in their daily lives. Fundamental to adopting software such as Howwe is the importance of teams knowing their impact at scale in their organizations.
I think we also need to ask ourselves why we would like to change a user’s behavior. How will this improve the users’ lives for the better? Once we have the answers, we can start looking at how design can help modify those small changes and solve their problems.
– What is your way of working (design process, methods you follow, testing, etc.) to achieve an outstanding user experience?
My approach to product design encompasses the entire user journey using iterative cycles and having a clear understanding of what problems I’m trying to solve.
We conduct comprehensive user research, cross-collaboration with different units, and creative thinking sessions to develop new solutions for our users. We have lots of brainstorming sessions with our engineering team to generate solutions, and I involve stakeholders keen on generating solutions with us. In the end, we have actionable insights gathered from interviews, usability testing, behavioral data analysis combined with quantitative data that allows us to make informed decisions
I’m also involved in the creation of the UX copy, the product linguistics, and the look and feel of the product, which involves close collaboration with our marketing team.
– What are some of the biggest challenges you experience as a UX designer?
We want to keep our platforms simple and give users the ultimate control and flexibility, and this is a challenge in itself. The other challenge has been to keep the visual identity of all our product portfolios cohesive and consistent.
Being responsible for the design process in any company is not an easy task. The good news is, I have a core team at Howwe that I work very closely with; our Chief Product Officer, Chief Strategy Officer, Tech Leads, and Head of Insights. They all offer a great set of knowledge and expertise, which has been crucial in my design process. They have been generously giving me the space to explore my creativity, especially in explorative design work, which I believe is a defining factor in generating great user experiences as a designer.
– What inspires you?
I grew up with a creative family and have been surrounded by art and Persian poetry since an early age. As a teenager, I remember asking my father to buy me the latest Windows 95, and since then, I have been hooked on the evolving world of technology. Both planets have collided seamlessly for me.
I try to distance myself from the products I’m currently designing as often as possible and leave space to explore my other interests, such as industrial design, spatial interactive art, and traditional graphic design.
I have a background in interactive design, where we intersect the software and the hardware by applying a human-centered approach to our design processes. This approach also explains my invested interest in behavioral psychology, which I spend a lot of my time learning and exploring.
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