Judges’ Q&A: Aline Baeck
Judge: Aline Baeck
Role: Head of Design for the Global Product Experience Group at EBay
Do you have a favourite app & website in terms of the design and user experience?
I love Citymapper – from the beginning it’s been a great blend of functionality that solves a real user need (Londoners who need to navigate their way through the city using uncoordinated modes of public transportation) and a deceptively simple design. Even in the first version, it had a “delighter” in the form of a teleporter transport mode, a fun little animation that instantly beamed you to your destination. Their clean visual design and focus on the core user task make the interface effective even when users are stressed due to unexpected transport issues.
Which industries, in your opinion, tend to deliver the worst user experiences, and why?
I’d rather define it as which industry has the most unmet potential for design to change lives: healthcare. There are so many opportunities for great design to make a fundamental difference, from the experience of family members waiting at the hospital to the continuity of information as a patient is assessed and treated during an incident. Without thoughtful design, there is so much possibility for real harm to patients, as well as the mental anguish caused by lack of communication. Design has the power to change people’s lives when it really matters and yet, as an industry, healthcare has been slow to recognize the difference design can make.
What has been the greatest game changer in the UX and usability sectors over the past 10 years?
We live in a time where more tools, such as Pixate and Invision, are giving less-technical designers the ability to demonstrate their vision directly to engineers. In addition, code is becoming easier to master and more designers are becoming technically proficient. This empowers designers and frees them from excessive documentation. And sweetest of all is the ability to combat an engineer’s “No, that can’t be done” by directly demonstrating that it can.
What do you think are the biggest challenges companies face utilising UX?
Design is so much more than delivering wireframes and visual design. Design can identify new product opportunities, shape business strategy, and help startups create a lasting competitive advantage by understanding user environments and needs. It can create the vision of a compelling future everyone can understand. I believe the biggest challenge is recognizing how broadly design can be leveraged to increase a company’s success.
Do you have any UX pet peeves?
Consultants who take standard UX methods, name them, and sell them as something new.
If you could have any super power what would it be and why?
A 3D printer from my mind – instantly creating things rattling around in my head. That would be awesome.