Part 2 – the approach
Gytis Markevicius came to Arnlea to introduce User Experience (UX) to the Oil & Gas industry. Commonplace for consumer brands and in other industries, UX and User Interface (UI) have not been a software priority for Ex inspection and other software employed by oil & gas operators and their supply chain partners, until now.
The majority of our team are technical developers and their approach is different from mine, they think differently from the way I approach software development. Together, we create something that is world-class and possesses a UX/UI that makes using our software incredibly easy. This combination is what our customers and end users are looking for.
Strategically, we use Design Thinking, the methodology first pioneered by IDEO, the global design and consulting firm founded in the early nineties. This means we put our end users at the centre of what we’re trying to achieve, rather than the technical challenge. It involves starting with an open mind about what the different solutions might be, before narrowing down on something specific. By bringing in lots of different approaches to the problem, and trying different options before choosing the best solution, you develop something to meet the specific needs of the people you’re working with, rather than following a tried and tested method that works for you. In everything that we do, we want to have a closer relationship with our end users to be able to get insights first-hand, and we ensure we build in their feedback as well as our own observations.
Part of my role has been to define the processes to enable the design and technical teams to work more closely together. We’re really benefiting from the power of the DT approach; it means we come up with better and better solutions for our clients because we’re not restricted to one regimented approach. It allows us to look at specific customer challenges from every angle, with their end users at the heart of the solution. It also means we’re in the habit of continuous improvement, rather than merely delivering the same old options for clients, regardless of what they truly need.
As a concept, people describe UI/UX as different things; but for me they’re two sides of the same coin. User Interface is mainly about the visuals and aesthetics, while User Experience is more about providing the best experience for users, using the best approach available. My background in design and psychology enables the team to design the best interfaces for our customers, combined with the best competitor products on the market. I always start with research, thinking about the problems and improving the work practices though good architecture, and then I bring in the required UI last.
I look at the content first: what is going to feature in that screen or product and then try to find the best way to present the content in the most efficient, accurate way possible. I think we’ve all felt the difference this approach has made to our business; and the acid test is that our customers have felt it too. The Oil & Gas industry has been crying out for more user-friendly software and systems and we’re playing a small but influential part in that journey.
In our next and final blog, we’ll look at in more detail at the need for client feedback, for our teams to work productively together and why user-centred design has to be the way forward for the industry.