Employee spotlight with Michael Craddock, Lead UX/UI Product Designer

April 15, 2024
April 10, 2024

We sat down with our Lead UX/UI Product Designer Michael Craddock to discuss the in and outs of being a UX/UI designer and what he enjoys most.

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”. Dubiously attributed to Henry Ford on the invention of the car, this quote illustrates why we need to go the extra mile to fully understanding our users and provide meaningful solutions. UX design is the user-centric process that allow us to do this.

What is UX/UI Product Design?

At finova there are 3 components of the UX design process that we apply to product design; 1. understanding the users, their goals, context and expectations, 2. Design a user centric solution based on user insights constructed with optimised and friction-free user journeys, and intuitive, usable, and accessible user interface design (UI), and finally, 3. to validate the UX design solution with user testing and behavioural analytics to confirm that users are using the product as expected and to future roadmap new ideas and improvements.

How do you understand what users want from a product?

It starts with a discovery stage which involves talking directly to users, stakeholders, product, support and sales to get a complete picture of the needs and wants of users. From there we create persona profiles of each user type, recording the users’ context, such as their device (mobile/desktop) and their location (office/home/train). It requires the use of behavioural, physical and cognitive psychological study from the team to capture the users’ expectation of the product, and how this is shaped by competitor products or industry chatter.

What challenges do you encounter in the course of your work?

I think because of the breadth and scope of UX activities, one of the misconceptions we sometimes encounter is that the UX process is costly and time consuming. However, the investment in the UX actually helps ensure that the project is progressing smoothly, avoiding costly reworkings. Another frequent challenge comes from the thinking that user feedback should be always taken at face value. Which takes us back to the Henry Ford quote. The UX team’s expertise allows us to read between the lines of user feedback, very much as is suggested in the quote by Henry Ford, understand the root causes of user frustration and provide design solutions best suited to meet users' needs.  

What does the future look like for UX/UI?

It’s bright, healthy and will ultimately include AI, potentially as a tool for the UX designer taking on data processing tasks such as sorting and pattern matching research insights, or within the design activities creating templated wireframe pages for the UX designer to tweak or UI designs from an established design system for the UI designer to refine.

What do you enjoy most about UX/UI design?

The variety of my work, in both activity and substance, working on different products and collaborating with different teams across the business brings a huge source of personal enjoyment. It’s when you get feedback confirming that your efforts have provided a great user experience… when everything falls into place, the planets align, and a design solution emerges that exceeds the users’ expectation… a moment when something appears to be easier than expected, what UX designers call ‘a moment of delight’.

Do you have any final comments?

Suffice to finish with another quote from Ford and the importance of talking to, and standing in the shoes of those using our products… “If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own.”