User experience. In today's digital age, it's everything. Plain and simple, if your company's UX isn't up to snuff, business will suffer. But what does great UX really look like? And what kind of skill sets should you be on the hunt for when growing key UX players on your team?
With these questions in mind, I connected with Cantina's SVP of Experience Design, Chris Lamothe. An award-winning industry vet with nearly 16 years' experience under his belt, Lamothe knows a thing or two about what separates the "meh" from the amazing when it comes to remarkable UX.
Read more in the interview below.
Kaite Rosa: Good UX is so important to almost every company’s success today. But what does “good UX” really mean? How do you define it?
Chris Lamothe: Regardless of medium or milieu, a good user experience actively embraces its role as the means to an end. That is, the state in which a person has achieved their goal. With this lone condition met, a UX can be considered minimally viable.
To rise to good or great means imbuing the UX with more emotionally resonant qualities that please, impress, and even delight the person as they engage. To do that requires iterative research, validation, and refinement.
In simple terms, it means listening to the people who use your product or service, understanding their goals and motivations, and crafting a design that subtly impresses or exceeds their expectations.
KR: Creativity vs. the ability to understand and interpret data. Which is more important when it comes to a UX designer’s skill set? Does one trump the other?
CL: Great question. The real answer is that they're equally important, and really get to the heart of elevating UX from merely viable to very desirable.
An analytical mind can interpret data and design an experience that enables a person to achieve their goal. A creative mind can imagine and design unique and interesting approaches to do the same.
But when creativity and analysis fuse–magic happens and truly remarkable design occurs.
KR: Let’s talk more about skills. What do you look for when hiring and growing a team? And, in the time you’ve been at Cantina, how has that focus shifted?
CL: Fundamentals matter. To have depth in some aspect of UX–interaction design, user research, visual design, usability testing, information architecture, and content strategy for example–those are table stakes.
Equally important though is a person's ability to be nice, and to embody Cantina's core values of being humble, inquisitive, demonstrating knowledge, and willing to experiment often in order to elevate our work.
That focus has been our ethos from the beginning, though it's only relatively recently that we've codified them and can literally point to them now (we painted them on the office wall).