On Thursday 7th July, the Design team from Zazzle Media were lucky enough to score two (pretty slick aluminium) tickets to InVision’s European premiere of their newest documentary, Design Disruptors (#DESIGNDISRUPTORS) at the London Palladium.
The documentary took an in-depth look at some of the greatest design disruptors of our time. A disruptor being defined as "a designer or brand that has re-invented the way we interact with technology and some of the problems we face". Comprised of a series of interviews, the documentary shared priceless insight from influential designers at global brands including Facebook, Google, Lyft, Airbnb, and Pinterest among others. Centred around UI, UX and product design, the documentary covered the design journey for many apps and services we use on a daily basis and the problems they overcame to create these successful products.
Ultimately, the core focus of the documentary was the increasingly important role of the designer. In a world now focussed on services and products, designers now play a much more influential role within a business and can determine the success or failure of such services, products or brands. As traditional ways of thinking have changed, designers are being included at the initial stage of the creative process, rather than tacked on at the end as an afterthought.
Airbnb is a fine example of how designers have been able to disrupt an entire industry. Originally founded by two design graduates, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia from Rhode Island School of Design. Chesky and Gebbia did what Silicon Valley deemed impossible for a designer to do – build a global and successful company. With the company now worth over $20 billion dollars, it has truly revolutionised the travel and hotel industries.
Although Airbnb’s core premise of property rental is a new concept, what helped them excel to the height’s is the simplicity of the user experience. As designers, the founders were able to look at the booking and travel industry from a pure design and usability perspective, seeing the frustrations that many people faced when trying to book accommodation online. They saw an opportunity to capitalise on it through the use of clever marketing and the potential to monetise its users while providing new and exciting places to stay for eager travellers on a limited budget.
Uber and Lyft were both other examples that the documentary touched on, looking at how an online, design-influenced service has changed the way people view taxi services. Gone are the days of hanging around in the rain waiting for a taxi, not knowing how much the journey will cost, or who’ll be driving you. Uber offers users a far more personal and reliable service, allowing customers to book, pay and track their car in real-time via the app. It’s a super-simple solution optimising an already existing process that had existed for decades.
In a world now dominated by mobile devices, design and user experience will continue to have a huge impact on how we perceive brands and interact with their services. From booking a taxi to managing data in the cloud, all of these on-screen experiences have been expertly constructed by designers. These experiences have been crafted to promote brand engagement, ultimately leading to continued brand loyalty. In a super competitive marketplace, even minor UI or UX issues can have disastrous consequences as users will quickly move to a competing service in hopes of a better experience.
Following the documentary was a Q+A with Tobias Van Schneider, an award-winning product and UI/UX designer with experience working at some of the biggest tech companies on the planet, including his most recent position as Head of Product Design and Art Director at Spotify.
Van Schneider discussed much of what he’d learnt throughout his career, but his most poignant point was his discussion about the changing role of the designer and the invaluable importance they now play within businesses. Van Schneider noted that more designers in businesses both big and small, now have a seat at the table during important meetings to consult on how things should be done. Designers are ‘doers’; and play a big role in actually crafting the core product for these online brands and services. Historically, engineers used to have a much stronger voice when discussing service, product or app functionality. This has now begun to shift in favour of the designer.
Echoing the documentary, Van Schneider also mentioned that it is an exciting time to be a designer with several services and marketplaces still ripe for disruption just waiting for the technology or individuals to take a leap into uncharted territory. One recurring sentiment was that designers do not create or predict the future. Rather, they propose various solutions and allow the users to decide.
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