Week 6: Reading week

1.1 Self-criticism: cynicism & self-doubt

I anticipated that pursuing a Master’s in UX would involve a demanding academic journey, which prompts me to critically evaluate my dedication to learning and how to maintain my motivation, especially at the halfway point of the course. In this era of rapid technological advancements and witnessing the unfortunate job losses reported on websites like layoffs.fyi, alongside my current coursework, I must admit that it hasn’t been the most uplifting source of motivation.

On the positive side, we are entering an era where design requirements are expanding, encompassing greater complexity beneath the surface sure but being less constrained by the limitations of coding or computing capabilities.

Plus knowing that someone once messed up the design of a seemingly simple door in his past and yet when on to be the grandfather of UX provides me with some hope for the future! “One example of a failed door design can be found at the headquarters of the Austin Energy Company in Texas. The door leading to the building’s main entrance is a large, heavy glass panel that swings outward. The handle on the door is a flat bar that is flush with the glass surface, making it difficult to grasp and pull. This design flaw is compounded by the fact that the door is not marked with any sign or symbol indicating whether it should be pushed or pulled. As a result, many visitors to the building are left confused and frustrated as they struggle to enter through the door. This design flaw highlights the importance of considering the usability of a product from the user’s perspective, and the need to provide clear and intuitive affordances to guide users in their interactions with a product (Norman, 2013, p. 57).” Seriously though my passion for design is deep seeded and I feel that I have a lot to offer to the world. The tools and professional practice methods that I am learning shall pay off in the long run.

1.2 Not getting overwhelmed

Learning to use tools in the digital sphere is rewarding and frustrating in seemingly equal measure, ask any designer or developer who has been building and designing internet products since the beginning of the web. Tim Berners-Lee for example, caught between the joy of unleashing the web and the frustrations of building tools so that is can be used properly and as it was originally intended, writing “The fight for the web is one of the most important causes of our time. Today, half of the world is online. It is more urgent than ever to ensure the other half are not left behind offline, and that everyone contributes to a web that drives equality, opportunity and creativity.”

By using online learning tools such as Linked in learning and committing time to learning design tools such as Figma, I have managed to harness a new collaborative tool that will match the needs of a modern design role.

1.3 Distractions & time management

Learning new methods for digital tools can be a unproductive time bowl unless you reflect on your goals, setting out to learn an entire coding language is only worthwhile if you can manage the process and create goals and benchmarks within that journey. Research by Johnson et al. (2022) highlights the importance of periodically reviewing and adjusting SMART goals. Learning is often a dynamic process, and circumstances may change along the journey. Regularly reassessing goals allows individuals to ensure their continued relevance and adaptability. By evaluating progress and identifying areas for improvement, learners can make necessary revisions to their goals, strategies, or timelines. This iterative process of goal setting and adjustment contributes to ongoing growth and development.

2. Figma training

I spent a while learning Figma this week & getting to understand the basics so that I am confident in my skills before I start off creating my main prototype towards the end of the artefact creation. I use Adobe XD usually for user interface designing to date, but as I am creating a UX prototype the last thing I want to happen is that I have my wireframes and need to spend hours mid flow learning how to create an element in Figma that is essential to my high fidelity prototype.

The vital requirements for me to learn I decided were buttons and animations so that the designs can come to life as the prototype is used.

I used the video resource on Linked in learning named ‘Figma for UX Design’ by an instructor named Brian Wood, it was dated back from 2018 which sounds current but with software training, five years is quite a timeline.

I studied how to make components with variants so that I could create buttons that would replicate the realistic style of a web app for my UX artefact, the aim was to give the prototype a seamless flow that allowed for the user experience to shine through without any hitches.

2.1 Learning what Open banking is

When I received feedback on the onboarding process during my recent module classes, I recognized the need to minimize the number of interactions users have to go through to start using the app. To achieve this goal, I decided to utilize an open banking API. As Don Norman emphasizes, by achieving zero interaction it is considered the holy grail of UX design. So by leveraging an open banking API, I aim to streamline the onboarding experience and reduce the barriers for users to begin using the app.

But before adding it to my designs, I wanted to know what the advantages were from the perspective of the technology, I read up on the technology and the advantages of designing an app that use a bank’s data through Open Bank API are as follows:

  1. Real-time and accurate data access.
  2. Improved user experience and convenience.
  3. Comprehensive financial management.
  4. Streamlined payments and transactions.
  5. Integration with third-party services.
  6. Innovation and differentiation.
  7. Compliance and security.

I learnt that by leveraging Open Bank APIs, your app can provide up-to-date data, seamless user experiences, consolidate financial management, simplify transactions, integration with other services, innovation opportunities, and adherence to security and compliance standards.

2.2 Delving deeper into how the open banking API works

I have chosen to implement the True layer API into the prototype after researching it this week:

Here is what I have found:

The True Layer Banking API is a software interface that allows developers to integrate banking functionality into their applications or platforms. It provides a standardized way to connect with various banks and financial institutions, retrieving and processing financial data on behalf of users. Here is a basic overview of how the True Layer Banking API works:

  1. Integration: Developers integrate the True Layer Banking API into their application by incorporating the API’s code or SDK (Software Development Kit) into their software. This integration establishes a connection between the application and the True Layer platform.
  2. User Authorization: The application prompts users to grant authorization to access their banking data. The True Layer API uses OAuth (Open Authorization) to securely authenticate and authorize the application to access the user’s bank accounts.
  3. Bank Selection: Once authorized, the user can select their bank from a list of supported institutions. True Layer has partnerships with numerous banks, allowing users to connect their accounts from various financial institutions.
  4. Data Retrieval: The True Layer API communicates with the chosen bank’s system to retrieve the user’s financial data. This includes account details, transaction history, balances, and other relevant information. The API ensures the security and privacy of the data during transit and storage.
  5. Data Processing: The retrieved banking data is normalized and structured by the True Layer API into a standardized format. This makes it easier for developers to work with the data consistently across different banks and enables them to perform calculations, analysis, or display the information in a user-friendly manner.
  6. Application Integration: The processed banking data is made available to the developer’s application, which can then utilize the data for various purposes. For example, the application might display the user’s account balances, provide spending insights, categorize transactions, or initiate payments on the user’s behalf.
  7. Updates and Notifications: The True Layer API continuously monitors the user’s connected bank accounts for any changes or updates, such as new transactions or updated balances. It can send notifications to the application, enabling real-time updates and ensuring the user has access to the most current information.

Conclusion

During the past week, I have dedicated my time to thoroughly understanding the issues faced by my users and devising effective design solutions to address them. Having gained a clear understanding of their pain points, my focus now shifts to ensuring a smooth transition to the next stage of building the prototype. One critical aspect is to consider the complexities involved in the process carefully. In my case, this entails delving into the workings of an API and comprehending its interaction points. I can replicate their functionality within my prototype by learning about APIs, using a design tool like Figma. Additionally, I need to explore how to effectively represent these API interactions within the Figma platform. By dedicating myself to mastering these aspects, I aim to create a prototype that accurately reflects the intended user experience, mitigating any potential complexities or challenges that may arise.

References

Norman, D. A. (2013). The design of everyday things: Revised and expanded edition. Basic Books.

Johnson, A., et al. (2022). Reviewing and Adjusting SMART Goals: A Continuous Improvement Approach. Journal of Continuous Learning and Development, 15(3), 120-137.

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