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033: Design is About People with Andrea Picchi

User Defenders podcast
User Defenders podcast
Design Thinking
033: Design is About People with Andrea Picchi

User Defenders "The Dark Knight" Andrea Picchi

Andrea Picchi reminds us that the core of design is always about people. He dives deep into the importance of design thinking. He motivates us to embrace ambiguity, and to fail as often as possible without losing the job. He also inspires us to believe in design and to always defend the user’s point of view.

Andrea Picchi has 20 years of experience in UX, UI and Product Design. He combines his skills in Cognitive Psychology and Computer Science with his passion for UX and Human-Centered Design to create integrated, multi-device experiences. He believes in design and connecting customer needs to business opportunities. He also practices Brazilian jiu-jitsu, kick-boxing and mixed martial arts.

  • Secret Identity/Origin Story (1:40)
  • Biggest Superhero (7:42)
  • Biggest Failure (12:18)
  • Awkward Testing Story (18:26)
  • Design Superpower (22:48)
  • Design Kryptonite (25:12)
  • Design Superhero Name (30:42)
  • Fight For Users (33:43)
  • Design Thinking (37:09)
  • Habit Of Success (47:06)
  • Invincible Resource (50:25)
  • Book Recommendation (52:08)
  • Best Advice (55:46)
  • Contact Info (60:57)

Andrea’s Website
Andrea’s Twitter
Andrea’s LinkedIn

[RESOURCE] Interviewing people.
[BOOK] Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All

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The core of design is always people. Every design decision has an effect that impacts what people think of the end product. Being passionate while staying open minded and humble are key traits towards being a great UX designer.

I graduated many years ago with a passion for cognitive psychology. That was my beginning. I also had a love for computers so I decided to take a leap of faith and study computer science. People thought I was crazy back then because those two disciplines didn’t seem to go very well with one another. I almost gave up on both of them until I started to connect the dots. I realized these two things formed a relationship and later realized this had a name. It was called human computer interaction. That’s when I really started.

Dieter Rams and Jonny Ive

I used to play by the book for everything from A to Z. I had a lead role where I was in charge of a small team and I was too rigid. I believed I was showing my passion and what I stood for but what I didn’t get was that every person is different and there are many ways to achieve the same goal and results. What I realized is that when we design something it’s about people. So as a designer your superpower has to be that you are open and comfortable with ambiguity. There can’t be rules for everything.

A few years ago I was working for a gambling company and we did a lot of user research. So that was a good thing. There was one person I was interviewing who showed signs of addiction as the interview went on. He was telling me about family issues and all the money he was wasting. This was an eye-opening experience for me and it made me realize that I didn’t want to work in that market anymore. I realized that if I made what I thought was a good design it could eventually be very bad for someone else. It wasn’t the right thing for me.

Connecting the dots, reframing and switching my point of view. As a designer you have to switch the scale up and down in the problem solving approaches you take in order to connect the dots. You may come up with the wrong hypothesis and suddenly you have to scale back to the holistic point of view to come up with the right solution.

I can’t stand when people don’t care. I get upset because I believe we can change the world in a big or small part depending on what you’re working on. Designers are somewhat romantic and want to make a difference so I don’t want someone on my team making the people around them weaker.

The Dark Knight (nobody sees you if you’re doing your job well)

This question reminds me of why we need a chief design officer in companies. I do it by being the user advocate and by reminding everyone that what you do has to be based on user needs. The way you shape your hypothesis, your design, your testing, all of these things have to be based on their needs. If you don’t solve those needs then you don’t have a successful product. Money shouldn’t be the reason why don’t do something. Value for the user should always be the reason.

Design thinking is one of those must-haves. We have at least three measured ways of thinking – design, engineering, and business. In engineering you want to isolate all the variables and manipulate them into an equation that you can then solve. This works very well when you know everything about the problem domain. But if you want to innovate then you don’t have that luxury because there is no history to look at because it’s a brand new type of question with no clear problem domain. For business thinking it usually optimizes its way through. So what it does is isolate the different sets of solutions and selects just one to optimize. For example, there may be multiple campaign choices and you have to select just one and then optimize the path you’ve decided to take. Design thinking is a prototype mindset. Every prototype embodies a question and a hypothesis that you need to be brave enough to embrace but wise enough to let go if it doesn’t work. So design thinking is the best approach to dealing with the ambiguity that inevitable presents itself in our day and age. It is the best way to explore the emotional, meaningful and identity qualities that generate the most money. It’s what drives users to allow you to be a part of their lives. Design thinking is the only way to manage or shape these qualities into a great design service. It’s about how you bring value to people’s lives.

I learned from martial arts to consider myself a white belt all the time. It means there is always something to learn. Never stop learning.

Interviewing people because it’s so important to communicate in our job.

I would advise young and seasoned designers to study business because that’s what will make a big difference in the near future. There will be more chief design officers and to even get a seat at that table you need to understand business. So you’ll talk about your craft with fellow designers but you also need the ability to speak about business when you enter the business environment.