Our Design Philosophy At Qlik

Why is conceptual thinking such an integral part of product design?

Pocket Guide to Interface Design

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I’m a great believer in the importance of conceptual thinking when creating new products or designing new systems. By that I mean defining ideas and notions that can help frame the why, what and how of bringing a product to life. They focus the vision, giving innovation a rudder to steer by. Sometimes these concepts are created upfront and laid out in detailed strategy models, in other instances they start loose and coalesce as the project unfolds. I’ve always found the latter works best, as it’s only by working something through that you really understand it and its implications.

Over the course of researching and designing Qlik Sense, four concepts quickly established themselves. These evolved as we learned more about how people using our software behaved and how our vision aligned with their world and needs. Together they act as a philosophy to guide us and to ensure that the features and ideas we come up with fit together into a cohesive experience. One that supports our overall intention of increasing the access to and usefulness of data analytics.

Here they are:

  1. Keep it natural - The best tools fit us, extending and enhancing our skills in ways we understand instinctively.

    Natural covers many aspects from usability thinking, such as keeping things simple and removing cognitive overload. It’s people-centric and is what enables products to be intuitive so that you know immediately how to work with them.

  2. Encourage flow - When we are focused and in a 'flow state': we are at our most effective and creative.

    Flow in a product can be many things. It can be the movement and navigation around the product, the steps taken to fulfill a task or the stream of interactions with a person. However, the ‘flow state’ is a psychological phenomenon that is personal and unique to an individual. In this state, actions become second nature and we are filled with confidence, we are ‘cooking with gas’.

  3. Embrace dialogue - Debate and discussion brings us together and adds energy to our actions, nuancing our understanding.

    Dialogue is the exchange, the feedback and the conversation. It is essential to understanding and to collaboration. It’s more than the conversation between individuals or a person and a system, it’s also the conversation in a group. It’s a mix of telling stories, active debate and most importantly listening. This mix is key to our success, as together we can understand an idea, spot a threat or opportunity and even share an experience.

  4. Consider context - The time, the place, the situation and the participants change how we interact and experience things.

    Every experience we have is shaped by the moment in which we have it. That moment is influenced by environmental factors, the sum of my experience to date, what my expectations are and whom I'm with. Understanding the where, when, why and how of an experience is essential, as it helps us empathize with people and enables us to design for their world.

Each of these concepts help us to ask questions and interrogate our thinking. They enable us to query our ideas from different perspectives, be it the usefulness of a capability, the impact of a requirement or the potential of a prototype.

I’ll be going into more detail on each of these over my next few posts. Stay tuned!

Photo credit: juhansonin / Foter / CC BY-SA

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