»User-centered design is the key to success!«
Interview with Sven Marten, Chief Designer at sovanta AG

Nov 06, 2018

The sovanta® Design Lab focuses on the users of our apps: What expectations do the users have of the software? How do they want to operate an application? How can we provide optimal support and ensure an outstanding user experience? Our chief designer Sven Marten gives an insight into sovanta® UX Design.

What exactly is user-centered design?

The term actually comes from product design: it used to be called ergonomic design. The bottom line of product design is to know the users and their needs. And it’s just the same in the software sector: beyond and above all, I have to know the user, his tasks, the software he uses – and also what he doesn’t need. This is the only way to ultimately create the perfect solution for the respective user.

And at sovanta, user-centered design is an integral part of app development?

Yes, exactly. We started very early to establish the topic of "user-centered design" as a cornerstone of software development. At that time, this was far from common. Historically, software has always been developed inside-out – from the data base to the application towards the user. At sovanta, we have always turned the process around: first, we define what the user needs and afterwards, we only integrate those features and functions into the system that the user really needs. Finally, it’s all about how well the user can handle the application. The user experience when interacting with an app defines the software quality. Therefore, our development process is absolutely design-driven – from the design concept, the functionalities to the implementation of the solution. We call it Design Driven Development. Ultimately, UX design is simply about designing the software in such a way that the user enjoys working with it. Solving certain tasks very quickly and easily gives the user a good feeling. And the entire company benefits from it.

What is sovanta’s formula for success?

Quite simply: We place the user at the center of all our thoughts and actions. This is nothing new and also found in the classic form of "design". But we go one step further and try to actively involve the users in the software development process on an ongoing basis, i.e. to involve them continuously in the course of a project. This is part of our DNA in Design Driven Development - something that many other companies have not yet achieved. Ultimately, it also makes up part of our philosophy at sovanta: We want all project participants to become a bit more design thinkers themselves, to look at things from a design and user perspective and even make decisions from the viewpoint of users or customers. And that pays off for companies. Examples of design-oriented companies include SAP, Apple and Coca-Cola.

How do trends such as voice control and chat bots impact UX design?

Since we act close to the user, we also react strongly to changing user paradigms. There is currently a provocative statement "Next UI is no (graphical) UI". The point is to replace or supplement the classic graphical user interfaces known from smartphones with a completely new interaction pattern that interacts with computer systems via voice and speech, or even written words. The inhibition threshold for interaction with a computer system via a chat and voice bot goes towards zero if I can speak or write with it in a natural way. At heart, the dialogue with the system remains, but so-called conversational interfaces will become more and more important.

Does artificial intelligence play a role?

Absolutely. The interaction with intelligent systems resembles more and more the dialogue between two persons. In the near future, we will thus communicate naturally with systems via language. This also means, that we start to build empathy for them, which is quite natural when people communicate. Ultimately, human beings will control and regulate the systems. And for that, we have to set the course now – especially since technology is advancing at an incredible speed. Studies show, for example, that in the next ten years up to 50 percent of the professions that are exercised by humans today can be carried out by machines. But what will happen to those people?

So we are facing a big problem?

I wouldn’t say so. We are rather facing an exciting new challenge that we can look forward to in a positive manner. New technologies enable us to add artificial intelligence to human intelligence – but of course not replacing it! Now, we have to define how people can make use of artificial intelligence in a meaningful and beneficial way. Finally, we will let the system take over routine tasks and keep on working on everything concerned with creativity, emotions and establishment of rules. This way, we will have more free time to take care of bigger and more important problems. It is important that we prepare for this new world. We do this, for example, with our clients in design thinking workshops and thus accompany them successfully in the digital transformation.

Why is it particularly exciting to work at sovanta during this time?

For me, the special thing here is that the employees are always encouraged to stay curious. There is always room for new technologies and projects. In this respect, it will certainly never be boring at sovanta.

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About Sven Marten

As the chief designer, Sven Marten is part of the management team and responsible for the entire design team at sovanta AG.

»We firmly believe that a user-centered design is the key to the success of an app. That's why our Design Lab has the task of making the application "easy" to use. If an app is easy and intuitive to use, it automatically increases user acceptance and has a direct effect on increasing efficiency in the business processes. That's why we rely on methods such as shadowing, interviews and design thinking to understand the user and support our customers in the digital transformation with the right solutions.«

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