Robby is the UX/UI Designer for Lightning Social Ventures and co-founder/designer of UITS (Up In The Skies). He talked about tailoring design sprints and his path into UX.
Robby adapts Joe Knapp’s Design Sprint approach to what his projects need rather than treating it as gospel. He’s worked over the weekend to build the prototype for testing with users as he found he needed more than one day to complete it. He compressed defining the problem with stakeholders from three days to two. For remote working he used a Miro template. He learned to become a better facilitator and worked on his time management. Offering an online space helps everyone on the team ‘sing from the same hymn sheet’.
Breaking into UX
Robby took an esoteric route into UX (don’t we all?). He originally studied Product Design and then went on to do his Masters in Contemporary Art Theory, both at Edinburgh College of Art. He spent a four year stint as a bond broker where he learned client management, tailoring his approach to people, selling himself and general business acumen. After a period teaching English in Hong Kong and studying furniture design in Florence he reskilled at the start of 2020, finishing the UXDI qualification at the beginning of the Covid lockdown.
He chose UX as a creative discipline in demand and was somewhat overwhelmed by the amount of UX information available online. After reading up on it he realised (like many of us) he had been doing UX for years without realising - solving problems, overcoming barriers and dealing with people.
He went to the UX Edinburgh meet-up and spoke to people. He found the UXDI qualification useful and appreciated it’s structured content: each module contains a UX process. It’s also valuable to be part of a community with UXDI students attending from all over the UK. By doing UX he feels part of something.
Pitch Lightning Social Ventures to us in one minute or less.
Lightning Social Ventures - A FinTech start up founded by CEO Ren Yi Hooi, with Social Impact at its core. We are building an innovative platform which will help streamline the grant making process for funders and individuals in turn delivering financial aid at scale to organisations and individuals who need it most, at the speed required. The project is a joint initiative with the UK's leading community platform Do IT.
Through integration of technology, for example Open Banking, our platform will make it easy for any grant giver to make payments quickly and securely and enable individuals and organisations to apply for funding via a mobile, tablet or desktop. The platform will offer modules for funders to verify an applicant's identity and financial need, to enable speedy applications, approvals and payment processes.
UITS - A Social start up. We are a Memory Management App. We’re creating a platform which makes it easy for you to add, store, manage and find your digital assets (memories) in one place. We aim to help families and friends bond through shared memories. Uits is more than just a cloud storage app, it’s a place to store, add and mange those special moments - as if they are living things. We want to make social more private. You own all your data, forever, you are in complete control of who accesses this data enabling you to pass down your memories from generation to generation - so in theory your great grandchildren could listen to a bedtime story told by your grandmother.
How do you know your idea will make money and help people? What research have you done?
Firstly take advantage of research that is already out there.
Lightning Social Ventures - The project is extremely timely. It’s been developed in response to the pressures that Covid-19 has placed on charity and voluntary services as they face greater needs in the communities that they serve. Our partner Do IT funders have reported up to a ten-fold increase in demand for their help, yet many are struggling to deliver financial aid at scale to organisations and individuals who need it most, at the speed required.
The problem has been defined. At the beginning of joining both start ups, I conducted a remote five day Design Sprint - I feel this is important so everyone on the team is on the same wavelength. The goal of any initial Design Sprint, I believe, should be to validate a proof of concept by identifying there is a problem that needs solving.
User Research - I always like to combine a Depth Interview with every Usability Test I conduct, as this helps to really get to the core of individual issues. This results from these sessions for both Lightning Social Ventures and uits validated our assumptions that we were solving a problem that existed and would help people.
Funding - have you managed to secure a grant or loan for what you want to do? Are you making a profit yet?
Both start ups are heading towards MVP Beta launch by the end of the year.
- Lightning Social Ventures - Along with our partners DoIT we have recently received backing from the government's Innovate UK fund to support Covid-19 recovery.
- uits (Up In The Skies) - No funding yet. The plan is to further show our proof of concept before heading out for our first round of funding.
Technical platform - do you have an app or a website? Who is building it?
- Lightning Social Ventures - Landing page: lightningreach.org; Desktop and Mobile Web. Through funding we have a developer as part of the team
- uits (Up In The Skies) - Landing page: uits.life; Mobile App: Android & iOS; the CEO is a developer who is building the MVP
Work / life balance - how are you finding the lockdown? Any tips for keeping focused?
From a work perspective the lockdown has been fine, I have my own studio space which helps, all projects are remote. However, more importantly, it is the social side of things that has been more challenging, I miss the social connections which can ultimately affect mental health and motivation.
I would recommend reaching out to friends / community groups, I find this helps keep one another motivated. It can be lonely at times so it’s good to know there are other people in the same situation as you out there but don’t always talk about work!
In terms of keeping motivated there has to be an element of self discipline - create a structure that suits you, your work should work around you. Write things down, structure your calendar and time - it doesn’t have to be 9-5.
There is a certain trend I’ve seen on social media where overworking is becoming glamorised, this is dangerous and wrong. You should not feel guilty for stepping away from work to catch your breath and refocus. We all go through up and down periods, it’s important to be able to step away to recharge the energy and motivational levels.