Insight of the future of design based on current trades .

We invited Helena Hill, UX Strategist and Consultant to understand "How good design is not a fixed formula but rather a combination of the elements, influenced by the specific context, goals, and target audience of each design project.


Helena Hill

Who did we interview?

UX Strategist and Consultant, Helena Hill has many years of experience working with a wide range of clients from pre-start-ups to global organisations.

She has worked with companies to build in-house UX and customer experience teams, planned and implemented UX processes and worked with clients to develop innovative and engaging digital experiences for their users, clients and customers.

She is a regular speaker on user experience design, customer experience and service design and has recently added passenger experience to her bow.

Let us quickly get to our expert's point of view.

Let us quickly get to our expert's point of view.

  • Ques 1 : First secret of great design is? How can we implement Design Thinking in an organisation?

    Ans : Where do I start? Answering both questions with one answer I would say, people, resources, time, a strategic roadmap and patience might be a good place.

    The thing is that there are no secrets in great design. Great design is borne from exactly the opposite; collaboration, talking, listening, planning and sharing. And when it comes to implementing a design thinking culture into an organisation this is the environment we want to foster.

    I’ve had a lot of experience of working with organisations both in the private and public sectors where design maturity has been low although it’s not often that I work with a client that hasn’t heard of experience design or design thinking it’s more the ‘how do we do it’ which is where, as a strategist, I come in.

    Achieving design maturity can, and should, take years and so setting expectations is key. Also, recognising that you may not see the results of your time and input is something that stakeholders need to understand from the outset.

    Every organisation is different and their journeys towards design maturity met with challenges and pushback. Therefore it’s important to ensure buy-in from key stakeholders, both hierarchically and horizontally across the organisation.

    Only then can we really think about getting started on our implementation journey.

  • Ques 2 : Please elaborate on the nature of the relationship between data and design?

    Ans : Those who know me from my work will not be surprised to hear what comes next! You can’t design meaningful user experiences without data.

    I work with a lot of startups as a UX mentor and they get sick of me banging the data drum but it’s so important and worth every second of time that goes into it.

    There are many ways of collecting qualitative and quantitative data (and cheaply!) From Google Analytics to user surveys, usability testing and focus groups, there is no excuse not to test with a target market. If we don’t understand who our customers are, what problem we’re solving and frustrations (or not) with the status quo then how can we possibly design experiences that not only meet but exceed their expectations?

    Second to not collecting data is collecting it and filing it. Data is rich in insights, from page exit rates to user tasks. Collect it and analyse it.

    Finally, from experience I understand that a lot of organisations just don’t want to know and would rather base design and strategic decisions on assumptions rather than validated analytics or user feedback. Don’t be scared of ‘bad data’; it’s the gold dust you’ve been looking for.

  • Ques 3 : What do you see as the future of design in your field? What's going to come up?

    Ans : Isn’t AI and ChatGPT the only way forward? No, I’m kidding! In the first question about implementing Design Thinking into an organisation I answered, ‘people’ and I’m sticking to it!

    There’s a lot of talk about the rise of AI and how it’s going to impact every industry and take jobs from people. I have no doubt that we will see some parts of our work replaced with AI sooner rather than later but personality and nuance is miles away, as are the life experiences that people bring to our profession.

    Traditionally, User Experience has been the umbrella term for work that encompassed all user touch points but over the last five to ten years we’ve started to see emerging disciplines and specialists in Customer Experience, Service Design and Passenger Experience, for example.

    As technology becomes increasingly complex, contextual and AI-driven, we’ll see more opportunities for specialisation in a particular software, hardware, industry or environment. We’re in for an exciting ride, that’s for sure!

  • Ques 4 : In the designing world, throwing your individuality into a project is heresy. Please tell us about your journey through the design strategy and life experiences that have shaped you into the person you are today.

    Ans : This is a very interesting question and one that I felt needs a little more context before I answer it! This is a quotation from a TEDTalk by Marian Bantjes entitled ‘Intricate Beauty by Design’ and she’s talking about her career move from Graphic Designer to Graphic Artist. Interestingly, she describes her role as a Graphic Designer as being strategically driven and as Graphic Artist, ego driven suggesting that individuality in design is somehow frowned upon.

    In part, I would agree with this in that commercially, design should be driven by user data and strategic goals rather than the view or ideas of a single designer or even a team of designers. However, as human beings we are naturally drawn to particular patterns, colours and processes. We’re inherently biassed and our views, subjective so to pretend there isn’t an element of individuality in a project would be.

    I’d like to think that I come to the Experience Design table fairly well rounded! My work across multiple sectors has definitely made me a better designer and strategist.

    My previous experience as a secondary school music teacher and classically trained musician has, without a doubt, had a positive impact on my work in Experience Design and in other aspects of my work. I’m a confident speaker, mentor and team member and I think that if I can get a class of thirty fourteen year olds listening to Mozart then I can teach anything!

    Seriously though, I gave up teaching 25 years ago but without the experience, I couldn’t have achieved what I have in a completely different sector. I love business, design and data and my creative and entrepreneurial background have certainly shaped me and will continue to do so.

  • Ques 5 : What advice do you have for the design community?

    Ans : Firstly, collaborate and learn from each other. It might sound a bit obvious but you’d be surprised how difficult some people find this. I was slightly tongue in cheek about the impending AI doom earlier but, in all seriousness, as advances in technology and the digital landscape change, we’ll need each other more than ever.

    Secondly, don’t be afraid to stick your neck above the water when challenged or debating designs. The world needs more people to dump ‘the chimp’, speak out, share great ideas or be a little contentious. And, being honest, I should practise what I preach as I’m the first to worry about what others think about my views or ideas and I’ve been in the industry a long time!

Aman Benipal

Senior Consultant

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