Interview with User Interface Design Manager Ye ShengMao
Can you tell us a little about your professional background and role in developing 360 Security?
I have more than 15 years of experience in UI design. Before 2008, I mostly designed websites and PC-end software; starting 2008 I’ve started specializing in mobile UI design.
Working on the 360 Security project, I was responsible for all interactive and visual design.
What advantages/disadvantages do you think Material Design has over methodologies/philosophies?
Material Design takes a minimalist, simple design language and turns it into something complex. Through a paper-and-ink metaphor, it has a rich, layered feeling.
Through animated effects based in physics and cognitive science, I get the feeling of a vast, spatial UI, and in this UI space I find unlimited possibilities. These effects fascinate me, and I think this makes Material Design much more far-reaching in interactive and visual exploration than other mobile-end design languages.
As for it’s disadvantages, I can’t explain them exactly; I can only explain the problems I’ve encountered working on the 360 Security project. Material Design uses a large amount of icons to open its functions.
360 Security, a security application, has many obscure, hard to explain functions which are difficult to represent through visual icons. It makes for a longer and steeper learning curve for the user. However, I believe other specialized software tools face similar problems.
Why did you decide to use Material Design over other design methodologies/philosophies in your application?
Our products are mainly designed for the Android platform, and Material Design is the latest Android design language. Adhering to the standard specifications of the platform gives the overall experience a high degree of unity, and greatly reduces learning costs for the user.
How do you feel Material Design impacted the design process and user experience of 360 Security?
Material Design allows for a systematic and rigorous design process, leading to a highly refined UI. We are extremely pleased with the results of following the design specifications.
As for the user experience, Material Design makes for cool, completely personalized applications. According to our surveys with some American users, most of them are very pleased with our designs, which makes us very happy.
In addition, the CEO of our company has praised my design in front of the staff praised, which was very satisfying.
What was one of the biggest challenges you encountered designing and/or developing 360 Security?
Meaningful animated effects are an important aspect of Material Design; the dynamic interactions that adhere to the laws of physics give the product a cool look. It’s also a great challenge for the front-end engineer’s development capabilities.
In the design process, we have to add segments of animated models; we create prototypes for all the details of the dynamic interactions with Adobe Effects, and then we send these to the engineers. In short, the process is quite painful. :)
What was one of the most surprising things you discovered or encountered while doing usability testing?
There was a small problem with the graphic resolution adaptation. 360 Security follows the design specifications of Material Design, and is perfectly adapted to 720P devices and above.
But when adapting to a resolution of 480*800 (480*854), there have been some problems. This is because during the design, the basic resolution was changed from the original 320*480 to 360*640, and about 20% of our users use a resolution of 480*800 (480*854), so when I first discovered this problem I was a bit surprised, but the problem was soon solved.
What is one of your favorite or preferred methods of conducting user research?
At first, I personally liked to use a role substitution approach, simulating real-world user scenarios and following basic usability principles to uncover usability issues with the framework, content, interface and operational processes. But we found that these users were too typical, and we were not able to cover all international markets.
That’s why we started using data analysis. We rapidly collected feedback from users in different areas and countries, and then quickly implemented the feedback into the next iteration of our product. Much of the credit for this goes to our data back-end, our colleagues in marketing, and our product managers.
If someone was designing their first application, what advice would you have for them?
One suggestion I can provide is that we must get to know and be familiar with the target platform’s design specifications, even if means a completely innovative design. After all, the real solution to the problem is the App itself.
The UI only serves to alleviate your user’s costs, so I think good design is to decrease the learning curve for your users; to allow users to understand the software functionality more easily and quickly. We have a few designers here who design very refined UIs, but the appearance of certain functions or interactions leaves users scratching their heads.
I don’t think something that looks like a work of art, but is impractical is good design. So I would say to my designer: know your target platform’s specifications, meet the expectations of your users, and practice more intimate design.
Thank you to Ye ShengMao and 360 Security for taking the time to share insight on UI and app design.