User Interface (UI) Designer, User Experience Researcher (UER), Product Manager (PM), User Experience (UX)..? We’ve all heard these terms being dropped some place or another especially in the tech world. To clear the air on what exactly is UX, and more specifically what UX at Grab looks like, we turned to Rudi Lim, GrabVentures’ Head of Design.
Explain what UX Design is to you in one sentence.
Rudi: “The process of building products and services which meet user needs and enhance their usage experience.
I think we also need to define the goal of UX: The consumer should be able to feel that our product has an intrinsically good UX, in the form of having a user-friendly, meaningful and relevant service. That’s what we want to achieve, not just at Grab, but I believe as UX designers as a whole.” UX has multiple aspects. I hear a lot of UX designers focusing on user needs, but we must also remember to balance the business and technology aspects as well. You have to be concerned with the product metrics, and how the products are doing. This part is a bit nuanced, but it’s very important. Over the past year, we started calling our UX designers, Product Designers, with the goal of reinforcing the triumvirate mindset of user needs, business needs, and technology.
If you break the whole UX design process further down, it becomes much more. When you’re building a product or service, you must look at understanding and aligning the product’s vision with the user needs and problems you’re trying to solve. You’re looking to test a whole bunch of ideas against your hypothesis of how people would behave or use your products, and this is where you get to brainstorm and tinker with all your different features. Once that’s done, we build on that feature.”
What is the difference between UX and UI?
R: “Both are important obviously. Simply put, I see UI as a subset of UX. UX is an overarching concept. When we talk about UI, we typically refer to the screen elements you see on the app or website. UX is a larger umbrella term which defines the whole user experience across both the online and offline worlds.
Under UX, we’ve got User Research, UI Design, Content Strategy, UX Engineer, Design Ops… the list goes on.
To illustrate with an example, let’s use the Emergency button on our passenger app. Taking a purist stance, a UX designer would think about the concept of the button – what it should do, what would happen when the button is pressed, whom it should call, etc. A UI designer would then craft the layout and look and feel of the button on the app. This is a purist stance. You will find that the lines dividing roles may be blurred today.
What does UX Design look like at Grab?
R: “At Grab, we typically follow a cross-functional Double-Diamond collaboration model. A UX designer working closely with the Product Manager would take the findings from our User Researchers, run design workshops and turn those findings into actionable product experience and wireframe flows which end up as the different screens that you now see and interact with on the app.
This process is iterative and we may tweak the product experience and wireframe flows several times before landing on the right solution. Then, our UI / Visual designers add all your UI and visual elements, like colour, creating icons and illustrations.
As I said, the Double Diamond process is a cross-functional process. Multiple functions in Grab are involved, from business owners to your user researchers to product managers to engineers — everyone wears multiple hats. Because of the need to wear multiple hats, many Grab UX designers are more of “generalists”, in that they can do a bit of everything from user research to UX to UI.
Another important thing to note is that we don’t just look at UI or Web Design, we also look at Service Design. People should look at Grab as a service provider. Service designers may not own the solution but they play an important role of taking user insights, and reach out to Grab’s different business units to craft service, physical and policy space solution with them, almost like consultants.”
Do you have any advice for candidates coming into Grab’s UX team?
R: “The way we work at Grab is different from a lot of other more established MNCs or even agencies. We’re scrappy, we work fast and we’re self-initiators.
Beyond one’s portfolio and work experience, I also look out for 3 things:
I want to know what you’re passionate about. Tell me about the projects that you’ve worked on in your own time, and things you’ve pursued outside of direct orders.
How do you react when you’ve made a mistake, and how would you correct it? I’m looking for people who want to, and are willing to learn continuously.
Lastly, I want people who have grit. The grit to push forward when times are tough, to help your team whenever needed.”
R: “I joined Grab because I believe in Grab’s social mission. The fact that we provide employment opportunities to those otherwise unable to make a decent living, and help them earn an income. In countries like Indonesia and Vietnam, you can really see the significant difference being made in our community.
So for the people joining us, I really hope they can see that there is so much more Grab can give to Southeast Asia. Singapore is right smack in the middle of the region. And if social purpose is not enough, think about this fun point. Draw a 5-hour flight radius around Singapore. Go east, you can hit the Maldives. North, you’re in Taiwan. South, you’ve reached Darwin. It’s fantastic being in Southeast Asia. We have so much more to draw from, to grow both in our work and personally. The world is your playing field.”
Think you have what it takes to design for the region? Come design with Grab.