Smashing Spotlight: Clemente Miller, User Experience Designer
Wonder what makes Smashing Ideas so smashing? Our people! We sat down with Clemente Miller, User Experience Designer, to talk shop, how user experience creates connection through ease, and why life’s meaning and cheesecake go hand-in-hand.
How do you describe UX (user experience) to someone that has never heard the term before?
When describing what I do to someone that has never heard of it, I will do my best to relate it to something they may be more familiar with. A true test of explaining what you do is to explain it to your grandparents. Yes, the grandparents test. So when my grandmother asked me what a user experience designer does, I related it to the experience she has at her favorite restaurant.
I asked her what she really liked about it and things she didn’t. She loves the food and the regulars she can talk to, but really hates the front door because it doesn’t open the way she expects it to and it makes her feel dumb every time she forgets how it works. I explained to her that my job is to plan and design experiences, like her experience with the restaurant, for products that are primarily on the web and mobile. The people using these products have a goal like you – you wanted to get inside that restaurant to eat and chat with friends, but the door creates an issue for you getting to your goal and it has a negative impact on your experience because of it.
As a user experience designer I make sure it’s easy for you to get to your goal with as little effort as possible to achieve your goal. That door gets in the way and frustrates you and when working with companies to design or redesign a product, I make sure I identify those types of pain points for people’s experiences and make the necessary adjustments to the products so that door never gets in the way of a delightful experience. My grandmother followed up by asking “Well, can you help the restaurant fix that door?”
What was your inspiration for getting into the field of user experience design?
It really comes down to my natural curiosity to understand people and why we do the things we do. That curiosity is the foundation for understanding how to communicate with the people on the other end of the products/services we create. I’m fascinated by the fact that the better we can humanize the experience, the better we can connect and retain people’s attention over time. But, none of that is even possible unless the product is actually satisfying a meaningful need people have. The curiosity to understand people inspired me to be a user experience designer, but what keeps me motivated is creating experiences that become a natural extension of someone’s life, and in the process, makes their life better.
What is your current state of mind?
My current state of mind is a hopeful one. I am surrounded by smart, innovative and driven people at Smashing Ideas. The future holds a lot promising opportunities for all of us as we look forward to the challenges that come with creating things that don’t even exist yet.
Core traits of UX include curiosity and a strong desire to make something better. If you could apply what you do to something you interact with on a daily basis in hopes of making it better what would it be and why?
What we can’t live without is a real connection with others. As I’m sitting here at a coffee shop, I see how disconnected the people around me are – primarily because they are compulsively checking their phones or are trying to have a conversation with their company while glued to their device. We’re slowly isolating ourselves from genuine connections and thought-exchange with the people around us, and I don’t want to see that become lost over time. I realize the evolution of humanity with technology is inevitable, but I feel we are creating synthetic experiences at the expense of genuine ones. A lot of good will come with the evolution of technology, but I’d like to see us not lose sight of what’s “real” as we grow with technology.
The best thing about summer is…
Being outdoors reading and writing in the sun, as well as people-watching.
In 5 words or less, what do we at Smashing Ideas do?
Create meaningful experiences.
Is gamification a dirty word?
Oh boy… well, it didn’t used to be, but it has definitely become one. It became dirty because if you wanted to create an engaging experience that kept people coming back, all you had to do was throw some “gamification” on it. *eyeroll* All that usually meant was to add the ability to gain points, earn badges and compare yourself to others on a leaderboard. That’s it! Context and product goals weren’t taken into account, and it was thought that adding points, badges and leaderboards made the product better in and of itself. Motivational design addresses these misconceptions and goes much deeper. It’s people’s motivating triggers that drive the decision making for how and when to use certain aspects of “gamification” and it’s never a one size fits all.
You create motivational design on a daily basis. Why is this critical to business success?
It’s critical to a business’s success because if you want to create experiences that are lasting and meaningful to your customers then you have to satisfy – first and foremost – a user need. We work with our clients to collectively understand their users on a deeper level. Only then can we identify and apply the best motivational design recipe that is focused on motivating and guiding the user towards achieving their goals from the first-time experience all the way through to the loyalty experience.
If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title would be?
One man’s search for meaning and the best slice of cheesecake.
What was your last truly smashing idea?
To host a no device party where everyone has to shut off their phones, tablets, TV, etc. and play and listen to music via an instrument, talk and play games without any technology.