“The root of every project is the brainstorming session”
Moscow, May 24th, 2018
The M2H agency was founded in 2015 and has a team of 15 of the “best designers, producers, frontend, backend and mobile developers from Russia,” said Alexei and adds, “In Russia, brands strive to create unique digital experiences and branding solutions. We are a digital production agency focusing on three major products — branding, web and mobile design and development. We work with start-ups and large businesses around the world deploying state of the art design to address their business needs.”
Alexei started his professional career as a journalist. From there he grew into owning a local news website. He recalls, “I had the ambitious plan to make this local news publication, the publication of the future. This is how I found myself stuck between brilliant designers and developers. This initiative ended up becoming the agency. I managed to create a stellar team working on the best projects.”
What’s the story behind the agency’s name, M2H?
It was just the brand from our lead designer he used to promote himself on Behance, a professional designers platform where they exchange the ideas and find new clients. There was no wording behind it in the beginning, although now we tend to think that M2H means Machine 2 Human – we teach interfaces to talk to people in a friendly, self-explanatory and passionate way by bringing emotions through design and animations to interfaces we make.
In your opinion, what ingredients are essential components to create a successful UX/UI design?
At the beginning of our path as the agency we started like everyone else — stupidly executing client’s briefs and desires.
Later, we understood that a client’s brief could not be perceived as the program of action. It should be taken as the diagnostic list, which identifies client’s problems and/or concerns, while the agency’s expertise should help to turn it into the actionable campaign with a list of developable solutions.
In the baseline of every website, mobile app or service should be a very detailed Scope of Works which identifies who would be using this product and why.
Could you share what methodologies from the ones you use more often, and tell us which ones give you a greater insight?
Using UI/UX Research, we can deploy our expertise to build better products.
The root of every project is the brainstorming session, where we get together with the client to identify the main audiences and their requirements. It is not as evident as someone might think – some of the targets are hidden, and some of their needs are not obvious at all.
Each end user may have several requirements. We list them all on a table and then find the working tool to satisfy every requirement. Each tool may fulfil several needs at once.
Then, we imagine a working product as a set of these tools, and what is left is a simple design task to structure them all together in the easy-to-navigate interface.
Can you give us some examples of your experience dealing with usability studies, eye-tracking study, field study, or focus groups?
We use HotJar or Yandex Metrics (Russian search engine and service provider, similar to Google, while Metrics is something like Google Analytics) service to test whether users can find the “tools” we’ve placed inside the function and whether they are convenient to use. Based on our vast experience in UI/UX we make interfaces that work for the benefit of our clients, sometimes we have to be innovative. Heat maps don’t show objective results as some of the behaviours we plan are not very obvious to the users, but that’s done on purpose.
Can you tell us about a particular project that was exceptionally successful?
The design of the new website for the Association of Interactive Agencies was the first project where we’ve used UI/UX Research to identify the tools we want to use to fulfil demands of website’s audiences — market reacted like a storm! They love this website.
One of the problems we found was that agencies didn’t want to spend their time sending their news to the Association, so its news section was not updating constantly. We found an elegant solution – we’ve noticed that every agency is actively updating their official Facebook pages, so we’ve just passed everything from there into one merged feed on the website, and now it’s a timeline of the life of every agency-member.
How do you imagine the UX/UI concept to work in the future?
We think that design is not about how something looks, it is about user’s satisfaction. Successful brands and start-ups know how to satisfy their users – this is why they are successful. Not because they start to use gradients or turn into flat design. All these talks are similar to the discussion of the proper length of a dress, there is no obvious answer, and there shouldn’t be one.
In the future people will forget about computers, they would turn into mobile, flat future world of content streamed directly to their eyes. But it would still be UI/UX task to structure this content to satisfy them.
Name a challenge your team is currently facing.
Sometimes we get too innovative. A good example is the concept website for Calvin Klein. We imagined the future interface for a brand which as being entirely content focused, with interface elements appearing following visitors action – like the menu would appear just when you move your mouse to the top, while if you don’t this space is still left for branded content.
We think about design and digital as about the task of branding the surface of mobile phone or computer screen. There should be less space to control the interface, and more space for the brand. It is a hard task, not because users won’t get used to it – it is because brands and their managers are too afraid of changes, too scared to be innovative in the fear to lose the visitor who doesn’t know how to use the computers.
What piece of advice would you give a recent grad looking to work in digital marketing?
Digital marketing can’t be taught in the university – by the time you finished your studies – approximately five years, the industry has changed. So, my advice would be – go practice. Be persistent and find your spot as an intern in an agency you admire. This would be the best university for you and show you the industry from inside.
Are there online publications, professionals, industry leaders you follow?
As for me, I’ve turned more into a businessperson already, so I read TechCrunch and Mashable to understand how innovative business works and how to implement best practices into our business too.
We like great designers and creative developers who show their works on Behance and Dribbble, but I can’t name you someone who stands out very much – they all celebrated.
By Geny Caloisi.
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