I was told that we were designing by data back when I was in a UX team and I always thought it was a buzz word that the team uses it to convince the stakeholders. I think the main reason is, the team themselves never really have any compiling data to begin with. Bank’s IT systems are such legacy with so many compliances that adding any form of tagging or analytics is almost impossible. So all data the team has are from secondary research, probably a whitepaper written by somebody somewhere. These are general industry insights and it doesn’t have the localised users data.

Now I can fully appreciate this term — Design by data.

Some times we can be very bias, especially to ourselves. Either we are too harsh or we are in denial. Because I was from advertising, I was trained in the way that no ideas are truly original, it is always inspired. Every time i think i have the BEST campaign idea, I’ll do a quick google and make sure for the last 10 years nobody has done it yet — I don’t want to be called a hack. With this mentality, I always try to be as objective as possible whenever i approach anything.

Now when it comes to design and UX and ideas. Some times when we think of an amazing feature to include, first thing that comes to our mind is “Our Users will love it”. It is natural, we are humans, we fall in love with our own ideas. Having our ideas implemented is the biggest validation we can get in a product.

But most of the time the data tells us otherwise. Let’s take Traffic for example. The very first idea Elon Musk has is to dig tunnels. Sounds really great as an idea, with all the “We must go 3D to beat traffic” rhetoric, but is it?

Does data indicate traffics as constant or a spike? And what is the real cause of traffic? Why do people hate traffic? Is there an optimal travelling speed for transportation to prevent traffic? What are the upkeep cost of tunnels vs roads? Dangers of tunnels vs roads? Can government policies help? There are a billion questions to be asked and answered.

Similarly for a product, there are endless factor that can contribute to creating the next feature, and there are also endless external factors that decides it as well.

You want to build feature 2C, but are people using feature 2A, 2B as much to justify 2C? Development effort vs Business impact vs UX? Can the solution scale? Is it a localised problem? Is it an industry specific problem? Will people pay? Why are the existing solutions in the market not solving it? What is the success matrix of this feature?

Why why why, what, where, when, how? The more data, the more you can understand.

Truth is Elon doesn’t give a damn about public transport or traffic.

I am a creative coder and a creative technologist. Visit me at https://chanwaihsuen.me/