By 10 September 2015 | Categories: Press Release



By the Cowboy Aliens Design Team

The rogue R&D start-up, Cowboy Aliens, has been tasked with disrupting the way South Africa engages with finance and banking. Their design team, Piet Alberts, Gideon Carstens, and Drew Maunder, has an approach to design that is slightly different to the traditional start-up’s way of thinking that they believe is the secret sauce to revolutionising fin tech.

“One of the things that makes Cowboy Aliens interesting, especially in the context of the local start-up culture, is that our philosophy hinges on designing tech that is user-centric and not client-centric,” says Gideon, prototype and interaction designer at Cowboy Aliens. “Because we don’t have to chase funding or keep VC’s happy, we can build what people need, and not what we’re told to build.”

Why Good Design is Key to Creating Great User Experiences

Being user-centric means the approach to design focuses on keeping the target user at the heart of the design process and solving challenges that they experience, with tech that offers a intuitive user experience (UX).

Drew, who brings early stage product conceptualisation and ideation to the team, says, “At Cowboy Aliens we strive to continuously bring the target users into the mix and to understand their perspectives of the problem and the solution. Doing that quickly and efficiently is the secret ingredient.”

Developing personal tech, like mobile apps, is an example of how tech and well-designed UX can impact on people’s daily lives. “If we want to impact the masses and improve their daily lives,” says Piet, the team’s visual designer in a UX space who is responsible for the digital marketing strategy for each product, “It makes sense that we target their mobile phones. This kind of personal tech reaches the majority of South Africans and is a great vehicle for tech solutions.”

How to Develop a Great UX

Designing tech with UX in mind involves immersion into the target customers’ lives – how do they work, how do they want to work, what’s frustrating to them? “ Software developers are often informed by CEO’s or senior management on what the problems are and what the solutions should look like,” says Drew, “but without immersion in the real ‘community’ at work, with the real people, the software being developed stands the risk of being a mismatch between the ideal and reality.”

To get around the cost and time needed for immersion, designers need to be nimble. “We cannot afford to always do deep dives,” says Piet. “To get around that we have a few options: we can target customers who are similar to ourselves and develop tech that we would use, informed by our own interpretation of the user experience, or we can be proactive in how we immerse ourselves in a specific target market, and find a domain expert who can co-design our UX, as they already have a deep understanding of the customer base – they know the tech, sector and community. Either way, our tech design must always be informed by what a real person is experiencing.”

“A key component to great UX is user feedback,” says Drew. “Take mobile app design – we don’t know what the user’s interpretation will be, as a new app or website introduces something new, with the potential for an unlimited number of responses. We have to be able to quickly understand the interpretation and assess the user’s experience holistically - not just what they say about it. The only way to create a good UX is to let someone experience it, and then work back from there.”

Says Alwyn van Wyk, chief wrangler at Cowboy Aliens, “We believe that tech should adapt to people, and not the other way around. The key to developing innovative tech is to design real tech that answers a real need through a great user experience.”

To contact Cowboy Aliens:




Facebook /cowboyaliens



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