The art of clarity: At the Volkswagen Digital:Lab in Berlin, UX designers create products and solutions for new digital offers for customers. One of these designers is Melissa Zee from Singapore. Part 5 of a series about IT jobs at Volkswagen.
The Monday meeting, upstairs: Melissa Zee and her colleagues go through the tasks that need to be done, organizing workflows and discussing the status of the various projects. A new week is starting, and the mood is relaxed but focused. Every few minutes, a ritual occurs that outsiders would find odd: the team comes together, each clench a fist, shaking while counting to three, and then stretch one, two or three fingers upwards. Are they just celebrating another job checked off the list? It certainly looks like that.
But the ritual is a voting to find out how difficult or complex the colleagues assess an upcoming task, Melissa Zee says: one finger means easy, three means difficult. “We always prefer to just see one,” she says, laughing. If in doubt, tasks are divided into smaller subtasks. The motto is: Keep it simple.
Volkswagen at CEBIT 2018
Volkswagen is a digital company that drives modern information technology forward. In the run-up to CEBIT in Hanover, we are presenting a series of portraits of people in the Group with exciting IT jobs. At CEBIT (June 11-15), the Volkswagen Group will be in the Future Mobility Hall (Hall 25) offering a forum for interested parties and experts alike – with stimulating presentations and first-class exhibits as well as interesting panel discussions and talks. The range of topics and highlights is considerable and includes not only new forms of digital automotive design, quantum computing and test projects with Blockchain, but also applied artificial intelligence in the company and data-supported traffic optimization in European metropolises. There will also be a world premiere at the exhibition stand.
Melissa Zee is a UX designer at Volkswagen’s Digital:Lab in Berlin. The Digital:Lab builds products dedicated to redefining the future of our end customer’s mobility experiences and becoming a top of the line smart mobility service provider. This includes the Volkswagen brand’s new mobility service “We Deliver” (where the car’s luggage compartment is used as a delivery address for online orders). And the “Identity Kit” project (a login solution for all Volkswagen digital services), another product, which is also developed in the Digital:Lab.
Both the lab’s team and its everyday working environment are international. A total of 70 IT specialists from 16 nations currently work there, and the number of employees is expected to increase to 120. Team members hail, for example, from India, Ukraine, the U.S. – and Germany too, of course, the office language is English. They work together in balanced teams which include software developers, UX/UI-designer and product managers. UX designer Melissa Zee came to the Digital:Lab from Singapore a year ago. Prior to that, she studied in London and Singapore and obtained a Degree in Graphic Design as well as a Diploma in Visual Communication and Media Design.
Zee’s focus at Volkswagen is on the user experience design (UX) of digital products. One of these products is Identity Kit. Customers will soon be able to use it to manage all the digital services in the Volkswagen group with just one account. This is just like a user’s digital fingerprint, which gives you full control of your personal data and one key to all digital services in the Volkswagen ecosystem.
UX design is about more than just good looks
User experience is primarily about knowing user needs and making a product easy and delightful to use. “Products should be intuitive,” says Melissa Zee. “People should not have to wonder what to do.” For her, this starts with a change of perspective: “In the past, the product and the technical solution were the focus. Today we only ask ourselves, ‘How can it benefit the customer?’”
To accomplish this, the product or its functions are carried out in small tasks. Forexample, turning user research into insights, creating prototypes and conductinguser tests to eliminate assumptions and misconceptions. And crafting visualelements and assets that inject life into the product.
Melissa always carries out these tasks with a colleague, using a method known as pair programming. Questions and ideas are constantly bouncing between the pair. “Where should this button be placed? Where does it take the user? Is this logical for the user? Is the product enjoyable to use? Does it solve the problem?”, says Zee. And in answer to how she knows whether her solutions work, she answers: “That’s simple. We go out and ask people.”
Melissa may spend most of her time in the open-plan office in front of her screen, but UX design at Volkswagen is not just a desk job. The teams regularly visit different locations to validate their ideas and test their prototypes. This direct contact with the test users is extremely valuable.
Currently, she and her team are working on creating different login solutions for their customers. Logging in or creating an account should not be a hassle. Besides the classic password login there are other options, for example, logging in with a QR code or a phone number. Melissa takes out her smartphone and shows a prototype. One click, one swipe, tap “Next” and you are already logged in. Every little detail counts. What looks so simple actually takes a lot of considerations and multiple iterations. A good user experience is often unnoticed.
Melissa Zee has found her dream job at Volkswagen’s Digital:Lab. “And Berlin,” she says, “is a place you can easily fall in love with.” And that’s where she definitely wants to be.