A UX/UI Interview with Ascedia’s Jacob Burr

XX min
Feb 28, 2023
We sat down with our Creative Director at Ascedia, Jacob Burr, to get the lowdown on all things user experience and user interface!
Jacob has 7+ years of experience working at Ascedia and has worked with several clients such as Travel Wisconsin, Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, Cardinal Stritch University, and von Briesen & Roper, s.c. He’s also our resident Scrub Daddy advocate. 

Explain why investing in great UX is crucial to the success of any site.

Your website is not just a platform to sell your product or service. It also serves as a tool to help your users solve their problems.

Tech giants like Amazon, Meta, and TikTok have raised the bar in terms of customer experience by creating experiences that are highly user-centric and show a clear understanding of who their users are. If you want to standout in the digital space it is essential to manage these high expectations and invest in the level of effort required to solve your users’ problems.

That keen understanding of your users can come from various sources like user testing, feedback surveys, heatmap analysis, industry trends, and site analytics. This understanding is foundational to a successful website, but we shouldn’t underestimate the creative design and emotional impact of your site as well. We’ve had first-hand experience hearing from users who say they lose trust in a brand when its site feels dated. Can they really trust this website to handle their sensitive data when the visuals look like they’re from 2013? (Unfortunately, 2013 is 10 years ago — don’t remind us!)


Take us through the steps you go through to get killer UX/UI design.

Sure. There are six steps in our process.
The first is Client Engagement. It’s basically listening to the client’s issues and challenges. But we’re not just listening to this. We are also trying to determine if we are a good fit to work together. Let’s be honest, not every client is a good fit for Ascedia. And at this stage we are trying to determine that connection.

Assuming we are a good fit, Strategic Planning is the next phase. This involves understanding the problems our client is having with their current site and what goals they have moving forward into a redesign. We also want to understand how their customers engage with the site, what their expectations are and what pain points they experience while trying to achieve the goal for their visit. User testing is a great way to gain a lot of valuable insights in a short period of time.

On the heels of Strategic Planning comes Defining Creative Direction. Our goal is to understand what the client is looking for visually from the new site. Occasionally, we’ll have clients come to us having a clear visual direction for the site, but most of the time this direction comes out of structured discussions guided by Ascedia. These discussions help them identify what they want, what they don’t want and what will resonate with their core audience. This phase is when we begin to identify typography choices, color palettes, photography, and understanding the client’s creative constraints. These elements will eventually get applied to the wireframes in the next step and turn into Visual Representations (VRs)

Next comes Wireframing and Prototyping. This is where we turn the information gathered during our Strategic Planning process into action. We start creating the structure of the website and show how we’ll orchestrate site content and UI to achieve the goals of the user.

From here we moved into VRs. I love this phase and so do our clients. This is when we begin to see the site in its fullest form before we move into development. Our creative direction is put into further action and expanded upon. Conversations in this phase are usually centered around creative constraints and whether the page has the correct feeling for the story the brand is trying to tell.

Finally, there’s the Development phase. At this point we have connected with the client. We have demonstrated how the design is going to solve their problems uncovered in the Strategic Planning. And we have created wireframes to give the client a good understanding of how the site will look. Now we put all the pieces together to create the final product.


What are the common mistakes companies make when it comes to UX/UI?

There are a few things companies are getting wrong.
  • Ignoring user needs and feedback: Too often, companies focus on their own goals without considering the needs and preferences of their target audience.
  • Overcomplicating things: A website should be intuitive and easy to use, but too many companies make the mistake of overcomplicating their design with too many options, confusing navigation, or excessive visual clutter.
  • Failing to test and iterate: UX/UI design is an ongoing process, and it’s important to regularly test and refine the design to ensure it’s meeting user needs and providing the best possible experience. However, many companies ignore this step and release designs that are not fully optimized.
  • Ignoring accessibility: Good UX/UI design should be inclusive and accessible to all users, including those with disabilities. But again, many companies overlook this important aspect, which can result in a poor user experience for some visitors.
I’d say these are the big four that I come across most often.


Let’s wrap it up with this one. Why Ascedia? There are a lot of agencies out there, why go with us?

I’m biased of course, that said, here are the main reasons. As I mentioned above, all our work is based on data and anchored on solving problems. This may be from the client, or it may be problems users are having with the site. Great design must solve problems.
The process I described is very collaborative. We don’t go off and come back for a big reveal. Our goal is to work closely with our clients all the way through the design process.
Finally, our connection with our developers. Our design not only has to solve problems it must be able to work and function properly. We achieve that by connecting with our development team and ensuring they know what’s happening. Working together like this helps us continually deliver a great product.


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