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Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’re joined by Aran Rhee, Design Architect at Salesforce, to learn more about design thinking, especially as it relates to user experience and how you can design Salesforce to help your users get their jobs done more efficiently.

Join us as we talk about Salesforce’s 4 design principles and how you can apply them as an admin to your own org.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Aran Rhee.

 How to grow up to be an inventor.

Growing up, Aran wanted to be an inventor. “I was one of those kids that would take things apart: TV sets, radios, toys, whatever it is I would take things apart,” he says. At school, he ended up studying computer science and eventually found his way through graphic design and into industrial design (“which I guess is the proper professional name for an inventor,” he says). That lead him back into tech, where he spent time at startups, advertising agencies, systems architecture, and then finally as a UX designer.

“It’s all solving problems for humans at the end of the day, just in a different format,” Aran says. At Salesforce, he’s the Design Architect for the mobile team but he also spent time with the platform team, including working on global design, Customize My Nav, and more for Lightning. He’s currently working to bring that level of customization to mobile.

Salesforce’s 4 Design Principles.

“As designers here, we try to have four guiding principles,” Aran says, “clarity, efficiency, consistency, and beauty.” They’re in order for a specific reason because it allows them to run through some basic questions about the utility of their design. Can the user understand what they’ve designed? Are they able to complete their task as quickly as possible? Does it look the same as things that users have seen before (like moving from Sales Cloud to Service Cloud)? And finally, does it look good?

To help the over 200 designers working at Salesforce make that happen, they use the SLDS (Salesforce Lightning Design System). “It’s really a collection of patterns and building blocks that we can reuse across the board. They’ve been researched and understood with users that they’re solving a particular problem in a consistent way,” Aran says. That includes everything from coloring and sizing buttons so you understand the difference between a primary and a secondary action to standardizing fonts and colors across the platform. 

Where to start with design thinking for your own org.

“If you’re an admin and you’re deploying functionality to your users,” Aran says, “you are a designer whether you know it or not, and your choices are having an effect on your users.” Lightning App Builder is the major place where you make design decisions for your org, but pretty much any decisions you make about page layouts, what you put “above the fold,” and what you hide behind a tab can have a big impact on your users’ workflows. You really need to think through what job you’re designing for and then customize to make that easier.

“Don’t make assumptions that whatever works for you is going to work for your users,” Aran says. Instead, you need to take a User Centered Design (UCD) approach, and those letters, UCD, can serve as a handy mnemonic for how to think through the design choices that you’re making. Understand what the users’ needs, goals, and problems are. Create possible solutions for that, and then Deliver it to those users so you can actually test it out and iterate. That involves a lot of SABWA (Salesforce Administration By Walking Around), observing users to see where their pain points are and what their workflow is like.

“For most folks in Salesforce, they’re either reading or writing data,” Aran says, “they’re trying to look at something to gain enough understanding to make a decision or they’re trying to update something so someone else can either make a decision or do some further action.” So if you want to start your design overhaul today, forms are a really good place to start, especially if you have an older org that’s been around for a while. Talk to humans and see what’s working, and don’t be scared to try out something new to see if you can’t make things better for your users.

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