Mitch Loewenherz: Design without research is like running an obstacle course in the dark without a flashlight | UX/UI

Mitch Loewenherz: Design without research is like running an obstacle course in the dark without a flashlight | UX/UI

Mitch Loewenherz is a freelance Digital Experience Designer from Vienna with two beating hearts in one chest: working on user experience and user interface design.

With 10 years of professional experience as a UI designer and a Master of Advanced Studies in User Experience Management, Mitch is equipped for diverse, varied, and new challenges.

Starting as a print graphic designer, he worked his way up to a UX/UI designer. Today, driven by the need to fundamentally understand users, he’s creating exceptional products and improving digital systems.

This interview is a part of the Austria Design Map – a project that tells stories of the Austrian Design scene. The project is done by Brainster Alumni as a part of the Brainster learning-by-doing curriculum. Through this hands-on approach, students get real-life experience from working on products that come to life. 

Brainster: Hi Mitch, thanks for joining! How did you start learning UX/UI design in the early days? How do you still learn today?

Mitch: By chance, in 2012 I moved from a classic advertising agency to a start-up that developed apps. Through learning-by-doing I learned UI design for Android and iOS from scratch. Together with the various developers I was able to develop myself further and got the technical understanding on my way.

In 2017 I started my studies at the FH Technikum Wien. That gave me a comprehensive overview of UX. With a Master in User Experience Management in my luggage, I can say that I have learned a lot with both practical and theoretical methods and approaches. Nevertheless, I learn most of all in interesting projects for real users.

Brainster: In your portfolio, you mention that designing without involving the actual users was wrong from the start. Can you touch on this topic a bit? 

Mitch: In many small and large projects, I’ve seen only towards the end of the implemented website or app, the final project was actually tested. It’s like running an obstacle course on an unknown track in the dark without a flashlight. It is preprogrammed that way. You’ll stumble at least once.

A system to be developed should be tested as early as possible with its real users for possible ambiguities and usability problems.

Over the years, I have experienced this problem in many projects. Unfortunately, the end-users are still too rarely thought of!

Brainster: What types of challenges do senior designers have to deal with? Any tips on handling them?

Mitch: Over the years, senior designers gain the necessary routine and confidence to solve complex problems. I think that many seniors are self-critical of their designs. Perhaps even more so than the customer himself.

I am rarely 100 percent satisfied with the result. But it is precisely this residual doubt that is so important for continuous improvement. It always results in 10 percent more!

Brainster: That is the 1 Austrian designer you admire most?

Mitch: Definitely Tobias van Schneider. I like his analytical and unconventional approaches. I was particularly impressed by his project with Spotify and the brand design for the launch of the NASA Mars Rover!

Mitch Loewenherz: Design without research is like running an obstacle course in the dark without a flashlight | UX/UI

Brainster: Can you show us your 3 favorite projects and tell us why you like them? 

Mitch: Of course, I cannot show every customer project. Purely in terms of the challenge and scope, I like the “Qatar Airways” project very much. It was my first big challenge where I was able to learn a lot. It was, so to speak, literately the door opener for the following projects.

One of my favorites is the side project “Travelbuddy”. I asked myself the question of how to improve the travel experience on a holiday trip. Based on research, user flows, and personas I was able to build the first prototype. For a side project, I have invested a lot of time and the result is pretty impressive!

Brainster: Being a designer means constantly seeking inspiration everywhere around you. What hobbies/interests inspire you the most in your work? 

Mitch: That’s a very good question. Maybe I approach the subject of inspiration a little differently than other designers do. After a stressful and demanding day, I like to get on my bike and ride comfortably through Vienna. Not only can I relax but I often get important food for thought. Also building LEGO Star Wars sets brings me down inside when the day was particularly challenging.

Mitch Loewenherz: Design without research is like running an obstacle course in the dark without a flashlight | UX/UI

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