15-16 March 2018

thestudio, Manchester

Spaghetti Junction - UX challenges in large scale product design

Session type:
Case Study

Session duration:
60 minutes

Presented by:

Matteo Gratton

Music Group R&D - Manchester

Alessandro Palladini

Music Group R&D - Manchester

About this Case Study

UX has never received more attention than now; many new articles and books are being published every day. The scope of UX methodologies is expanding and UX is now a common function within the company structure.

However, most of the attention on UX has been so far focused on websites, mobile apps and consumer products. Very little attention has been given to the processes that are required when designing complex systems that integrate hardware and software.

As a UX/UI team at MUSIC Group UK, we manage the design of user interfaces and the user experience for a wide range of live audio applications and platforms that span from simple standalone mobile apps to complex, multi-device interactive systems.

When we tried to apply established UX methodologies to our product design process, we quickly understood that not all of them could be successfully implemented to improve the process and the end user experience.

Most of the challenges we faced are similar to the ones found in the design of safety critical systems like nuclear plants, avionic systems and medical devices. Such devices are often characterised by:

  • a very high number of parameters to be controlled and monitored
  • strict time constraints while being operated
  • ontinuous interaction between software and hardware
  • the need to avoid mistakes and failures

All these factors often lead to:

  • information and cognitive overload
  • poor learnability and usability
  • fear of making mistakes
  • inconsistencies in the user interface and in the user experience

In this context, we observed that when to trying to propose novel and innovative interaction paradigms, the design process is challenged by the following patterns:

  • resistance: internal and external stakeholders and users will resist innovation due to the risk and the learning curve of a new interface
  • fracture: the overall cohesiveness of the proposed design is challenged by the development technology and process
  • dilution: the design language is weakened by feature creep and inconsistencies that are introduced to accommodate established habits
  • exhaustion: due to the complexity and the interdependencies in the project, design timescales are blown up, causing tunnel vision and disbelief

To counteract the aforementioned patterns, we developed different design strategies and practices:

  • articulation of design decisions by involving the whole dev team (testers, developers, designers, product owners) during the design process
  • development of a common, stable and mature interaction design platform, which comprises both a design library and a development framework
  • careful planning of design and development iterations
  • continuous validation of the key interactions by implementing and testing each iteration on the actual product

About the Speakers

Matteo Gratton

Matteo leads the design team in the Music Group Manchester R&D. It's a group focused on driving and introducing experience design as a new core business capability.

He’s passionate about using design to shape organisations and services in such a way that helps people realise the very best of themselves. He started working in design just a few years ago (after many years spent in the management/development world). Since he realised how what he'd been doing was part of the UX world, he spent time predominantly working for big enterprise projects (healthcare, justice, audio).


Alessandro Palladini

Alessandro is Innovation Manager at Music Group UK, Manchester, where he oversees the development of new products and the research in various areas like human-computer interaction, machine learning and artificial intelligence.

His research in the field of user experience is focused on the design of new interfaces for music production and on the user experience of autonomous and intelligent systems in the context of professional audio products.


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full programme