[Product Updates] Ideation Before Technique: HoneyScreen Redesign Interview

This post originally appeared in Korean on beSUCCESS. 아래 내용은 beSUCCESS에 실린 허니스크린 리뉴얼 기사내용을 영문화하여 올린 글입니다. Recently, local lock screen service Honeyscreen went through a huge design makeover, in a strong push for global expansion. In the latest Honeyscreen update, a shortcut feature was added so that users can access their favorite apps with two taps. Weather and other design components were upgraded to a more sophisticated European style. How was it possible for Honeyscreen to move towards a more globalized design? You can find the answer in Buzzvil’s newest UI/UX designer, Maxence Mauduit (Max) who joined last year from France. Max, after majoring in Interaction Design at graduate school, built his portfolio in major French companies before joining Buzzvil. We met with him to listen to his perspective on current first screen projects and his view on the differences between Korean and French design and working environment.

So Max, how did you find yourself in Korea?

I was an exchange student in 2008, and stayed in Korea for 6 months. At the time, I was living in Hongdae, and immediately fell in love with Korean lifestyle. This became one of my turning points in life. I wanted to continue to live in Korea, and every day was new and full of exciting new opportunities. Upon returning to France, I worked at local firms as a designer for 4 years. Even though what they offered was very attractive, I couldn’t miss this opportunity to come back to Korea.  

Out of many opportunities on a global scale, how did you end up joining Buzzvil?

One of my priority was a flexible environment, and while I was searching for a unique opportunity, I happened to come across Buzzvil’s job posting. I saw Buzzvil’s vision and its potential in the “first-screen”. I got the impression that this was a place where the atmosphere was what I was looking for during the interview. Buzzvil has a concrete plan and passion to expand globally, and even though it’s a local company, there was no issue with communication. Most of all, the Honeyscreen service had a lot of potential, but was at an early stage. I thought this would allow me to play a significant role in growth of the company and as a designer.  

You’ve experienced both French and Korean startups. Are there any significant differences?

In France, startups are considered even riskier than in Korea. This is true for most countries, but it’s especially harder in France to secure investment. I have several case in mind of Parisian startups looking for investment from USA after failing in France. The French startup I was part of had 5 employees. You’d think that with 5 people, it would be very flat, but it wasn’t. Unlike Korea, I didn’t have much chance to interact with coworkers outside of work. Now at Buzzvil, I discuss with the CEO almost everyday. Through hoesik and office activities, I get to build personal relationships with my coworkers as well. It’s stereotypical that Korean companies are weak in building solid communication between different levels, but I think Korean startups in general are doing a good job in breaking that stereotype.  

From your experience, what’s different about design in Korea and design in France?

I think the perspective or the definition of design is different. Korean designers excel in specific design skills; they have their own specialty. On the other hand in Europe, we cover other user-centered methods first before diving into learning design techniques. We ask “why” and learn the problem solving process first before learning specific skills. In terms of European market, I think minimalism is the current trend. All unnecessary components are taken out to express the extremely simplified design and make place to clear interactions. In Korea, visuals are still quite important. Different design components are needed, but it needs to be expressed in a simple format.  

What was the main goal in the latest update, and your future plans?

Honeyscreen’s goal is to allow users to easily view and interact with all kinds of content on the first screen. In this broad sense, I tried to create a friendly user interface (UI) in this update. The next step would be to improve user experience (UX) in order for users to easily access content from different channels without hassle. I’m always thinking about what I can do to improve, mixing what I’ve learnt from both cultures. Personally, I want to stay in Korea for a while. Some of my friends ask me when I’ll be moving back to France, but France has become a place where I want to visit on a vacation. At the moment, Korea is full of new and exciting opportunities for me professionally and personally. I am never left bored in this active environment!

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