Designer's interview

Striving to identify customer benefits

Maki Tanaka

GUI design, branding, and related responsibilities

Captivated by GUI designs that deliver ease of use on screens​

The process of thinking about the locations of buttons and associated guidance on screens so that computers and smartphones can be operated in an intuitive manner is known as graphical user interface (GUI) design. In my previous job, I was responsible for designing mobile handset screens, and I was interested in this field because it strives to provide ease of use for users. I found out that Konica Minolta was hiring GUI designers, which was unusual at the time, and joined the company in 2015.

Photograph:Maki Tanaka

Ensuring designs are used and leveraging lessons learned to make improvements

Since joining the company, I’ve been responsible for designs related to care support solutions that help nursing care facility staff members work more efficiently. The system uses a smartphone app to notify staff members of changes in the condition of, and requests by, facility users. Recognizing the growing number of foreign and elderly staff members, we chose to provide these notifications using icons so that the information could be understood by all employees.
We carried out a series of user tests in which we had staff members use the app on a trial basis in order to generate improvements. For example, we split the notification app and lifestyle records app into separate apps based on an idea that came from such testing.

Photograph: A smartphone app screen

Helping launch a new brand in order to change how nursing care is seen

Recently, I’ve been working on creating a new brand for the solution that I just described. Konica Minolta has launched the HitomeQ brand based on the concept of working together to create a world in which everyone can live independently. My responsibilities include directing the design of the brand’s logo. Generating recognition of the brand among a large number of people will create a new way of looking at nursing care. Being involved in solving social problems is a good experience for me.

The completion of a product marks the beginning of follow-up work.

When developing a proposal, we ask what the benefits will be for the customer. I believe that this is part of our role as designers. I believe that asking whether completed products and solutions deliver a pleasing user experience and how we should grow associated brands–in other words, following up on the design process–helps provide customer benefits. I look forward to meeting a variety of customers and soliciting as much feedback as possible.

Photograph: A design proposal for an HitomeQ web page

The ability to be involved from the planning stage is one aspect of my job’s appeal.

The scope of a designer’s work is truly varied depending on the objective and content of the business. I find my job particularly motivating when I'm involved from the planning stage. Planning of new businesses sometimes originates in workshops held by employees. My goal is to improve my own skills, starting with my ability to serve as a facilitator in such settings, so that I can continue to create solutions that deliver profit to customers.

Photograph:Maki Tanaka