Industry Insight: 'The Key Areas Of Future Innovation Always Come From Our Users'

We sat down with MinYen Hsieh, Head of User Experience at OnePlus


MinYen Hsieh is an award-winning user experience designer and digital artist based in New York. His work is integrated from digital to physical with an international perspective. MinYen has worked in legendary companies such as SapientRazorfish, Ogilvy&Mather x IBM Design Lab, SONY Music Entertainment, and MTV. Currently, MinYen has been working at OnePlus as a Head of UX to create global user-centered operation system. MinYen also loves to share points of view with other professionals, and be the grand jury for Midas Awards, New York Festivals, The One Show, AD Stars, and LongXi Creative Award.

Ahead of his presentation at the Chief Innovation Summit in Shanghai this September 6 - 7, we sat down with MinYen to talk all things innovation, from user centric design to the challenges specific to China. 

What are the key areas of future innovation at OnePlus?

The key areas of future innovation always come from our users. User’s main pain points of smartphone usage are our opportunities to provide solutions and bring innovation into OnePlus products.

The innovation comes from three perspectives in our operation system:

1. Product: Value oriented features. Adding features into your product is pretty simple, but the biggest challenge is to make your operation system simple. When we want to add any features into our operating system, we always ask ourselves 'Does the feature make people's life easier and add value?' If not, we will shift our directions or throw the feature away.

2. Experience design: Experience is about everything. When users realize OnePlus brand from online or offline, to decide to buy a OnePlus phone, and receive the package, unbox, play with it, to after-sale service. This is innovative experience cycle. From every step, how we can design more friendly user experience instead of the traditional experience of fragmentation.

How have recent innovations impacted the mobile phone industry?

The innovation was driven by hardware technology, but the mobile phone industry has been changing to integrate hardware and software, even develop based on the foundation of software such as AI, VR/AR, and conversation system.

In a word, the operation system of a smartphone has become a platform. Different tech has been applied either on hardware and software that users can use the platform to create their own memories. For example, more and more innovative high-resolution camera lens has combined in the smartphone, even OnePlus phone 5 has a dual camera. Users can catch the precious moments easily.

What’s the biggest challenge currently facing innovation programs in China?

There are too many similar products in China, and it’s quite challenging to prevent competitors to copy the original ideas, especially for the smartphone industry. Once you have any ideas, it is better to apply for a patent and keep challenging yourself for new ideas.

Key materials are also dominated by limited suppliers, and the components look similar because of the technical limitations. It also causes it to be hard to differentiate smartphone brand when you cover the logo.

How has user centric design changed your industry?

We have been using innovative user-centered design process to develop our mobile system from discovering users needs, defining the pain points, creating prototypes, testing, collecting and analyzing users feedback and iterations. From each iteration, we understand and grow with our users together.

Our innovative process called Wagile, it means combine waterfall process in user research and agile in development. The typical working process is waterfall process: Lockdown product feature at the beginning, and UX, UI design, and development to test. It is a linear process, users might need to wait 3-6 months to play with the product. However, different role of team players do research, transform insights from research into design, to create prototypes to collect user feedback, iterate, and development. One cycle is two weeks, so we can get users feedback rapidly and users can contribute the ideas with us together.

What can we expect from your presentation at the summit?

I will introduce how we use the power of innovative user-centered design process, Wagile, to build simple and focus system. Users can use operating systems to create their biggest value in daily life. 

You can hear more from MinYen, along with many other industry leading innovation experts, at the Chief Innovation Officer Summit this September 6 - 7 in Shanghai. To see the full schedule, click here

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