In the lead up to our inaugural London UX & Design Festival, we sat down with three UX pros from Foolproof, IBM and Just Eat to discuss various topics. Read on to find out they navigate the UX landscape and to get their advice for standing out in the market.

Up first was Terika Seaborn-Brown at Foolproof.

As Principal Consultant at Foolproof, Terika is responsible for understanding her clients’ needs, shaping project and programme briefs and ensuring quality execution.

We asked Terika to share some tips for UXers of all levels. Here’s what she had to say:

1. Can you name one proven research method that UXers ought to be applying?

There’s a reason usability testing is such a stalwart of the industry. But quantitatively measuring user experience and linking it to business KPIs is the way to ingrain into a business (and the hearts of the C-suite).

2. What is an example question UXers should be asking their stakeholders?

What are you going to do with this information? Who is the real consumer of the results of this research? What happens if the answer is “don’t release this”?

3. What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a UX’er trying to understand your customers’ needs?

Communicating that perceived need is not the same thing as actual real need. Sometimes clients hear “I need a faster horse” and immediately jump to “let’s make a faster horse”. They miss the answer to the question “Why do you need a faster horse?”.

4. Could you name some tools you have found effective to use in your UX/Design work?

Optimal Workshop’s Card Sort and Tree Test tools, FlexMR for a diary study, but most importantly the question “why”(And coffee).

5. Could you share a tactic that you use to make sure projects don’t die?

Figure out what makes the stakeholders tick;do they want a promotion? Are they trying to impress someone? – and linking the success of the project to their personal success.

 

 

IBM iX, RaniaIBM iX, Riccie
Next up was Rania Svoronou (UI Lead) and Riccie Janus (UX Lead) at IBM.

As UI Lead at IBM iX, Rania is an experienced interaction designer who has worked with companies including Nestlé and Unilever before joining IBM. Riccie on the other hand, is UX Lead at IBM iX with a passion for driving organisational change. She has over 10 years’ experience working in-house, giving her unique insights on how to overcome organisational challenges so that User Centered Design can thrive.

Rania and Riccie gave us very good insights on what they are working on and the challenges they face as UXers.

1. What is IBM Design Thinking?
IBM Design Thinking is design thinking applied at scale, with a set of methods that bring together cross-functional teams to create maximum value for the end customers, and businesses in return. It has been helping non-design-centric enterprises embrace human centered design. As IBM Design Thinking facilitators, we adjust IBM Design Thinking for each client and their individual needs.

2. What is the most challenging thing about IBM Design Thinking?
Initially, people confused IBM Design Thinking with sequenced activities or even just workshops. Workshops are of course typically associated with UX, however they are simply one starting point of on-going behavioural change! The IBM Design team then introduced “The Loop” to emphasise that good design remains iterative.

3) What is the role of UX/Design in large organisations?
To speak up for the users and help achieve a shared understanding of what it takes to build the right service or product. In large organisations, the UXer has to put on the consultant/advisor hat too, and be ready to talk about how UX can help solve large business challenges, and make businesses feel excited about tackling big unknowns. It’s as tricky as it is exciting – UXers in large organizations have the opportunity to drive organisational change at scale.

4) What is the biggest myth about digital transformations?
That strategy and HR are separate from design and product development. Successful products are a reflection of how well people collaborate, plus that the required skills have been brought in at the right time. Digital transformation starts by ‘digitally transforming’ your own company, by looking at how to best organise and treat your own employees. Otherwise, you cannot expect to do that for someone else.

5) What’s the most underrated tool you’ve used as a UXer?
Classic UX answer (sorry!): It depends! It’s the need that defines the tools we choose, not the other way around. We don’t want to name individual products, so we would say a tool should help you reach your ‘goal’ faster. It’s crucial to not get attached to tools, but to know which tools are best suited for which challenge. Tools change and each company & project uses their own selection, so always remain open to keep trying new ones!

Sandra Gonzales
For our final Q&A we spoke with Sandra Gonzalez at Just Eat.

As Head of UX & Design, she leads the Digital Brand Studio, UX Research Team and UX Team for global partner and consumer products. Sandra has also delivered consensus across the Just Eat UX design community on how to most effectively structure the UX and design resources.

During our chat, Sandra took us through the Just Eat customer journey, providing insights into ‘tone of voice’ and its importance in conveying the brand messaging and engaging consumers.

1. How is ‘tone of voice’ important to a brand like Just Eat?
Just Eat uses tone of voice to bring personality. It is there to take our customers on a journey as they go through the ordering process to reassure and engage with them so that they are confident they will get the food they want in a fast and efficient way.

2. What are some ways that a brand can develop and control its ‘tone’?
Brands should look across the entire customer journey to identify moments of joy and stress so it can react to the customers’ needs effectively. It could be the thrill of finding a particular cuisine in the area – it is important to acknowledge the context in order to turn the tone up or down to fit the customers’ needs.

3. What is indispensable to the success of any user experience?
It is crucial to acknowledge the customers you build experiences for, as it is very easy for designers to build with themselves in mind. Stepping back and looking at what your diverse range of customers want is what makes UX as important as it is, and not just design.

4. Can you name some tools you have found effective to use in your UX/Design work?
There are numerous tools out there both to aid UX and Design. There are ways of approaching work i.e. design approach with resources including Google Venture, Design Sprint and design thinking frameworks like IDEO. Technical tools such as Zeplin help communicate pixel perfect design to developers and there are plenty of prototyping tools available to help communicate experiences at different levels.

 

The 1st MUXL London UX & Design Festival proved to be a very successful and popular event that allowed participants to hear from, work, and network with UX professionals from some of the capital’s biggest organisations. We have many more more learning and development events which you can find out about here.

If you are keen to advance your UX & Design skills, boost your portfolio and gain further insights into the world of UX & Design, check out the MUXL Academy for our range of practical courses that will enhance your development.

*Answers edited for length and/or clarity