Dimitris Kontaris, currently working at HSBC Retail Banking and Wealth Management as a Senior UX Consultant, Dimitris has worked with companies such as Thomson Reuters, Accenture and Sony Computer Entertaining Europe. Dimitris took some time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions about himself and his experiences in UX.

1. Why did you get into UX?

My mother once said: “come fix the oven, you fix things”. That sentence changed my life. Maybe because a variation of which I would hear multiple times over the years, or maybe because by “fixing” the oven she meant “set” the correct time on the oven clock so it stops blinking at 00:00.

Fiddling with things and understanding how they work, has always been an everyday activity for me. “Fixing” the oven, adjusting the fridge temperature, successfully defrosting things in the microwave for my parents just by pressing the right button, at the right duration, in right sequence, made me realize that some interfaces are made in a way that only a fiddler can make sense. Probably the fiddler that made them in the first place.

That realization, that I can change people’s everyday lives as a decision maker of what is presented to them and how they interact with it, got me into UX consultant.

2. What tips can you give to people starting in UX?

If you can, at first, be part of a company that has a well-established UX process, and part of a team that has experienced UX consultant in it.

Be passionate about technology and keep yourself up to date. Try new things. Try bungee jumping. Admire how the rope and the whole system is thought through. It’s taking into account all types of end users, and subsequently designed in a way that’s thrilling enough to feel dangerous, yet safe enough to tell the story afterwards. Experience new interfaces, struggle with the ones that don’t work, be delighted with the ones that do, and understand why they made you feel like that in any case. See the world in UX terms, not unlike like Neo did in code terms in the Matrix. Be UX Consultant.

Try to make the world a better place. As the great philosopher Uncle Ben told Spiderman: “with great power comes great responsibility”. You hold the keys, be careful what design you allow out of the door and into the wild.

Always keep in mind that UX design is a job, and even though there is a high degree of creativity involved, it’s not art. UX professionals design interfaces and systems to become unnoticed and out of the way for people using them, so they get their job done without thinking. Like in the movies, where the most successful special effects are the one you don’t notice.

Bungee jumping - What tips can you give to people starting in UX?

3. What current UX trends interest you? How do you stay current with them?

I see a lot of potential in Internet of Things (IoT) and Natural User Interfaces like voice based ones. They’re currently all in their infancy, so I’m equally exited and cautious to see what their adulthood will look like, taking into account the inevitable security concerns, so we don’t go from “the we-ather to-da-y is … seven-teeeen de-grees” to “I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that”.

There are stories like the one when a TV show accidentally activated Amazon’s Echo and placed orders for doll houses to the viewers’ accounts (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/01/08/amazon-echo-rogue-payment-warning-tv-show-causes-alexa-order/) that are fun to tell at parties, but also demonstrate how long the road is ahead.

I follow them by being a user of the above myself, experimenting with them, and being kept up to date with their progress. I’d trust the lamp to automatically turn off the light while the thermostat adjusts the heating when it’s bed time. Maybe also the coffeemaker that knows I’m up, identifies my zombie posture, and makes my coffee maybe a little too strong for the common bladder. However, I wouldn’t trust them to be in charge of my door’s locks when I’m away, for example. At least not yet.

What current UX trends interest you? How do you stay current with them?

4. What does it take to become a great UX designer?

A great UX consultant and designer knows they are merely the voice of the needs and requirements of the end users, not their own. Therefore a great UX consultant and designer knows better than to design based on their own desires or interpretations and assumptions of how a system works.

A great UX designer is aware that criticism comes from all directions, in all shapes, and at full speed. A user won’t understand an interface, a developer will recommend a faster to implement alternative, a project manager will have their own design ideas and preconceptions pre-designed for you to save time and make your job easier. A great UX designer knows how to work with everyone, understands where they’re coming from, explains what the responsibilities of the UX person in the team are, and helps them to better their criticism next time. After all, it’s not the person that’s criticized, it’s an idea in anticipation for a better, more informed one.

A great UX designer never designs without requirements, for he knows design without requirements is guesswork. Therefore a great UX designer always backs up the design decisions with research. Otherwise, their design concepts are fragile, easily demolished, possibly wrong, and their credibility will take a hit.

Lastly, a great UX designer understands that they never stop learning. No matter how experienced they are, each project has an aspect to it that introduces a unique challenge for their hard and soft skills.

Recent Posts

Hackday Homies – A Day at #HackUX

Shakira shares the experience of attending her first hackathon at #HackUX. You can check out her website, portfolio and blog
Read More
Hackday Homies – A Day at #HackUX

Why is UX different in the Internet of Things?

 Image Source: Becky Van OmmenWhat the Internet of Things introduces -- or better said, unites -- is data, interactions, and
Read More
Why is UX different in the Internet of Things?

Does Your Mobile UX Pass The Test? 4 Things You Can Improve On Today

It’s really important to get your mobile UX right. Good mobile UX consists of seamless navigation, an effective colour scheme,
Read More
Does Your Mobile UX Pass The Test? 4 Things You Can Improve On Today

Top 10 Inspiring UX Portfolios

Every UX designer knows that their portfolio will be crucial for their career and for showcasing their body of work.
Read More
Top 10 Inspiring UX Portfolios

Designing Chatbot with Elvia Vasconcelos

During our May meet-up "Designing Chatbot - Part II", Elvia Vasconcelos, senior UX designer at SapientRazorfish. He delivered a really
Read More
Designing Chatbot with Elvia Vasconcelos

Q&A with the Forms Master: Sjors Timmer

1. What inspired you to work in UX - Mobile UX London? UX brings together three things I’m interested in: figuring
Read More
Q&A with the Forms Master: Sjors Timmer

When to slow down a corporate design project? – Valuable Content

There are so many different scenarios a designer can find himself in when starting a new project. Some of them
Read More
When to slow down a corporate design project? – Valuable Content

A Day Attending HCID Open Day: Bootstrap UX

The MUXL team had the pleasure of attending the HCID conference on Thursday April 27th, it was good to see
Read More
A Day Attending HCID Open Day: Bootstrap UX

UX Influencers 2017 You Should Follow: Top 10 people in UX

Mobile UX London, a one-day User Experience & usability conference to learn and develop skills in Mobile User Experience in
Read More
UX Influencers 2017 You Should Follow: Top 10 people in UX

Compare the Market – User Centered Design Principles

 At compare the market.com we’ve always focused on customer needs when designing and building our products. Over the last couple
Read More
Compare the Market – User Centered Design Principles

7 Designing Tips AI with ChatBots – MUXL March Meet-up

Everyone was kicked backed and relaxed with a beer ready to hear the insights that David Contreras had to give
Read More
7 Designing Tips AI with ChatBots – MUXL March Meet-up

UX Jobs and Careers – How does your Pay Compare?

Are you wondering how much your work colleague makes? Are you planning on transitioning to a UX jobs but you’re
Read More
UX Jobs and Careers – How does your Pay Compare?

Meet One of Our Trainers: Dimitris Kontaris – UX Consultant

Dimitris Kontaris, currently working at HSBC Retail Banking and Wealth Management as a Senior UX Consultant, Dimitris has worked with
Read More
Meet One of Our Trainers: Dimitris Kontaris – UX Consultant

What will be the biggest UX trends in 2017? MUXL asks the experts!

In 2016 we witnessed the rapid explosion of UX in IOT and AI, bridging the gap that has traditionally existed
Read More
What will be the biggest UX trends in 2017? MUXL asks the experts!

One Device: The next big thing to replace all other devices

All smartphones will become obsolete by the end of 2018. They might share their fate with the laptops, eBook readers,
Read More
One Device: The next big thing to replace all other devices