With our next Digital Hampshire event now less than two weeks away, we’ve been in touch with one of our speakers, UX expert Ross Chapman of Wiggle, to ask him a few key questions in preparation for his talk.
1) How would you define User Experience?
“I like Nielsen Norman Group’s definition of User Experience, that it ‘encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products’. For designers like me, user experience design is the process of enhancing this interaction between the user and the business, reducing friction and making things easier and more enjoyable to use.”
2) Are there any misconceptions that you find people tend to have about what makes a website user-friendly?
“I think people tend to focus on how a website looks, and not how it works. It also tends to be rather subjective. Some companies don’t collect user feedback or test on a range of devices or users. Mobile is often an afterthought too.
My role is to design experiences that you can just pick up without following a manual. When things are easy to use, people will use them! Take a look at Airbnb or other successful companies that have a strong design culture. What’s exciting is that it touches on the core of what a business offers, so what you’re really working on is improving how a business works – very exciting!”
3) What is the biggest challenge to someone working in UX in 2016?
“Explaining the value of user experience design. Some people think that the role of a UX designer is to produce wire-frames or just do usability testing. Also, you still find that some people don’t know what UX is at all!
User experience design needs to have buy-in at the leadership level, because implementing it really marks a culture change. It moves away from decisions made in the boardroom to those made by working with users. Marry that with a shift away from the waterfall design process of old, to agile and lean ways of working and you’re talking about digital transformation. We guess, we test and we digest! It’s about making a business more successful by being more in-tune with users. Data is becoming easier to understand by designers now, so we’re removing that subjectivity from design decisions. I think that the biggest challenge is challenging the status quo!”
Image – Sebastiaan ter Burg
4) How do you see the role of a UX professional changing in the future?
“I think the issue with user experience is that, as a profession, it isn’t easy to explain. My parents know that I design websites, but wouldn’t know what UX is. As an industry, we’ve got too tied up with the jargon of user experience that it really defeats the purpose of what it seeks to achieve. So I’d like to see that change.
In the area of eCommerce (where I work), you start talking about improving conversion, which aligns with task completion. In UX, we talk about meeting the needs of the user, but we also have to meet the needs of the business (otherwise we wouldn’t have a job!). So I think my role in the future is to continue balancing the needs of users with the needs of the business, because they aren’t often the same thing.
I also want to see it becoming more commonplace to have feature teams and remove the barriers in user experience design. It’d be great to see teams routinely made up of a UX designer, developer, project manager, data expert and user researcher. The value you get from a multi-skilled team like this directly corresponds to the ability of a business to get stuff done!”
5) You’ve promised to share your top 10 UX design hacks at Digital Hampshire. To give us an idea of the sort of things you’ll be discussing, can you share a little about one of these now?
“Sure thing! I find the biggest hurdles to usability testing – that is testing your website’s usability with real users – are cost and time. People don’t want to pay for something they don’t understand, and often don’t have the time to arrange sitting down with customers to get feedback.
To help you overcome this, an online tool called Peek is very useful. It allows you to request three user videos each month for free. For getting an organisation to start understanding what UX design is all about, sharing these free videos can be a real help. They will get your colleagues, leaders and clients interested in the value of user feedback, as well as how it can lead continuous improvement. I did this in the first week of a job, and soon found my colleagues asking about segmentation! At this point – once you have everyone’s interest – you can start exploring paid solutions. These will allow you to carry out processes such as A/B testing, meaning you can generate real, actionable feedback.”
For the other nine of Ross’ top UX design hacks, as well as to hear from Smart Cities expert Chris Cooper and former Apple international product manager Gordon Clyne, head down to the Winchester Guildhall for Digital Hampshire on the 24th of February. There’ll be ample time to network and connect too, with welcome drinks beginning at 6pm, and the first of our talks commencing at 6:45.
We’re down to our last 30 tickets, so grab yours now to avoid disappointment!
Header image – Jamie McCaffrey