Learning from the giants of the UX industry

By Candice Bradfield, graphic designer at Empire State

This year’s Savvy UX Summit not only featured amazing speakers from some of the industry’s largest tech brands like Google, Microsoft and Amazon, but it was also the most attended conference so far with more than 1 500 attendees from 82 countries around the world!

The event was expertly run by UXTesting.io’s CEO and co-founder Aldrich Huang and his team who had a big job ahead of them, co-ordinating a massive virtual global conference over three days and keeping attendees engaged throughout. 

The theme for this year was “Beyond the Product”, a concept that has really been gaining momentum as we realise that it’s not just about producing apps and websites that work and look good, but really about how the user experiences the product as a whole. 

Notable industry experts included Billal Qureshi and Jonathan Shariat (Google), Matthew MacLaurin (Microsoft), Tom Lorusso (XBox), Benjamin Kuhn (Mercedes-Benz), Christie Lenneville (GitLab), Jaime Zamorano (Amazon) and Dr Eva Deckers (Philips), among other experienced professionals. 

Jaime, who is a UX designer currently working for Amazon Music, is well placed to speak to the topic of his talk: “Assessing & growing teams in a multicultural environment”. Jaime was born in Columbia, grew up and completed his studies in Spain, and is currently living in Japan. He has been involved both in creating products that were developed in one country and launched in another, as well as helping to localise international products. 

In his talk, he used the framework outlined by Erin Meyer in her book, The Culture Map. There are eight different dimensions of culture, namely communicating, evaluating, leading, deciding, trusting, disagreeing, scheduling and persuading; each of which has two different poles (for example, low and high context). By mapping out where each culture fits in, we can more easily understand how different or similar cultures are according to these traits. This not only helps to create empathy, but can assist us in better adapting and connecting with others. 

Understanding culture is just the first step in leading and optimising a multicultural team – Jaime also explained the SPLIT framework by Tsedal Neeley, which can be very useful in overcoming challenges in your department. Finally, he iterated how important it is that we set goals for ourselves and our team, and to check in and reassess regularly to make sure we are on the right path. 

Christie, who is the vice president of user experience at GitLab, brought her expertise from her degrees in both psychology and software engineering to her fascinating talk, “Designing for and with developers”. She has worked to help create developer tools for much of her career, so it is fair to say that she knows her target market well. 

“One of the key things I’ve learned from this experience is that the old idea that developers don’t care about user experience simply isn’t true. Most do care, often deeply and passionately. They want to build tools that users like.”

If you are designing for developers, remember to cater to a range of skills, not just beginners or experts. When it comes to displaying complex concepts, making use of visualisations can make a lot of code or data easier to consume, and can also help with onboarding new users. Developers also appreciate designs that are clear, simple and user friendly, just like anyone else. 

So what are some of the ways in which designers can work collaboratively with development teams? 

  • If you can, involve your developers in user research, even if it is just short video clips or key takeaways. 
  • Be clear and concise with your instructions by using bullets, annotations, and/or mockups.
  • Prioritise usability over visual design rather than potentially confusing users.

Aprajit Kar, Gojek’s group design head of consumer platforms, shared his expertise in his very engaging talk entitled “Unpacking customer experience (CX) metrics”. First, it is important to consider what the business needs are before working out how to align them with that of the customer. From here, we can move on to how to go about measuring customer metrics, as well as understanding their nuances. 

Aprajit believes we have to measure what matters, namely usability, reliability, trust and safety, as well as effort and expense. He also introduced two popular and useful types of metrics: attitudinal and behavioural key performance indicators (KPIs) – the former relating to what users say or feel, and the latter measuring what users do. Correlating these measurements with data that is important to business, like conversions and retention, will help us to discover at which stage CX metrics, like customer effort score and net promoter score (NPS), become relevant.

“And at each stage, it is our responsibility as design teams to play a vital and key role to ensure we have the right measures in there, and we are always connecting the dots. Because without it … it’s just a half-baked story.”

Thanks to conferences like Savvy UX Summit, we are fortunate enough to have access to the expertise of those who have built, and continue to contribute to, the industry in incredible ways. The value to be gained from the range of content shared this year just can’t be matched, and I know I’m looking forward to next year!

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