Meet Jonny and Etienne, our newest User Experience Designers who play a key role in our clients’ digital services.
User experience (UX) design is the process used to create products and services that provide meaningful and relevant experiences to users. This involves researching and understanding user needs and collaborating with clients, designers, and developers, to create solutions that help achieve business outcomes, as well as making it easier for users to accomplish their desired tasks.
Now that Jonny and Etienne have had time to settle in and meet the team (virtually), we sat down with them (again, in the virtual world) for a chat. Read how their fascination with technology and the ‘digital experience’ led them to the roles they’re in today.
Eleanor: Jonny, what made you want to pursue a career in UX design?
Jonny: "I've always been a bit of a first adopter, especially with tech. I was one of the first people to try the apple watch - which, I might add, was quite unusable at the start. Through this obsession I became the go-to person for technical support with friends, family and work. I also loved learning about new technologies to help facilitate the design process, and being able to help smart and intelligent people with their software struggles. I felt the need to improve these experiences for everyone. That's what got me from creative and design to user experience."
Eleanor: What were you doing before UX?
Jonny: "Over the years I have worked across a full design spectrum: packaging, design, branding and marketing. Alongside that, in my spare time, I enjoy DIY. I've done house renovation projects and really worked to optimise and beautify my surroundings. Everything has a place in my world, and everything has labels too. I love the problem-solving aspect. That's why I think my obsession with technology and my creative brain merged into UX."
Eleanor: Talking about technology, what are your thoughts on artificial intelligence?
Jonny: *hesitates* "We are not going to be able to stop it. I think people have got concerns about how far it will go in terms of taking over people's jobs or becoming self-aware, which is when it gets dangerous - like in those dystopian films! However, I think we are a long way off that. On a psychological and human level, technology has evolved far quicker than our brains have evolved. We are stuck with our primal brains, which are used to dealing with situations in the physical world. That's why user interfaces are designed by borrowing affordances from the physical world like buttons with a drop shadow for example. I find this more intuitive, if there are hallmarks between digital world and physical world experiences."
Eleanor: It looks like you're not afraid to challenge your way of thinking?
Jonny: "To be honest, I encourage the challenge. My personal opinion is based on my past experiences. It's so important to get proper user research and user testing. Ultimately, it is those people who will be using the website. Getting their opinions, behaviours, preferences and motivations is so important because you need to make sure the end result works for them - not just the people who build it. To us, it seems so intuitive if something is completely new, but for the people who don't use it every day it's a completely different world for them."
There's nothing like getting to know someone quite like finding out what their top 3 Sonos tracks are! Our final question to Jonny posed exactly this, and this is what he responded.
Lily then chatted to Etienne to find out what piqued his initial interest in UX and why.
Lily: Etienne, what made you pursue a career in UX design?
Etienne: "Coming from a web-developer background, I was always fascinated by finding out why certain things which were really obvious to me weren't so clear to others. I became curious by peoples frustrations at certain stumbling points. For me, with a coding background, it seemed quite obvious. That got me into computer interaction and behavioural psychology. From there it snowballed into UX!"
Lily: What's your favourite part of the working day?
Etienne: "There's a bunch of them! As cliché as it sounds, I really enjoy hearing what everybody is doing - especially being in UX, as I would naturally have less exposure to everyone else's work. Being able to listen to them and make my own mental connections is really interesting. I can pocket that information in case I'm able to use it later on. It's also a bit of a fun time to socialise and have some banter!
But going back to UX, I get most excited when i'm really in the thick of solving the puzzle with a client - I compare it to those brainteasers you get in Christmas crackers. At the moment I'm putting wire frames together for a client. I'm looking at it from every angle to work out a way of disconnecting the pieces. The more I work on it, the more the pieces fall into place and I have a better overall picture. It can lead to some wacky things that I would never have thought of, but then you put them in Adobe XD and realise it really works."
I'm not precious about my view at all. UX is all about hearing other people's perspectives. It has been really fun, especially at the beginning when talking through an idea with Sophia and seeing it click for her, or hearing her side - which would change my thought process entirely.
Senior UX Designer,
Lastly, we asked both UX designers what skills they think are most important to be suitable for the role.
Jonny: "Empathy is the obvious one. If you are a heavily curious designer, you can go beneath the surface and ask the right questions to reveal the needs and motivations which drive human behaviour. I'd say collaboration and communication too. Being able to communicate with people in the right way is so important - you can't do UX as a one-man band. Everyone has different experiences and brings something of value to the table."
Etienne: "A big part of the role is empathy. Hearing and reading user feedback and being able to put yourself in someone else's shoes. You need to understand how different people interact with things. The second skill is being self-aware enough to realise when your ego is kicking in. I don't mean in terms of arrogance, but knowing when something that is obvious to you could be difficult for somebody else to see."
That's the end of our interview with Jonny and Etienne. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did! Before you go, as promised, here are Etienne's top 3 Sonos tracks.
Any questions about UX? Get in touch.