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  • Tech In Motion Silicon Valley: UX Meetup

    On Thursday, March 14th, Workbridge Silicon Valley hosted a Tech In Motion:SV UX Meetup event. It was an outstanding night that brought information about User Experience (UX) to the Silicon Valley Tech community.

    UX Meetup

    UX Meetup

    Tech In Motion:SV had the pleasure of having Wendy Johansson speak at our event. Wendy is the Senior Director of User Experience and UX generalist at Tout, a video social networking startup in the Bay Area. Before joining Tout, Wendy was the User Experience Manager at Oolaya where she not only developed the UX team, but also created a user-centered design strategy for the company.

    Wendy spoke about "Making UX Matter to Your Company" and shared her thoughts on making UX a strategy within a company and not just a deliverable. The energy in the room was ecstatic! UX professionals and techies came together and everyone seemed to agree that user experience should matter to every company. The crowd was so engaged and beguiled that the presentation became more of a discussion between Wendy and the audience.

    UX Meetup

    We were able to ask Wendy a few questions about User Experience after the event. Check out what she had to say!

    WB: A lot of Silicon Valley companies are building in house design teams from scratch. I know that you were the first designer at Ooyala and helped build that team. What is some advice you can give companies when building a team from the ground up?

    Wendy Johansson

    WJ: Don't just hire a bunch of UX folks and expect great UX to be the result! You need to  have every team in the company understand what value UX will bring to the success of your product and be inviting and inquisitive in integrating UX into the company. Without everyone on board, you'll have a frustrated UX team that focuses more energy on fighting for their voice to be heard, instead of fighting for the user's voice to be heard. Second key is to stop seeking a unicorn - you want a UX designer that also front end codes? That's like asking your hairdresser to also design your wardrobe because they both concern outward appearance. It's not the same thing!

    WB: When and how should companies incorporate UX researchers into their team?

    WJ: At Ooyala, we didn't have a dedicated UX research team until we were ready to start building brand new products based on discovery and exploration of the industry. So we hired a really smart UX researcher to join the team and she started working directly with the Account Management team to set up a Customer Database to define what customers we talk to and when. This really helped us as a Product team to build trust with customers by not overloading them with research requests, and by ensuring we work with the same customers through the lifecycle of a product (from exploration to beta to release).

     

    WB: How can companies do a better job to bridge the gap between engineering and design?

    WJ: Create opportunities for engineers and designers to socialize, debate, and talk outside of a project! During a project, tensions may be running high, so bridging the gap isn't the goal everyone has in mind. Setting up an opportunity like a brown bag lunch or happy hour where the two teams can make mini-presentations about their process, how they make engineering/design decisions, etc. would be a great start. Then I think a lot of the work sits in design's court - designers need to educate the engineers about the user they're designing a product for. Help engineers understand why feature x and y are must-haves for a product launch, help them empathize with the user/persona and want to build something for that user!

    WB: What do you do to motivate your team and foster creativity?

    WJ: I think of my team as people, not as designers. People need to be challenged, need to have room to breathe and do what they're passionate about, and need to have work/life balance. So I'm incredibly concerned about how my team members are feeling as people and like to have very open communication with them about what's exciting or demotivating them. I also want each team member to feel accountable and proud of the quality of the user experience they're creating, so I enjoy "show and tell" of work to other designers (or the entire company!). This gets feedback from your peers and colleagues that you respect and pushes you to always do your best.

    WB: What products inspire you or do you feel have great design that values user experience on a high level?

    WJ: I'm in love with Airbnb! Not only does it give me the opportunity to live as a local during vacations, but their design is elegant, intuitive and friendly - the same vibe I feel from the Airbnb hosts I meet. I think their ability to project their brand values into the user experience on the website/app and in person is amazing.

    Workbridge would like to thank Wendy for accepting our invite to be our guest speaker and for helping us host a successful event! Everyone had a great time and we hope to see more of Wendy in the near future; possibly a UX conference?

  • Tech In Motion Silicon Valley: UX Meetup!

    On Thursday, March 14th, Tech In Motion Silicon Valley held a UX Meetup in our Jobspring Silicon Valley office.  It was a great night, bringing the UX and tech community of Silicon Valley together with lots of networking and lively discussion.

     

    We hosted guest speaker, Wendy Johansson.  Wendy is the Sr. Director of User Experience at Tout, a video social networking start-up and considers herself to be a UX generalist. 

    Before joining Tout, she was the User Experience Manager at Oolaya.  When she joined Oolaya at just 20 employees, she grew UX not only to be a team, but a user-centered design strategy for the company when she left at 350 people.  She spoke to our crowd about "Making UX Matter to Your Company" and her thoughts on making UX a strategy within your company and not just a deliverable.

     

    The energy in the crowd was infectious! UX professionals and tech enthusiasts came together and everyone seemed to agree that UX should matter to any company.  The presentation became more of a discussion amongst the audience and Wendy, which was great!

    We were able to ask Wendy a few questions about User Experience after the event.  Check out what she had to say!


    JS:
    A lot of Silicon Valley companies are building out in house design teams from scratch. I know that you were the first designer at Ooyala and helped build that team out. What is some advice you can give these companies when building out a team from the ground up?

    WJ: Don't just hire a bunch of UX folks and expect great UX to be the result! You need to have every team in the company understand what value UX will bring to the success of your product and be inviting and inquisitive in integrating UX into the company. Without everyone on board, you'll have a frustrated UX team that focuses more energy on fighting for their voice to be heard, instead of fighting for the user's voice to be heard. Second key is to stop seeking a unicorn - you want a UX designer that also front end codes? That's like asking your hairdresser to also design your wardrobe because they both concern outward appearance. It's not the same thing!

    JS: When and how should companies incorporate UX researchers into their team?

    WJ: At Ooyala, we didn't have a dedicated UX research team until we were ready to start building brand new products based on discovery and exploration of the industry. So we hired a really smart UX researcher to join the team and she started working directly with the Account Management team to set up a Customer Database to define what customers we talk to and when. This really helped us as a Product team to build trust with customers by not overloading them with research requests, and by ensuring we work with the same customers through the life-cycle of a product (from exploration to beta to release).

    JS: How have you seen UX design evolve in the last 5 years?

    WJ: The definition of "UX" varies wildly among different sized companies, different regions, different teams. However, I'm seeing UX becoming more of a "catch-all" term that incorporates user research, usability, information architecture, interaction design and visual design. So to a lot of people, UX is a generalist who can do all of those things.

    JS: What are some qualities you feel are essential to have to be a great UX leader?

    WJ: A great UX leader needs to be able to take a step back and see the bigger picture - not just the business case for a product, but the business case of the company. Not just the best user experience for a given product, but the best user experience that will scale as the product evolves. And a great UX leader sees the people.

    JS: What do you do to motivate your team and foster creativity?

    WJ: I think of my team as people, not as designers. People need to be challenged, need to have room to breathe and do what they're passionate about, and need to have work/life balance. So I'm incredibly concerned about how my team members are feeling as people and like to have very open communication with them about what's exciting or demotivating them. I also want each team member to feel accountable and proud of the quality of the user experience they're creating, so I enjoy "show and tell" of work to other designers (or the entire company!). This gets feedback from your peers and colleagues that you respect and pushes you to always do your best.

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