Is User Experience ‘The New Black’ in NZ ?

I’m visiting the main cities in NZ to find out ‘who’s doing what?’ in the area of User Experience and User Centred Design …I’ve met couple of dozen people so far…

So, what lies below the surface of the words User Experience? And is it more than just a buzzword?

  • Agencies practising User Centred Design methodologies have been evangelistic, raising its profile in NZ
  • NZ design agencies have a strong belief in the philosophy behind User Centred Design and research
  • User Experience as a brand differentiator is gaining traction amongst clients
  • Larger organisations as well as product and service providers are starting to build internal UX teams or hire dedicated UX staff
  • Usability Testing methodologies are merging with User Centred Design to shape the overall experience of online in particular
  • Insights gained from UCD methodologies are informing and shaping products and services prior to as well as during development

These are all positive things, but almost everyone I spoke to felt they still had to ‘fight their corner’ within their team, and in particular with their clients.

Keep fighting …your clients will thank you, and ‘the new black’ will endure.

4 thoughts on “Is User Experience ‘The New Black’ in NZ ?

  1. Simon Johnson

    User experience is still fighting it’s corner here in the UK. Agencies are using the terminology, however it’s often still a rubber stamping exercise at the end of the design process rather than a generative process.

    A client I worked for informed me that they started architecting and building two years ago, but only in the final days of the project did they send the designs for user testing. Although they acknowledged our findings they lamented that little could be changed so late in the process. So what really was the point? User testing was a a unit of work they were obliged to do, but it made no material difference to the outcome.

    So how do we change that? I don’t think we can in the short term. However, there may be a cultural shift as UCD becomes part of the education syllabus .

  2. admin

    You’re right Simon, it’s a slow burner.
    Many clients first taste of the UX pie is in the shape of usability testing. …and agreed, Every client I’ve worked with wished they’d called sooner.

    The enlightened client often returns at an earlier stage of their next project. Clients with full buy-in to User Centred Design are most likely to include user research to shape the product at sketch stage. (And ultimately throughout the project lifecycle)

    While NZ is not as far down the track as the UK, it seems that UX people share the same evangelist/practitioner role which does seem to filter into client-side awareness.

    Perhaps it’s a matter of education by osmosis?.

  3. Zef

    Nick – it was great meeting you recently. I discussed with Lulu that UX in NZ has suddenly gone from obscure specialists to mainstream (within the IT/agency sectors). So now it seems that everyone is claiming to be a UX expert (just in the same way everyone claims to have an eye for design). So now UX specialists are being forced to justify their strategy/design decisions, which is a good thing, but a challenge for those of us who know what’s best and just want to get on with it (rather than using up time justifying every little recommendation!)

  4. Nick

    “Mainstream” … Understanding the importance of UX has become mainstream amongst the design/advertising industry while actual use of a truly user centred approach seems to be a minority practice.
    “Everyone is claiming to be a UX expert”
    …Interesting point Zef.
    ‘design experts’ operate and have some success based on their own hunches, while ‘UX experts’ understand that their own hunches are built on and validated by their observations of real users. …so it’s the methodologies employed to arrive at the solution that sets the two apart.
    Justifying recommendations backed up by user research and UCD methodologies has got to be easier than defending a ‘hunch’

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