UXColombo: the 7 Precepts of 99X by Hasith Yaggahawita

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The 19th of June -yesterday- saw us at UXColombo, arguably one of Sri Lanka’s largest niche tech meetups. In a speech titled “creating a UX culture – 7 secrets that worked for us”, Hasith Yaggahawita, 99X Tech Manager and Javascript guru, spoke at length about certain fundamentals that became cornerstones in their UX work processes.

While UXColombo went on to cover quite a bit of scope outside these “seven precepts”, Hasith’s speech consisted of the meat of this month’s meetup – and here it is in full, complete with bullet points and anecdotes.

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1. Get your CEO on the bandwagon.

“If you don’t have the buy-in of your CEO, it’s going to be quite difficult,” says Hasith. “Five years ago, 99X wanted to become a Agile company, but it didn’t really work for us because there wasn’t a strong buy-in from our CEO. Then Pete Deemer happened. We managed to send our CEO to become a certified Scrum master – how cool is that, right? The next day, 35 people were sent to the same training, and within months we had overhauled our own processes to becoming an Agile company. It’s challenging and it might even need a master plan like you in the movies, but it’s essential.”

2. UX Resources != UX Consultants.

“The traditional UI designer is not a UX consultant. The traditional graphic designer works in isolation. You don’t go challenge them on their design. They’re very protective of their work. There’s no feedback.

This is not UX. UX is about letting go of all you know. UX is about dreaming up a solution that is not yours, but the users. This is a significant mindchange. It’s not about your opinion: it’s about the user’s experience. You need empathy. You are the UX consultant, a mediary to help the users realize what they want and transfer that to the dev team. You are a hub. It’s a completely different role.”

3. Offload your consultants.

“Let your consultants focus on UX. Let your developers focus on the UI,” says Hasith, explaining a somewhat counter-intuitive point – not to get your UX consultancy work bogged down by minute technical details of the UI that can be handled with code. While details are important, it’s important to remember that the user interface is part of the user experience as a whole.

4. Act like experts

Because how your clients perceive you affects how well your UX design is accepted.

5. Apply a UX approach to your UX offering.

“UX is about creating a great user experience. If I am to have a UX department or UX offering, there has to be a customer for that. If it’s an internal department, it’s still a customer. As long as you have a customer, you have a product – that’s your UX offering.” explains Hasith.

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“If you want to be successful, you have to make this product successful. Apply your UX experience to your product. Make it successful. For example, we came across a particularly difficult set of customers once. One customer did not know what UX meant. We had to cater to them as well. They did not trust us at the beginning – would you?

We created personas – hypothetical user profiles – to model users. We applied these personas to user journeys – that is, how these users react to us. These users were customers. So we explored how our customers experienced us – and we applied this insight to making better business propositions.

One of the outcomes of this brainstorming is that we now have something called 40 hours of UX: it’s a trial run where we charge only for forty hours of doing UX with us. If they like it, they can proceed. Everybody took it: for most foreign clients, that was peanuts – and for us, the trial program became a 100% successful program for finding new clients.”

6. Technology is your friend.

“If you look at the stuff you find on Google, it’s mostly about the user. There’s a particular proverb saying “get out of the building”. it says that if you’re not sitting with the user, you’re not doing UX.

But for us, that isn’t very practical. We’re offshore partners. We can’t go everyday and sit down with users. In that case, we use technology. We use heatmaps. Split testing is another aspect. So is multivariate testing. So is feature fake – the proess of rolling out demo feature sets to users to determine the likelihood of usage. Some companies do this not just a the user level, but also at the product level.

Not only is tech useful, it’s also essential. For example, we had a customer who had an epic movie on their homepage. They were very proud of it. It was a great movie. It took up a large portion of the screen. They were extremely satisfied.

Unfortunately, when we checked the heatmaps, it became apparent that nobody was clicking it. It was a ton of money wasted.  Now without technology,we would not have seen this stuff. Use technology. It exists. Even simple stuff is going to make a difference.”

7: Meet your users.

“I’ve spoken of how UX is about facts and not opinions.And the biggest fact is how your end users react to what you build. The company giving you the contract may have its own opinion, but the fact is how your users react. Use all the tech you have at your disposal, but meet the people who are actually going to use your offering.”

 

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