As businesses in Asia in various domains look to how they can mature, differentiate and compete globally in their respective products and services, User Experience (UX) is gaining significant momentum. Management are curious as to what UX means and how it can be applied to not just improve experiences but towards real customer delight. They are looking for people and professional communities to help them understand. This is being helped some by Asian companies like Samsung, Huawei, Baidu, Lenovo and HTC (to name a few) investing in design. There has also been an increase in design studios and research & development opening up locally as companies from outside Asia also want to get a deeper understanding of the "Asian consumer mindset"—especially in growth markets like mainland China—towards designing more effectively for their needs. The media has also helped with continued coverage of the importance of design in the business success of Apple and the continued integration of technology into all aspects of our lives.
When we started pitching the importance of related disciplines like usability and user centered design 10+ years ago in Hong Kong and in mainland China, there was little interest or understanding of what the terms meant, how they could be applied in product design and development, or how it could help the business make better products and services. Fast forward to 2011 and we are seeing encouraging trends and indicators in the Asian market to show that User Experience is healthy, growing and will continue to do well for many years to come.
Here are a few recent observations:
Local and Regional Communities of Practice
Whether it be smaller meet ups or professional association conferences, practitioners including researchers, designers, usability, product managers and marketing are keen to get together, learn from each other and take UX into their organisations. For example, the Usability Professionals' Association China has been running a conference called User Friendly since 2003 and has been getting a steady and increasing attendance every year. The China Interaction Design enjoyed their first conference in 2010 and newer events are growing including User Experience Taiwan in 2011, User Experience Hong Kong in 2011 (repeating in 2012), the USID Foundation India and User Experience Singapore in 2010 and 2011 that all point to a need for local professionals wanting to get together but also a regional need to better understand the state of UX in each market and how each market help get a better global UX understanding.
From tools based learning to UX Leadership
There will always be a place for improving our understanding and implementation of UX tools we use on projects but we have also seen a steady increase of practitioners in Asia wanting to know more about forming, growing and managing UX teams, hiring UX team members, gaining a better understanding of the skill sets to look out for when hiring, better managing communications between the UX team and other teams organisationally, better understanding how to communicate the UX results to management clearly towards cultural change in organisations. This suggests the market in Asia is maturing.
A Local and A Global Voice
As UX is still relatively new in Asia, time & energies are needed to educate both the business and our own community as to what it is we do and how it can add value. Sometimes this results in thinking that other established disciplines in business take priority and UX gets marginalized as a result. We need to find stronger voices to not only grow local UX leadership in Asia but to also share the learning's globally. For example, we can work to identify answers to the questions:
- What leadership approaches work well in Asia?
- What skill sets are required to work locally and regionally?
- What gaps exist where outside expertise can help?
- What local companies are embracing and adopting UX successfully and why/what can we learn?
- Where is UX failing in Asia and why/what can we learn?
- What markets in Asia are growth markets where further investment and education is required?
- How can the local Asian leadership take on this effort towards driving UX growth in Asia in their own body of knowledge?
- How well is UX understood in different countries like Hong Kong, Singapore, mainland China, Japan, Korea, India to name a few?
UX Mentoring & Training
As UX matures in Asia, gaps in knowledge are emerging. People are hungry for UX knowledge; they want to know everything quickly but do not always know where to find it locally or how to build a foundation to better understand how all the UX components fit together, not only in UX but also in how businesses and societies operate. There is a real opportunity for the more experienced practitioners and leaders in Asia to mentor newer practitioners to help not only identify gaps in their knowledge but to provide a clear road-map of professional development. This might include a mix of further study, association and commercial conferences or universities with an overarching goal of constant learning and gaining more project experience.
Wherever you are, it's important to do your part to help give UX design its voice. For over 10 years, we have been doing our part to evangelize user experience in Hong Kong and throughout Asia. How? By writing articles, presenting at conferences, sparking discussions, inviting speakers to local conferences, connecting regional UX leaders, interviewing local UX leaders for podcasts, giving UX professionals from outside our region opportunities to meet our local UX community, running workshops, and promoting the role of local UX design professionals in business.We look forward to continuing our conversation with UX designers in Asia in 2012 and beyond and watching UX design mature in Asia.
About Daniel Szuc
Dan Szuc is a Principal Consultant at Apogee Usability Asia Ltd, based in Hong Kong, and previously worked on a usability team for Telstra Australia. He has been involved in the Usability field for over 15 years and has been based in Hong Kong for over 10 years. Dan has lectured about usability, user-centered design and user experience in Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, the US, New Zealand, Israel and Japan. He co-wrote The Usability Kit an implementation guide providing best practices and guidelines for usability teams. He has just co-written a book on Global UX with Whitney Quesenbery. He holds a BS in Information Management from Melbourne University in Australia. Dan Szuc is currently the Vice President of the Usability Professionals Association (UPA) International. Dan is also on the Editorial Advisors Board of Rosenfeld Media and a member of the Global Design Research network called Reach.
About Josephine Wong
Josephine Wong was born in Dalian China, grew up in Hong Kong since the age of 6 and completed tertiary education in Melbourne Australia. She is the co-founder of Apogee Usability Asia Ltd. and has been practicing usability and promoting customer centered design in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Mainland China. Jo holds a BS in Information Management from Melbourne University in Australia and is a member of the Global Design Research network called Reach.
Announcing UX Hong Kong 2012
UX Hong Kong 2012 on 17 & 18 February 2012 is an event based in Hong Kong dedicated to bring all disciplines together (research, marketing, design, technology and the business to name a few) who work in various product and service developments who want to learn more and are passionate about designing great experiences for people and business for a better world. We have some of the best UX talent both international and local from Hong Kong and Asia to learn, discuss, experience, share, and immerse themselves in the Asian UX design community.
We have invited speakers to provide snapshots and workshops on topics that include: Going Beyond User Research, Getting stakeholder buy-in for user experience research projects, Design Research, Design Principles, Service Design, Storytelling for UX, UX Management/Change & Culture, UX leadership, Closing the brand experience gap, Choosing the right UX method, Design Documentaries, Multi-Channel Customer Journeys and Site Search Analytics.
Everyone attending can preview all of the speakers on day 1 (17 Feb 2012), then choose two workshops to join on day 2 (18 Feb 2012) during which they'll explore a topic more deeply with the speakers.