UX Director interview: you always want UserZoom by your side

Recently, UserZoom had the pleasure of speaking with Pablo Sanchez Martin, long-time UserZoom customer and former VP, Mobile Design and UX architecture at JPMorgan CHASE, the largest bank in the United States by assets. Pablo has also worked collaboratively with UserZoom, while being a part of organizations such as U.S. Bank, Hewlett-Packard, and Monster.com.

We first asked Pablo,

“What were some of the major UX research or design challenges you had faced while working across different organizations?”

To which he eloquently stated, “My job is quite unique. I am not a researcher, but I value research enormously. I would say that the most critical discipline in a UX team is research. If it is not an integral part of your mission statement is quite likely that you will fail as a UX director.”

He continued on, “Nowadays most companies are in a process of transformation. We are in the midst of a mobile revolution no less. This paradigm shift has taken everyone off their guard. This situation calls for an experienced UX professional to put in place a cohesive digital strategy, reinvigorate the design organization and orchestrate the right processes and tools so the company can move on to the next level.”

“The challenge within large companies is that you’re given typically a very tight timeframe and one (and only one) chance to make change happen. The start-up way to ignite innovation “fail fast to iterate more” does not quite apply to corporations… because the moment to start failing you can lose your seat on the table. You’re history. It’s tough but it is the way it works.

“In this context, tools like UserZoom are critical. They enable me to transform my assumptions into sound decisions. I don’t want to use educated guesses as to the foundation of my strategy. I want the facts. I want a total understanding of the big picture but also visibility into the details as well. As a UX director, you work immersed in a vast ocean of opinions. It is a risky business trying to use just your intuition to validate them. A tool like UserZoom is a must-have companion in your journey.”

Having such a diverse background across the field of UX, we went on to ask Pablo,

How has UserZoom provided value across the various organizations you have worked with?

With UserZoom, a UX director like me never has to say “Trust me”. You can always bring customer insights and data and that speaks for itself. That is its fundamental value proposition.

Pablo explained, “The ability of this tool to create internal alignment in a major corporation is phenomenal. The language of customer data is universal. Everyone in the company gets it. No other tool in the field of user experience provides so much value for so little money. UserZoom provides me with a great sense of confidence: once this data-driven approach is being embraced by the design team then the outcome will likely resonate with the company.”

Something highly recommendable is to apply UserZoom across all stages of the creative process: from inception to launch. This tool is a catalyst for collaboration inside the design organization. It brings interaction designers, visual designers, and researchers together. It keeps them focused on customer opportunities with real business impact. The tool helps the team identify usability issues and validate their potential solution.”

Pablo reveals, “From an organizational design standpoint, tools like UserZoom help establish good communication channels outside the UX team. The language of facts is what cements the relationships within a company.

In a big company data is power but only if it is meaningful. When putting together a new study reach out to marketing, product even development to inform the tasks, the questionnaires, or even the overall approach. Make the study as comprehensive as possible so the resulting data become useful and actionable for the entire company, not only for the design team.

Create a multidisciplinary task force to define the UserZoom study; generate buzz and excitement around the launch of the study; socialize results as early as patterns of behavior start to emerge; present the final report in a way that everyone in the company can understand; establish the next steps and only ONE recommended course of action… as opposed to “this report is what UX recommends”, and that is what marketing recommends, and that is what development recommends.

He concludes, “This is, in a nutshell, the strategic value of UserZoom.” We went on to discuss the specifics and questioned,

Which of UserZoom’s research capabilities have provided the most benefit to the organizations you have worked with?

Pablo explained, “Joining a new organization as a UX director is like being dropped behind enemy lines: you’re lost; there is fog and confusion everywhere… and you have a limited amount of time to accomplish your goals. In this scenario, you need to rely on quick, effective, and versatile tools.

UserZoom is quite frictionless from a development standpoint. This enables me to immediately get data and identify opportunities pretty quickly. As I engage with key stakeholders in the company I share these initial insights to help reshape the definition of the problem as a team.

I can easily set up a simple evaluation study based on two or three critical tasks, a customer satisfaction questionnaire, or a quick card sorting study to validate the information architecture of a particular site. UserZoom is a tool I can use in many different ways in those initial moments where assumptions abound and data-scarce.

He recaps, “Again, the versatility and robustness of the tool, and the marvelous, frictionless ability to deploy tests, in some cases without the intervention of the IT department, makes this totally invaluable.”

Pablo went on to describe one of his early projects involving UserZoom. “The first study I conducted using UserZoom was in Prague, the Czech Republic in 2006. At the time, I was responsible for the user experience of all European sites of Monster.com.” He goes into detail, “We were conducting a remote usability test with UserZoom in four key markets: Germany, France, United Kingdom, and the Netherlands. It would have been extremely difficult to obtain the same data conducting traditional usability sessions in each specific geographic location. It would have probably taken me a whole year. Language diversity is a great obstacle in Europe.”

Pablo notes, “Thanks to a very close collaboration with the UserZoom team, I was able to get the tool up and running in a very short period of time. Also, they helped me out with the study itself and translating the data back and forth into English from German, Dutch, and French. That collaboration was total a blessing for me because the final usability report was delivered just in time to inform the redesign of the web 2.0 version of Monster.com.

There are many webcasts and articles that tell the all tactical aspects of UserZoom, but my personal way to summarize its value would be: “This is the one-side arm that you always want by your side in the risky business of being UX Director or VP of User Experience where every project and every company is a mine field in its own way”.

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