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User Experience Talent in Singapore

12th Oct 2013 Joanna Cockle

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As a consultant in Xpand’s Mobile Technology, Gaming and User Experience team, I’ve been fortunate enough to be specialising in the recruitment of User Experience talent in Singapore since earlier this year. Being a geek at heart, I find the way consumers access information and interact with different applications to be extremely fascinating. I live in a country where most people, whether they be on public transport, walking around or even in social occasions, have their face firmly pressed into their smartphones… Some might find that rude, I think its awesome… as someone must be doing something right for people to be so addicted to the easily available information provided in their handheld devices!

The terms ‘User Experience’, ‘User Interface’, ‘Interaction Design’ or ‘UX/UI’ are massive buzzwords in Singapore at the moment. Wikipedia describes it as;

" User experience (UX) involves a person's behaviors, attitudes, and emotions about using a particular product, system or service. User experience includes the practical, experiential, affective, meaningful and valuable aspects of human-computer interaction and product ownership. Additionally, it includes a person’s perceptions of system aspects such as utility, ease of use and efficiency. User experience may be considered subjective in nature to the degree that it is about individual perception and thought with respect to the system. User experience is dynamic as it is constantly modified over time due to changing usage circumstances and changes to individual systems as well as the wider usage context in which they can be found."

Have you ever wondered why certain buttons are in specific places on websites? Or why hugely successful apps are slick, clean and easy to use? While content plays a huge role, the majority of the time there are a team of people working hard to make your daily interaction with technology and their products a lot easier. Unfortunately, ‘user friendly’ does not guarantee a product is a good example of UX.

 

 

Here in Singapore, we are slightly behind other advanced markets like the US, UK and Australia in terms of our UX talent and also of people understanding the skillset. It’s still a fairly ‘new’ industry, having been essentially born several years ago by a few people who offered extremely niche skills combined with a true passion for the space. Many successful UX Consultants, Directors or Managers also have a big job to do in the sense of actually selling UX as a product. Persuading clients to part with sections of their budget to undertake user research and analysis is a concept people are slowly but surely coming round to. Previously, designing mock-ups was a Graphic Designer’s job, an area where a lot of the current UX talent in Singapore have transitioned from. Now, clients are quietly building user research teams - people who carry out structured focus groups as well as hiring senior leadership to drive this forward.

Part of our problem is that UX, Human Computer Interaction and Information Architecture were not things that were immediately available on any curriculum in Singapore. Whilst certain passionate folk are trying to persuade otherwise and a few institutions are now offering courses in these fields, we won’t be seeing any benefits of this for a while. In a country of roughly 3.8m residents (including those who’ve adopted PR status) and almost 1.5m ‘foreigners’, there is clearly growth that the residents alone cannot provide the manpower for. The governments restrictions on bringing in ‘foreign talent’ are getting tighter which makes much needed talent (across the board) much harder to secure here in Singapore. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation that is the topic of many debates as our Little Red Dot grows.

For those that are here or those local UX experts who’ve either transitioned from another field or studied abroad, their skills are in high demand. Across all industries people are slowly beginning to realise the value of having UX resources. From financial institutions to agencies and independent consultancies, the need for great talent is strong. If you are here, it’s likely you’ll be asked to dip your fingers into all of the pies at the same time, as the headcount is limited and roles are still misunderstood. Whilst things are moving slowly, they are moving - and that’s exciting! Ultimately, clients want to deliver a positive user experience to their customers, and in order to achieve this, you need the professional talent.

I was recently told that I was the only Recruitment Consultant who seemed to not only have a great grasp on this area in Singapore, but also a true passion for it. If you’re interested to find out more, or have a conversation about it with me, do get in touch. There are also a number of community groups who meet up in Singapore, and also a number of websites you can refer to;

http://www.hyperisland.com/about/locations/singapore

http://www.uxsg.org/

http://www.uxconsulting.com.sg/

http://leanuxweek.sg/