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5 Minutes With Stewart Salazar

15th Dec 2015

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What are your digital / technology priorities for the year ahead - for User Experience?

With the UX industry constantly evolving it’s important to continue to focus on establishing relationships with candidates in the Australian market that are entering the UX space. The demand is quite high at the moment so it’s about building relationships with people that are coming from different areas, be it from Development, be it from a traditional design point of view, be it from Psychology. The space at the moment is quite candidate driven so we need to be able to keep up to date and also to be able to build those candidate pools from different areas to help assist candidates entering this space.

Which brands or industries are using User Centered Design principles to their full potential and how?

Without mentioning specific brands, One of the main industries implementing User Experience at the moment is the financial sector, it’s a sector that has gone through a lot of change recently (within the last 2-3 years in Australia). It’s an industry that places a lot of importance with regards to their interaction with their customers, that’s at the forefront of what they do. I think the financial sector within Australia has realised the importance of establishing proper User Experience principals in order to make interactions with end users one that is easy and enjoyable at the same time. The way in which I think they are doing so in the right way is by incorporating proper processes as opposed to having Lean UX and a quick solution. They’re establishing thorough research processes from the initial stages of requirement gathering, from conducting focus groups, whether that be internally with stakeholders or externally with their customers, this ensures that what they put out at different customer touch points is backed up by a methodology that incorporates research/testing to ensure that that experience is easy all round, easy to transact with, easy to open up new accounts etc.. So in my opinion definitely the finance sector.

What emerging technologies or trends should people be aware of?

UX has evolved and it continues to evolve every single day, there are emerging trends coming up all the time. The one that I see coming up as the new buzz word, like UX or User Experience has been used for the last 2.5 – 3 years, is Service Design. I think moving forward it is the natural evolution of User Experience or Customer Experience. Service design will be digitally lead. However, the user-centered design principles that are utilized for digital will be implemented into different mediums which interact with customers.

What’s the best piece of innovation you have seen in recent time and why?

Probably a safe one, but for me it’s mobile smartphones. If you rewind back to as short as 8 years ago, people would have diaries, they would have cameras, they would have to go into their banks to do transactions or to send messages it would have to be through email and now fast forward to the current day and smartphones pretty much run your schedules and your life on a daily basis. You’re able to sign contracts on them, you’re able to organize your diaries, lock in meetings, you’re able to have phone conversations, video calls, swipe and pay at your local store. Smartphones are definitely the biggest innovation example that has evolved and continues to evolve and make a big difference in people’s lives in a professional and personal sense.

How has employee engagement changed in recent times and how do you ensure that you have the highest levels among your employees within User Experience teams?

It’s changed in the last 3 years (particularly in the Australian market) due to the demand. The education that businesses have had to undergo in regards to the importance of establishing and implementing proper UX has sky-rocketed just because the demand has been there, so when it comes to employees maintaining and I guess ensuring that their UX Staff are happy and continue performing at the highest level is to educate them and keep them stimulated. It’s no longer about “we’ve got these amount of roles and we need this amount of people to fill them and once we have them in there, that’s fine we’ll be sorted” there are always competitors or other industries coming up with new trends or using different technologies or innovation attracting candidates from a range of industries to go across and explore new methodologies/processes, so I think employers at the moment need to be conscious that it’s not just about providing someone with tasks to perform, it’s getting their UX teams to be more involved in the process, listening to their ideas, taking note of their recommendations or their suggestions, upskilling them, training them, using new methodologies that may have been successful with key players in their industries and others to keep them challenged, stimulated and being able to produce top work at the highest level.

What is your favourite local food?

Eat Thai, Their Salt and Pepper prawns or chicken fajitas from Micky’s… Now I’m hungry!

Where is your favourite place to travel?

I have a travel bug at the moment, trying to travel as much as I can and one place that is really calm, peaceful, relaxing and the culture and the food is amazing, is Portugal. At the same time I lived in Colombia as a teenager and went back for the first time in 15 years last year and it’s completely changed and I love how far the Colombian people have come so I love visiting Colombia also.