User Experience (UX), the term that defines any interaction users have with a product, is now one of the most important elements of today’s software development industry. Experts predict that around 50% of today’s applications will be re-written in the next five years because of past UX oversights. If this comes to pass, there needs to be an abundant pool of UX experts from which to draw from.
This rapid ascension of UX importance is having ripple effects in the nearshore software market, particularly in terms of insufficient talent. While fairly prominent in Silicon Valley, the market for digital design, user experience engineers and user interface talent is still lacking in Latin America.
Nearshore UX Talent Shortage
Companies south of the border have no problem sourcing programmers and developers, but experts in UX design are scarce. Luis Robbio, CEO at Belatrix, said that it’s hard to find UX specialists because of the new skillsets required. “UX experts need to combine artistic skills with psychology skills and technical skills,” he explained. “Ten years ago, developers and engineers focused only producing the results, but now they must consider how to make the experience easier for the user. This takes time to develop from a training perspective.” Belatrix realized the impact of user interaction over four years ago, resulting in a dedicated UX department consisting of 4-5 people. For most clients, the team dedicates a small amount of time to UX in the beginning before moving on to other programming tasks.
According to David Sandoval, Director of User Experience at iTexico, UX is misunderstood by many organizations, but more CEOs are finally positioning UX as a key element in the success of a product or service. “This behavior should highlight the need to educate more designers in schools and tech communities of the importance of UX design,” he said. “A strong tech ecosystem is vital for great UX in order to learn from other teams, products, and companies, resulting in a deeper understanding of how to design for better experiences. Those who are great will teach others, however, greatness is still very hard to come by.”
New Roles Emerging from UX
Specifically, in design and product design, new UX jobs include UI/UX Designer, Visual Designer, Interaction Designer, Product Designer, Customer Experience Officer, and UX Consultant. Most of these are focused on creating solutions to human needs through a viable, sustainable business solution. Nadya Lopez, Head of User Experience at Belatrix, said that UX Designers also perform analysis, usability tests, and user research tasks on top of their design responsibilities. “We also educate our co-workers about UX so that developers and QAs can recognize ways to improve UX through their own work,” she said. “It is very important that UX is understood by developers to prevent any gap between the two sides of production—they should be intrinsically linked.”
Another emerging skill involves digital ethnography, which involves learning about a user in their environment and how they interact with day-to-day tools. Some UX firms are even offering the service to physically follow a user around and see how they interact with products in different environments. According to Emiliano Horcada, User Experience Studio Partner at Globant, every career that is focused on understanding behavior, whether it be behavior of humans or data, can be applied to user experience design solutions. “It’s not just a tool, or framework,” he said, “but how to observe behavior and extract from it. Even though it’s coming from different places, the core of UX is observational behavior.”
UX for enterprise is becoming a bigger deal as consumer entitlement becomes a mainstay of today’s society. Enterprise users have brought expectations from their own personal experiences into their workplace and people are abandoning old enterprise B2B apps because they are difficult to use. “There is a lot of talk about enterprise UX, but companies are unsure of how to hire a UX team and how to utilize them,” said Wendy Johansson, Head of Product and User Experience at Guadalajara-based Wizeline. “They understand the need but are often paralyzed by an uncertainty of where to begin. Do they hire a VP of UX and drive the strategy down, or just hire some UX designers to build something that shows the executives how important it is?”
ITexico has noticed that many companies don’t place that much importance on internal UX. “It’s not generally practical because internal enterprise tools are not funded by customer revenue, so they tend to get left behind,” said Anderson. “I see this frequently in the field with customers, but it varies depending on the size of the company and the industry. In banking, for example, where there is more risk involved, companies place internal UX much higher.”
Justifying a UX Strategy
Capital One is a good example of how UX prioritization can alter an entire industry. The company acquired world-renowned UX agency Adaptive Path to work exclusively on their apps. Since then, UX in the finance industry has exploded as institutions moved toward a more consumer-friendly approach. All it took was one big player to do it in the right way.
“In order to have a sustainable UX strategy, the one thing companies need to pay attention to is relevancy,” said Horcada. “Your strategy, your business, and your consumers are always going to change, and you should adapt to it to stay relevant. You should be in the business of understanding your user, your consumer, and your rivals.” Quantitative models to achieve this include analytics, surveys and data that shows were problematic areas are in software. These can be followed up by user interviews to determine why these problems exist for them. There are also tools such as Inspectlet, which allow you to watch recordings of how users interact with the site or app.
“The biggest challenge is convincing C-suite executives that UX is important,” said Luis Castro, Director at Quarksoft North America. “From the technology side, there is a greater awareness of the role of UX in success, but from the business side, such as getting approval for UX projects, that is where companies are struggling. CFO’s want to see a return value and a technique for monetizing UX, but without a UX team in place it’s hard to do that. It’s a real Catch 22 situation.”
How much importance does your company place on UX? Is the nearshore region focusing on UX as much as it should be? Let us know in the comments below.