Rudi Zwieselbauer is the Scientific Coordinator of the UX Design Bootcamp at Talent Garden Innovation School. In the following interview, he tells us a bit about himself and his life as a UX Designer.
Describe your job:
I’m a UX designer and a user experience advocate from the very first minute. I breathe and stand up for user-centered design and I do have more than 12 years of experience in digital, web, and app design and I’m an expert in the field of interactive prototyping. I’m passionate about cutting-edge technologies such as 3D-printing, artificial intelligence, and mixed reality as well as human-computer interaction, the internet of things, and ubiquitous computing. I do work with various clients, ranging from small to large-sized companies, from private to governmental institutes on various topics and different projects. Although I do requirements elicitations, user research, usability testing, expert reviews as well as design thinking workshops, most of the time I do create prototypes of any kind, ranging from low-fidelity (just pen and paper) to high-fidelity digital and interactive prototypes.
How did you get into this job?
I studied multimedia arts with a major in web development at the Middlesex University London. While studying, I worked for many agencies and companies on various kinds of projects with international customers from around the globe. I started as a front end web developer at a new media agency in Vienna and later worked in related fields such as (technical) project management, conception, and quality assurance in different companies in Austria and as a freelancer in England. During that time I discovered my interest in usability engineering and user-centered design. I started to read related blogs and books and got deeper knowledge in user research, prototyping, and usability testing. I then decided to go back to university to do a masters program in user experience management at the University of Applied Science in Vienna. I now run my own company and work as a UX consultant and designer with clients in Austria and Europe.
Which are the top 5 hard skills that someone in your industry should have?
A person which works in UX design should have the ability to create intuitive UX concepts, conduct UX and design thinking workshops as well as advocates user-centered design within the company they are working for or the project they are working on. They should facilitate a holistic end-to-end UI creation approach which includes researching user needs, developing information architecture, sketching ideas and solutions as well as creating wireframes, iterative prototypes, and interactive mockups. They should be able to design multi-device and cross-channel interfaces using state-of-the-art software tools while considering the latest design and usability principles. And also conduct self-guided user experience research including usability tests, stakeholder interviews, and evaluation. Depending on their field of expertise it might also be relevant to develop animated interaction design concepts based on scientific interaction design principles.
Which are the top 5 soft skills that someone in your industry should have?
First and foremost they need to be empathic. As UX designers we do work for and with people and we need to understand their needs and desires. Most UX work has to do with listening to user and stakeholder needs, asking the right questions, and understanding the cause of a given problem. Only by being empathic and really feel the user’s pain as well as their enjoyment, we will be able to create successful products. Besides that, people working in the UX field should be good at consulting and negotiating. They should be able to stand up for UX and be the person which is facilitating and defending the user-centered design approach within product development and further establishing UX within their companies strategy. They should also be able to moderate workshops and present UX findings and research results within the team they are working with as well as towards management and decision-makers. Last but not least, they should be good collaborators as working in UX has always been (and might always be) a team-based activity with people from different fields of expertise, cultures, and responsibilities.
When you start a new project, what are the steps you take?
At the beginning of any project, I do first gather as much information related to that project as possible such as previously done research and findings, already defined requirements, and any kind of information about previous iterations (if applicable). I read all of that very carefully and try to understand the project goals, the status quo of development as well as the pain points I might get confronted with. I then make notes about questions and things that might need to get adjusted first (i.e. get the project on the right track) and ask relevant stakeholders either by talking directly to them or by doing questionnaires and interviews. Depending on those findings as well as the project stage, I might do some kind of design thinking workshop afterward (i.e. requirements elicitation, personas, or customer journeys) or start directly with prototyping, but mostly on a low fidelity scale (e.g. paper prototype) and generally together with the client and other stakeholders involved (such as representatives of the end-user).
What are the reasons you wanted to become part of the faculty of Talent Garden Innovation School and share your knowledge?
As someone who has done both, classical education at a university level as well as on private educational institutions, I do think the Talent Garden Innovation School Faculty is the better way to get fast (but still high quality) education tailored to the market needs especially in a continuously changing and still evolving field such as user experience design and due to their flexible nature such educational institutions can react way faster as conventional universities. As our program is taught in English we do attract people from around Europe which allows our students to collaborate and exchange on an international level. So besides getting the latest UX skills, our students also get a wide and global network, make new friends, and can profit from each other’s cultural background and knowledge.
How do you keep up with the latest trends?
Being a UX designer is not a nine to five job! As the field of user experience design is very wide, diverse and under constant movement, continuous education and lifelong learning is a must. I, therefore, do read a lot of books and blogs related to UX, user research as well as on product design. Besides that, I’m subscribed to various newsletters to stay up to date with the latest findings and trends in UX. I do also attend local meetups related to user-centered design, exchange with other experts on forums and social media, and regularly attend global UX conferences, conventions, and barcamps. Therefore, someone who wants to start a career in UX design should be curious and thirsty for knowledge and be aware that user experience design is everywhere!
In your opinion: Which trends will change the future of business for good?
As UX designers we do know that UX design is not limited to Websites or Apps! User-centered design is something we do have to consider with any product we design, online as well as offline. Although much UX work is done with digital products, in the future we will see that user experience work will gain more importance within the development of any kind of product as well as on business process optimization. Further, there will be a huge demand on UX experts within the state of the art technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and IoT (e.g. chatbots), voice and gestures based interfaces (e.g. Alexa, Google Home and self-driving cars) as well as in the development of virtual, augmented and mixed reality products. In short, UX will play an important role in any kind of human(-computer) interaction!
Which are your future work challenges?
I have to make sure to stay up to date with the latest UX trends and developments as well as adjust my field of expertise regarding market needs. Especially, topics such as how do we have to design technology for an aging population – and on the contrary for young children, further accessibility and inclusive design as well as ethics and the impact technology has on our society will get more and more important during the next couple of years. All those things will influence how we will design future products and therefore will be challenges we as UX designers have to face.
Coming to an end: What is the best advice you can give to people that are interested in taking a career in your industry?
Don’t be afraid to start a career in UX design! You might think, user experience design is something mystical only a view “experts” can do, but that’s simply wrong! “No one is born a master” but everyone can be on, as long as he or she is willing to learn new things and get out of their comfort zones. So, anyone can become a UX designer and with our UX Bootcamp at Talent Garden, we will welcome, help and support anyone who is motivated towards that goal!