UXHK: User experience checks-in to Asia’s World City

Hannah and Neil reflect on their time at this year's UXHK.

Foolproof attended the 9th UX Hong Kong organised by long-time friends of Foolproof Jo Wong and Dan Szuc.

UXHK is a leading event in Asia which we’ve long advocated for and attended.

The choice of The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) to host UX Hong Kong this year is significant; last month SCAD celebrated the launch of their UX Design program, the first of its kind to launch in the region, created in collaboration with Google. In a territory where UX and branding have traditionally taken a back seat to short term KPIs, revenue and efficiencies - this is a tell-tale sign of the momentum that UX is gathering across Asia, and the shift to recognise its business value in a hyper-competitive marketplace.

Key takeaways from UXHK

Our key takeaways, besides a considerable helping of mochi, include:

The rallying cry of “UX is not a service” from Jenifer Fabrizi, who emphasised that UX should be imbedded throughout the product development process, rather than as a supplementary service in a prescribed framework.

Antony Morris shared some fascinating tales from his time spent in Financial Services and Octopus, reliving how a small transport payments company shook up the payment industry in one of the world’s greatest financial centres. Taking lessons from Ritz Carlton’s approach to customer service and the value of frontline staff (“ladies and gentlemen, to serve ladies and gentlemen”) he shared the mantra that whilst money counts, so does everybody and everything when designing a business or process. 

No one could disagree with Kathryn Campbell’s depiction of UXers as “social workers for technology” whilst discussing the impact of an industry whose face continues to transform. Kathryn also hit on the empathy that UXers must adopt not just for our users, but for our colleagues too – particularly in translating ‘UX speak’ to the language of business, finance, and product ownership.

Davide Casali rounded off the day with a lesson in feedback that extended beyond the simple layer of ‘how to give/receive it’. With a hybrid background in design, psychology, business and technology David shared some subtle techniques in giving and receiving feedback that maximises the quality of the output from a team. He criticised practices associated with micromanagement, championing the importance of providing a safe space to fail when it comes to risk-taking and learning.

The biggest takeaway of all, however, was the significance of UX Hong Kong herself. This year something was different – she stood a little taller, spoke with more confidence, shone a little brighter. 

With digital transformation programs on business agendas across Hong Kong industries, corporate collaborations with design centres, the launch of government-backed initiatives such as Unleash (to support user centred design solutions in the public sector) and an investment in technology and Smart Cities, change is well and truly underway. 

Dan and Jo should be credited for the fantastic work they’ve done, the growth they’ve stimulated in the UX community and above all, the passion which they’ve shown in doing so for two decades. Whilst she may have been a little late to the party, it looks like UX has arrived. And if Hong Kong’s exhilarating pace and commercial success is anything to go by, it’s going to be a roof raiser.

We’ll be back in 2020 for UX HK’s 10th anniversary – who knows, perhaps we can even share the stage. 

Find out more about UX HK here.

While more on Jo and Dan’s meaningful work can be found here.

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