UX in different organisations - May meetup review

In our May meetup we invited a selection of guest speakers to talk about what UX looks like in their organisation.

We were lucky to have a good mix of guest speakers in the end, covering everything from a large digital business and a bank, to a design agency and a tech company.

Here’s some of our highlights from their talks:

Courtney Foon - PWC Digital

Courtney’s talk was great because she shared a lot about her personal journey into UX.

While working in digital marketing and design, Courtney realised that her constant curiosity and desire to make things better for users was well suited to a career in UX. She dove in the deep end and invested heavily in learning as much as she could about User Experience through online courses, event networking, mentoring and eventually through a place in the R9 Accelerator programme.

Her advice to anyone who wants to get into UX, particularly from a different discipline or career, is that you have to know what you want (and then go for it!) and to find the right thing for you. Courtney emphasised how UX perfectly blended with her interests and empathy for users. For her it was a no-brainer to do it as a career.

Human-centred design comes first, UX second

Courtney now works as a User Experience Designer at PWC Digital, a customer, technology and data consulting agency. There Courtney has the chance to work on a huge variety of projects where she frequently engages in user and guerilla testing. She recently got to do some deep-dive research on a project around teenagers and sexual health, which involved traveling the country to run workshops and interviews.

For Courtney “human-centred design comes first, UX second.” She advised us to give the people we’re working with ownership of the project, and that if you take this approach, you’ll never stop learning.

Finally Courtney challenged us with this question - if you’re not designing for people, why are you doing UX?


Gillian Hemphill - Kiwibank

Gill was there at the very beginning of Kiwibank as an organisation and now works with a small team in CX (Customer Experience). After years working in customer service at the very old, and slightly archaic Royal Bank of Scotland, Gill went from being told exactly what to do and how to do it, to having almost unlimited possibilities.

The benefit of coming into such a young organisation and with no formal training in UX methodologies worked in Gill’s favour by allowing her to completely focus on the customer,  while learning methods from the rest of the team as she went along. Recently the business' desire for research has increased and the current team are trying to figure out how to “do UX” within their organisation, which is now an amalgam of Agile, Lean and UX methodologies.  What method is better for what project and how do we help the business understand why?

Are you really designing something that is customer-centric?

At heart, Gill’s focus is always the customer - her desire to help them and bring their voice back. “Are you really designing something that is customer-centric?”

Now that Kiwibank is larger, Gill and her team have invested in staff education and buy-in from other departments to help the rest of the business truly understand the value of CX and what it means to by customer centric. For example, they have made opportunities available for other staff outside their team to come learn about CX and what they do, provide training and coaching for them to do it themselves and to see that UX can exist in any part of a business where you’re customer-focused.


Aaron Moore - *experience

Like so many people working in the profession today, Aaron found himself in UX almost by accident because he had an interest in the subject, empathy for users, and he said ‘Yes’ to an opportunity.

Aaron began his career in print design (“You all remember what that is, right?”) and was working at *experience when he attended UXNZ. UX made sense to him and he felt comfortable with the language they were using. It wasn’t long after this that Aaron was offered the chance to be UX lead on a new project converting a dense educational booklet for teachers into a website.

Aaron pointed out the initial challenge of the project, “As anyone with a background in writing will know, what’s in print doesn’t always translate well to the web.”

The information within the booklet had to be organised and made accessible online in a way that made sense to the end user. Some of the steps that Aaron took to achieve this was:

  • Develop user stories via a matrix and turn those into a user story/journey
  • Found real users to test with (although your friends and family will do at a pinch)
  • Used InVision to test prototypes of the website with users
  • Discovered that using lorem ipsum and filler text within prototypes does not work when testing it. Coming up with headers helped.

Overall this project was a great learning experience and Aaron shared that he learnt more on the job than through anything else like books.

Amie Holman - Xero

Xero makes beautiful accounting software, which Amie contributes to by ensuring that Xero’s marketing websites are user-friendly and amazing. Amie works as a User Experience Designer in a team at Xero called ‘the Hub’, which is an internal agency for anyone within the business who wants to ‘talk to the user.’

Even though her output as a UX designer is 100% digital, Amie shared with us how she ironically works largely with paper and post-it notes, used for everything from noting down insights to wireframing.

Amie’s job, while still firmly in UX, intersects hugely with marketing, which presents certain challenges. While the lines between UX and marketing are increasingly blurred, particularly for tech companies, their motives are arguably different - one as an advocate for the business, and the other as an advocate for the user. Amie gave a simple example of this tug-of-war between marketing and UX when the former wants several Call to Actions on a landing page and UX has to question the usability and messaging.

A key benefit for Amie of being able to work on just one project all the time is the opportunity to really get to know her users. “I get to work on the optimisation of what we’ve got, like analytics. Numbers can seem scary to some people, but I love working with them.”


Thanks to all of our speakers!

Thank you to our guest speakers for giving up their time for the meetup and for being incredibly generous when sharing their UX insights and professional backgrounds with us.

It was great to hear about the different methods, tools and experience each speaker has had in UX!