Stéphanie Walter reveals why it’s okay to ‘cheat’ when developing your UX strategy
You’ve been talking about ‘cheating the UX’ recently. What exactly do you mean by that? You’ve optimised every request and piece of code you could, yet your users are still complaining. Even worse: they don’t complain, they leave. This is where we start talking about perception.
Our human brain works in a certain way. Knowing how it works helps us to build sites and products that users perceive as easy and fast to use. So I’m talking about techniques such as micro-interactions, visual feedbacks, skeleton screens and optimistic UIs. At my talks, I show you the best progress-loading indicator depending on the situation. I explain how to deconstruct waiting time to build a video streaming experience and how to communicate speed perception to the developers.
Is it true that you find speaking stressful? If so, why do you do it? I hated to speak in public when I was a student. When somebody asked me to give a talk at their conference, I refused. Twice. They had to ask me three times. I was terrified and was wondering: ‘Why would anybody want to listen to me?’ Also, I gave this first talk in English, which is not my native language, so it was a huge challenge. And I’m still super nervous when I talk, especially in English. It takes me a huge amount of energy to go on stage. According to other speakers, it gets a little bit better but the stress does not really go away even after a few years.
So why do I speak in public? Sometimes because I want to share something I’m passionate about (like the things you can do in mobile browsers today) and get other people passionate about those things as well. Sometimes because I want to complain about something that doesn’t work and drives me mad (hello mobile forms; people not letting me use the é in my name on the web) and raise awareness so we can find solutions together. And in general, I like to share my process, plus speaking at conferences is a nice way to meet other people from the industry.
What is the biggest challenge facing UX right now? Figuring out what UX actually is. UX has become a buzzword. A lot of people will tell you they want a UX designer but they won’t let you do your job properly. They just want a monkey pushing pixels in a software. It’s hard to make people understand what this job actually means.
You live in Luxembourg: what’s the web design scene like there? There are a lot of designers working for consulting and tech companies like I do. We’re in this strange phase where we try to make clients and stakeholders understand the value of design. There’s still a lot of work to do to convince them. It requires patience but you can experiment in a fun playground.