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Interview of Chrissy Welsh

by Romain, on April 13th 2013

Chrissy Welsh defines herself as a UXer, she will give a talk "The hitchhikers guide to UXing without a UXer" about this discipline, often named, seldom mastered ... Interview !

MiXiT: Hi Chrissy, could talk a little bit about yourself ?
Chrissy Welsh: I first started doing UX before it was cool, or back when it was called HCI. In fact, slaying bad user experiences is what gets me out of bed in the morning.

I am from the sunny shores of Scotland, but these days hails from Amsterdam, where I work as a Senior UX Consultant for Backbase.

For 12 years, I have been helping people improve their user experience, ranging from interfaces on cloud based IDEs, dashboards in e-banking, online learning environments and accessible healthcare.

I am a lean UX'er, fast thinker, quick iterator and early adopter. I dislike "good enough" and likes wire-framing, pushing technology and its limits. In my free time, I rock the show with my ukulele, drinks tea, and doodles animals in hats.

MiXiT : We hear a lot about UX today, what is it exactly ?
Chrissy Welsh: The way I have come to think about UX whenever I try to explain it is that we, the UX'ers, are the "man behind the machine" - making it work, creating the illusion, making gestures seamless and interactions intuitive. Truth is, UX should not really be seen because, if you notice it, we are doing it wrong. The best experiences often go completely unnoticed.

If I had to explain it in 1 sentence, I would say it's the frictionless and enjoyable interactions of a person with an environment.

MiXiT : What does that mean to be a UX consultant ? What is your role in a team ?
Chrissy Welsh: UX'ers take on many roles, and as a consultant, you are expected to lead a project, provide research, define users' needs, wireframe solutions and interactions, design, and even implement prototypes. We can do all of these, or just one of them. The role often fits the project and not the other way around.
I like to think of my role as the missing link between programmers and people who use software.

MiXiT : What advice can you give to team struggling to deal with UX and agile ?
Chrissy Welsh: Ideally... hire a UXer! They can save you more money than they cost.

Failing that, if a team member is willing, being a champion for the user will always help. Ask the uncomfortable questions, don't be afraid to iterate, and don't grow attached to any particular solution; for the good of the project you may have to throw it out. It might make you unpopular, but it will make your product better.

MiXiT : You have a talk "The hitchhikers guide to UXing without a UXer", what will people discover?
Chrissy Welsh: People will get a quick start guide on how to apply simple UX principles to make your projects insanely great, even if you don't have a dedicated professional at hand. I want to show people a good way to start their projects - a way which should get a team developing (and dare I say, thinking) the right way and stop making classic mistakes.