How did you make the transition from advertising to user experience (UX) design and learn the necessary skills? To be completely honest, that transition was quite accidental. I studied advertising back in the day and always dreamed of working as an art director for a big ad agency. Then a good friend referred me to an internship position at Isobar, the biggest digital agency in Brazil, to work as an “information architect.” I had no idea what that was, but I was up for the challenge. I remember Googling things like sitemap and wireframes the night before the interview. I got the job, and that was when my passion for design started.
But the process of learning about a discipline I had never heard of wasn’t easy. There wasn’t any literature available in Portuguese about user experience, so in order to access the right content, I had to learn both UX and English at the same time. I found myself digging into books, blogs, articles, papers—anything I could find about the topic. I would spend at least one hour every morning reading about UX and finding ways to apply what I learned to the projects I was working on that week.
When did you and Caio Braga first get the idea to create uxdesign.cc? I started the blog eleven years ago while I was learning about UX myself. Writing and publishing content on the blog was an interesting way for me to remember all the things I was learning. I launched the blog under a different name—the term UX wasn’t a thing back then—and I was only writing in Portuguese. Today, the blog has become the largest repository of knowledge for UX designers in South America.
It was only in 2013 that I decided to start doing the same thing in English—that’s when I invited Caio to help me out. Caio has the brilliant superpower of sensing the zeitgeist of the UX design community and knowing exactly what people are interested in reading.
Our goal with uxdesign.cc today is to help designers make sense of everything that’s being published online about UX. The topic is becoming increasingly popular, but with that comes a lot of clutter, noise and disorientation. uxdesign.cc is our attempt at curating some of that content and giving it back to the community in a more structured and digestible way.
You’ve written a lot of articles and resource guides for uxdesign.cc. Are there any terms or words that you avoid using as a UX design writer? We avoid complicated words. There are too many people using complex jargon to protect their positions as specialists—“If no one else can understand UX, then maybe they will pay me to help them out.” We go in the exact opposite direction, using simple terms and plain English to make UX as accessible as possible.
How do you keep from feeling like you’re writing about the same things week after week? I don’t ever get that feeling because there’s always something new to write about. We work in an industry that’s rapidly evolving alongside the technology we use to enable experiences for our users. As I go through my day, I feel like I have a new article idea every hour—if only I had more time to sit down and capture everything.
Chatbots have become very popular. But are brands approaching them in the right way? Chatbots are an incredibly hot topic in our industry right now—automating and scaling one-to-one conversations using technology appeals to lots of brands and services. But despite our best intentions, chatbots sometimes fail to deliver user experiences that are as seamless, delightful and efficient as we envisioned them to be.
As with any new technology, brands are rushing to get something out in order to be seen as “innovators” and “the-first-of” in their categories. But focusing on the “what” makes them forget about the “why.”
What are the best use cases for bots? What is the user need you are trying to solve with the bot you are creating? And most important: Is the bot really able to solve that problem, or do limitations in the technology restrict the bot from fully serving the user’s needs? Asking these questions sooner rather than later can avoid a lot of unnecessary investments in chatbots that may eventually fail.
When you’re designing a chatbot, what is the scriptwriting process like? How do you decide what the right “voice” for the bot is? The best way to test out a script for a bot conversation is to read it out loud with someone and reenact what that conversation is going to sound like. Does it sound natural, like a conversation two people would actually have in real life? If it doesn’t, maybe that conversation shouldn’t be included your bot’s flow. Thinking about the tone of voice is another important aspect of building a bot—and this means more than just adding emojis at the end of every sentence. Like any character, a bot should have a personality that aligns with the brand’s tone of voice. Deciding on the right tone comes with a lot of trial and error as you iterate new versions of the script and decide which words to use—and not use.
Today, you’re a design director at New York–based digital product agency Work & Co, and you used to lead the user experience design team at R/GA San Francisco. How has managing other designers made you a better designer? When you are a manager, you are designing the experience of your team members. As any other experience you design, you have to understand who your “users” are, what they want (career goals), what they need (skills and development), how their journeys will unfold (career path) and which pain points you have to remove from their journeys. Being a manager is one of the most exciting design challenges one can possibly have, and it takes a lot of empathy, humility and hard work to get it right.