Research and Managing Director at CoolGranite.com
With over a decade of comprehensive UX experience, there is little that Ada Yuen doesn’t know about UX design. Ada earned an MPhil and BS in Computer Science and enjoyed early success in a development role for multinational clients including National Computer Systems.
She has worked with both established and start-up UX firms, collaborated with large user-research teams, and has founded a successful usability consultancy.
Ada is extremely passionate about UX and keeps her knowledge current by frequenting thought leadership and professional development events in the industry. She a member of User Experience Professionals Association (UXPA), which is an international association devoted to assisting new and established professionals in the user experience disciplines through networking, publications, conferences and classes. She is also a core volunteer for the Interaction Design Association Hong Kong (IxDA) a member-supported organization dedicated to the discipline of interaction design.
We were lucky enough to have the opportunity to ask Ada a few questions and gather an insight into her work and life at CoolGranite:
Why did you first become interested in UX design?
AY: Freshman studying computer science. I was working on a shell script. It needed a man page (like a manual). My friend, who sat next to me, said that the man page needed to be user-friendly. Many man pages were actually quite difficult to use. (He learned about user interface design from another school.) That’s when I realized that coding is not enough.
Was this always the career path you wanted to follow and did you expect to be working where you are now?
AY: I have always wanted to make user-friendly programs. It didn’t work out. IT companies don’t care about how well people can use their programs.
I see from your education that you originally started out as a developer. How did you find the transition from development to UX design?
AY: Happy transition No matter I am a developer or UX person, my goal is still the same — make user-friendly products.
What makes UX in Hong Kong unique or different from UX in other countries?
AY: So far, I have experience in doing UX work in Hong Kong and Singapore. I think UX is more mature in Singapore than Hong Kong (at least 10-15 years). For one thing, the Singapore government pays attention to UX. All my Singapore projects came from the government. The Hong Kong government does not yet pay attention to UX and does not know UX. All my Hong Kong projects come from the private sector.
I understand that you are a mentor for the Tuspark Global Network (TGN) Bootcamp 2015. In your opinion why should start-up organisations be interested in this and how can they benefit from participating?
AY: Hmm… I don’t know much about how people working in start-ups think. I guess the participants wanted to all sorts of advice.
What is your preferred UX research method and why?
AY: Usability testing. I prefer objective things. What works and what does not work is objectively clear through usability testing. Besides, I very much enjoy seeing users struggle and enjoy seeing my clients panic. 😛
In your opinion what is the most important aspect of the UX design process?
AY: I don’t know what you mean by “aspect.” I think the most important thing is attitude: Empathetic + Open minded + Skeptical.
What are your predictions about the future of UX design, say 20 years from now?
AY: I hope there won’t be “UX design” in the future. Instead, I hope that design will automatically mean “UX design” and “design thinking”…
What specific challenges do you face when you carry out user research?
AY: Letting my clients know in some delicate way that they have to re-do their products (even if the product ideas do not suck).
What has been your favorite UX project to work on?
AY: Global Sources usability testing projects because the clients really want to make their products better.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your role at CoolGranite?
AY: I do everything at CoolGranite. We generate product improvement strategies for prototypes as well as products that lead to higher conversion rates and happier users. We also partner with clients in Asia, Hong Kong, Europe, and the US to optimize user experience. Taking a consultative approach, we help our clients through every stage of user research and conceptual design for more profitable, user-friendly websites and apps.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
AY: Read mystery books. Go shopping.
What would your ideal holiday be?
AY: Star gazing. Search for UFO. Excavate some ancient historical sites. Solve crimes or mysteries.
How would you spend a typical Sunday?
AY: I usually work on Sunday, especially when I have the office all by myself.