There is a clear pattern that runs through Rozálie’s story: Everything she’s done and learnt has led her to becoming a mobile designer at Showmax—a role that she is set to begin soon.
When she joined the Showmax team two and a half years ago to become a quality analyst, Rozálie was a passionate painter and owner of a vintage store. She took on extra projects, inching ever closer to real design work. Soon, she found her way to the UX research team, and is now on the move again—this time to the Mobile Design team.
Her story is a good one for anyone looking for a bit of inspiration.
Showmax: Rozálie, you jumped on board at Showmax despite having a vintage store and still being a student at FIT at Czech Technical University in Prague. At Showmax you got a part-time job, what made you stay?
Rozálie: To be honest, this was supposed to be just a summer job. When I came to Showmax, I applied for a mobile QA position and in the end stayed to work in the team for a little over a year. During that time, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to help Dan (Showmax Design Team lead, learn more) with design QA, finding design differences between platforms and so on.
In my last few months on the team I started feeling a bit exhausted; the work I was doing had become too repetitive. From the start I knew I wanted to do something else, so it was time for a change. It was all kind of perfect timing—we talked things through with Dan a few weeks prior to Richard Graham’s (Head of Design) visit to the team in Prague. When he was here, we sat for some time together, discussed my interest in design, and agreed that the best way forward for everyone was for me to start with UX research. I was very happy.
SMX: Working as a UX researcher covering the African market must be interesting. You need to cover a lot of distance in every meaning of the phrase. How did it all come together?
R: Basically, I didn’t know a thing about this at first. So, at the start, it was a lot of reading. My colleagues Masetshaba and Dan helped me a lot, and I quickly gained a rough picture of all that goes into UX research. Soon, projects started coming and I just learnt by doing, I guess. In retrospect, the whole process seems natural—I started with the easier background stuff, discussed everything with Masetshaba (UX Research Lead), then moved to meeting the participants before the testing sessions, then to the actual hour-long talks with them. The last part seemed impossible to me at first, but I was lucky my participants were great at communication (laughter).
SMX: Were there any hiccups, or did everything go smoothly right from the beginning?
R: Yeah, we aren’t so lucky every time. I remember the last time I was meeting a user from Nigeria prior to the testing session. The combination of their strong accent and poor internet connection resulted in me not understanding a word of what they were saying. But somehow I nodded where I was supposed to, and it was OK in the end. So I’d say it all was, and still is, at times scary. However, what surprised me the most was how much users want to help us with testing. Sometimes, we get some really excited people who don’t even want anything in exchange, they talk to us for an hour just to help improve the product.
SMX: All together, it must be a great deal of work. How big was your team?
R: Around the time I joined the team, Masetshaba came to help from DStv 1. She had a lot of knowledge, which was great for me, seeing as though I had essentially none at all. Being a South-African, the things she taught me that I value the most are about culture, traditions, how to communicate with people, their favourite shows, and these everyday things that come in so handy.
There is so much that I would miss if it weren’t for her. Overall, it was really tough managing the work with just the two of us—she was splitting time between DStv and Showmax, and I was only part-time. Now, we have a new team member and we are working on improving the team further. It should all go up from here.
SMX: Getting into the details of your work. Moderated user testing: How should we imagine the process, are you searching for and watching the movies together?
R: In a nutshell, yeah. Well, apart from the actual “watching” part—that’s usually an issue because of the internet connection in South Africa. The process usually goes something like this: We put together a bunch of questions regarding a certain topic, get the users, and talk to them. We ask them, for example: “How do you think you can access free content from this screen? What makes you think that?” We test both the live version of the product as well as works-in-progress.
An important part of these sessions is to remind the participants that there are no right or wrong answers. Each time, we simply aim to get as much feedback from them as possible. Last year, we had to adapt to remote testing and, in a sense, I think it works even better. Participants are comfortable at home (and we are too!) and feel at ease because of the familiar environment. We still have a testing lab in Johannesburg, but apart from TV projects, we test remotely.
SMX: Apart from moderated testing, what else does a UX researcher do?
R: We do a lot of surveys, of various lengths, on all sorts of topics. The most recent one is to validate the usage of colours as part of developing a design system. Recently, we started using unmoderated tests to test designs that are in progress. We include a working prototype and ask users to perform certain tasks. We track where they click, how much time it takes, and so on. These have proven to be useful alternatives to moderated testing.
This year we’d like to focus on more in-depth studies like customer journey mapping, heuristic analysis, and more. My very first project was a heuristic analysis on mobile and web that was meant to identify issues throughout the platforms. It was a very exciting project.
SMX: After a year and a half of working “in the field,” what is the most important thing you’ve learnt?
R: From the beginning, the idea behind my working in UX research was to learn that it is absolutely essential to build the product based on users’ needs and wishes. We need to talk to them, get feedback on what we’re doing, and let them guide us in the right direction. It seemed like the perfect starting point in this area, and I hope I’ve accomplished that.
SMX: Your new role is set to be half Mobile designer and half UX Researcher. So, you will remain in the field and may continue the bottom-up approach to design.
R: Yeah, that’s the idea. I’m very happy it all played out this way. To me it makes complete sense. I started testing on mobile, then jumped to learning what users want, and now I am coming back to mobile, to do exactly what I know best. It’s also great that staying in research will remind me to stick to the whole “customer centric” thinking. I’m very grateful to the team for giving me the opportunity to learn about UX research, but right now my state of mind is a bit similar to what I said at the beginning—I’m ready for a new challenge. We’ll see how it goes.
DStv is a direct broadcast satellite service owned by MultiChoice (MCG), besides Showmax it is another video broadcasting service in the Connected Video division of MCG. ↩