The UX Review
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The UX Review

“Don’t take a long time thinking about the problem alone! ”— Interview with Yuko Mitani, UX Consultant at UX Connections

We interviewed Yuko to learn the role of UX Consultant at UX Connections, A UX Consultant Yuko thinks being a consultant is a perfect way to learn as a junior UXer. She also told usher favourite project and the skills she learned when she started working as a UX Designer professionally. Enjoy! 😍

Yuko Mitani, UX Consultant at UX Connections.

1. Can you explain how you work at UX Connections?

Working as a UX consultant can help you gain many collective experiences in various fields. This helps me exercise my creativity, expand ideas broadly.

Yes, of course! UX Connections is a design consultancy based in London. Oftentimes I will get assigned to work with a client’s Product team as their UX Designer. Working as a UX consultant can help you gain many collective experiences in various fields. This helps me exercise my creativity, expand ideas broadly, and learn a different kind of UX approach unlike working as an in-house designer. Also, I find it a huge advantage to be working with people who have multiple experiences in different fields. With them, generating great ideas and strategic UX advice based on our case studies becomes easy.

It’s always very exciting to jump into a new project! But I always get unbelievably nervous on the first day of each project. It’s like the first day at a new company — you need to build a relationship with a team from scratch. All my clients are very lovely people and are always welcoming. I’m so lucky to be surrounded by amazing people!

Being a UX Consultant allows to learn a different kind of UX approach in different organizations.

2. I know you studied a User Experience MSc at Kingston University. What did you learn there and what do you apply to your day-to-day practice?

Working on a school project with people with different skill sets was very helpful to understand the whole process and to adapt in the real environment faster.

At university, we were taught the design thinking methods which involve 5 steps: Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype and Test. This means we need to spend a decent amount of time to first conduct a sequence of research methods to understand its users and their problems. But in the work setting, most of the companies are agile. So it took some time for me to get used to working in a such environment when I first started working. I remember doing a VR project in the university where I had to work with a product team which is very similar to a real-world setting. In the team we had a Project Manager, an Animator, a Developer, a UX designer, a UX business analyst, and a UI designer. Working in that team helped me to get a taste of the nature of the work process involved in this job. It prepared me to adapt to situations that are likely to happen.

d.school offers great resources to learn more about Design Thinking. (http://web.stanford.edu/resources)

3. Do you have any projects that you are proud of?

The most challenging part in designing a mobile game app is that we have a lot of information needs to be displayed to the users at the right place and time.

Hm, that’s a difficult question! I like all the projects I did but my current project is by far my favorite project that I can say! I am working on this project which is improving user experience in a particular game. This is my first opportunity to take part in a game design project, so it’s a big learning curve and there are a lot of interesting parts for me. The most challenging part is that we have a lot of information that we need to deal with. We make sure that all crucial information is displayed clearly to the users at the right place and time. I am really enjoying being involved in the project.

Making sure all the important information is shown to the users is key to designing a game.

4. What do you think are the most important skills designers should develop?

Designers and developers approach problems with different perspectives so I believe that working together can proceed a project effectively.

Aside from the essential UX skills such as wireframe, prototyping, research, I would say that communication skill is very important. I know you heard this many many times and it’s the most essential for all businesses. Design is a team sport, so you would want to make sure that everyone in your team is on the same page. So the designer should proactively communicate with team members. Also, if you get stuck with ideation for example, you should not take a long time thinking about the problem/idea ALONE! I often reach out to my colleagues and ask “Hey, could we do ideation?” This is one of the best ways to come up with new ideas or to find the best approach. I always find a new approach when I discuss with my colleagues.

I always find a new approach when I discuss with my colleagues when I am stuck with ideation.

Of course, proactively communicating with non-UX designer team members such as UI designers, Developers, Product owners are very important too. But sometimes the environment makes communicating with the whole team difficult. If you can bring a developer, a UI designer, a Project/Scrum manager, product owner, a QA and a UX Designer to meetings, that is a really good team structure. They can discuss and understand the limitations before someone invests their time and/or money. They can always discuss doubts and make sure we are on the same page. Sometimes, this won’t happen so a designer works separately and developers come later. This environment makes it harder for the designer to communicate with them or to participate in their meetings. This can cause miscommunications and ultimately will slow the process down in the end. Designers and developers approach problems with different perspectives so I believe that working together can proceed a project effectively.

Communicate with all your stakeholders to bring a better outcome for you and products.

5. What advice would you give to a designer at the beginning of their career or someone trying to get into design?

First of all, I would super recommend actively joining meetup events.

Secondly, you might also want to polish your CV and Portfolio. You don’t have to study or do a course to be a UX designer. You can always start your own project and put that on your portfolio. There are a bunch of great online UX courses and books available, so you can always start learning by yourself. A degree doesn’t matter as long as you have the passion to be a UXer!

Last but not least, like what you are doing with the UX review, I also reached out to UX designers. When I was working in Japan, I was working in a different department, but I became very interested in UX and I’ve reached out to UX designers within the company and told them how much I would like to do user experience design. So they are very welcoming to me and they invited me to a UX meeting and some UX related workshops within the company. I really appreciate them for giving me the opportunities. You never know where an opportunity is waiting for you! Just be proactive with what you want to do.

Interviewed by Misato Ehara
Transcribed and edited by Misato Ehara, Laura Cooper and Yuko Mitani
Illustrations by Blush (Mariana Gonzalez Vega)
Edited with Google docs
Published on 12 Jan 2021

Interviewee:
Yuko specializes in turning an idea into an appealing and easy-to-use product for clients. She focuses on creating user human-centred experience and linking user goals with client goals which aim to ultimately benefit both.Yuko likes to look at the big picture of the problem first before tediously going over every detail. She began her journey in the E-commerce industry in Japan before moving to the UK to take her Masters Degree in UX. She has worked in various companies such as GVC, Immediate Media, and Jack Morton to name just a few.

Interviewer:
Misato Ehara is founder of The UX Review, former design Strategist at Gensler. She has just completed a Masters in Curating Contemporary Design and currently working as a User Researcher at Honest Research.

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