Hey there! I’m Khai Seng. I’m part of the (self-)organizing committee for User Experience Singapore (UXSG), which is a community platform for experience design practitioners run by fellow practitioners like myself. UXSG includes monthly meetups, weekend workshops and a conference that has run for the last 2 years.
How did UXSG came to be?
It started off as a Facebook group by Raven Chai, a fellow industry-leading volunteer. Through his effort, it grew into a large community of 2,600 members now. It’s hard to imagine that the first ever meet-up (“UX, beer and poetry” was the reason to get together) just 3 years ago we had only 6 people attending.
^ Raven speaking at UXSG Conference 2013
Care to share what User Experience Design is, for the benefit of those who don’t know or aren’t in the field?
As Steve Jobs once said, “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”
User Experience Design is the process of enhancing user satisfaction by improving the usability, ease of use, and pleasure provided in the interaction between the user and the product. We care about the interactions, experiences and human outcomes.
It had roots in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), but has since become amorphous as it moves beyond digital. Now, it melds with similar processes like design thinking and service design, with empathy at its heart.
Is User Experience Design important? Why?
Increasingly, more and more things have become hygiene factors. Things that people were delighted with before, have now become a basic requirement. With such raised expectations, it’s become a critical factor for businesses. You can see it in how successful companies now, like Apple, Google, Amazon and Netflix live and breathe UX.
I think User Experience Design has also come at a time when digital has made things become so much more interconnected and interdependent. So much of our lives are lived in digital spaces, and so much digital is now infused into our physical surroundings.
Interestingly enough, I feel it tracks Singapore’s development as well, having a strong efficiency focus in the past, to satisfaction and more qualitative ways to define how we live and work. We’re obviously not there yet, though, but that’s why it’s exciting to be living here and now!
How would you describe the UXSG community?
We always say it’s a small industry, but you see totally different faces every meet-up, it’s amazing how many people there are and how big the community really is.
What is the best part about what you do?
I think the best part is seeing people connect and develop relationships that support each other, and in turn, the industry.
As a volunteer, I also get to work with excellent and talented people that I normally won’t have the chance to work with on a daily basis.
What have you guys been up to lately?
We’ve decided to pause the conference for a year and will bring it back in 2016. It’s a time of reflection and gaining inspiration from elsewhere, rather than continuing on “just because”.
We’ve also started to use a different format for our monthly UXSG meetups. Similar to Agile Singapore, we’ll be using the Open Space Technology format, which encourages ground-up participation. People come together to set the agenda themselves and share their questions and experience. It’s very user-centric and collaborative, and it’s worked out nicely for us the past 2 runs.
Our 150-pax meetups sell-out within an hour of our EDM blast, so you need quick fingers!
^ UXSG Conference 2014
What would be your dream for our local creative industry?
My dream would be that students (and parents) begin to perceive design as one of the top career/study choices like Medicine & Law. The problems and issues we tackle in the design industry are not small – they are meaningful and impact lives (sometimes in the hundreds of millions). In order to do that, we do want the brightest minds amongst us. Currently, design education seems to be an afterthought rather than an informed and engaged choice for most.
^ (L-R) Anna and Khai Seng on stage at UXSG Conference 2014
^ (L-R) Khai Seng, Anna and a special appearance – yes it’s our bag!
What do you think we need to do as a community to grow our precious industry?
Spend time outside of our own circles and look beyond our own problems.
What is one thing that you are proud of about our local creative industry?
It’s not easy being in the industry, given the market size. I really salute everyone that has put their heart and soul in this field. Given my role within Foolproof and seeing what’s out there on a global level, Singaporeans can stand up there with the best in the world. We just have to believe in ourselves more.