Valarie is a lead user experience (UX) designer on our Product Management team. She grew up outside of St. Louis and moved to Dallas for the sunny weather. When she isn’t attending swim meets or touring college campuses with her high school junior son, her favorite place to be is her garden where she recently planted 20 containers of flowers. Her favorite this year is the Black Mamba Petunia, also known as a Goth Petunia because of its unique black petals.
Shannon: Valarie! I’m so excited to talk with you today. And, I hear congratulations are in order.
Valarie: Yes, as of June 5th, I’ve been at Trintech for two years.
Shannon: Congratulations on your anniversary and your selection as our Trintecher Spotlight. I’m really excited to talk about your work with UI/UX as part of our product management team. A lot of our customers may not be familiar with those terms or what that means. Can you tell us about it?
Valarie: Sure! UI/UX stands for User Interface/User Experience. I’m a UX designer, so I’m focused on the user’s experience in our software. The discipline as we know it today has really only been around for about ten years, though you can trace its roots to Don Norman back in the 80s. User Experience is the overarching discipline, but it includes a lot of different areas – like interaction design, user interface design, usability, functionality and content. You can think of it as all the things that together make up the user’s experience with software.
Shannon: That makes sense. What do you like most about being a UX designer?
Valarie: Ten or so years ago, I was called a web designer. You don’t hear that anymore. Now, it’s visual design or interface design. It’s really a fascinating field. Working with our customers to understand how they use our solutions and identifying ways to improve their experience is great. It’s really a team effort – product owners are working on the roadmap, I design new screens, as well as redesign existing screens to improve the user experience, and our engineers tell me if my ideas can be translated to code. Then, I present the proposed changes to our customers and identify what would be most valuable to them. When we put it all together and validate our changes, we can see the efficiency gains and improvement in the user experience. –It feels really great to know we make a difference for our customers since they use our solutions daily.
Shannon: Wait, when you validate your changes with our customers, are you talking about one of your usability tests? How does that work?
Valarie: We measure whether a hypothesis about a product redesign, such as changes to a screen, is validated with an improved user experience. Every time we look at a page to make an improvement, we test the change to be sure we get the results we expect. We set up the old and new designs, run a usability test and see if our testers can complete tasks faster. Recently, we ran some tests and we learned that the average time to complete the task with the old design was 2.5 minutes. Completing the task with the redesigned screen took an average of only 1.5 minutes. That’s a 41% efficiency gain! That can really make a difference in someone’s work life.
Shannon: That’s really cool! With Cadency 5.0, we released a lot of changes related to your UX work. What’s the story there?
Valarie: We started with an application that had its start prior to the user-centered focus on design. Cadency Close was the perfect place for us to start because it gave us a chance to test out what changes result in the most efficiency gains for our customers. Now, we can use the same concepts to improve our other processes. We don’t want to overwhelm our customers with change, so any changes must be meaningful, but not necessarily noticeable – We just need to help the user get their tasks done as smoothly as possible. Our customers want their tools to just work, and we want the user experience to be seamless – and that’s what we’re aiming for. They might just notice they can complete their tasks without any challenges.
Shannon: You mentioned testing. I’ve seen one of your in-person testing sessions. That was really interesting. What other testing do you do?
Valarie: In addition to our usability testing, we conduct surveys and focus groups. Any customer can sign up for our User Innovation Program and participate. In focus groups, we might discuss proposed ideas and ask if a change is useful. Sometimes the answer is, “That’s cool, but it really doesn’t help me.” So then, we go in different direction. We need all different kinds of users to sign up – administrators, reconcilers, reviewers and approvers. They have different perspectives when they use the software, and we need all those different viewpoints.
Shannon: That’s so interesting. Hopefully, you’ll get a lot of people to sign up, so you can keep making Trintech’s solutions a great experience for all of our users! Thanks for talking with us. I can’t wait to see what you do next.