Up Close and Personal: An Insider’s Look at Working as a UX Designer in Jordan
In a world where user experience (UX) plays an increasingly important role in customer satisfaction, the UX industry has gained rapid momentum in the MENA region over the past few years. Companies are beginning to realize that user experience plays a significant role in the success of their business, and have turned to UX experts and researchers to help them improve the overall user experience on their websites and mobile applications.
The growth and market potential of the UX industry has attracted talented individuals from all over Jordan to hone their expertise in UX design. These individuals, who boast a wide range of backgrounds such as engineering, design, and computer science, share one thing in common – they’ve all added UX design to their resumes in a bid to capitalize on the booming industry.
In order to understand what working in the UX industry looks like, I interviewed three up-and-coming UX designers in Jordan, who was generous enough to share their honest insights on the perks and downsides to their job, as well as what it takes to succeed in the industry.
Faisal works as a UX manager for a big e-commerce company in the Middle East, and cites his primary responsibility as “going through multiple UX processes in order to create the best experience for customers.” He admits to being highly business goal-oriented and claims that this aspect of his personality was shaped by the nature of his role as a leader of a UX team in Jordan, which is home to the largest UX market in the MENA region.
An average day for Faisal starts at 12:00AM (yes, midnight!), when he starts planning and making preparations for the upcoming workday. “Being a leader of UX team is a big responsibility and you have to be on the top of your game,” says Faisal. When his workday starts, Faisal makes time to talk to each of his three team members to follow up on their current tasks. He then sets up meetings with product managers in order to ensure that the direction and progress made by the UX team remain aligned with the goals of the product managers. Ultimately, Faisal describes success as fulfilling three key criteria:
- Achieving valid business goals
- Addressing customer needs
- Creating quantifiable growth (Achieving KPIs)
Faisal works on both large and small-scale projects and dedicates a substantial amount of time to conducting UX research, which includes reading articles about similar projects, conducting customer profiling, and researching the UX practices of different competitors.
When it comes to usability testing, Faisal is frustrated over the lack of user testing resources in the market. Most of the feedback he receives come from internal sources, which rarely reflects the actual experience of a typical user. Having access to independent testers would improve the quality of his UX designs significantly. Faisal also stresses on the importance of validation testing for startups and corporations, as they must test both interactive and static prototypes.
When it comes to prototype testing, Faisal believes that the process of prototype testing can be made more efficient if UX designers were allowed to use real data, instead of placeholder data in the design process. This reduces the risk of costly mistakes, as any design flaws would be uncovered in the prototype testing process.
Simple UX design choices such as opting for dyslexic-friendly fonts can make a world of difference.
One area of improvement Faisal hopes to see in the industry is increased accessibility for individuals with visual and learning disabilities. Under status quo, disabilities are rarely factored into the design process, because companies claim that disabled individuals make up a small percentage of their target market. However, Faisal believes that companies would gain a larger market share by making the end products more accessible. Thus, providing specialized training for UX designers to learn how to build more accessible websites would benefit companies in the long run. Of course, the largest long-term improvement Faisal hopes to see in the industry is an overall increase in knowledge and awareness in the MENA region. On that front, Faisal firmly believes that there is a real need for education centers and corporate education training sessions to enhance UX knowledge in the region.
Bara’ah is a UX researcher for a leading recruitment website in the Middle East. Like Faisal, Bara’ah starts her day early by attending meetings, laying out her tasks and goals for the day, and following up with people she works with.
Bara’ah stresses the importance of taking breaks, claiming that working continuously will cause her to lose empathy. Therefore, she spends a lot of time talking to people and understanding their unique circumstances. She also dedicates an hour each day to learn about fields that are not related to her career and has a soft spot for articles published by Nielsen and Norman.
Bara’ah spend much of her time on learning and research
As a UX researcher who works on software quality assurance, a big part of Bara’ah’s job involves conducting UX research and reporting bugs. Although her work is challenging, she finds it extremely rewarding when she successfully increases her company’s conversion rate through usability testing with independent testers and is able to produce concrete findings for her product managers. She believes in the many benefits of UX testing and hopes that her company’s development team would make it a larger priority, instead of focusing most of their resources on backend system testing.
Rasha is a freelance UX designer who hails from a computer science background. Although most Jordanians with a computer science background choose to pursue a career in software development, Rasha opted for front-end development, which offers more room for creativity. Eventually, Rasha switched to UX design after realizing that the tech industry has evolved to make UX design an increasingly desirable skill set.
One thing Rasha likes about being a UX designer is the great degree of flexibility it affords her. Rasha enjoys being able to take her time getting into the right state of mind before she gets started on her work – she typically starts her day by drinking coffee, listening to music, and having a smoke while checking her emails and completing errands.
While working as a UX designer may provide a great deal of flexibility, it also comes with its own set of challenges. A key challenge Rasha faces is in helping developers and project managers understand that the creative nature of her work requires flexible deadlines, as the process of creative design requires a great deal of thought and inspiration. Furthermore, Rasha had to learn how to transform a mundane office environment into a space that is conducive to generating creative ideas, by lighting candles to make it look more cheerful and inspiring. A conventional office environment may not an ideal fit for the nature of Rasha’s work, but learning to adapt to the nature of her Workplace has gone a long way in building Rasha’s career.
A work environment that stimulates creativity is important to Rasha.
In spite of the challenges Rasha faces, Rasha finds it extremely rewarding to receive positive feedback and genuine appreciation from her clients, be it in the form of a simple smile or a grand gesture like flying down to Amman from Kuwait (true story!) Although Rasha rarely gets to meet her clients in person due to the hierarchical nature of her workplace, Rasha still does her best to understand and fulfill the needs of her clients through the instructions she receives from the project manager. Rasha takes great pride in her work, which is clear to both her clients and her colleagues.
The expansion of the UX industry in Jordan is a promising sign of more user-friendly and better-developed web products to come, but more can be done to support the growth of the industry, particularly as good UX design is becoming increasingly important in the success of a business. Better-informed stakeholders such as CEOs and product managers would lead to the creation of a more supportive UX ecosystem, which would, in turn, lead to a significant improvement in the overall quality of Jordanian web products. The UX designers we’ve interviewed believe that training courses and awareness programs would go a long way in achieving this end – what do you think? Let us know your thoughts!