6 months UX Designer at Swisscom

I have been working as a Future Work Consultant at Swisscom for 4 years. In 2021, I had the opportunity to spend six months as a Junior UX Designer in the team of Swisscom Blue TV and gain a lot of new experience in the process. The experience report illustrates how UX at Swisscom works.

Step 1 - "The ominous customers" πŸ€·πŸΌβ€β™‚οΈ

I like to remember how one of my lecturers at the FHNW kept repeating her mantra: You β‰  Your User. So the scenario described above is at best a waste of valuable company resources. As long as there's no customer involved, it's not worth it. After all, it's not (only) Swisscom employees who buy our products - our customers should buy them. But who are these "customers"? And do I have to ask them all now? Probably not. (We would probably have to raise the retirement age significantly for me to ever be able to cope with this...)

It is also not so important to find highly complex algorithms to evaluate the perfect mix of different customer segments. The most important thing is that you talk to customers. Even if it's just 5 people. Depending on what your goal is, there are certain minima that are necessary for a "relevant statement". For usability testing, for example: Even 5 people usually uncover 80% of usability problems.

Step 2 - Interviews πŸ‘₯

Now that it's clear why you have no excuse not to talk to your customers: How do you do that?

The interviews I conducted were aimed at uncovering possible potential and pain points. It wasn't about a specific feature or a specific process. So it was an exploratory approach. Ideally, you have concrete hypotheses that you want to validate.

Either way, you need a script. And a good one at that.
I have organised my script as follows:

Write down what the aim of this interview is.
I have already defined a few specific questions here that interest me. This part helped me to set the framework.

Warm up
Assume that the interviewee does not deal with UX interviews on a daily basis. Explain what the aim of this interview is and that the interviewee cannot say anything wrong.

  • "I'm interested in hearing your personal opinion."
  • "You can't say the wrong thing."
  • "Please think out loud, say what's on your mind."

Then start with a simple warm-up question. This may of course be topic-related - ideally it is a question to which everyone can give an answer. ("Yay, I can actually contribute something to this conversation!")

Introduction to the topic
Write down 2-3 introductory questions for your topic.
For example:
"In which situations do you consume entertainment?" "What is your favourite content?" "Which entertainment apps do you use?"

Main part
Now you get down to business. Make a note of the most important topics you want to address during the interview. I write topics and not questions. Reason: Even if you meticulously plan the course of the interview - it's guaranteed not to go like this. A good UX interview is natural and not artificial. You cannot and should not override this. Here are my learnings and tips:

  • Note topics, not specific questions
  • Write down the topics on index cards - you won't have time to look at your long sentences in OneNote the whole time during the conversation

Yass! You've prepared your interview perfectly now - nothing can go wrong! Everything will go exactly as you planned it.
-Let me put it this way: Dude, forget it.

What you want:
A conversation that is as natural as possible.

What you don't want:
Just ask your questions one by one.

My learnings

  • Show little emotion
    A brief nod is enough to confirm
  • Embrace the silence - Wait a few seconds, even if the person doesn't answer. (This feels strange, but is important)
  • Look the person in the eye, concentrate fully on the conversation
    (Therefore either record the conversation or call in another person)
  • Avoid
    Priming, Leading and closed questions

Step 3 - Usability testing πŸ‘¨πŸ½β€πŸ’»

UX interviews are great when an explorative approach is taken. However, it is often about improving an existing product or testing a new feature. There are Usability Testings the method of choice.

I carried out the usability tests alone with the test person. Ideally, there should be three of you: facilitator, recorder and test person. Because I was alone, I recorded the conversations and then transcribed them.

Meine Learnings

  • Check the screen recording of the smartphone / laptop
  • Check the audio recording (Is the microphone of the AirPods that are 30 metres away on the table being used? πŸ™„)
  • If you record screen and audio separately: count down from 3 audibly before you start the screen recording so that you can synchronise audio and screen recording later.
  • Ask the person to speak before each action:
    Where she is about to click
    What to expect
  • Post-processing takes at least twice as long as the interviews/testing

Step 4 - Analyse! πŸ“Š

You've spoken to customers! I'll give you a virtual clap for that:
What do we make of it now? Possible methods are a dime a dozen. 

UX Interviews
Firstly, simply write down what happened.
Who said what and to which category can it be assigned?

Figure 1 - Results of UX interviews

In the next step, it is worthwhile Affinity Map to create.
In short: combine topics that belong together. This is how we identify areas that still have potential. It then looks like this:

Figure 2 - Affinity Map Results UX Interview

Usability testing
I wrote the learnings from the usability tests on post-its. I labelled problems that occurred more than once accordingly and finally assigned them to four categories.

Figure 3 - Clustered usability testing results

Step 5 - Benchmarks! πŸ“±

Talk to customers, check.
Analyse results, check.
Identify areas with potential, check.
And now?

Now the ideation or development phase begins (see Double Diamond Model). Before we get started and generate new ideas, we ask ourselves: "How do others do it?". Our example is about a TV app. So we compared the user flows directly:

Figure 4 - Benchmark analysis "Play yesterday's news"

For inspiration, take a look at flows of similar (but not necessarily identical) products.

The most important learning: Always take screenshots and write down/mark what is good. Believe me: otherwise you'll forget.

Figure 5 - Get inspiration from similar services/products

Step 6 - Ideate πŸ–Œ

Whew. Quite a lot of work and not a single screen designed yet.The great thing is that many people start directly with step 6 without knowing what their customers actually want.

Now it's time: Stretch your fingers and get to work with the mouse! With all the lessons learnt, we start to rethink the user flow. The first step could look like this:

Figure 6 - LoFi prototypes

A paper prototype can also be validated again with customers. This only takes a few minutes. The sooner a design can be discarded, the cheaper it is.

Fixing issues after implementation costs up to 100x more than fixing them at the beginning of the design process.
β€” Sanket

Although the quote refers to errors in the code, it applies to usability issues to the same extent. So you could also say:

No usability testing? Do you have too much money?

Now then. We will iteratively design the improved experience until we have a hi-fi prototype.

Figure 7 - HiFi prototype new search experience

Step 7 - Parallel Design & Competitive Testing πŸ”€

Before it's time for the developers to get to work, it's worth testing different versions with customers.

In the test, 2-3 design versions compete for a user flow. The test subjects click through the variants and evaluate them. (Note: More than 3 variants per test person do not work).

One variant looks something like this:

Figure 8 - Clickable prototype

You generate several of these.
(So you duplicate the flow and change a screen, for example)

Important: Always write down what is different about this variant.
In the screenshot below, you can immediately see from the coloured chips above the screens that "EmptyState" and "Results" are different variants.

Figure 9 - Clickable prototypes with different design variants

Fascinating article on the topic:
Parallel and iterative design combined with competitive testing

Now you have a flow that you have designed in a user-centred, iterative way, supported by usability testing and UX interviews. Another virtual clap for that: πŸ‘πŸΌ

Step 8 - Present results πŸŽ₯

Sharing the findings is at least as important as analysing the results. Don't worry, you don't have to organise a TED talk after every usability test. This chapter briefly summarises what and how I present the results.

Intro and methodology

  • Who was interviewed? (e.g. only customers?)
  • What questions were asked?
  • What methods were used?
  • Which product is it exactly?

Emphasise what stood out positively. On the one hand, to pat yourself and your colleagues on the back. But there is also a very pragmatic reason: so that good things are not suddenly changed in the next version.

Figure 10 - Slide with positive outcomes

Identified potential and pain points

  • Identified potential
  • Usability Issues
  • Long click sequences, etc.

Recommendations for action

  • What would you tackle specifically?
  • First lo-fi ideas
  • Summary with next steps

Conclusion πŸ’‘

Of course, the 1,560 words in this article never summarise all the branches and iterations. But they give a good impression of how UX works at Swisscom (mostly πŸ™ˆ).

Everyone always claims to be user-centred. But it is probably still far too rarely practised. I firmly believe that it doesn't always have to be scientific work - but talking to customers and (even simple) usability testing saves money, nerves and creates inspiring customer experiences.

(This should also please the management 😌)

At this point, a big thank you πŸ™πŸΌ to Matthias Staubach β€” He has always been at my side with help and advice and has shared his knowledge and experience with me πŸš€

Personal development at Swisscom

Swisscom provides all employees with 5 days per year for training and further education. As illustrated in this article, a one-off stage (up to 6 months) in another area is also possible after consultation with the line manager. This gives you an insight into new topics and the opportunity for on-the-job training. #LifelongLearning

Luca Dietiker

Luca Dietiker

Future Work Consultant

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