Interview with Sonny Chhen, UI & UX Manager at Citrix

Meet Sonny Chhen, User Interface and User Experience Manager at Citrix. Tune into this great interview with Sonny to tune into the hottest questions in user experience.

How did you get started in the field of user experience?

My beginning in the field of user experience mostly came from working at startups. By necessity I became a one man design department. I would create the user-interface, develop functional prototypes, and design the user experience of the products and websites. All this as well as supporting the marketing team allowed me to become a jack of all trades and pay close attention to the content we were putting out, as well to how it would be received.

What do you find is the best way to connect with your users?

I’m fortunate to be working on a web application that is open-sourced(Apache CloudStack) and has a large community where I can engage in any questions relating to designs and experiences that users enjoy or not. Previous to this, I would receive feedback on the projects I was working on by meeting users at tradeshows or events. If those weren’t options then I would address them via forums or social media sites where I could get real feedback on what the users wanted.

What do you think are the distinct differences between a UX Manager, UX Designer, and UX Consultant?

I feel the job of a UX manager should be to get a deep understanding of the requirements of the project and be able to get a general sense of how to best improve the experience. Taking this concept that the manager initially formed, he could then work with the UX designer to help explore what options that are available and possibly come up with different solutions. The UX designer should constantly be looking at different places for inspiration and seeing how their findings can be applied to their projects. The more the designer searches the more options they should be able to find.
As a UX consultant, the consultant has the advantage of coming in cold and not being too attached to the project. They have an easier ability to look at a problem with fresh eyes and come up with new solutions. However, because they are brought in to work on this project, there is added pressure to provide realistic solutions in a quick manner. In all cases, UX designers, managers, and consultants, should try to impress, inspire, and think intelligently.

How often should revisions or new features be made on a web service?

In my previous positions, we always employed an agile method when it came to features and updates to our products. As soon as the users expressed a need for a feature, we would begin work on a solution and work to add it to a patch or the next update as soon as possible.
If the change were more of a UX or UI fix, we would research the depth of the need and work towards fixing the issue in a timely manner. Due to the fact that design is a constantly evolving practice, fixes and features seem to always come in a rapid rate.

Should I use passive or aggressive tactics in attracting users and encouraging them to explore multiple features or assets inherent to user experience design?

The saying is the best design is no design. With this in mind I prefer passive tactics in engaging users. Appealing to the curious nature of the user while working with their intuitive thought process is what makes the area of user experience such a hard field to master. When designing anything, you have to put yourself in the user’s shoes and then play with their ideas on why they would do with certain actions. What attracted someone to click on this button? Did the amount of words used in this text make the directions seem daunting or informative? Would people understand what to do next on this screen if I didn’t have to tell them? People are naturally open to explore, when they find the exploration to be frustrating is when they usually stop. That’s where you have to work to keep the user interested.

When should I implement market and user experience research?

As soon as you have something to test, be it paper cut-outs of the design, low fidelity mockups, or interactive prototypes, you should begin getting user feedback. This could be internally within the organization first, just to make sure the flow makes sense. After taking that feedback and fleshing out the ideas a bit more, you should be able to implement market research. It doesn’t have to be the entire product either. I’ve been in usability test where we just tested out a new wizard or first-time-use-experience. Any input can be used to grow and become a possible springboard to improve your product.