Interview with UserZoom Co-CEO Alfonso De La Nuez with Thoughts on the Future of UX
This is one in the continuing series of interviews with UX and Usability thought-leaders. This interview series focuses on bringing you up close and personal to those individuals in our industry who are responsible for moving user experience, usability and design in a new and exciting direction.
Alfonso de la Nuez is the Co-Founder and Co-CEO of UX and Usability research firm UserZoom. UserZoom is an enterprise-level all-in-one set of research tools for obtaining UX data across multiple user touchpoints.
Q1. What’s your background? Where did you go to school, what subjects interested you?
I have a BA in Business Administration from San Jose State University, with emphasis on International Business with Marketing. I’ve always been fascinated by the Business world, especially with Marketing and Branding strategies.
I lived the birth of the Internet while in college so I’m really passionate about the use of technology within Marketing. I believe at the end of the day, UX is nothing but great Marketing and Branding.
Q2. How did you get into usability and the UX testing field?
Since I had already connected technology with Marketing, UX came to me really easily and spontaneously. Back in 1998 I worked at a pioneering Web Design & Consulting company called Icon Medialab, out of Sweden. Even back then, the concept of HCI was highlighted and used for pitches and, although not that often, offered as part of the service.
As a Project Manager at Icon Medialab, I actually defined the information architecture and conceptual design of many of our customers. I realized then that, no matter how great the design team, we were literally making wild decisions and totally neglecting the end consumer.
I always felt wrong about it and so I ended up leaving the company and, eventually, started my own UX Consultancy, called Xperience Consulting. Xperience Consulting became UserZoom a few years later, and here we are today!
Q3. What is it about UX and usability that you most enjoy, or find most rewarding?
Since I went through quite a lot of ‘painful work experiences’ back in the late 1990s building million-dollar websites without real focus on the end user, what I enjoy the most is the ability to test things with a target audience before making an important decision.
Today, thanks to technology and the cloud, you can do this so easily, quick and cost-effectively, that it’s almost a crime not to conduct usability testing!
Q4. You founded the usability testing tool and service UserZoom, what was the inspiration for developing it?
I’ve pretty much already summarized it in the previous questions, but there is one more important thing: We needed to make usability testing and research more easy and, most importantly, we wanted to get out of the lab!
Before founding UserZoom we’d been in the Lab hundreds of times. Don’t get me wrong, we enjoyed the ride and delivered solid value. We actually had 6 labs between 2 offices and 2 cities. However, this was not efficient, nor scalable.
We felt there had to be a way to collect data more cost-effectively, easily and also internationally.
Q5. As a business owner and start-up founder, what do you find were pitfalls with creating your business and finding clients interested in usability testing?
UserZoom has been in business since 2007. I can honestly say that, with the exception of a few power researchers who adopted this unmoderated testing method from the start, it took most of the UX community until 2012 to really go for it and adopt it in their organizations. That’s when we realized we had a real business opportunity ahead of us.
Today we find that a lot more people are interested in usability testing and UX measurement, not just the UX Pros. The remote testing method we offer makes it much more efficient and accessible to them.
Q6. From your experiences with managing UserZoom, what are the most important uses of your tool for businesses, how does it help them be more successful?
Without a doubt, it’s all about scaling their research. It’s all about Agile testing and REALLY making it part of the whole product development process.
It’s clear that iterative design is the best way to go, so UserZoom allows businesses to conduct multiple types of online research projects (task-based, card sorting, click testing, surveys, etc.) in a quick and cost-effective way, while having the consumers participating in their natural context.
Q7. There seem to be lots of competitors in the online UX testing and research tool category, what do you think makes UserZoom special or unique?
There are several things to consider. Starting with the fact that we’re an Enterprise-focused platform, which means you get:
- High-end, feature rich functionality
- All-in-one, multi-method approach under one single platform (again, from task-based tests, qualitative and quantitative data, card sorting, tree testing, click testing, 5-second tests, UX benchmarking, true-intent surveys and more), all pretty much for web and mobile.
- Lots of customization and ability to adjust according to our client’s needs. This includes recruiting with; sampling companies and custom panels, live visitor intercepts, Email links, QR codes, feedback tabs and more.
- Local UX research and consulting services and tech support, with offices in 4 countries
- Toughest data security standards in the market
Q8. What do you think the next year to two years will bring for UX and for usability research? Do you see them growing or changing, if so why?
First of all, I see more companies than EVER doing more TESTING and EXPERIMENTATION than ever before. I see this resulting in much better overall DESIGN.
Then I also see great opportunities in mobile, and the power of testing in-the-wild.
Finally I see a lot of consolidation and convergence happening in the market. I think we’ll see a lot of Merger & Acquisition activity because the C-level executives, starting with the Chief Marketing Officer, are already valuing the strategic importance of combining business strategy with UX, CX (Customer Experience) and design strategy.
Q9. What’s next for you personally in your career, and for UserZoom in the next year or two, what would you like to focus on?
We’re building a truly GREAT business here. We’re 100% focused and more excited than ever before.
I personally would like to focus on doing all this pretty quickly, with the highest quality possible, and preserving the culture that’s made UserZoom a well-respected and recognized player within the space, particularly among the Enterprise market.
Q10. Finally, what advice do you have for those who want to get into the usability and UX field?
To understand that to be really great at UX today, you need to cover various areas of knowledge, including not just the classic sociology, psychology or anthropology, not just design, but also business and marketing.
Thank you Alfonso!
For more information on Alfonso’s all-in-one usability and UX research services or to request a free personalized Demo visit UserZoom.
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