"I am so glad we have embedded the client’s perspective in our work" | Easy LMS Talks

In our interview series, Easy LMS talks, we ask colleagues to talk about their jobs. What makes their work fun and challenging? This time it is Dyann’s turn to talk about user experience research.

Content Manager & HR Officer
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We make our LMS for, but more importantly, with, our clients. Based on their input, we make improvements. Our UX Designer & Researcher, Dyann, acts as a middleman between our clients and the product development team. How does she feel about that? What are the biggest challenges in her role? And why does she have more than 60 pairs of socks? Read on!

Interviewee profile:

Name: Dyann
Work experience: 3 years at Easy LMS
Current role: UX Designer & Researcher

You started as an intern to do a contained research task. After that, you stayed for a day a week as a side job. You did your graduation research at Easy LMS too, which was a defined, one-time research task. After your graduation, you started as a full-time UX Designer & Researcher while we didn’t have an open position. How did you manage that?

“My employment record is rather atypical; I realize that. Our CEO Jeroen explained at the beginning of my graduation research that there wasn’t a prospect of permanent employment. But during my first internship, he noticed how much value I created by structurally bringing in the client’s perspective, which was sorely missed. What we did was primarily based on data and assumptions, but not on qualitative research.”

Was your role definition clear when you started as a permanent UX Designer & Researcher?

I was given the trust and freedom to shape my role the way I thought it was needed

“No, it wasn’t. I was given the trust and freedom to shape my role the way I thought it was needed. Of course, I consulted others. My role grew quite organically. I always was more passionate about the research part than the design part. So, I decided to focus on that, enhance the client interview frequency, and structure them. The client journey was our starting point. Based on that, we could easily determine at what point we wanted input from clients and when they were receptive.”

How would you describe what you do daily?

“To put it simply, I collect information directly from the source and translate how we can interpret that into design choice. I speak to two to three clients weekly, so you start recognizing patterns at some point. It is my task to make these patterns visible for the rest of the company so that, for instance, the problem-solving teams act actively on the client perspective while building a new feature.”

Is sharing the client’s perspective also the most challenging part of your job?

“Definitely, in the ideal situation, you want software engineers to talk to clients so that they can feel their pain. If I talk to clients, I feel their emotions, read their mimics and expressions and read between the lines. I can empathize with them. Getting their feelings and urgency across is difficult. Currently, we are experimenting with different methods to get the client’s voice across better. For instance, we add client quotes to feature summaries. We haven’t found the ideal method yet!”

You defend the voice of the client, and at the same time, you stand up for the company’s vision and goals. How is that balancing act?

“That is sometimes hard! We don’t work with a roadmap; that provides flexibility, but clients sometimes want to hear if and when their feature request gets built. We can’t make any promises; it’s on me to explain our working method, vision, and the upside of all this. Most of the time, I succeed! We work iteratively, which means that a released feature is sometimes just an intermediate step, not the end result. These are choices we make intentionally but are sometimes difficult for clients to understand.”

What do you like about your job?

I love to speak with clients from different cultures

“I love to speak with clients from different cultures. Every culture has its communication style, requiring me to adapt my communication constantly. I often conduct client interviews with an implementation consultant. It is very satisfying when we can make people’s work lives easier with a suggestion or tip. Or when we deliver a frequently requested feature entirely shaped to our client’s needs or when someone says after a hard conversation they would like to speak with us again. That’s a signal to me we are doing well. Finally, I like the variety of my job.”

Could you explain more?

“Researching clients' needs and our target audience is just one part of my job. I’m also involved in creating UX design guidelines. This should ensure that we only deliver features that match all criteria for easy user adoption. Partly for this reason, as a consultant, I'm involved when I can in the brainstorming session of problem-solving teams, where they draft the first technical solution for a client’s request. I’m also responsible for categorizing, sorting, and matching all incoming feature requests. I rate them with our stakeholders against our purpose, resulting in a list of the most important features to work on. Currently, I’m also working on two challenges. The first one is about establishing and defining a primary target audience; the second is discovering the needs of prospective clients during a demo and how to combine this with other input from different sources.”

At first, we did no UX research, then you got a permanent position, and now you even have a teammate?

“Yeah, that makes me proud. I’m glad we have embedded the client’s perspective in our work. As an Easy LMS employee, you surely have a blind spot regarding the tool. You have a lot of experience with it that’s often inconsistent with the actual usage. Therefore, we are unable to make client-based choices. Since we do qualitative client research, we’ve learned about the context in which features are used and the clients' established workflows. This allows us to make well-considered decisions and improvements that fit that model.”

What are your plans on the UX front?

My biggest wish is to do usability tests

“My biggest wish is to do usability tests after a feature has been released. This testing is about getting real people, preferably clients, to interact with our LMS and observe their behavior and reactions. It would give us much more insight because their problems are often hard to describe. People generally don’t like to give in when they don’t have the hang of it. On top of that, we see that clients are hesitant to send in usability issues for two reasons. The first is that they feel it is their fault for not getting it - which is the opposite of the truth. The second is that oftentimes, it is hard to figure out what is wrong with the current state.”

We need to clarify one more important thing. You are an ambassador for wearing fancy socks. How many pairs do you have?

“I kid you not; I have more than 60 pairs of socks — all with fancy colors and figures. I have socks with lobsters, snakes, and even our owl mascot! Socks make me happy. A fun gimmick is that I subtly match my socks with my other clothes. So, if my sweater has a red logo, my socks will also have red details. If I can’t match the sock with my clothes, I match them with my mood.”