Designing with customer experience in mind
Originally from China, Shan moved to Japan at nineteen to do her Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Design. At twenty-four she uprooted her life again, this time to the Netherlands to do her Master’s degree at Delft University of Technology. In 2021 Shan was recruited to work as a UI/UX designer for Hadrian with a focus on user experience and value. Shan’s job is to figure out how customers can use the Hadrian platform in the most intuitive way possible. Whether working on the Hadrian user dashboard, or helping to design the website Shan always keeps her users’ experience forefront in her mind.
You’ve moved quite a lot in your life - China to Japan, Japan to Amsterdam - what has that journey been like?
It was quite a journey! I did an internship in Amsterdam during my Bachelor’s where I met amazing colleagues. They changed my studying path and career path completely, which is why I decided to switch from product design to UX/UI design. The Netherlands is the place to be for technology. Although in the Western imagination Japan is really high tech, I’ve found that not to be as true in the past few years, and though I still get homesick for Asian food, I’ve loved the diversity and openness in Amsterdam.
Yujie, you have extensive background in interaction design so you had plenty of options coming out of your Masters Degree: What drew you towards Hadrian?
I’m really into technology. My final Thesis for my Masters was about self-driving cars with a huge focus on AI. I wanted my next project to be related to data, AI and machine-learning - which Hadrian is. Though I never expected to end up in cybersecurity, I see that the industry is really exciting. I only had a basic knowledge about cybersecurity when I started at Hadrian, but everyone has been willing to answer my questions and I love learning about it.
I also love that Hadrian is using technology to do ethical things. The ‘ethical hacking’ background of Hadrian was really important to me. It was those values that drew me to the company.
How did you become interested in UI/UX design?
My Bachelor’s degree was focused on physical aspects of design, and my interest in human aspects didn’t start until I did an internship in Amsterdam. The internship was about virtual reality which focused on the experience a design could deliver to the user. I was interested in the way designs trigger emotion and wanted to explore the interaction between product and user more.
When I did my Masters, I took an elective called Design for Emotion. We had this measurement designed by my university - a kind of ‘emoji’ - that a user could use to describe what they were feeling while using the product. I had to Zoom in and consider user emotions at every second of use. By analyzing the user's emotion, I could really understand how the user valued this product and how to design the product to better serve their goals.
As a UI designer you work a lot with the dashboard that Hadrian customers will interact with. What are the key aspects you think about when approaching this project?
In the upcoming phase I want to figure out how our project will provide values to different target users. Right now we have two target groups: hackers and Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs). My next goal is to figure out which functions these groups will be interested in using. We need to validate these target groups’ real needs so that we’re not building features on assumptions. When we make assumptions we end up swimming in an ambiguous swimming pool.
My team has also discussed machine learning: tracing user’s behavior on the dashboard so that the machine can learn and provide better value to the user. Training the machine through the user is not a common thing in UX design which makes it fun.
Where did the idea for machine learning come from?
Our CTO had this thought [of machine learning], and because he’s collaborating with data scientists and machine learning experts they thought we could try experimenting with the product in this way. Therefore, the product can provide more accurate information to a specific user in their specific context.
Machine learning is a huge challenge for UX/UI, because we have to figure out how the machine can get information subtly, without interrupting user experience. A huge challenge, but really exciting.
You also have worked on Hadrian’s Customer Journey Team, helping to design Hadrian’s website, what was that experience like?
Rogier, our CEO, wanted to try to create a team with no hierarchy, where all the team members were autonomous, and had different backgrounds. The Customer Journey Team was a chance to try out this model. We didn’t have a ‘leader,’ everyone just contributed from their perspective.
The different perspectives were really interesting. As a UX/UI designer I always speak for my user. I was always thinking about what the user would want to see, and what their goals were. In contrast, one of my teammates had a business background, so he was often speaking from a financial point of view. We are learning from each other.
I really appreciated the different people on the team. We’re really diverse. Sometimes, we struggle to even reach a conclusion because we’re all coming from different backgrounds and there’s no right or wrong answer. But we have a common goal and that really helps.
What was the main thing you took away from being on the Customer Journey Team that you want to bring forward into your future projects?
The ownership. Everyone had different perspectives, but we all took ownership for the part that spoke most to our background and experience. There was no ‘leader’ telling each of us what to do, we just all contributed the best we could. Although we all had clear roles based on our background and experience, the common goal helped us remain efficient and autonomous.
Finally, what is your favorite UX design?
Apple. I know there’s loads of arguments about whether it’s better than Android (laughs). From a design point of view, the Apple OS really does have that intuitive quality UX/UI designers strive to achieve. It’s all about making complexity simplistic.