Spotlight

Spotlight

Spotlight

Spotlight

Spotlight

Andy Vitale: Insights from a UX Design Luminary

Andy Vitale: Insights from a UX Design Luminary

Andy Vitale: Insights from a UX Design Luminary

Andy Vitale: Insights from a UX Design Luminary

Andy Vitale: Insights from a UX Design Luminary

Dec 18, 2023

Dec 18, 2023

Dec 18, 2023

Dec 18, 2023

Dec 18, 2023

Hamza Labrinssi

Founding Designer/ CEO

Hamza Labrinssi

Founding Designer/ CEO

Hamza Labrinssi

Founding Designer/ CEO

Hamza Labrinssi

Founding Designer/ CEO

Hamza Labrinssi

Founding Designer/ CEO

Andy Vitale
Andy Vitale
Andy Vitale
Andy Vitale
Andy Vitale

Intro

Welcome to Spotlight, your gateway to the UX/ Content Design world, through a distinctive series of interviews that spotlight the industry's leading voices. Our succinct, direct-to-the-point approach poses ±10 sharp questions to veterans and rising stars, gathering insights and perspectives shaping the UX scene.


Meet our guest ⸻ Andy Vitale, Chief Design Officer at Constant Contact, Speaker, Educator, and Co-host of Surfacing Podcast

Few figures in UX, content, and design shine as brightly as Andy Vitale.

Andy Vitale - Content Design Manager at McAfee

Throughout his career, Andy has become well-known for his ability to enhance design excellence and develop teams that turn design into a significant organizational asset and a competitive edge. His varied experience, covering startups to large corporations in fintech, health, and consumer products, gives him a unique view of how design can be transformative. Andy leads teams focusing on human-centered solutions, creating products and experiences that lead to successful results.

Recognized as a leader in the design community, Andy is dedicated to driving positive change and initiating progressive dialogues. He is enthusiastic about education and teaches as an adjunct at Kent State University's User Experience Design graduate program. In addition, he is a member of the advisory boards for various professional organizations and educational bodies. Andy co-hosts the Surfacing podcast, exploring topics and trends in design. As an international speaker, he is known for his genuine and motivating presentations on design leadership, maturity, and ethical design.

Today, we're fortunate to gain insights directly from Andy. We asked him 13 questions to get his perceptions about the role of designers in the decision-making process, addressing user issues, and contributing to fulfilling company business goals.



Without further ado, let's get to the Q&A:

13 Questions with Andy Vitale


  1. You've taken a unique route by pursuing academic studies in design, unlike many others in the UX field. What inspired you to embark on this path from a young age?

    I don't know how unique that was at the time, but I can see why you would consider it unique now. When I went to school for design there wasn't a term called UX, at least that I was aware of. My first degree was in Computer Graphic Design. Some of the early sub-disciplines like information architecture came from people like Lou Rosenfeld and Peter Morville who have backgrounds in library science, and interaction design borrows principles from psychology, which are pretty academic fields. When I learned about these things, I happened to be teaching design for a university. There wasn't formal training you could get so I was teaching myself these emerging UX disciplines because I could see where they were going. I also had a desire to go out and practice it so I left academia to pursue professional experience but knew that at some point I could benefit from deeper foundational knowledge of these principles and disciplines so I went back to get my Master's in User Experience Design. Plus I enjoy teaching, so I needed to have my Master's to teach at a graduate level. So to answer your question, I love learning and there's no better way to really learn something well than by teaching others.


  2. With more than two decades of experience in the field, how do you think the role of designers has changed to play a crucial part in decision-making, addressing user issues, and contributing to fulfilling company business goals?

    I've really seen this industry change over the past 20+ years. When I started a lot of design was geared towards marketing and raising awareness for a business or product. Over time that focus shifted towards taking a more human-centered approach and solving problems for people. This is because design and research teams are close to customers and understand their needs and desired outcomes. Businesses have grown to understand that by putting people at the center of what they do it creates a lot value to the business. As competition increases, the experience of engaging with the brand, product, or service is the differentiator. When design generates value, people want more of it.


  3. How does the concept of a 'customer's story' centralize the focus when designing UX? Does that suffice to create a great CX (Customer Experience)?

    The concept of a customer's story is a great example of storytelling, which is one of the tools in a designer's toolbox that is meant to inspire the art of the possible. This is one of the ways to create shared empathy and a shared vision that all part of the company can align on. However, concepts aren't fully tangible. In this case they are more of a North Star constantly reminding teams of the problem we are trying to solve and the outcome we are trying to achieve. As the teams work to build the solution there are often constraints and limitations that are discovered along the way. So no, having a great customer's story doesn't guarantee that you will have a great customer experience. It helps but you have to bridge the gap between the two when brining the solution to life.


  4. Considering that companies face real constraints despite advocating for customer-centric methods, how do you balance meeting business objectives and adhering to a user-centric approach?

    I don't necessarily see those things as odds with one another. Business objectives should be widely known throughout the organizations. Those objectives are often defined by the value created for customers, which in turn generates business value and revenue. While they might not be worded that way, I think the role of design is to help translate them into things that are human-centric. I think the best way to remove these constraints that people may feel is by learning to speak the same language and being involved in discussions when objectives are being created and identifying how putting the customer at the center will help achieve those business objectives.


  5. In a prior role as EVP of a lending company, you led a design team of over 150 people. How hard was it to research and design great UX alongside all the legal disclaimers and rounds and rounds of legal checks to get to the end product? Was that challenging or limiting regarding visual aesthetics, language spoken, etc? How did you motivate the team to keep a good balance between playing it safe vs. exploring uncharted territories?

    I think there are two different questions in here and I'm going to unpack them both. First, the legal team is a stakeholder and they need to be involved early in the process. They are trying to protect the company and the customer. The legal partners I have worked with in the past don't want the team to feel like their role is to come in and make changes at the end. They want to be involved early so they have the full picture of the product vision and can raise risk early. I look at legal requirements like any other product requirements and they need to be considered. Involving legal at every step of the way allows them to understand what may or may not be disruptive to the experience and work together to find a way that meets our needs and delivers a great experience. Sure there will always be debates around things like language, and how it fits in the experience – and there should be – but it's important to realize that everyone wants the same outcome, we just look at things through different lenses. Those different lenses make our solutions better.

    The second question is about motivating the team to think big vs. playing it safe and making minor iterations. I believe that you have to think big and small and that good ideas need to diverge and converge. I always want teams to start by exploring without constraints. However these ideas need to be tested and iterated upon and that can't happen in a vacuum. This goes back to my North Star point earlier; at some point what we're building needs to be real and there are all sorts of realities that make building solutions and integrating them into existing systems that take time. How you find the right ways to get to where you want to go is key. I think the right vision and finding ways to ensure designers are seeing their work serve its purpose are motivational to designers. As leaders finding this balance for the team is so important.


  6. What key metrics teams should prioritize in UX analytics to measure user satisfaction and engagement effectively?

    I think there are certain ways to measure engagement and satisfaction at a high level. There are many ways to measure user/customer satisfaction through various quantitative and qualitative feedback - customer surveys, NPS, user interviews, etc. Things like task completion rate, bounce/drop rate, time on task, MAU and repeat usage are some ways to measure engagement. There are also industry specific measures of these things. It's about finding the right set of metrics for your product. All of these metrics should be part of a larger data and analytics strategy about measuring the success of the product. This is another opportunity for design to be involved in creating the success criteria and how to measure it. At the end of the day if customers aren't converting or engaging in the product, it isn't successful.


  7. What are the primary software tools you rely on for your daily tasks while managing and collaborating with design, engineering, and marketing teams at Truist, Rocket Companies, and in your current role at ConstantContact?

    Right now the biggest one is Figma and Figjam. All of our partners are in it. Tools are constantly changing and come with learning curves for people who collaborate in them but aren't using them for their day-to-day. It's about finding the right tool that enables successful collaboration for your organization. If Design Operations has taught me anything over the years, it's the importance of finding a single tool that does everything well over finding multiple tools, even if those individual tools do some things better. You can't build effective products without great collaboration.


  8. It is common for UX teams to skip the research phase to save time waiting for UX researchers to prepare and deliver their results in a presentable format that they can reuse. What's your take on this?

    While I don't think it's common to skip the research phase, I have seen situations where the nature of the business moves faster than it takes to gather the appropriate amount of insights and do larger share outs at times. This often surfaces in the research team feeling like the larger team lost interest in what they were researching. Sometimes this is symptom of not having research properly embedded within the cross-functional team. It also happens when the research team isn't given enough time to do proper discovery which should be allocated when doing planning and prioritization. Other times it's just a reality of the current state. There are ways to iteratively funnel key insights as researchers are learning. Like anything else, creating products is all about outcomes over outputs. Getting researchers access to tools like Figma to add findings directly and creating the stage for them to share early learnings and proactively impact designs in flight makes a big difference. The fully synthesized and digestible learnings should not become a casualty because they are extremely valuable for success and revisiting for future ideas and iterations.


  9. Key activities like card sorting, empathy mapping, journey mapping, creating personas, and designing flow charts are vital for successfully executing the User Experience (UX) design and Customer Experience (CX) strategy. What tools do you use for all this? Is it one multipurpose tool, a toolkit of dedicated tools under one umbrella, or a pile of separate tools? And is it all digital?

    This goes back to my previous answer about finding the right tool for what your needs are. While these tools being digital have made it easier to reach more and different groups of people faster, there are still times that being in person helps pick up on certain visual cues that are necessary to understand behaviors.



  10. Content designers and UX writers are involved at the very end. They are provided with a high-fidelity UI prototype and asked to write or improve the copy with little context, if any. How does this process cause problems and difficulties?

    I've seen that in the past and I hear that quite often in the industry but I think that's more of a process or maturity problem than anything else. Just like your question about legal teams, involving anyone late in the process is not a winning strategy. Content has different purposes at different times and you can't force fit it to a bounding box. For content designers to be successful, they need to have a good understanding of the context, the problem, the customer and the desired outcome.


  11. Do you think Content Design plays a crucial role in UX?

    Yes, of course content design plays a crucial role in UX. It is a bridge between the user and the product. Words and imagery are anchors in the brand and product experience. They are how users successfully navigate products and discover things they need to be successful. I've seen products leverage content that is too prescriptive as a crutch for poor interactions and bad design. These have to be in harmony to make sure people are able to do what they came to your product to do.


  12. What is your team's approach to handling and governing content from its initial creation to its final presentation to users? How is this process organized within the content team and in collaboration with other departments like Marketing/SEO/Growth, Sales, Localization, and Legal?

    To be completely honest, it's a work in progress. I'm just weeks in and we're building up the content practice. We're exploring working agreements and a CMS and governance models. Content is rarely a centralized function but it does anchor around the brand voice and tone. So the approach we're taking now is to be as collaborative as possible to avoid creating content silos. We'll eventually turn that into a company-wide content community, regardless of what part of the organization you are in to make sure we're constantly sharing learnings and best practices.



  13. Finally— at Punkt, we are revolutionizing the UX industry by building the Content-First UX Platform where Content Designers and UX Writers co-lead the product UX/Design decisions. We believe a holistic context, Content-First UX approach will fix too many daily issues most product teams deal with. What’s your take on this?

    I can understand where you are coming from and my answers above around involving content early and making sure they understand the context, problems and desired outcomes certainly support your case. Messaging is also something that can help align cross-functional teams. However, I'm hesitant to proclaim anything first other than the user. If we put the user first and create an environment where we respect all of the different disciplines that go into building products - and also one that encourages healthy debates to ensure we're creating what's best for the user, we will find the best recipe for success.



👋 Don't forget to follow Andy

LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/andyvitale
Website https://www.andyvitale.com
The Surfacing Podcast https://www.surfacingpodcast.com


Intro

Welcome to Spotlight, your gateway to the UX/ Content Design world, through a distinctive series of interviews that spotlight the industry's leading voices. Our succinct, direct-to-the-point approach poses ±10 sharp questions to veterans and rising stars, gathering insights and perspectives shaping the UX scene.


Meet our guest ⸻ Andy Vitale, Chief Design Officer at Constant Contact, Speaker, Educator, and Co-host of Surfacing Podcast

Few figures in UX, content, and design shine as brightly as Andy Vitale.

Andy Vitale - Content Design Manager at McAfee

Throughout his career, Andy has become well-known for his ability to enhance design excellence and develop teams that turn design into a significant organizational asset and a competitive edge. His varied experience, covering startups to large corporations in fintech, health, and consumer products, gives him a unique view of how design can be transformative. Andy leads teams focusing on human-centered solutions, creating products and experiences that lead to successful results.

Recognized as a leader in the design community, Andy is dedicated to driving positive change and initiating progressive dialogues. He is enthusiastic about education and teaches as an adjunct at Kent State University's User Experience Design graduate program. In addition, he is a member of the advisory boards for various professional organizations and educational bodies. Andy co-hosts the Surfacing podcast, exploring topics and trends in design. As an international speaker, he is known for his genuine and motivating presentations on design leadership, maturity, and ethical design.

Today, we're fortunate to gain insights directly from Andy. We asked him 13 questions to get his perceptions about the role of designers in the decision-making process, addressing user issues, and contributing to fulfilling company business goals.



Without further ado, let's get to the Q&A:

13 Questions with Andy Vitale


  1. You've taken a unique route by pursuing academic studies in design, unlike many others in the UX field. What inspired you to embark on this path from a young age?

    I don't know how unique that was at the time, but I can see why you would consider it unique now. When I went to school for design there wasn't a term called UX, at least that I was aware of. My first degree was in Computer Graphic Design. Some of the early sub-disciplines like information architecture came from people like Lou Rosenfeld and Peter Morville who have backgrounds in library science, and interaction design borrows principles from psychology, which are pretty academic fields. When I learned about these things, I happened to be teaching design for a university. There wasn't formal training you could get so I was teaching myself these emerging UX disciplines because I could see where they were going. I also had a desire to go out and practice it so I left academia to pursue professional experience but knew that at some point I could benefit from deeper foundational knowledge of these principles and disciplines so I went back to get my Master's in User Experience Design. Plus I enjoy teaching, so I needed to have my Master's to teach at a graduate level. So to answer your question, I love learning and there's no better way to really learn something well than by teaching others.


  2. With more than two decades of experience in the field, how do you think the role of designers has changed to play a crucial part in decision-making, addressing user issues, and contributing to fulfilling company business goals?

    I've really seen this industry change over the past 20+ years. When I started a lot of design was geared towards marketing and raising awareness for a business or product. Over time that focus shifted towards taking a more human-centered approach and solving problems for people. This is because design and research teams are close to customers and understand their needs and desired outcomes. Businesses have grown to understand that by putting people at the center of what they do it creates a lot value to the business. As competition increases, the experience of engaging with the brand, product, or service is the differentiator. When design generates value, people want more of it.


  3. How does the concept of a 'customer's story' centralize the focus when designing UX? Does that suffice to create a great CX (Customer Experience)?

    The concept of a customer's story is a great example of storytelling, which is one of the tools in a designer's toolbox that is meant to inspire the art of the possible. This is one of the ways to create shared empathy and a shared vision that all part of the company can align on. However, concepts aren't fully tangible. In this case they are more of a North Star constantly reminding teams of the problem we are trying to solve and the outcome we are trying to achieve. As the teams work to build the solution there are often constraints and limitations that are discovered along the way. So no, having a great customer's story doesn't guarantee that you will have a great customer experience. It helps but you have to bridge the gap between the two when brining the solution to life.


  4. Considering that companies face real constraints despite advocating for customer-centric methods, how do you balance meeting business objectives and adhering to a user-centric approach?

    I don't necessarily see those things as odds with one another. Business objectives should be widely known throughout the organizations. Those objectives are often defined by the value created for customers, which in turn generates business value and revenue. While they might not be worded that way, I think the role of design is to help translate them into things that are human-centric. I think the best way to remove these constraints that people may feel is by learning to speak the same language and being involved in discussions when objectives are being created and identifying how putting the customer at the center will help achieve those business objectives.


  5. In a prior role as EVP of a lending company, you led a design team of over 150 people. How hard was it to research and design great UX alongside all the legal disclaimers and rounds and rounds of legal checks to get to the end product? Was that challenging or limiting regarding visual aesthetics, language spoken, etc? How did you motivate the team to keep a good balance between playing it safe vs. exploring uncharted territories?

    I think there are two different questions in here and I'm going to unpack them both. First, the legal team is a stakeholder and they need to be involved early in the process. They are trying to protect the company and the customer. The legal partners I have worked with in the past don't want the team to feel like their role is to come in and make changes at the end. They want to be involved early so they have the full picture of the product vision and can raise risk early. I look at legal requirements like any other product requirements and they need to be considered. Involving legal at every step of the way allows them to understand what may or may not be disruptive to the experience and work together to find a way that meets our needs and delivers a great experience. Sure there will always be debates around things like language, and how it fits in the experience – and there should be – but it's important to realize that everyone wants the same outcome, we just look at things through different lenses. Those different lenses make our solutions better.

    The second question is about motivating the team to think big vs. playing it safe and making minor iterations. I believe that you have to think big and small and that good ideas need to diverge and converge. I always want teams to start by exploring without constraints. However these ideas need to be tested and iterated upon and that can't happen in a vacuum. This goes back to my North Star point earlier; at some point what we're building needs to be real and there are all sorts of realities that make building solutions and integrating them into existing systems that take time. How you find the right ways to get to where you want to go is key. I think the right vision and finding ways to ensure designers are seeing their work serve its purpose are motivational to designers. As leaders finding this balance for the team is so important.


  6. What key metrics teams should prioritize in UX analytics to measure user satisfaction and engagement effectively?

    I think there are certain ways to measure engagement and satisfaction at a high level. There are many ways to measure user/customer satisfaction through various quantitative and qualitative feedback - customer surveys, NPS, user interviews, etc. Things like task completion rate, bounce/drop rate, time on task, MAU and repeat usage are some ways to measure engagement. There are also industry specific measures of these things. It's about finding the right set of metrics for your product. All of these metrics should be part of a larger data and analytics strategy about measuring the success of the product. This is another opportunity for design to be involved in creating the success criteria and how to measure it. At the end of the day if customers aren't converting or engaging in the product, it isn't successful.


  7. What are the primary software tools you rely on for your daily tasks while managing and collaborating with design, engineering, and marketing teams at Truist, Rocket Companies, and in your current role at ConstantContact?

    Right now the biggest one is Figma and Figjam. All of our partners are in it. Tools are constantly changing and come with learning curves for people who collaborate in them but aren't using them for their day-to-day. It's about finding the right tool that enables successful collaboration for your organization. If Design Operations has taught me anything over the years, it's the importance of finding a single tool that does everything well over finding multiple tools, even if those individual tools do some things better. You can't build effective products without great collaboration.


  8. It is common for UX teams to skip the research phase to save time waiting for UX researchers to prepare and deliver their results in a presentable format that they can reuse. What's your take on this?

    While I don't think it's common to skip the research phase, I have seen situations where the nature of the business moves faster than it takes to gather the appropriate amount of insights and do larger share outs at times. This often surfaces in the research team feeling like the larger team lost interest in what they were researching. Sometimes this is symptom of not having research properly embedded within the cross-functional team. It also happens when the research team isn't given enough time to do proper discovery which should be allocated when doing planning and prioritization. Other times it's just a reality of the current state. There are ways to iteratively funnel key insights as researchers are learning. Like anything else, creating products is all about outcomes over outputs. Getting researchers access to tools like Figma to add findings directly and creating the stage for them to share early learnings and proactively impact designs in flight makes a big difference. The fully synthesized and digestible learnings should not become a casualty because they are extremely valuable for success and revisiting for future ideas and iterations.


  9. Key activities like card sorting, empathy mapping, journey mapping, creating personas, and designing flow charts are vital for successfully executing the User Experience (UX) design and Customer Experience (CX) strategy. What tools do you use for all this? Is it one multipurpose tool, a toolkit of dedicated tools under one umbrella, or a pile of separate tools? And is it all digital?

    This goes back to my previous answer about finding the right tool for what your needs are. While these tools being digital have made it easier to reach more and different groups of people faster, there are still times that being in person helps pick up on certain visual cues that are necessary to understand behaviors.



  10. Content designers and UX writers are involved at the very end. They are provided with a high-fidelity UI prototype and asked to write or improve the copy with little context, if any. How does this process cause problems and difficulties?

    I've seen that in the past and I hear that quite often in the industry but I think that's more of a process or maturity problem than anything else. Just like your question about legal teams, involving anyone late in the process is not a winning strategy. Content has different purposes at different times and you can't force fit it to a bounding box. For content designers to be successful, they need to have a good understanding of the context, the problem, the customer and the desired outcome.


  11. Do you think Content Design plays a crucial role in UX?

    Yes, of course content design plays a crucial role in UX. It is a bridge between the user and the product. Words and imagery are anchors in the brand and product experience. They are how users successfully navigate products and discover things they need to be successful. I've seen products leverage content that is too prescriptive as a crutch for poor interactions and bad design. These have to be in harmony to make sure people are able to do what they came to your product to do.


  12. What is your team's approach to handling and governing content from its initial creation to its final presentation to users? How is this process organized within the content team and in collaboration with other departments like Marketing/SEO/Growth, Sales, Localization, and Legal?

    To be completely honest, it's a work in progress. I'm just weeks in and we're building up the content practice. We're exploring working agreements and a CMS and governance models. Content is rarely a centralized function but it does anchor around the brand voice and tone. So the approach we're taking now is to be as collaborative as possible to avoid creating content silos. We'll eventually turn that into a company-wide content community, regardless of what part of the organization you are in to make sure we're constantly sharing learnings and best practices.



  13. Finally— at Punkt, we are revolutionizing the UX industry by building the Content-First UX Platform where Content Designers and UX Writers co-lead the product UX/Design decisions. We believe a holistic context, Content-First UX approach will fix too many daily issues most product teams deal with. What’s your take on this?

    I can understand where you are coming from and my answers above around involving content early and making sure they understand the context, problems and desired outcomes certainly support your case. Messaging is also something that can help align cross-functional teams. However, I'm hesitant to proclaim anything first other than the user. If we put the user first and create an environment where we respect all of the different disciplines that go into building products - and also one that encourages healthy debates to ensure we're creating what's best for the user, we will find the best recipe for success.



👋 Don't forget to follow Andy

LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/andyvitale
Website https://www.andyvitale.com
The Surfacing Podcast https://www.surfacingpodcast.com


Intro

Welcome to Spotlight, your gateway to the UX/ Content Design world, through a distinctive series of interviews that spotlight the industry's leading voices. Our succinct, direct-to-the-point approach poses ±10 sharp questions to veterans and rising stars, gathering insights and perspectives shaping the UX scene.


Meet our guest ⸻ Andy Vitale, Chief Design Officer at Constant Contact, Speaker, Educator, and Co-host of Surfacing Podcast

Few figures in UX, content, and design shine as brightly as Andy Vitale.

Andy Vitale - Content Design Manager at McAfee

Throughout his career, Andy has become well-known for his ability to enhance design excellence and develop teams that turn design into a significant organizational asset and a competitive edge. His varied experience, covering startups to large corporations in fintech, health, and consumer products, gives him a unique view of how design can be transformative. Andy leads teams focusing on human-centered solutions, creating products and experiences that lead to successful results.

Recognized as a leader in the design community, Andy is dedicated to driving positive change and initiating progressive dialogues. He is enthusiastic about education and teaches as an adjunct at Kent State University's User Experience Design graduate program. In addition, he is a member of the advisory boards for various professional organizations and educational bodies. Andy co-hosts the Surfacing podcast, exploring topics and trends in design. As an international speaker, he is known for his genuine and motivating presentations on design leadership, maturity, and ethical design.

Today, we're fortunate to gain insights directly from Andy. We asked him 13 questions to get his perceptions about the role of designers in the decision-making process, addressing user issues, and contributing to fulfilling company business goals.



Without further ado, let's get to the Q&A:

13 Questions with Andy Vitale


  1. You've taken a unique route by pursuing academic studies in design, unlike many others in the UX field. What inspired you to embark on this path from a young age?

    I don't know how unique that was at the time, but I can see why you would consider it unique now. When I went to school for design there wasn't a term called UX, at least that I was aware of. My first degree was in Computer Graphic Design. Some of the early sub-disciplines like information architecture came from people like Lou Rosenfeld and Peter Morville who have backgrounds in library science, and interaction design borrows principles from psychology, which are pretty academic fields. When I learned about these things, I happened to be teaching design for a university. There wasn't formal training you could get so I was teaching myself these emerging UX disciplines because I could see where they were going. I also had a desire to go out and practice it so I left academia to pursue professional experience but knew that at some point I could benefit from deeper foundational knowledge of these principles and disciplines so I went back to get my Master's in User Experience Design. Plus I enjoy teaching, so I needed to have my Master's to teach at a graduate level. So to answer your question, I love learning and there's no better way to really learn something well than by teaching others.


  2. With more than two decades of experience in the field, how do you think the role of designers has changed to play a crucial part in decision-making, addressing user issues, and contributing to fulfilling company business goals?

    I've really seen this industry change over the past 20+ years. When I started a lot of design was geared towards marketing and raising awareness for a business or product. Over time that focus shifted towards taking a more human-centered approach and solving problems for people. This is because design and research teams are close to customers and understand their needs and desired outcomes. Businesses have grown to understand that by putting people at the center of what they do it creates a lot value to the business. As competition increases, the experience of engaging with the brand, product, or service is the differentiator. When design generates value, people want more of it.


  3. How does the concept of a 'customer's story' centralize the focus when designing UX? Does that suffice to create a great CX (Customer Experience)?

    The concept of a customer's story is a great example of storytelling, which is one of the tools in a designer's toolbox that is meant to inspire the art of the possible. This is one of the ways to create shared empathy and a shared vision that all part of the company can align on. However, concepts aren't fully tangible. In this case they are more of a North Star constantly reminding teams of the problem we are trying to solve and the outcome we are trying to achieve. As the teams work to build the solution there are often constraints and limitations that are discovered along the way. So no, having a great customer's story doesn't guarantee that you will have a great customer experience. It helps but you have to bridge the gap between the two when brining the solution to life.


  4. Considering that companies face real constraints despite advocating for customer-centric methods, how do you balance meeting business objectives and adhering to a user-centric approach?

    I don't necessarily see those things as odds with one another. Business objectives should be widely known throughout the organizations. Those objectives are often defined by the value created for customers, which in turn generates business value and revenue. While they might not be worded that way, I think the role of design is to help translate them into things that are human-centric. I think the best way to remove these constraints that people may feel is by learning to speak the same language and being involved in discussions when objectives are being created and identifying how putting the customer at the center will help achieve those business objectives.


  5. In a prior role as EVP of a lending company, you led a design team of over 150 people. How hard was it to research and design great UX alongside all the legal disclaimers and rounds and rounds of legal checks to get to the end product? Was that challenging or limiting regarding visual aesthetics, language spoken, etc? How did you motivate the team to keep a good balance between playing it safe vs. exploring uncharted territories?

    I think there are two different questions in here and I'm going to unpack them both. First, the legal team is a stakeholder and they need to be involved early in the process. They are trying to protect the company and the customer. The legal partners I have worked with in the past don't want the team to feel like their role is to come in and make changes at the end. They want to be involved early so they have the full picture of the product vision and can raise risk early. I look at legal requirements like any other product requirements and they need to be considered. Involving legal at every step of the way allows them to understand what may or may not be disruptive to the experience and work together to find a way that meets our needs and delivers a great experience. Sure there will always be debates around things like language, and how it fits in the experience – and there should be – but it's important to realize that everyone wants the same outcome, we just look at things through different lenses. Those different lenses make our solutions better.

    The second question is about motivating the team to think big vs. playing it safe and making minor iterations. I believe that you have to think big and small and that good ideas need to diverge and converge. I always want teams to start by exploring without constraints. However these ideas need to be tested and iterated upon and that can't happen in a vacuum. This goes back to my North Star point earlier; at some point what we're building needs to be real and there are all sorts of realities that make building solutions and integrating them into existing systems that take time. How you find the right ways to get to where you want to go is key. I think the right vision and finding ways to ensure designers are seeing their work serve its purpose are motivational to designers. As leaders finding this balance for the team is so important.


  6. What key metrics teams should prioritize in UX analytics to measure user satisfaction and engagement effectively?

    I think there are certain ways to measure engagement and satisfaction at a high level. There are many ways to measure user/customer satisfaction through various quantitative and qualitative feedback - customer surveys, NPS, user interviews, etc. Things like task completion rate, bounce/drop rate, time on task, MAU and repeat usage are some ways to measure engagement. There are also industry specific measures of these things. It's about finding the right set of metrics for your product. All of these metrics should be part of a larger data and analytics strategy about measuring the success of the product. This is another opportunity for design to be involved in creating the success criteria and how to measure it. At the end of the day if customers aren't converting or engaging in the product, it isn't successful.


  7. What are the primary software tools you rely on for your daily tasks while managing and collaborating with design, engineering, and marketing teams at Truist, Rocket Companies, and in your current role at ConstantContact?

    Right now the biggest one is Figma and Figjam. All of our partners are in it. Tools are constantly changing and come with learning curves for people who collaborate in them but aren't using them for their day-to-day. It's about finding the right tool that enables successful collaboration for your organization. If Design Operations has taught me anything over the years, it's the importance of finding a single tool that does everything well over finding multiple tools, even if those individual tools do some things better. You can't build effective products without great collaboration.


  8. It is common for UX teams to skip the research phase to save time waiting for UX researchers to prepare and deliver their results in a presentable format that they can reuse. What's your take on this?

    While I don't think it's common to skip the research phase, I have seen situations where the nature of the business moves faster than it takes to gather the appropriate amount of insights and do larger share outs at times. This often surfaces in the research team feeling like the larger team lost interest in what they were researching. Sometimes this is symptom of not having research properly embedded within the cross-functional team. It also happens when the research team isn't given enough time to do proper discovery which should be allocated when doing planning and prioritization. Other times it's just a reality of the current state. There are ways to iteratively funnel key insights as researchers are learning. Like anything else, creating products is all about outcomes over outputs. Getting researchers access to tools like Figma to add findings directly and creating the stage for them to share early learnings and proactively impact designs in flight makes a big difference. The fully synthesized and digestible learnings should not become a casualty because they are extremely valuable for success and revisiting for future ideas and iterations.


  9. Key activities like card sorting, empathy mapping, journey mapping, creating personas, and designing flow charts are vital for successfully executing the User Experience (UX) design and Customer Experience (CX) strategy. What tools do you use for all this? Is it one multipurpose tool, a toolkit of dedicated tools under one umbrella, or a pile of separate tools? And is it all digital?

    This goes back to my previous answer about finding the right tool for what your needs are. While these tools being digital have made it easier to reach more and different groups of people faster, there are still times that being in person helps pick up on certain visual cues that are necessary to understand behaviors.



  10. Content designers and UX writers are involved at the very end. They are provided with a high-fidelity UI prototype and asked to write or improve the copy with little context, if any. How does this process cause problems and difficulties?

    I've seen that in the past and I hear that quite often in the industry but I think that's more of a process or maturity problem than anything else. Just like your question about legal teams, involving anyone late in the process is not a winning strategy. Content has different purposes at different times and you can't force fit it to a bounding box. For content designers to be successful, they need to have a good understanding of the context, the problem, the customer and the desired outcome.


  11. Do you think Content Design plays a crucial role in UX?

    Yes, of course content design plays a crucial role in UX. It is a bridge between the user and the product. Words and imagery are anchors in the brand and product experience. They are how users successfully navigate products and discover things they need to be successful. I've seen products leverage content that is too prescriptive as a crutch for poor interactions and bad design. These have to be in harmony to make sure people are able to do what they came to your product to do.


  12. What is your team's approach to handling and governing content from its initial creation to its final presentation to users? How is this process organized within the content team and in collaboration with other departments like Marketing/SEO/Growth, Sales, Localization, and Legal?

    To be completely honest, it's a work in progress. I'm just weeks in and we're building up the content practice. We're exploring working agreements and a CMS and governance models. Content is rarely a centralized function but it does anchor around the brand voice and tone. So the approach we're taking now is to be as collaborative as possible to avoid creating content silos. We'll eventually turn that into a company-wide content community, regardless of what part of the organization you are in to make sure we're constantly sharing learnings and best practices.



  13. Finally— at Punkt, we are revolutionizing the UX industry by building the Content-First UX Platform where Content Designers and UX Writers co-lead the product UX/Design decisions. We believe a holistic context, Content-First UX approach will fix too many daily issues most product teams deal with. What’s your take on this?

    I can understand where you are coming from and my answers above around involving content early and making sure they understand the context, problems and desired outcomes certainly support your case. Messaging is also something that can help align cross-functional teams. However, I'm hesitant to proclaim anything first other than the user. If we put the user first and create an environment where we respect all of the different disciplines that go into building products - and also one that encourages healthy debates to ensure we're creating what's best for the user, we will find the best recipe for success.



👋 Don't forget to follow Andy

LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/andyvitale
Website https://www.andyvitale.com
The Surfacing Podcast https://www.surfacingpodcast.com


Intro

Welcome to Spotlight, your gateway to the UX/ Content Design world, through a distinctive series of interviews that spotlight the industry's leading voices. Our succinct, direct-to-the-point approach poses ±10 sharp questions to veterans and rising stars, gathering insights and perspectives shaping the UX scene.


Meet our guest ⸻ Andy Vitale, Chief Design Officer at Constant Contact, Speaker, Educator, and Co-host of Surfacing Podcast

Few figures in UX, content, and design shine as brightly as Andy Vitale.

Andy Vitale - Content Design Manager at McAfee

Throughout his career, Andy has become well-known for his ability to enhance design excellence and develop teams that turn design into a significant organizational asset and a competitive edge. His varied experience, covering startups to large corporations in fintech, health, and consumer products, gives him a unique view of how design can be transformative. Andy leads teams focusing on human-centered solutions, creating products and experiences that lead to successful results.

Recognized as a leader in the design community, Andy is dedicated to driving positive change and initiating progressive dialogues. He is enthusiastic about education and teaches as an adjunct at Kent State University's User Experience Design graduate program. In addition, he is a member of the advisory boards for various professional organizations and educational bodies. Andy co-hosts the Surfacing podcast, exploring topics and trends in design. As an international speaker, he is known for his genuine and motivating presentations on design leadership, maturity, and ethical design.

Today, we're fortunate to gain insights directly from Andy. We asked him 13 questions to get his perceptions about the role of designers in the decision-making process, addressing user issues, and contributing to fulfilling company business goals.



Without further ado, let's get to the Q&A:

13 Questions with Andy Vitale


  1. You've taken a unique route by pursuing academic studies in design, unlike many others in the UX field. What inspired you to embark on this path from a young age?

    I don't know how unique that was at the time, but I can see why you would consider it unique now. When I went to school for design there wasn't a term called UX, at least that I was aware of. My first degree was in Computer Graphic Design. Some of the early sub-disciplines like information architecture came from people like Lou Rosenfeld and Peter Morville who have backgrounds in library science, and interaction design borrows principles from psychology, which are pretty academic fields. When I learned about these things, I happened to be teaching design for a university. There wasn't formal training you could get so I was teaching myself these emerging UX disciplines because I could see where they were going. I also had a desire to go out and practice it so I left academia to pursue professional experience but knew that at some point I could benefit from deeper foundational knowledge of these principles and disciplines so I went back to get my Master's in User Experience Design. Plus I enjoy teaching, so I needed to have my Master's to teach at a graduate level. So to answer your question, I love learning and there's no better way to really learn something well than by teaching others.


  2. With more than two decades of experience in the field, how do you think the role of designers has changed to play a crucial part in decision-making, addressing user issues, and contributing to fulfilling company business goals?

    I've really seen this industry change over the past 20+ years. When I started a lot of design was geared towards marketing and raising awareness for a business or product. Over time that focus shifted towards taking a more human-centered approach and solving problems for people. This is because design and research teams are close to customers and understand their needs and desired outcomes. Businesses have grown to understand that by putting people at the center of what they do it creates a lot value to the business. As competition increases, the experience of engaging with the brand, product, or service is the differentiator. When design generates value, people want more of it.


  3. How does the concept of a 'customer's story' centralize the focus when designing UX? Does that suffice to create a great CX (Customer Experience)?

    The concept of a customer's story is a great example of storytelling, which is one of the tools in a designer's toolbox that is meant to inspire the art of the possible. This is one of the ways to create shared empathy and a shared vision that all part of the company can align on. However, concepts aren't fully tangible. In this case they are more of a North Star constantly reminding teams of the problem we are trying to solve and the outcome we are trying to achieve. As the teams work to build the solution there are often constraints and limitations that are discovered along the way. So no, having a great customer's story doesn't guarantee that you will have a great customer experience. It helps but you have to bridge the gap between the two when brining the solution to life.


  4. Considering that companies face real constraints despite advocating for customer-centric methods, how do you balance meeting business objectives and adhering to a user-centric approach?

    I don't necessarily see those things as odds with one another. Business objectives should be widely known throughout the organizations. Those objectives are often defined by the value created for customers, which in turn generates business value and revenue. While they might not be worded that way, I think the role of design is to help translate them into things that are human-centric. I think the best way to remove these constraints that people may feel is by learning to speak the same language and being involved in discussions when objectives are being created and identifying how putting the customer at the center will help achieve those business objectives.


  5. In a prior role as EVP of a lending company, you led a design team of over 150 people. How hard was it to research and design great UX alongside all the legal disclaimers and rounds and rounds of legal checks to get to the end product? Was that challenging or limiting regarding visual aesthetics, language spoken, etc? How did you motivate the team to keep a good balance between playing it safe vs. exploring uncharted territories?

    I think there are two different questions in here and I'm going to unpack them both. First, the legal team is a stakeholder and they need to be involved early in the process. They are trying to protect the company and the customer. The legal partners I have worked with in the past don't want the team to feel like their role is to come in and make changes at the end. They want to be involved early so they have the full picture of the product vision and can raise risk early. I look at legal requirements like any other product requirements and they need to be considered. Involving legal at every step of the way allows them to understand what may or may not be disruptive to the experience and work together to find a way that meets our needs and delivers a great experience. Sure there will always be debates around things like language, and how it fits in the experience – and there should be – but it's important to realize that everyone wants the same outcome, we just look at things through different lenses. Those different lenses make our solutions better.

    The second question is about motivating the team to think big vs. playing it safe and making minor iterations. I believe that you have to think big and small and that good ideas need to diverge and converge. I always want teams to start by exploring without constraints. However these ideas need to be tested and iterated upon and that can't happen in a vacuum. This goes back to my North Star point earlier; at some point what we're building needs to be real and there are all sorts of realities that make building solutions and integrating them into existing systems that take time. How you find the right ways to get to where you want to go is key. I think the right vision and finding ways to ensure designers are seeing their work serve its purpose are motivational to designers. As leaders finding this balance for the team is so important.


  6. What key metrics teams should prioritize in UX analytics to measure user satisfaction and engagement effectively?

    I think there are certain ways to measure engagement and satisfaction at a high level. There are many ways to measure user/customer satisfaction through various quantitative and qualitative feedback - customer surveys, NPS, user interviews, etc. Things like task completion rate, bounce/drop rate, time on task, MAU and repeat usage are some ways to measure engagement. There are also industry specific measures of these things. It's about finding the right set of metrics for your product. All of these metrics should be part of a larger data and analytics strategy about measuring the success of the product. This is another opportunity for design to be involved in creating the success criteria and how to measure it. At the end of the day if customers aren't converting or engaging in the product, it isn't successful.


  7. What are the primary software tools you rely on for your daily tasks while managing and collaborating with design, engineering, and marketing teams at Truist, Rocket Companies, and in your current role at ConstantContact?

    Right now the biggest one is Figma and Figjam. All of our partners are in it. Tools are constantly changing and come with learning curves for people who collaborate in them but aren't using them for their day-to-day. It's about finding the right tool that enables successful collaboration for your organization. If Design Operations has taught me anything over the years, it's the importance of finding a single tool that does everything well over finding multiple tools, even if those individual tools do some things better. You can't build effective products without great collaboration.


  8. It is common for UX teams to skip the research phase to save time waiting for UX researchers to prepare and deliver their results in a presentable format that they can reuse. What's your take on this?

    While I don't think it's common to skip the research phase, I have seen situations where the nature of the business moves faster than it takes to gather the appropriate amount of insights and do larger share outs at times. This often surfaces in the research team feeling like the larger team lost interest in what they were researching. Sometimes this is symptom of not having research properly embedded within the cross-functional team. It also happens when the research team isn't given enough time to do proper discovery which should be allocated when doing planning and prioritization. Other times it's just a reality of the current state. There are ways to iteratively funnel key insights as researchers are learning. Like anything else, creating products is all about outcomes over outputs. Getting researchers access to tools like Figma to add findings directly and creating the stage for them to share early learnings and proactively impact designs in flight makes a big difference. The fully synthesized and digestible learnings should not become a casualty because they are extremely valuable for success and revisiting for future ideas and iterations.


  9. Key activities like card sorting, empathy mapping, journey mapping, creating personas, and designing flow charts are vital for successfully executing the User Experience (UX) design and Customer Experience (CX) strategy. What tools do you use for all this? Is it one multipurpose tool, a toolkit of dedicated tools under one umbrella, or a pile of separate tools? And is it all digital?

    This goes back to my previous answer about finding the right tool for what your needs are. While these tools being digital have made it easier to reach more and different groups of people faster, there are still times that being in person helps pick up on certain visual cues that are necessary to understand behaviors.



  10. Content designers and UX writers are involved at the very end. They are provided with a high-fidelity UI prototype and asked to write or improve the copy with little context, if any. How does this process cause problems and difficulties?

    I've seen that in the past and I hear that quite often in the industry but I think that's more of a process or maturity problem than anything else. Just like your question about legal teams, involving anyone late in the process is not a winning strategy. Content has different purposes at different times and you can't force fit it to a bounding box. For content designers to be successful, they need to have a good understanding of the context, the problem, the customer and the desired outcome.


  11. Do you think Content Design plays a crucial role in UX?

    Yes, of course content design plays a crucial role in UX. It is a bridge between the user and the product. Words and imagery are anchors in the brand and product experience. They are how users successfully navigate products and discover things they need to be successful. I've seen products leverage content that is too prescriptive as a crutch for poor interactions and bad design. These have to be in harmony to make sure people are able to do what they came to your product to do.


  12. What is your team's approach to handling and governing content from its initial creation to its final presentation to users? How is this process organized within the content team and in collaboration with other departments like Marketing/SEO/Growth, Sales, Localization, and Legal?

    To be completely honest, it's a work in progress. I'm just weeks in and we're building up the content practice. We're exploring working agreements and a CMS and governance models. Content is rarely a centralized function but it does anchor around the brand voice and tone. So the approach we're taking now is to be as collaborative as possible to avoid creating content silos. We'll eventually turn that into a company-wide content community, regardless of what part of the organization you are in to make sure we're constantly sharing learnings and best practices.



  13. Finally— at Punkt, we are revolutionizing the UX industry by building the Content-First UX Platform where Content Designers and UX Writers co-lead the product UX/Design decisions. We believe a holistic context, Content-First UX approach will fix too many daily issues most product teams deal with. What’s your take on this?

    I can understand where you are coming from and my answers above around involving content early and making sure they understand the context, problems and desired outcomes certainly support your case. Messaging is also something that can help align cross-functional teams. However, I'm hesitant to proclaim anything first other than the user. If we put the user first and create an environment where we respect all of the different disciplines that go into building products - and also one that encourages healthy debates to ensure we're creating what's best for the user, we will find the best recipe for success.



👋 Don't forget to follow Andy

LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/andyvitale
Website https://www.andyvitale.com
The Surfacing Podcast https://www.surfacingpodcast.com


Intro

Welcome to Spotlight, your gateway to the UX/ Content Design world, through a distinctive series of interviews that spotlight the industry's leading voices. Our succinct, direct-to-the-point approach poses ±10 sharp questions to veterans and rising stars, gathering insights and perspectives shaping the UX scene.


Meet our guest ⸻ Andy Vitale, Chief Design Officer at Constant Contact, Speaker, Educator, and Co-host of Surfacing Podcast

Few figures in UX, content, and design shine as brightly as Andy Vitale.

Andy Vitale - Content Design Manager at McAfee

Throughout his career, Andy has become well-known for his ability to enhance design excellence and develop teams that turn design into a significant organizational asset and a competitive edge. His varied experience, covering startups to large corporations in fintech, health, and consumer products, gives him a unique view of how design can be transformative. Andy leads teams focusing on human-centered solutions, creating products and experiences that lead to successful results.

Recognized as a leader in the design community, Andy is dedicated to driving positive change and initiating progressive dialogues. He is enthusiastic about education and teaches as an adjunct at Kent State University's User Experience Design graduate program. In addition, he is a member of the advisory boards for various professional organizations and educational bodies. Andy co-hosts the Surfacing podcast, exploring topics and trends in design. As an international speaker, he is known for his genuine and motivating presentations on design leadership, maturity, and ethical design.

Today, we're fortunate to gain insights directly from Andy. We asked him 13 questions to get his perceptions about the role of designers in the decision-making process, addressing user issues, and contributing to fulfilling company business goals.



Without further ado, let's get to the Q&A:

13 Questions with Andy Vitale


  1. You've taken a unique route by pursuing academic studies in design, unlike many others in the UX field. What inspired you to embark on this path from a young age?

    I don't know how unique that was at the time, but I can see why you would consider it unique now. When I went to school for design there wasn't a term called UX, at least that I was aware of. My first degree was in Computer Graphic Design. Some of the early sub-disciplines like information architecture came from people like Lou Rosenfeld and Peter Morville who have backgrounds in library science, and interaction design borrows principles from psychology, which are pretty academic fields. When I learned about these things, I happened to be teaching design for a university. There wasn't formal training you could get so I was teaching myself these emerging UX disciplines because I could see where they were going. I also had a desire to go out and practice it so I left academia to pursue professional experience but knew that at some point I could benefit from deeper foundational knowledge of these principles and disciplines so I went back to get my Master's in User Experience Design. Plus I enjoy teaching, so I needed to have my Master's to teach at a graduate level. So to answer your question, I love learning and there's no better way to really learn something well than by teaching others.


  2. With more than two decades of experience in the field, how do you think the role of designers has changed to play a crucial part in decision-making, addressing user issues, and contributing to fulfilling company business goals?

    I've really seen this industry change over the past 20+ years. When I started a lot of design was geared towards marketing and raising awareness for a business or product. Over time that focus shifted towards taking a more human-centered approach and solving problems for people. This is because design and research teams are close to customers and understand their needs and desired outcomes. Businesses have grown to understand that by putting people at the center of what they do it creates a lot value to the business. As competition increases, the experience of engaging with the brand, product, or service is the differentiator. When design generates value, people want more of it.


  3. How does the concept of a 'customer's story' centralize the focus when designing UX? Does that suffice to create a great CX (Customer Experience)?

    The concept of a customer's story is a great example of storytelling, which is one of the tools in a designer's toolbox that is meant to inspire the art of the possible. This is one of the ways to create shared empathy and a shared vision that all part of the company can align on. However, concepts aren't fully tangible. In this case they are more of a North Star constantly reminding teams of the problem we are trying to solve and the outcome we are trying to achieve. As the teams work to build the solution there are often constraints and limitations that are discovered along the way. So no, having a great customer's story doesn't guarantee that you will have a great customer experience. It helps but you have to bridge the gap between the two when brining the solution to life.


  4. Considering that companies face real constraints despite advocating for customer-centric methods, how do you balance meeting business objectives and adhering to a user-centric approach?

    I don't necessarily see those things as odds with one another. Business objectives should be widely known throughout the organizations. Those objectives are often defined by the value created for customers, which in turn generates business value and revenue. While they might not be worded that way, I think the role of design is to help translate them into things that are human-centric. I think the best way to remove these constraints that people may feel is by learning to speak the same language and being involved in discussions when objectives are being created and identifying how putting the customer at the center will help achieve those business objectives.


  5. In a prior role as EVP of a lending company, you led a design team of over 150 people. How hard was it to research and design great UX alongside all the legal disclaimers and rounds and rounds of legal checks to get to the end product? Was that challenging or limiting regarding visual aesthetics, language spoken, etc? How did you motivate the team to keep a good balance between playing it safe vs. exploring uncharted territories?

    I think there are two different questions in here and I'm going to unpack them both. First, the legal team is a stakeholder and they need to be involved early in the process. They are trying to protect the company and the customer. The legal partners I have worked with in the past don't want the team to feel like their role is to come in and make changes at the end. They want to be involved early so they have the full picture of the product vision and can raise risk early. I look at legal requirements like any other product requirements and they need to be considered. Involving legal at every step of the way allows them to understand what may or may not be disruptive to the experience and work together to find a way that meets our needs and delivers a great experience. Sure there will always be debates around things like language, and how it fits in the experience – and there should be – but it's important to realize that everyone wants the same outcome, we just look at things through different lenses. Those different lenses make our solutions better.

    The second question is about motivating the team to think big vs. playing it safe and making minor iterations. I believe that you have to think big and small and that good ideas need to diverge and converge. I always want teams to start by exploring without constraints. However these ideas need to be tested and iterated upon and that can't happen in a vacuum. This goes back to my North Star point earlier; at some point what we're building needs to be real and there are all sorts of realities that make building solutions and integrating them into existing systems that take time. How you find the right ways to get to where you want to go is key. I think the right vision and finding ways to ensure designers are seeing their work serve its purpose are motivational to designers. As leaders finding this balance for the team is so important.


  6. What key metrics teams should prioritize in UX analytics to measure user satisfaction and engagement effectively?

    I think there are certain ways to measure engagement and satisfaction at a high level. There are many ways to measure user/customer satisfaction through various quantitative and qualitative feedback - customer surveys, NPS, user interviews, etc. Things like task completion rate, bounce/drop rate, time on task, MAU and repeat usage are some ways to measure engagement. There are also industry specific measures of these things. It's about finding the right set of metrics for your product. All of these metrics should be part of a larger data and analytics strategy about measuring the success of the product. This is another opportunity for design to be involved in creating the success criteria and how to measure it. At the end of the day if customers aren't converting or engaging in the product, it isn't successful.


  7. What are the primary software tools you rely on for your daily tasks while managing and collaborating with design, engineering, and marketing teams at Truist, Rocket Companies, and in your current role at ConstantContact?

    Right now the biggest one is Figma and Figjam. All of our partners are in it. Tools are constantly changing and come with learning curves for people who collaborate in them but aren't using them for their day-to-day. It's about finding the right tool that enables successful collaboration for your organization. If Design Operations has taught me anything over the years, it's the importance of finding a single tool that does everything well over finding multiple tools, even if those individual tools do some things better. You can't build effective products without great collaboration.


  8. It is common for UX teams to skip the research phase to save time waiting for UX researchers to prepare and deliver their results in a presentable format that they can reuse. What's your take on this?

    While I don't think it's common to skip the research phase, I have seen situations where the nature of the business moves faster than it takes to gather the appropriate amount of insights and do larger share outs at times. This often surfaces in the research team feeling like the larger team lost interest in what they were researching. Sometimes this is symptom of not having research properly embedded within the cross-functional team. It also happens when the research team isn't given enough time to do proper discovery which should be allocated when doing planning and prioritization. Other times it's just a reality of the current state. There are ways to iteratively funnel key insights as researchers are learning. Like anything else, creating products is all about outcomes over outputs. Getting researchers access to tools like Figma to add findings directly and creating the stage for them to share early learnings and proactively impact designs in flight makes a big difference. The fully synthesized and digestible learnings should not become a casualty because they are extremely valuable for success and revisiting for future ideas and iterations.


  9. Key activities like card sorting, empathy mapping, journey mapping, creating personas, and designing flow charts are vital for successfully executing the User Experience (UX) design and Customer Experience (CX) strategy. What tools do you use for all this? Is it one multipurpose tool, a toolkit of dedicated tools under one umbrella, or a pile of separate tools? And is it all digital?

    This goes back to my previous answer about finding the right tool for what your needs are. While these tools being digital have made it easier to reach more and different groups of people faster, there are still times that being in person helps pick up on certain visual cues that are necessary to understand behaviors.



  10. Content designers and UX writers are involved at the very end. They are provided with a high-fidelity UI prototype and asked to write or improve the copy with little context, if any. How does this process cause problems and difficulties?

    I've seen that in the past and I hear that quite often in the industry but I think that's more of a process or maturity problem than anything else. Just like your question about legal teams, involving anyone late in the process is not a winning strategy. Content has different purposes at different times and you can't force fit it to a bounding box. For content designers to be successful, they need to have a good understanding of the context, the problem, the customer and the desired outcome.


  11. Do you think Content Design plays a crucial role in UX?

    Yes, of course content design plays a crucial role in UX. It is a bridge between the user and the product. Words and imagery are anchors in the brand and product experience. They are how users successfully navigate products and discover things they need to be successful. I've seen products leverage content that is too prescriptive as a crutch for poor interactions and bad design. These have to be in harmony to make sure people are able to do what they came to your product to do.


  12. What is your team's approach to handling and governing content from its initial creation to its final presentation to users? How is this process organized within the content team and in collaboration with other departments like Marketing/SEO/Growth, Sales, Localization, and Legal?

    To be completely honest, it's a work in progress. I'm just weeks in and we're building up the content practice. We're exploring working agreements and a CMS and governance models. Content is rarely a centralized function but it does anchor around the brand voice and tone. So the approach we're taking now is to be as collaborative as possible to avoid creating content silos. We'll eventually turn that into a company-wide content community, regardless of what part of the organization you are in to make sure we're constantly sharing learnings and best practices.



  13. Finally— at Punkt, we are revolutionizing the UX industry by building the Content-First UX Platform where Content Designers and UX Writers co-lead the product UX/Design decisions. We believe a holistic context, Content-First UX approach will fix too many daily issues most product teams deal with. What’s your take on this?

    I can understand where you are coming from and my answers above around involving content early and making sure they understand the context, problems and desired outcomes certainly support your case. Messaging is also something that can help align cross-functional teams. However, I'm hesitant to proclaim anything first other than the user. If we put the user first and create an environment where we respect all of the different disciplines that go into building products - and also one that encourages healthy debates to ensure we're creating what's best for the user, we will find the best recipe for success.



👋 Don't forget to follow Andy

LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/andyvitale
Website https://www.andyvitale.com
The Surfacing Podcast https://www.surfacingpodcast.com


Don't miss out the other guests
Don't miss out the other guests
Don't miss out the other guests
Don't miss out the other guests
Don't miss out the other guests

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Don't miss the boat!

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Don't miss the boat!

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A few of our early adopters

Leading international companies have joined our early access program.

A few of our early adopters

Leading international companies have joined our early access program.

A few of our early adopters

Leading international companies have joined our early access program.

A few of our
early adopters

Leading international companies have joined our early access program.

A few of our early adopters

Leading international companies have joined our early access program.

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