We know Jaime has been in the creation of innovative digital products and services for over 25 years. What makes you to be a UX strategist and stay here for such a long time?
Well, I think it actually goes back to even longer. When I was 22, moving to my undergraduate school in San Francisco, I happen to be studying video and film. There is no such thing interactive in 1986. Afterwards, video camera and TV came out, I started to be interested in short format video.
When finishing my undergraduate degree, I was very concerned about my career, because in California, if you want to be a director who could control his projects, you might undergo lots of difficulties. There are even very few female directors in general. Though I have enough college degree to get me a “low level” job, like watching tracks when they shot films, I would never make money and be creative in that way.
I heard about NYU’s interactive telecommunications program for master’s degree, I tell myself I need a master degree and advanced training in something specific. Usually NYU has cooperative people, but they want to bring in more artist types. So they gave me a scholarship. All of a sudden, I had access to Medias.
When my master’s thesis is coming, I didn’t want to just write a paper and I wanted to invent new products. Part of the paper is what you’re gonna do with products and how you’re gonna get them to people.
When disks were popular, I sent my works to magazines and took them bookshops. Just like my book, I took my book and myself to China. I’m even losing money touring the world. But if I don’t promote the book, then no one knows about it. Why did I spend two years of my life writing the book? I always felt that way about everything.
Have you thought of withdrawing yourself when faced with difficulties and hardships?
When I graduated from NYU, there were very few interface design jobs. I got ready to do anything potentially related. Then I retrained myself how to do HTML, CSS, information architecture, etc. Because I’m not like that degree of designer and that degree of programmer, I look for the middle thing where I could use my skills of knowing how to make stuffs.
Learning by doing earned my confidence back. Eventually, I reset my career as a UX person.
UX Strategy has received great success all over the world. How is your book writing experience?
To write a book, I needed to go to libraries 4 hours a day for about one year. I assemble different pieces together and break them into chapters and sections. Writing a book is also very hard and lonely. Sometimes, I feared no one would care what I was thinking and that I might be the only one who cares about UX strategy. Everyday I had a fear, then I would say, “You’ve been teaching it for several years. You need a new book to meet students’ demands.”
What’s its unique place compared with other UX books?
My book is the first about UX strategy. Not like those UX books dealing with already existing products, UX Strategy happens before products. My book gears to entrepreneurs, engineers, UX people so that they can understand how to do UX strategy.
Also, it’s not a book just about how to do things. It’s a personal book about how I am as a person and my perceptions of how to make products.
Most of my students are Chinese and Indians. I couldn’t have difficult words. Only if the students understand my finished chapters, can it mean I have explained it clearly. I had two years to constantly improve my book so that it could be for anybody. It turns out the book is also applicable for people who have no interest in websites but just make a business to sell things.
I didn’t expect the book to be successful. It has been translated into several foreign languages, like Chinese, Russian, Korean and Polish. We also determined to make a video course. I’ve thought about the reasons. It is that UX designers are getting better and realizing they will be left behind the computers if they don’t know about business.
（Jaime's signing for Chinese readers at 2016 Qcon Shanghai）
（the queue waiting for signature）
What’s your advice for readers in understanding the relationship of Four Tenets?
To practice them!
I teach the four tenets in the linear order: business strategy, value innovation, validated user research, killer UX design. It worked. But I said in the preface readers could practice them as needed. For example, the students want to do the value proposition that Uber holds for dog walkers. Then they go to talk to 10 dog walkers, research the market place and find out how many Uber for dog walkers sites or apps are there. Afterwards, they’ll decide the key experience making the product unique. With storyboarding and prototyping, they have a prototype that users want. Then they have people at the top of the funnel who want the products. Now it comes to actual design how to make users pursue it and tell other people to use it.
You’ve said there are more female students in your class. It’s also happens Turing has more design books wrote by women. Could we say girls do better than boys in design?
Typically, there are more women in class from my teaching experience. Design is to make things look pretty, men might go towards marketing.
If you go to San Francisco, you’ll find there are equal or more males. It depends where you go. To write a book isn’t the same as making design. To write a book, you have to sacrifice money. So men maybe have to pay for the family.
What skills or thought models make a good UX strategist?
Keep on the cutting edge. From the age of 20 to 50, all I care about is the latest thing. I always want to learn things behind the scene.
Lots of designers are not technical. It’s the limitation. They only focus on design but don’t know the technical side of how things work. Instead of learn programming, they should at least know HTML, apps, prototyping and researching.
There is a famous American author named Malcolm Gladwell who wrote a theory, let’s call “10,000 hours”. To get good at anything, you have to do it for at least 10,000hours. If you divide 10,000 hours into 40 hours a week, you would need 5 years. This is the idea of focusing relentlessly and not giving up.
Even if you make something that sounds not so good, you keep going and never stay in one place. Push yourself to work for another company. People tend to be complacent about well-paid jobs, but more important to me is my brain could make really cool stuffs.