Table of contents
- How did AyerViernes begin?
- How did you start your journey in the UX universe? What sparked your interest?
- How did you get involved in UXalliance? What benefits do you get from an international alliance?
- In a few words, can you explain what UX-PM Certification is?
- Why do you think it is relevant for a person to become UX-PM certified?
- What is the first thing you tell new colleagues? What advice would you give to someone who is interested in this certification?
- How do you see the future of UX in the business world?
UXalliance is a network of leading User Experience companies that helps global organizations create better international products and services by offering them local research, knowledge and design.
With operations in 5 continents, UXalliance has strategic partners. In this opportunity we will present Jorge Barahona, professor in the Master of UX Design at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain, and also in the UX-PM Certification Program. Jorge is founder and CEO of AyerViernes Chile.
How did AyerViernes begin?
In 2000 I founded AyerViernes, a consulting firm in Strategic Design, Research and Training in User Experience Design (UX), for global brands in the banking, finance, logistics, training, social networks, entertainment, electronics, energy and mass consumption industries, among others.
How did you start your journey in the UX universe? What sparked your interest?
In 1995 I installed the Internet in my office and started testing web pages. I came from packaging and editorial design, and I quickly realized that this was a different kind of design that required other knowledge and learning. That’s why I began to research on websites that already existed, with guides and articles about web design. In this search I found a site about Information Architecture and I understood everything. I learned that my job was to comprehend the findability structures of websites, so I decided to study Linguistics and Taxonomy.
I also understood that in the face of such a different design, there were legitimate questions, and that those answers were in other disciplines of Social Sciences and Statistics. But above all, I learned something obvious: if users can’t do what they want to do on a website, then there are no customers.
In this context, great legends such as Jacob Nielsen, Peter Morville, Louis Rosenfled, Peter Merholz, Donald Norman and, obviously, Apple or Amazon, appeared to leave us speechless with their designs, which were not only defined by aesthetics. There was a lot of previous work to reach that important ingredient of design.
How did you get involved in UXalliance? What benefits do you get from an international alliance?
I used to participate in the Spanish-American usability Cadius list invented by the great Javier Cañada, where the nascent group of Spanish-speaking professionals working in web and software used to connect. There used to be a tradition (which we should urgently recover) that consisted of meeting in the city where you were, on the first Thursday of each month, with your colleagues in a bar or restaurant to chat and get to know each other.
It was November 2003 and I was in Madrid, so on the first Thursday of that month I wrote to Javier. He told me that the monthly meeting would be held in a bar on the second floor of a theater. I was able to meet the UX heroes of the Spanish scene. I met Javier (today director of the Tramontana Design Institute), Nacho Puell (great Spanish designer today at K FUND), Joaquín Cuenca and Eduardo Manchón (both founders of Panoramio, later bought by Google so you can insert photos of your trips in Google Earth) and Alfonso de la Nuez (today Userzoom) who, among others, gave me his card from his nascent Xperience Consulting.
In 2006 I brought the first commercial eyetracker to Latin America (there were two, one at the University of Chile for cognitive research and another in Sao Paulo) and began to introduce this powerful research tool in these regions. It was then when Alfonso de la Nuez wrote to me and invited me to work on a project with Terra (formerly Telefónica). We did eyetracking studies in Argentina and Chile, and Alfonso thought it was a good idea to invite us to be part of UXalliance. So I applied in November 2009 and we were accepted as partners in Chile and Latin America.
UXalliance projected us from Chile to the five continents, and so we have been able to participate in projects for global brands such as Meta, Google, Spotify, Latam, SONY and many others, doing research and design to solve business problems of these large companies, with a local perspective and also with regional expertise.
In a few words, can you explain what UX-PM Certification is?
The UX-PM Certification is an international training program that empowers professionals to achieve business results by adopting a human-centered design approach in their practice.
This training program is supported by UXalliance and is offered in 19 countries.
Why do you think it is relevant for a person to become UX-PM certified?
Because being UX is in fashion and among so much competition you have to validate yourself with global agencies that generate respect and admiration. One thing is to put on your LinkedIn profile that you are UX, CX, XXXX and as many Xs as you like, and another thing is to be endorsed by an organization such as the UXAlliance.
At the same time, all UX professionals are trained empirically and, despite so many diplomas, colleagues need to contrast what they do with others who have been in the market longer and have made more mistakes. They need to meet as equals to learn details of how they have solved business problems with design for large companies. That’s exactly what we do in the days leading up to the certification exam. Rather than “teaching” we methodologically share our experience and knowledge, and it is information that is not usually present in a more basic diploma or course.
What is the first thing you tell new colleagues? What advice would you give to someone who is interested in this certification?
The first thing I like to convey is that his generation has left its leadership role pending. With colleagues like Juan Carlos Camus, Jorge Arango or Javier Valesco we created a community in Chile with which we shared free events, many times paid with our own money, because we knew the importance of extending and projecting this discipline beyond us. Some people thought that we were “worried about making money and showing off on our own”, but that’s not the way an industry where we need each other should work. Perhaps the problem is the ego of many who believe that by working with a “lead” title in an airline or in retail they are leaders of something. I am convinced that they are wrong.
That is why in Level III of the Certification (UX Leadership) we stop and make particular emphasis on how a leader is formed.
I don’t think I’m someone with the right to give advice, but I’ve been doing digital projects since 1995. Today my consulting firm is one of the most prestigious in Latin America, with offices and colleagues in three countries. Hundreds were my students at the University in Chile and Spain, others worked with me. I have published books (the last one is on the way). We have certified more than 400 colleagues. So with that track record under my belt I am not afraid to say that you have to do things, take risks, think about always being the best at what you do and seek to be an inspiration to others.
How do you see the future of UX in the business world?
Unfortunately, in Latin America, many giants in all industries are dying because they have remained in the last century and still think that their business problems can be solved with technology. There are conglomerates that in 2020, in their company reports, said they were going to invest USD 200 million in opening new physical stores (!!) while Mercado Libre (a leading technology company that offers e-commerce solutions) was buying airplanes. There is a great majority of executives who continue to see design as a luxury item that they put and take away as they please.
Just as a lady with a booth at a street fair knows more about information architecture or interface design than anyone who went to college, pandemic proved that people who started selling anything on Instagram, because they lost their jobs, far outperform any marketing department in selling anything.
Because ultimately, when you are an entrepreneur you know from the beginning that you only have one silver bullet to enter the market and sell your products and services, and that bullet is UX.