Hannah Locke is Head of Experience Design at Proximity London. And this is a day in her life.

Remember, if Hannah’s day seems more exciting than yours, you can always check out the Econsultancy jobs board.

Econsultancy: Please describe your job: What do you do?

Hannah Locke: I look after the Experience Design team, which represents, researches and designs for the user or customer – no matter the experience or channel. This can be interface design (UX), multichannel/physical (CX) or new digital tools and products (service design), so my team has a combination of all UX research and design skill sets.  

E: Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?

HL: I report to Joe Braithwaite (the Managing Director) who, with a background in product design himself, understands that the customer/user must be central to all our work – hence our involvement throughout the creative process, from initial customer understanding and user research, to creative execution.

E: What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?

HL: Experience Design at Proximity is different from most traditional UX roles, due to the integrated and multichannel nature of the experiences we design. Therefore, in order to be effective you need to be able to work at both macro and micro levels of projects, solving detailed UX problems one minute, and planning wider CX strategies the next, all the while communicating with stakeholders of all levels.

I’d say 70% of Experience Design is socialising the work. You also need a lot of patience. Something I’m working on..

E: Tell us about a typical working day…

HL: As is traditional, I have to say “no day is the same” however…  a week normally starts with a team stand-up to ensure that all roles and projects are assigned for the week. The rest of the week is a combination of oversight of the day-to-day project work, leading strategy across client accounts, working on pitches or developing new methodologies or training materials.

I’m lucky in that I have a couple of international clients, so I get to travel, but my priority is to be available to the Experience Design team and be focused on their development.

I often start work early – that’s when I get my best thinking and problem-solving done. Also there aren’t any meetings when there’s no one else in the office.

hannah locke

E: What do you love about your job? What sucks?

HL: Experience design allows you to really understand and solve problems – both for users and for clients. However, this often involves creating additional problems up front by asking “why?” (sometimes an unpopular question). It’s about supporting decisions with evidence, not guesswork.

The best moments are always when you get to talk to clients about who their customers really are and what they need – when you solve a problem because you’ve talked to, tested with and/or observed real users. From web and marketing teams to CEOs, there’s nothing quite like the moment clients see videos of their real customers for the first time and truly understand their needs and pains.

E: What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?

HL: In the world of a/b testing (i.e. of digital interfaces, open rates, campaigns), the metrics are fairly straightforward; does our work increase engagement? Data and UX teams work really closely blending data and research insights to support creative and design work across every channel and platform. 

But another goal is moving clients and organisations towards customer-centricity. Our research and deep understanding of customers often leads to organisational change, so hearing clients reference research, quote users or base design decisions on customer as well as business needs is extremely important. 

Building the experience vision together with our clients allows us to design truly user-centric solutions that get the right content, communication or experience to the right customer at the right time.

E: What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?

HL: It’s not so much about tools as ways of working that help get the job done.

We’re very lucky at Proximity that the space we work in is designed for us; we have a dedicated collaboration space and whiteboard wall, where teams can work together or with clients. 

The Experience Design team sits together even when working with individual client teams. We have a strong culture of knowledge sharing and working on proactive R&D projects that meet our professional interests as well as digital industry trends.

And of course we can’t do our job without access to users so we have testing kit that we’ve built in-house and a lab that we partner with for controlled environment testing.

Outside of that, if I have a pen and some strong coffee I feel equipped to respond to any challenge.

E: How did you land in this role, and where might you go from here?

HL: I’ve worked in a few different UX, service design and digital agencies as well as client side, and joined Proximity in 2014 at a time when marketing was starting to realise the value of building experience design capability in-house and open to developing new methodologies. I’ve been able to do just that and deliver methods training throughout the global network so hope that I am able to continue building out our offering. I’m not really thinking about where I go from here; there is still a lot of work to do! 

E: What are your personal favourite customer experiences?

HL: Two main examples:

First, there has been a lot of talk about Monzo, their app and finance industry disruption but what I’ve recently been enjoying is watching the email journey as I am off-boarded from the debit account. The escalation, the targeted messaging answering customer pain points and yes, the poem – made me open every email. Even if I’m not going to “upgrade”, I still have a great impression of Monzo as a human-centred brand.

Second, Treehouse (teamtreehouse.com – because I’m learning to code) – they’ve really understood how humans learn and the psychology of that process; the pain points, and highs and lows of the journey. Not only have they designed that into the interface and their communications, but they use it as part of the on-boarding experience so that the user is prepared for the barriers they will encounter; increasing the likelihood that they will stick with it.

E: Do you have any advice for people who want to do what you do?

HL: If you want to lead experience design work and teams you need massive amounts of passion and resilience, in equal measure. Passion keeps you fighting for the best work for clients and users, and resilience keeps you going on occasions when things don’t go to plan.

My role is about supporting the work and the team and turning every challenge into a positive experience that we can build on.

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