When asked to speak at the inaugural UX Vietnam Festival in Ho Chi Minh City; there wasn’t even a moment of hesitation to accept such a wonderful opportunity.

From January 13th to 14th 2019 the sold out conference of over 200 attendees was across two content packed days, one full of workshops the other with presentations in the theme of UX in an emerging market.

The presentations were held at the magnificent auditorium in Dreamplex Dien Bien Phu. I was privileged to share the stage with the likes of Poon Wen Ang, Ngoc Hieu, Aldrich Huang, Paul Farla and Wendy Johansson covering a diverse range of UX topics.

My talk aimed to address a few topics I believed to be crucial for designers, but in particular those in the early stages of their UX career.

Disruption – Nothing shall be spared

Firstly, I used the talk as an opportunity to open people’s eyes to how the trends of disruption, automation and changing consumer demands will require us as designers to push ourselves harder in creating unique and relevant experiences for users.

Modern designers use many things to aid in the design process. A typical combination of a design system, templates, OS based UI libraries and flat design assist in creating consistency, usability, affordance and help reduce design time. However, over dependence has made them into somewhat of a crutch, preventing us from thinking beyond the confines they often create.

We must not shy away from the creativity and exploration needed to truly design something uniquely valuable that connects at an emotional level with users. Failing this, we risk automation for the large part of our profession – as much of what we currently produce is in fact not beyond the realm of upcoming technologies to generate.

As initially shocking as the concept may be, automation will no longer be limited to replacing just menial or repetitious physical labor tasks, but now also knowledge worker tasks. This can already be witnessed in financial and other industry sectors.

Right Here, Right Now – The new demands for design

I then provided examples that show the direction product design is taking and how they’re part of a greater change in how our profession plays a key role in modern design. These changes will begin to relive us from the constraints of current mediums we consume information and interact with machines. Citing examples of latest generation automobiles with multiple displays controlling their on-board systems, voice based assistants and robotic servants.

Where Things Are Going – The perfect storm has arrived

We’re witnessing the very beginning of a perfect storm of technological advancements that will result in a 20 year hot zone of massive changes to literally everything in our society. Commerce, transportation, health, education, communications, sustenance, human longevity – you name it and it’s all about to get uprooted. Recent and upcoming advancements in computational power, machine learning, telecommunications, display technologies and the ubiquitous nature of Internet will converge to form large scale disruption.

This presents tremendous opportunity. Firstly to the young UX practitioners whom will have a key portion of their career within that hot zone, giving them the chance to design this upcoming shift. And secondly to Vietnam as a country, where it can uniquely position itself as a country focused on designing and building for these next generation changes rather than focus on current tech that’s heading for obsolescence.

While the theme of the event was around UX in an emerging market; I attempted to state the case that Vietnam is quite capable and should take measures to in fact be a leapfrog market.

Setting The Scene – Crafting your path and experiences

Having gone to many UX industry events and meetups and speaking with fellow attendees, there were clear trends in the questions and concerns many people shared. I prepared a series of responses to those trended topics that aimed to provide guidance for decision making. Such as whether to start off as a UX specialist or generalist, areas to develop beyond design skills, the small things that make a big impact, how to stand out in a crowded candidate market, and more. Getting these basics right from the start really helps set the foundation for having the most rewarding design career.

Getting The Job – Proving you’re the one they can’t live without

Lastly, based on years of experience in recruiting for UX positions of all levels, I shared advice and insights on ways to best optimise a designer’s efforts in securing UX work. A range of work seeker topics was covered such as how designers can stand out from the pack with their resume, portfolio considerations, channels of exposure, interview and post-interview essentials. The key takeaway I wanted to stress was that conveying a genuine sense of passion and pride in one’s work can leave a profoundly positive impression with recruiters.

The session finished off with urging attendees to use interviews as a chance to ask the right questions, gain clarity and truly assess whether the opportunity best serves their life and career.

Designing Your UX Career Group Shot

The event will surely have a positive and lasting impact on strengthening the UX profession and community in Vietnam. Everyone will be in great anticipation of next year’s follow up event.

My sincerest appreciation goes out to Thai Lam for spearheading and orchestrating such a well run event; along with the volunteer team and Anh Phuong Nguyen for their great efforts. Special thanks goes to the sponsors Wizeline, TINYpulse, Buuuk and Cloudjet Solutions, whose support helped make the event possible.

Presentation Materials

Download Slide Deck (PDF): Designing Your UX Career