A Special Interview for The Marker’s UX Magazine | Or Chay
According to Aviram Tzur, the founder and Co-CEO at TZUR – UX Design, “Companies and business owners who understand the crucial importance of User Experience and allocate the appropriate budget and resources for the sake of it, gain much more business value than others. On e-commerce website, for example, it would simply be the difference between low and high incomes and much more returning loyal customers; but there is a great return for UX investments in any type of digital business, such as websites, applications or complex systems."
What is the difference between companies which invest in UX design and those who don’t?
“Looking at enterprises, for example, companies put a lot of emphasis on achieving business goals. An internal system with a better User Experience will simply lead to higher efficiency, overall reduced costs and improved customer experience, all considered highly important aspects from business perspectives. Moreover, in startup companies, it may be the critical boundary between success and failure. We have aided dozens of early stage startups in designing their applications from A to Z, prior to writing even one line of code. Actually, we have supplied them with a fully operational demo, which assisted them not only in making better business decisions but also in persuading investors to fund their product development. There is an immense difference between entrepreneurs who present a high-fidelity product demo and those who present their product and ideas using PowerPoint slides. Most of the times it would be the difference between getting the desired investment or not."
User Experience is Not Contingent
It all began back then in 2000. Aviram had just finished his MA studies in Behavioral Economics and started to make his early steps in the business world. “I was looking for the magical field combining my two main areas of interest: the digital world (which was flourishing at the time) and the psychological consumer behavior area (which has always been my real passion). Therefore, my main goal was finding some sort of a digital project manager position, using my behavioral knowledge as an advantage."
So how did you enter the UX world?
“I managed to find a pretty good position at a medium software house, which offered information system and website development services. Quickly, I understood that the way of dealing with website and system design (looking from my point of view), was rather mistaken and even odd, because all crucial aspects of the design stages, had been under the direct responsibility and supervision of programmers and developers. Somehow, back then, everybody regarded it as a natural and obvious manner. To me it seemed distorted."
Why? what is the problem with that?
“There is a big problem with that… With all due respect, programmers and developers do not specialize in human behavior, decision making or psychological patterns of users. They do what they do best – programming. If there is no-one who is responsible for the psychological side of the website or system, meaning the users themselves, literally, it would just be overlooked and neglected. Basically, it is the enormous difference between Technology Driven Design and User Centered Design. In Technology Driven Design the UX is considered as a byproduct of the development phase, and this is the main reason pertaining the poor User Experience of many websites and systems, at that time. Along the years, companies have acknowledged that and managed to understand that UX is not contingent - If you spare it and don’t pay attention to it, it won’t happen by itself. UX Design is a deep and thorough process which begins with an in-depth research and entail many phases and crucial aspects along the way. By the way, it wasn’t a particular Israeli problem, but rather a worldwide phenomenon. Looking at US and EU website, I understood that the story was pretty similar. I assume that this was one of the major moments of my life. I was experiencing some kind of an “Enlightenment". I knew that I have found my designation."
And then you founded TZUR – UX Design?
“Yes. When I understood that my behavioral thinking was rather different than the common technical thinking back then, regarding UX design, I knew that I must quit my job and establish my own UX agency, even though nobody else managed to understand what a UX agency actually meant.
In the beginning, I started to operate the business as a freelancer, but pretty soon I asked my younger brother Reely to join me. He was the natural choice for me, because he has always been my counterpart in many personal and business areas in life. Moreover, he was eager to learn and act in the behavioral field of website and information systems, so there was a really good match there.
We worked around the clock to develop our UX methodologies, enlisting new clients, and managing our innovative and revolutionary business. Considering the fact that there hadn’t been companies like us then, we had to pave our way from scratch. Initially, we conducted a lot of “Expert Reviews", based on our in-depth UX method and behavioral knowledge, meaning, mapping websites and information systems UX problems. Looking at this period retrospectively, we might consider it as our tipping point, because every report we had submitted ended up with a pretty impressive UX project. This was the beginning of an era, in which the phone in our office hasn’t stopped ringing…"
You mean that companies started to invest in UX projects?
“Yes. As soon as companies were exposed to their UX problems, as were indicated in our reports, they strived to make it “right", and asked us to design their UX from A to Z, using our in-depth UX methodology, which has been based mainly on user/consumer behavior analysis, interwoven with the company’s business goals.
Pretty soon we have gained several success stories, and due to the enormous rise in the demand for our UX services, we started to recruit several employees. Ever-since we have completed more than 1,400 successful UX projects, dealing with large websites, e-commerce, complex systems, startups, mobile and more. You may view recent examples of our UX design projects on our UX portfolio".
How do you recruit employees to an unknown field?
“Great question”, says Reely, the CEO in practice nowadays, after dealing with any possible challenge at TZUR in the last 20 years. Back then, there were no UX courses, and actually people rarely even heard about it, so we tried contacting people that we had considered (subjectively) as well-suited for the job. We also tried our luck in job advertising, without using the term User Experience explicitly, but rather focusing on the job description itself. Each and every recruited employee went through an in-depth and thorough period of internship, and as time went by, started to work directly with clients.
I must emphasize, that our method of work, since our early days and till now, is based solely on team brainstorming. Even when employees work independently with clients, all UX solutions are derived from team collaborations, especially when dealing with challenges such as cracking a new UX concept, designing an innovative product or improving the UX business results. We devote a lot of time and efforts in every project we undertake and every deliverable we supply our clients with. There are no compromises, shortcuts or cutting corners. We are very rigorous in our way of work.”
Are there any employees who started their career at TZUR and now holding senior positions in the UX market?
Reely: “Absolutely. Most of our former employees are holding such positions at well-known companies such as Google, Amdocs, Live Person and many more. It’s a great honor and a very satisfying feeling to see their impressive progress in the field of UX design.”
What is the actual role of each one of you? How do you allocate responsibilities?
Aviram: “Regarding business or strategic decisions – we make them together. We are both rather logical persons and we think (and hope) that we manage to eliminate emotional states while making deliberate and reasonable decisions.”
Reely: “Beyond that, the separation is pretty clear. Aviram deals mainly with academical issues such as conducting research, writing articles, giving courses & lectures, and guiding UX students. I run the company in actual and work on a daily basis with our UX teams and clients. My schedule is much denser than his”, he says smiling.
Do you see any explicit trend in the field along the years?
Aviram: “First, there is no doubt that the UX field is much more pervasive and flourishing than in the past, and it is pretty satisfying. But, having said that, there is a rather new phenomenon of trying to combine many different field roles into one position, such as UX design, UI graphic design and front-end development.”
Reely: “Right. In our opinion, based on 20 years of experience, it is not a good direction”. These roles should be viewed as separated roles, and although there is a little overlapping between them, each one of them should be managed by a different expert. Basically, they entail different specialty and knowledge.”