“Is this a women-only event?” asked one curious male engineer as he passed by the sign-in booth. Though it looked like a great venue to meet single ladies, but sorry mate, this ain’t date night! 55 women gathered at SAP Labs Palo Alto on January 27, 2015 for a very special happy hour that’s called XX+UX.
XX+UX is an event for women (XX) in the field of User Experiences (UX) to meet and mingle. This event is organized by Google and hosted by different companies at locations worldwide. The January 2015 event is hosted by SAP’s Design and Co-Innovation Center (DCC) in Palo Alto, California, where many talented XXs create magical UX for enterprise software users.
After some drinks and munchies, Janaki Kumar, Head of DCC in North America, gave a warm welcome to all the ladies in the house and guided them through a building tour. This recently renovated office building has open spaces, dry erase walls, bright-colored furniture – all essential elements to foster creativity and collaborations.
“SAP is really committed to UX, and it showed from this office renovation project. This building used to have 5-ft tall cubicles, white ceiling, gray carpets. We removed the cubicles, tore down the walls, now the office is truly a working space where the developers and designers could collaborate all the time, everywhere!” said Janaki while she pointed to the doodles on the wall.
Sally Lawler Kennedy, Principal User Research at SAP, gave a talk about Design Thinking (DT). “What’s the fastest way to get to San Francisco from Palo Alto on a Friday night?” asked Sally. This quick DT exercise highlighted the core of design thinking – deep empathy for end-users. “Why do you need to go to San Francisco on a Friday night?” asked one woman while everyone else laughed. But actually, that is exactly the kind of question a designer should be asking in order to understand the end-user’s actions and motivations, that insight into your end-user’s mind is the key for any innovation.
A good design doesn’t come out of a vacuum. It is the keen understanding of human interactions that drives the best design for a product, a service, or a huge enterprise software such as SAP. Even an enterprise software can take on its own personality, and that keeps the designers busy, to craft the best UX for one XX, or one XY, at a time.