CUA of the Month – February, 2014

Kallol Roy
"It becomes a holistic mindset. And that helps to act as an appropriate UX professional to define the right UX strategy for service and customer. It becomes part of your DNA and it’s in the DNA of my entire UX group."
Kallol Roy
Sr. UX Architect and UX Practice Lead

Thinking Outside the UX Box

by Jim Garrett

Creative, innovative people tend to be out-of-the-box thinkers. Our Certified Usability Analyst of the Month, Kallol Roy from CGI, is a prime example of this. Whether it is how he received his CUA certification, or how he tests the users in his UX projects, he steps outside of convention to find out what works for him and to deliver high quality work that satisfies his clients.

Kallol leads the UX practice team from CGI, Bangalore, India (IGDC – India Global Delivery Center). He manages this group of twenty-plus core UX specialists working on projects spread across the United States, the United Kingdom, and other countries around the world.

You were just here in the U.S. doing work. Can you talk about that?

One of our clients is a major health insurance company in the U.S. CGI is doing application development and maintenance services for them. There is a new application we’re designing involving particularization and it is a migrational trip through web applications. They are migrating into the web. So as the solution and service provider, it is our responsibility to know exactly what the end business user is used to and what expectations they have when they interface the web. We have to define the short-term and long-term UX strategy for the solution that we are designing and developing for our client.

What are some of the more interesting projects that you have been working on?

CGI’s full-service offering is complemented by a large portfolio of IP-based software solutions. One of CGI’s leading ERP Solutions called Advantage has now been used by major government users. We released the 3.8 upgrade from 3.7 in 2008 with major enhancements for improving efficiency through every UI. The challenge was that users believed that what had been working for 5 years in terms of UI and UX would always work.

But users were actually losing significant hours and dollars because of delays in response and feedback with the UI interactions. The challenge came to us to find a way to speed up their work. The goal was to take a task and find a more efficient way to do it. Before, they had to click five times to do a task, but now they can click two times to achieve the same goal. It’s a big improvement and saves time and money. That was a very challenging project for us.

We have also introduced a couple of web interface interaction navigation paradigms which ultimately work faster with navigation and data presentation improvement.

What do you feel is the key to delivering the most successful UX website interface solutions for people?

It works a little differently for website, UI design, and web applications. But one core thought works the same — you don’t need to think complicated; you need to think simple.

The second thing I feel is that you try to give them what the real user expects. But I actually deviate from this most of the time as my observations have shown me a different reality in the practical scenario. I have practice designing user experience for web applications and solutions for quite a while now. So I know how to design a good user experience or an easy design. The users that I am working for only use their old product that is currently with them and not a new product or solution. So how could they say or determine what is a good or better design from the present one that they are using? I will design a better design for them and I will let them use that. Only then can they realize that this new design is a better design than the old one.

You test after you design?

Yes. After completion of every level of the design.

I have experienced that this works. Your users are telling you what they are comfortable with — actually they are not always able to articulate it. They are confused because they practice on an old product or an old application that they have been using for a while or long time. So how can they say this would be good or this is not good?

Have you found that by designing it first and then having them test it requires more changes to be made?

Changes will come any way you go, but you have to be receptive enough to absorb and analyze that change request. And you need to be strategic to capture the change request in your design. Because if you get a hundred changes, the hundred changes may not be the right changes that stakeholders are asking for. You have to explain what is right and what is wrong because you are the expert on the subject.

What do you enjoy most about your role in UX?

Challenge. The challenge to understand the user’s mental model and then to design the best experience for them is the great motivator. That is why I always love to get into a challenge that is going to actually give me the fuel to fly high to the next level. This motivation has been injected into my group and it affects every single UX Specialist within the group the same way.

When did you get your CUA training?

I did my CUA training in 2007 in Bangalore. But I did not actually attempt the exam certification at that time. Normally people who attend the training complete the exam to get a certificate, but I made a different decision.

Why did you postpone taking the exam for certification?

I felt that what I learned should come through practical knowledge first and then I will get certified. If I cannot use that knowledge to do my work and serve my client then the certification will not have the value for me.

I decided to put all this practical knowledge into my work in real time and I started developing that as a practice and gradually I realized that what I have learned works. I am able to make my client believe what I believe.

Are there specific things you can delineate that you are using from the training or has it become holistic, part of a mindset?

It has become holistic and it is a mental model. You have got to experience it. You can break it down to a level and say “These are the pieces that I apply.” I make the decision as to what I am supposed to apply and what is going to work — what the business needs are at that particular point. You have to judge your customer. You have to judge your business people. You have to know what you are going to apply there because the business people may be creative or maybe they are business minded, or they are technical. You never know. This is why it becomes a holistic mindset. And that helps to act as an appropriate UX professional to define the right UX strategy for service and customer. It becomes part of your DNA and it’s in the DNA of my entire UX group.

CUA of the Month

Each month we highlight the successes and achievements of a different member of our CUA community. If you are a Certified Usability Analyst and would like to be considered for CUA of the Month recognition, please send a brief professional bio to

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