CXA Spotlight

Farzana Wyde
“With the CXA, I understand where marketing is coming from, I understand where product marketing is coming from, I understand where communications is coming from, and I get what PR is doing. They all tie together now. It all gives me such a boost. I’m really excited and passionate about user experience and what can be done with this knowledge and breakthrough the CXA has given me.”
Farzana Wyde
Senior Manager of User Experience, Product Marketing

Braving New Worlds with CXA

by Jim Garrett

In life we never know when we will have an “aha!” moment – a breakthrough experience.  Farzana Wyde had one of these moments after taking her Certified User Experience Analyst (CXA) training with HFI. In the span of her experience from working with computer hardware, switching to the software industry, transitioning to agency life, jumping in to the utilities industry, and now to HD video conferencing, Farzana gained experience not only in various kinds of technology, but also in marketing.

Farzana is Senior Manager of User Experience at Lifesize in Austin, Texas. The mission of Lifesize is to deliver video conferencing that’s easy, and as lifelike and remarkable as meeting in person. Founded in 2003 and acquired by Logitech in 2009, Lifesize provides solutions globally for small and medium size businesses and even the largest enterprises.

How did you get into UX?

My journey really began back in my NASA days. I was part of the human factors hardware engineering certifying equipment team which supported the crews that flew on the Space Shuttle and International Space Station. I progressed to software development at Compaq where, like most developers, I was requested to help create new user interfaces for my projects. I had already seen massive failures of products that had not taken the user into account, which inspired me to research what a good design was all about.

Then I came across HFI, discovered the CUA program, and took the certification classes. It all felt like I was coming home – what I was meant to do. Not only did the classes lay out the foundational elements necessary for UX practice, they were enjoyable. Concepts were learned from the interactive exercises performed in class. Getting the opportunity to ask questions to people who were already practicing in the real world was an added benefit.

The classes taught me techniques that I was able to apply when I got back to my job. The key here was taking the principles you learned and figuring out how to apply them in your environment.

What made you decide to take the CXA?

Most of my career was spent in various technology departments until I came to Reliant/NRG, where I landed in the marketing department. That is when I began to understand there are things that we can do from a UX standpoint to blend in brand and make it a better experience. I had many ideas about this transformation, but wasn’t quite sure how to put it together in a formalized fashion. That is why I looked back to HFI for guidance and found the CXA classes.

What did you learn from the CXA courses?

Before I took the courses, I did not completely understand the techniques that tie marketing and communications into UX. After I took the CXA classes and certification, everything started to come together and I understood the importance of how all the different departments came into play. It could be challenging at times, but educating others on why we should or should not do certain things based on making it a good user experience soon became a standard with me and my team.

Taking the CXA classes also shows you the opportunities of how to tie in brand. As I was going forward with doing all of the different tasks involving UX in my daily job, and even on the side helping people with websites or start-up ideas, I really started noticing how huge trust and persuasion were becoming in people using certain brands. It was evident that successful brands created great customer engagement. Engagement helps create the trust factor. And trust, in turn, persuaded you to want to come back and keep engaging.

What were the results of connecting marketing and UX?

One of the projects that I helped manage in my last position with my team resulted in a better-than-projected increase in acquisition. It was really fascinating, because you take things from a UX perspective and you bring in those persuasion elements, the trust factor, etc. I think we had a measured increase of 7% in our acquisition, which is beyond what even we thought we could do.

We also had a better website design because of the techniques we implemented. The millions of dollars in cost savings being projected over several years showed immense improvement.

This seems like breaking new ground.

I really believe so. I think if I had not been in marketing it may not have clicked for me like it did. But, when I was taking those CXA classes, everything just seemed to make sense and it reinforced all the ideas that were bouncing around in my head.

I would try to provide different artifacts to show people the blend or marriage of marketing and UX and how it could benefit both parties. It didn’t need to be antagonistic, nor just only one person/department’s way or the other. We can work together to create even better customer experiences – provide that emotional connection that garners trust and, in turn, customer advocacy.

Are you able to apply these CXA principles into the different areas you were working in?

I was able to implement some of the CXA techniques in how we should create and deploy certain campaigns, how we did A/B testing on pieces of content after a website redesign, how we could target certain user characteristics to provide personalized content; that and other techniques that can be implemented on a website for creating user engagement.

I can also better understand the needs of people from the different divisions and what they are trying to accomplish. Before I got my CXA, I was already working with IT and the PMO. Now, with the CXA, I understand where marketing is coming from, I understand where product marketing is coming from, I understand where communications is coming from, and I get what PR is doing. They all tie together now. It all gives me such a boost. I’m really excited and passionate about user experience and what can be done with this knowledge and breakthrough the CXA has given me.

Where do you see that going now in your current company Lifesize?

I not only have the foundational knowledge needed for practicing UX, I have the experience from multiple industries of how to implement and execute on goals. I have the soft-skills involved in managing a team and vendors that become very important in the UX realm. I’m very passionate about what I do, and helping people understand the impact they can make with just a few differences is very exciting.

Lifesize began as a hardware-centric company that is now evolving into a software-centric company, similar to my transition from hardware engineering at NASA to software engineering at Compaq. Not having a dedicated user experience infrastructure here currently gives me the opportunity to truly make a difference at Lifesize. This is the first company I have come across where everyone within it is an advocate of user experience and understands the necessity of it. Instituting UX into this brand new world is certainly an exciting endeavor and I sincerely look forward to bringing my user-centric approach into taking Lifesize to the next level.

CXA Spotlight

In this new series we highlight the successes and achievements of those who have earned the CXA. If you are a Certified User Experience Analyst and would like to be considered for CXA Spotlight recognition, please send a brief professional bio to

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Reviewed: 18 Mar 2014

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Reviewed: 18 Mar 2014

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