Evgueni Hadjev - UX Leader - Skan.AI
- Hi Evgueni, tell us a bit about your background?
When I was little, I saw an Atari. My first electronic game. Without knowing its name, I played Pong, and I was hooked for life. The moving square on our TV invoked emotions I've never experienced before. Shortly after that, my parents bought me my first PC. Being able to command this (now ancient) piece of machinery by entering long commands was fascinating. There was something magical in what was rendered on the screen. To me, it wasn't about business, but a fun, creative outlet. And voila, that's when I decided this is what I want to pursue as my life's work.
Over time, I transitioned to digital graphics and later into digital print design and publishing, programming, building websites, and now enterprise applications. Every project was bigger and more important than the last. Some won awards, and many touched the lives of millions of people.
- What do you do for Skan?
What I do best is bringing B2B applications to life. I joined Skan with the vision to use my experience to help a new company succeed in a highly-competitive landscape. Design and UX are only part of what I do wherever I go. I usually focus on building products and building teams. Life in a young company presents its challenges. People wear different hats, and my diverse background helps the team in many ways. So whether I am exploring user flows, reviewing the strategic value of what needs to be built, or helping with deploying our SaaS platform to the cloud, I enjoy the journey.
- In your opinion, what are the opportunities and challenges of defining UX for an enterprise platform?
The most significant challenge to solve is aligning the user experience with the company's business strategy. UX is a strategic asset. In the B2B market, every newcomer faces multiple challenges. We have to fight on numerous fronts - resources, feature parity, cost, distribution, and execution speed
Given the consumerization of technology, the bar for UX in enterprise platforms is much higher than it used to be ten years ago. People expect flawless execution, modern interaction paradigms, and an intuitive interface.
For a startup like Skan, the opportunity is to disrupt the market is by using UX as a differentiator.
- What is your overall ethos and philosophy for application UX design?
Make the product useful and be empathetic. That's simple enough to say. The vision and the approach heavily depend on the goals of the product/platform. At Skan, we are touching on a few points.
Skan is a new player in the Process Discovery and Intelligence space. We need to prove ourselves and build relationships with customers faster than the well-established products on the market.
Our brain looks for known patterns. Users are expecting familiar navigation, up-to-date visuals, predictable interactions, and more. But it is also essential to use the right content and put it in the right place in the product. It takes time to earn and build on that trust.
Do the heavy-lifting
It's not about adding yet another widget or screen. It's about getting to know what users are trying to accomplish and get them there faster.
It might sound naive. But why can't people ask our application which parts of their business to automate first? How to save money by removing steps in their process? What training opportunities can they provide to their teams right now? And why even ask, why can't we proactively give them the recommendations directly? We want people to leverage our product as a mission-critical application in their daily work.
Sensible decisions and intuitive defaults
Successful enterprise application designs embrace complexity. Users have to navigate options, process screens with high data density, and evaluate multiple task choices. While this is normal for enterprise-grade applications, it is not optimal because the cognitive load is high. Our goal is to lower that burden of choice whenever we can.
No dead ends
Our users expect not only to see their data but also to explore it, dissect it, and render it differently. Simplifying cases and reducing features are not an option. Examining data flows and answering the question of "Now what?" is a daily task for my team. We are making sure that users are not "lost" and can always act when using our product.
- When you are not busy working, what pastimes do you enjoy?
My family and I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. We consider ourselves very fortunate to enjoy great weather all year round, so we take every opportunity we have to explore the many places this area has to offer. On the weekend, we love to drive around. We often visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium or the San Francisco Zoo. We love hanging out in San Francisco at all the touristy spots. Or enjoy a cup of coffee and a walk on the beach in Half Moon Bay. Other than that, you'd usually catch me playing with the newest gadget or reading quietly - mostly science fiction novels or history. And yes, paper books are still a thing for me.
- What is one surprising thing about you that people don't know?
Many people are surprised to learn that I've served in the army as part of the mandatory Bulgaria government requirement.
But it made an impact on me, just like any other experience in life. Strangely enough, it made me more empathetic and taught me the value of personal relationships. Because of that experience, many tasks I would have perceived as impossible in the past somehow seem achievable now.
- What is your favorite food and drink?
Mediterranean cuisine is what I enjoy the most. But in my family, I am the one who likes to try new things in a restaurant. Having friends from many cultures and backgrounds led to an interest in trying different cuisines.
- Tell us a bit about your family?
My family consists of my son, my wife, and me. We enjoy spending family time playing board games, going on long (or short) walks, taking road trips, and watching movies.