(UX Design) - Annabelle Puget

While in France, I bumped into Annabelle at a café and from there, we sat down in the Orange communications headquarters downtown Paris to chat about her human centered practice and design thinking approach to provide solutions to best meet her clients needs. Anne is really down to earth, humble, and very knowledgeable about this emerging practice that she argues is not that innovative, simply a different way of tackling problem solving.

Full episode: iTunes // Spotify

Tell me about yourself
I studied product and interior design. Then I pursued architecture shortly after that. I did a placement in Oslo, Norway, and then returned to France to complete my studies. Then, I went on to work in Barcelona for a year for a company that specializes in architecture for shopping centres. Five years later, I came back to France to launch my own firm, that focused more on human centered needs. Every Friday in Paris, I would run workshops. After the third workshop session, twenty people attended, and from those twenty, five hired me privately. Three of them are still my clients until this day. It’s been three years now since I have my own design thinking company, with a four full time staff.

How do you define User Experience and Human Centered Design
How we work is that, we go in the field with our clients, to interview and observe people. From our field work, we are able to define the ‘why’ of the project. Then, we try to find a solution. What’s most important to us, is to be involved in the project from the start to the end, especially in the conceptualization component.

On adapting to change in UX
It’s the same with my entrepreneurial journey, things are always shifting. First, I started with the weekly workshops because that was what I could afford. It worked, and met the needs of my users at the time, my students. That gave me the ability to host bigger workshops, and then take on bigger projects. From there, you get to know your customers in a better fashion, as their needs grow, you get to know them more and adapt to their needs changing. That’s how we progress in our work.

How did your company come about
First, I left my architect job in Barcelona, to become a full time freelancer and eventually, entrepreneur. In France, when you work on your own as an entrepreneur, you have a cap of how much you can make. That is when I was forced to learn about the jurisdictions of operating an enterprise. Shortly after, I launched my entreprise that was multidisciplinary. I structured my business in such a way that, legally speaking, I would hire the right talent and not be limited.

At first, I was alone for a while. Then, some interns reached out to work with me. The first one, was a girl with a communication background. Then, the second intern was a designer, who by the end of the internship, became my first official hire as an employee. At the time, we had many clients approaching us. Then another intern came to work for us, then our team became multidisciplinary with design and communication. This changed our clients perception of us. A month later, we had a business background hire. The four of us are now working for the company.

When do you know when and who to hire
As UX experts, we are still generalists in our line of work because design intersects in all sectors. That is why, we need people on our team with specialties that best meet the needs of our clients and makes the delivery of our designed products, easier. We make things attractive to users, but communicating that effectively, is left to our communication lead to handle. We often work with entrepreneurs and startups, that’s really when our business lead on our team plays a key role. In the near future, we would like to hire anthropologists, socialists, but for now, we have a strong team.

What legacy would you like to leave on this earth
Looking at things in a optimistic way.

Three words to describe yourself
Optimistic. Curious. Empathy.

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