Kōrero Pitopito: A Coffee Chat with Nicole Kaufmann
Nicole Kaufmann is Digital Arts Network New Zealand’s castle-loving, chicken-raising, mapmaking experience strategist. She has an incredible depth of experience and was the first hire for our Wellington studio — anyone who has worked with her will tell you that she’s as solid as a rock, completely dependable and sharp as a tack.
Grab a coffee and let Nicole share a few thoughts with you.
How did you get into your career path?
Actually by accident. I was studying cartography (aka map making) and GIS engineering when I did an internship for a GIS data company in Wellington. One of the guys working there founded his own company specialising in spatial data visualisation, and since traditional maps are basically the grandmother of all spatial data visualisation, he thought hiring a cartographer or two was the smart thing to do. So long story short, I started working for his company in 2000, and as part of my role, I also looked after the user interface. A colleague from England introduced me to that thing called “usability” and that’s when I caught the UX bug.
What does a typical day at DAN look like for you?
Things have definitely changed since Covid-19 in that respect. For example, the idea of conducting user research via video link and not in-person was a big no-no, and running collaborative workshops with participants in different physical locations and not in the same room was rather the exception.
Since most of the DAN team is also in Auckland, I spend a lot of my day in front of a computer screen talking to people, but it’s not the same as interacting with people face-to-face. My coffee consumption has gone down tremendously.
Typically my day is split into project-work, which can be anything a simple round of user testing to designing a CX strategy, and routine tasks like admin, but also self-led research time. Learning never stops in this role, so it is important to keep up with what’s going on in the CX space as well as anything around it.
What’s the best thing about working at DAN?
Having flexible work hours is a big plus. It makes it much easier to achieve a good balance between work and what else is going on in your life.
What inspires you in your work?
People who are passionate and care about their work or what they do. Understanding what makes them excited and really care, helps me understand why I should care and how to make other people care. If I can bring the essence of that across into the work I do or the solution I’m designing then I’m on to a winner.
Of course, passion can be positive (love) or negative (hate), but both sides have a role to play if you want to be a good CXer.
What interesting thing is happening in your field right now?
There is a lot of hype about voice interfaces and artificial intelligence, but nobody really seems to have cracked it. There is a lot overpromising and underdelivering in this space.
Customer experience-led strategy is definitely an exciting trend and shows we have come a long way from usability being relegated to the confines of user interfaces.
What is the one thing that you wish someone had told or shown you when you started out?
Looking back, and knowing what I know now and with all the internal changes that have been happening over the last two years, knowing how to function and to thrive in a big corporate would have been good.