Recap Savvy UX Summit 2020 - Highlight Day 1 & 2

Savvy UX Summit, the leading insight and experience summit organized by, has officially concluded on December 10th, 2020. The event spanning four days, provided insightful keynote sessions, panel discussions and network sessions. The event brought together over 1,000 attendees from over 70 different countries in one virtual space. Together with our 40+ community partners the event was global and diverse.

This is the first part of the two-part article series on the key takeaways from the Savvy UX Summit 2020. To read our second part of this article series, click here.

[Keynote Day 1] Tragic Design - Why the World Needs Designers

After an opening ceremony presented by Aldrich Huang, main organizer of Savvy UX Summit, the first keynote session on “Tragic Design - Why the World Needs Designer”. In this keynote, Cynthia Savard Saucier, Head of UX at Shopify, talked about the consequences of bad design and the importance of great design. Oftentimes, designers focus too much on designing something beautiful. However, the role of designers is to advocate and represent the needs of the users.

Keynote by Cynthia Savard Saucier, Head of UX at Shopify

Important key takeaways to remember from Cynthia’s session are the following 10 rules she discussed:

  1. Recognize that design is a powerful tool 
  2. Don’t resign to turning to compromise
  3. Define your own ethical code 
  4. Respect the user's decisions
  5. Learn more about emotions 
  6. Write clear error messages
  7. Test different emotional states
  8. What's the worst that could happen? 
  9. Treat technology as a 4-year-old 
  10. Because you don’t understand something doesn't mean it’s smarter than you

[Keynote Day 1] Musings of a UX leader in transition: How COVID affected the way we build design teams and customer-centric cultures

Keynote by Asmita Kunwar, Director of Product Design at Talabat

After a great opening keynote from Cynthia, the event followed by the next keynote from Asmita Kunwar, Director of Product Design at Talabat. In her talk on “Musings of a UX leader in transition”, Asmita talked about how she led Talabt’s design team and the challenges she faced along the way. Creating a design organization and a consumer-centric culture is hard. Especially being remote and having your team members based across the world. In her keynote, she reflected on her failures and success of being a new remote design leader.

Key takeaways from her session based on challenges she faced and recommendations she made to the audience can be summarized as followed:

Challenge #1: Building authentic connections with your team, and within the organization as a design leader.
  • Make 1-on-1s frank and personal
  • Onboarding document wit people, product and processes
  • Seek right opportunity to bring the entire organization together

Challenge #2: Interacting with users during COVID
  • Built remote users communities

Challenge #3: Overworked designers and conflicting timelines, rift with squad members
  • Built a proper support system for the designers before expanding their role
  • Work with the entire squad to adopt a process than just the design

Challenge #4: Struggle to allocate enough time to each individual
  • Bring in design managers before expanding your team
  • Mentor potential designers to take up managerial roles in the future
  • Meditate, exercise, or whatever helps you reset your brain everyday

[Keynote Day 1] Continuous UX - Stop Doing Revamp Projects and Start Unlocking Value

Keynote by Tom Voirol, Chief Experience Design Officer at Ogilvy Asia

The day followed by the third and already the last keynote session for today’s summit. In this session, Tom Voirol, Chief Experience Design Officer at Ogilvy Asia talked about “Continuous UX - Stop Doing Revamp Projects and Start Unlocking Value”. Tom discussed how organizations can adopt an “agile-everything” approach that yields better outcomes for all stakeholders. In order to explain this, Tom first addressed the main reasons why organizations decide to revamp. This includes but not limited to procurement rules, budgeting processes, or organization just do it because everyone does it or just because they want to try out something new. Regardless of the reasons, the three main problems in revamp stamps from:

  1. User Experience
  2. Budgeting
  3. Control
  4. Attention (this often neglected)

To close off this summary of Tom’s keynote session, key takeaways to remember is that customers don’t like change, They prefer gradual change over one big radical revamp or change. Hence, stop revamp your products and rather focus on continuous improvement. Not to forget, one extra takeaway is to track the contribution to your KPIs every step of your digital experience. In other words, measure continuous, test continuously and improve continuously.

[Panel Discussion Day 1] Education for UX

The last agenda item for day one at Savvy UX Summit was a panel discussion on “Education for UX”. Moderator Aldrich Huang was joined by panelist Robert Pucher (University of Applied Sciences Technikum Wien), Kwan Min Lee from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and Yung-Ju Chang (National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan). Panelists are professors from different academic institutions and experienced in the UX education industry.

Panel discussion with Robert Pucher (University of Applied Sciences Technikum Wien), Kwan Min Lee from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and Yung-Ju Chang (National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan)

During this panel discussion, attendees received tons of information and opportunities to talk and interact with the panelist. Many questions were raised and further discussed. Popular questions raised were: “Can you pursue a career in UX without a degree? If so, what steps do you recommend aspiring UX practitioners to take?” and “What skills or qualifications are important to pursue a career in the UX field?”

All panelists agreed that it is not necessary to have a degree in order to be successful in the UX industry. However, it is important to understand basic concepts of usability testing, HCI, and how to empathise with your users. Also, having some understanding of coding wouldn’t hurt as well. To add on this, there are many courses and bootcamps you can find online where you can acquire these skills sets without having to follow a degree. Moreover, the skill set required also depends on the organization. For example, if the organization you work for is large, you will likely have a more specific job description, whereas in smaller organizations you will need a more well-rounded skill set. Lastly, you will always learn by doing. You need to get out in the field and just learn by getting your hands dirty. Don’t be afraid to fail, you can only learn from your mistakes.

After a day full of insightful talks and engaging panel discussion, the energy was still high among attendees. The conversation continued from Swapcard online event platform to, a virtual space where attendees could meetup and talk with each other.

[Keynote Day 2] Designing a More Human Future

Alastair Simpson, VP of Design at Dropbox

The second day at Savvy UX Summit 2020 kicked off with a keynote by Alastair Simpson, VP of Design at Dropbox. Alastair talked about “Designing a More Human Future”. Our world has been transforming rapidly. For designers this means more opportunities than ever before to shape the daily experiences of people through digital products. However, this also comes with great responsibility. It is safe to say that design has more influence, scale and higher stakes than ever before.

Looking at the Maslow hierarchy of needs, a five-tier model that reflects the basics of human needs, Alastair explains that many people don’t know that there is actually a sixth tier. The sixth tier, self-transcendence pushes beyond the structure that we already know. It shows that we should not focus on self-fulfillment aka self-actualization, but to transcend ourselves. Self-transcendence is about using our resources to contribute to the fulfillment of others. In its essence it’s about caring for others. This way of thinking applies to UX practitioners such as designers, as they should design for the deep needs in our society. This comes with responsibility to design for equity and access, not just for revenue.

One takeaway from this session can be described on one quote “Design the change that we need in the world”.

[Keynote Day 2] Dear Covid Diary: a Case Study

Kelsey Thomson and Ella Fielding from Optimal Workshop

For the next keynote, we welcomed Kelsey Thomson and Ella Fielding from Optimal Workshop to the virtual stage. They shared a diary case study that they conducted during Covid-19 in which they talked about how they conducted this study and their challenges they faced along the way. One of the difficulties that arose was that they had to replace manual research processes to an online one. Secondly, many of the technologies that were once optional had become mandatory. Many digital tools including remote usability testing tools were used, which affected test participants in a number ways. Issues such as wifi connection, tools not working and so on. Thirdly, shift of business priorities during the pandemic resulting in budget cuts, business started to pivot, lower resources and higher uncertainties which further led to higher anxieties.  

Although challenges arose, there were also positive outcomes of the pandemic situation. It enabled them to run the study longer, location independency for their participants, keep digital artefacts for analysis, and lastly they were able to automate the processes since the study has been conducted digitally. 

In spite of all ods and challenging along the road, there are few important takeaways to remember:
  • Plan, plan plan and plan to be flexible 
  • Expectation management is your best friend
  • Don’t do this alone, have people who can help you with it

[Keynote Day 2] Understand How People Experience

Yasushi Kusume, New Innovation manager at IKEA of Sweden

The day followed with a keynote session from Yasushi Kusume, New Innovation manager at IKEA of Sweden. Yasushi’s keynote was on “Understand How People Experience”. In his keynote, Yaushi delved deeper into the five stages of experience - experience - Imagination, Impression, Discovery, Use and Memory - and how to make the best use of them for a properly people-focused approach.

In order to take a people-focused approach, it is essential to understand first how people experience the events in their lives. An experience is defined by memory and your memory is used continuously during an experience to interpret perception, create expectations and to understand what is going on. 

The five stages of experience which he uses as a framework:
  1. Imagination
    Anytime during the stages you use your expectation, something you learned from the past which consequently impacts the other experience stages.
  2. Impression
    This is an important stage as it shows whether the person is going to continue with their customer journey. 
  3. Discovery
    This continues the customer journey in which the person undercovers the experience further. From a company point of view, this is a crucial stage as it often involves decision whether the customer is going through with the transaction (purchasing the product or service).
  4. Use
    The fourth stage follows naturally, which is using the product or service. 
  5. Memory
    This is the end of the journey in which the experience becomes a memory. 

[Panel Day 2] Create, Plan and Test with the Tools

Panel discussion with Tony Kim (CEO and Co-Founder of ProtoPie), Andrew Mayfield (CEO of Optimal Workshop) and Aldrich Huang (CEO and Co-Founder of

The second day concluded with a panel discussion with moderator, Yang Mei Asscheman and panelists Tony Kim, CEO and Co-Founder of ProtoPie;, Andrew Mayfield, CEO of Optimal Workshop; and Aldrich Huang,CEO and Co-Founder of The panel discussion was about “Create, Plan and Test with the Tools”. As panelists were all CEO’s from user research and prototyping companies the discussion delved deeper into these industries and tapped into their experiences from a CEO point of view.

The first part of the panel discussion was about emerging trends in the industry in which Tony talked about the prototyping industry, whereas Andrew and Aldrich discussed the user research industry. The conversation followed with discussing the different UX tools in the market. There is a big landscape of UX tools to choose from and choosing isn’t always an easy decision. Of course, from all the tools each tool has some overlap in functionality with each other. You have tools that specialize for certain platforms, whereas other ones focus on mobile or web experiences.

For Andrew an important thing people should consider when choosing UX tools is to know your objectives. What are you actually trying to achieve? Once you are clear about that, the decision process becomes more clear. Tony further added that it is also important to choose according to how seamlessly the tool can integrate with your current process. Lastly, Aldrich mentioned that the tools also should fit with your company’s culture. Get all the team members to learn how to use the product before purchasing it and make sure that they want to use it. Often companies offer a free trial period in which you and your team definitely should use.

With the end of the panel discussion, the second day at Savvy UX Summit 2020 was officially concluded. As with the first day, the conversation continued from Swapcard online event platform to where attendees could talk further with each other.

After two days filled with interesting and engaging talks and discussions, attendees looked forward to another conference day. Click here to read the second part in which we summarized the highlights of Day 3 & 4 at Savvy UX Summit 2020.


Yang Mei Asscheman
Marketing Manager at UXTesting