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Growing your international markets – Need to know

As sponsors of the eCommerce South West event we took the chance to talk to some of the speakers ahead of the day.

Chui Chui Tan, Experience Research and Strategic Consultant at Beyō Global is speaking about “A fresh perspective on what you need to know about growing your international markets” at the event.

Here, our chat with her about her career journey so far, we gathered some career tips, asked about best approaches to international research and her upcoming session.

ADLIB: In a nutshell, what has been your career journey so far, leading you to where you are right now?

Chui Chui Tan: My professional career started when I worked as a Mechanical Designer/Engineer with Panasonic in Malaysia. Looking back, even though at that time, I didn’t know there’s such a thing called user experience or UX, I was already applying the user-centred approach in my job – from designing products based on users’ context to observing and interviewing production line workers to improve efficiency and productivity. After my Master in Music Technology, I completed my PhD in Human-Computer interaction, designing an adaptive and adaptable system for visually impaired people to access graphical information via multimodal interface. That was when I started doing a lot of user research, testing with people with disabilities and learned about accessibility.

Chui Chui

Fast forward, since then, I’ve been working with agencies and freelancing with clients such as Clarks, Google, Mercari, BBC, Capita/Ministry of Defence, Eurail and many others. Working with different organisations of different scales in various industries gives me the deep insights into how to incorporate user research in different business settings.

My roles have changed significantly throughout the years. In recent years, I very much focus on helping clients shape solutions to help them achieve their vision and overcome the challenges they face, as well as helping to set up the right strategy for them.

In terms of international research, for the last 9 – 10 years, I was lucky to have the opportunities to work with clients such as Marriott and HomeAway to understand their customers and grow their markets in Asia, Europe, Middle East, Africa, North and South America. I’ve researched in more than 24 countries with extensive knowledge about markets such as China, Germany, Mexico, Japan and Malaysia.

That’s why I decided to set up Beyō Global, aiming to provide a high-quality experience to people in all corners of the world – ensuring parity of experience. It’s something I’m super passionate about.

ADLIB: What tips would you give a professional within UX to ensure that their skills and knowledge remain top notch?

Chui Chui Tan: UX is an interesting and exciting industry. It’s one of the few industries where everyone is happy and keen to share their knowledge and learning with others. We are lucky to be in this industry!

There are so many resources out there these days such as Smashing Magazine which I’ve been editing for since 2013 or Medium where most people share their thoughts now. Some people use Twitter as the main source in learning new things. You can choose whichever suits you most or subscribe to a few, give them a bit of time and figure out which work best for you or give you best information.

What I’d recommend though is to widen your knowledge not just focusing on UX, but other relevant topics such as psychology, design, business or technology. It helps you to see things from different angles, and that’s important for UX professionals.

Another good way to keep up to date and constantly learning new things, I believe, is to expand your network and to talk to people. They don’t have to be someone you already know and it doesn’t matter if they are or are not in UX. We can always learn something from everyone. After all, our industry is all about people. What’s the best way to learn about people than to talk to people?

One last point, UX crosses various areas such as research, psychology and design which means it’s never boring. It also means that, you can easily feel overwhelmed with the amount of new things that you can, or feel there’s a need for you to discover and learn. Don’t stress out by thinking you need to know it all and be good in everything. There are so many aspects in UX. It might be the case where you find a topic which you’re most passionate about and focus on being the expert in that area. For me, it’s international user experience research and design.

ADLIB: You are MD at Beyō Global, where you help your clients to understand their users around the world. Can you share some key pointers, how to approach international user research in the right way?

Chui Chui Tan: I’ve shared the top tips about international user research in my book. It’s only a few pounds so it’s affordable for everyone. Do check it out if you’re interested.

Basically carrying out user research outside your home country is not hard. But to do it right so you get the most valuable and accurate insights, it can be challenging. First of all, you need to determine where and how to research – which country or which cities within a country, and what research approach is most appropriate to enable you to understand the local user. You can find tips on how to answer these questions in my book.

Of course, there are many other things that need to be taken into considerations to ensure the research runs smoothly. For example, knowing what to be wary of when recruiting and scheduling sessions in different countries or how you should shape your questions. You can always ask for advice and thoughts from local recruiters and UX experts if you’re working with one.

When carrying out the research, I’d advise being open on what you hear or observe. Don’t rigidly follow your discussion guide and only looking out for things that you set to look out for. It’s very likely you’ll hear something new which you might not anticipate but are important local insights. That happens to me every single time I do research in different countries. That’s often when breakthroughs happen!

My advice for companies who are looking into doing research with your global customers, make sure you find the right research consultant(s) – one who has a lot of experience in conducting international research. With years of experience will have naturally evolved a deep understanding of local cultures and nuances.

ADLIB: What do you see as key attributes of a good international researcher or consultant?

Chui Chui Tan: I’ve recently written an article about this. In theory, a consultant who’s good in running research in their home countries should be a good international researcher too. From my experience, it’s not always the case though.

Understanding a country or culture does not happen solely when you’re set to do the research. It can happen anytime, anywhere. I’d say a good international researcher would be one who is always curious and has the desire to observe and question to build their knowledge about a country and their culture even in their day-to-day life. This means embedding the research mindset in their daily life, not just during research sessions. They should also keen on immersing themselves and having interactions with people from different countries and culture, personally and professionally. Most importantly, paying attention to the different (and similar) behaviours and expectations in all aspects of life – for example social, family values, thinking.

These might sound trivial but believe me, these traits determine if one is not just a good researcher, but also a good international researcher.

ADLIB: What will participants be able to take away from and learn about during your eCommerce SW session?

Chui Chui Tan: The key takeaway I’d like to leave those who come to my session is to be able to view and approach localisation from a new angle. Designing for different markets is much more than just translating to local language and changing some icons and content. If you want to do well in a new country, you need to look at the overall eco-system of that market. I’ll be covering that in my session and also talk about what a company needs to do to grow or expand their international markets.

Thank you Chui Chui for sharing.


About Dr Chui Chui Tan, Experience Research and Strategic Consultant at Beyō Global: Chui Chui has spent over 10 years working in UX with organisations such as Marriott, BBC, Google and Clarks. She is currently the Managing Director at Beyō Global, a consultancy which helps companies grow and expand their home and international markets by understanding their users around the world.

About eCommerce South West: This one-day event is for anyone who is looking to grow, improve and refine their websites’ online experiences. Learn from the experts and define the future of your business online.