Interview with Michael Lai

Michael Lai

1. Tell us about you?

I am a design consultant based in Beijing and a PhD student at Tsinghua University. My area of research focuses on the methods and tools to analyze, design, and evaluate holistic experiences.

Prior to pursuing my PhD studies, I have practiced branding (strategy, execution and management), user experience design, visual communication design in Hong Kong and the United States.

In addition to practice, I have taught interaction design at the post-graduate level at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University as a Visiting Assistant Professor. I have also taught visual communications and branding to undergraduate students in Hong Kong and the United States.

Coming from the United States, many people often ask me: "Why come to China?" As an American-born Chinese (ABC), I decided to come to China because I see great potential in how design can empower people to improve their lives and an opportunity for me to connect with my culture and heritage.

2. What will you be teaching at UX Hong Kong 2013 and why is it important as it relates to a program of learning?

I will be moderating the discussion group "A Great UX Practitioner in Asia."

It is not uncommon to hear an expat express his frustrations of practicing UX in Asia. He or she may complain about the differences between Asia and his/her experiences in the West. Locals will also express a desire to be more like the west. They think the situation is better in the West just because it is different.

But the state of UX in Asia is not about what is better or worse. It is about the fact that it is different. Because Asia is a different context, with its own challenges.

I will be looking forward to hearing participants talk about some of their challenges. But I am also looking forward to hearing the successes in Asia as well. Think of this discussion as group therapy for our UX soul and a celebration of our accomplishments in Asia.

From these stories, I hope we as a group will begin to uncover the skills needed to be a great UX practitioner in Asia.

3. What/who are you looking forward to see in Hong Kong?

Since I lived in Hong Kong for three years, I am looking forward to catching up with old friends, colleagues and former students.

But I am also really looking forward to meeting new friends at UXHK. I can truly say that I have made some wonderful friends that I stay in contact with on a regular basis from UXHK. And what makes UXHK even more amazing is that it is not just a local event. It's not even just a regional event. It is an international event. In past years, I have met people from the United States, England, Australia, Singapore, Japan, Taiwan, Germany, China, and of course Hong Kong.

I'm also hoping we get to share some stories over delicious dim sum together.

4. What topics are on the horizon for UX that interest you?

Here are some topics that I struggle with on a daily basis:

  • How can you use interaction design to create organizational change?
  • How can designers communicate better with business leaders?
  • What are meaningful experiences and how do we design them?
  • What is the career path of UX professional?
  • What are the fundamentals of interaction design?