One of the four core values at Rokt is being customer obsessed, an important value to embody especially when it comes to User Experience (UX). With the significant UX changes we have recently made, we sat down with James Voltz, SVP of User Experience, to discuss his long history with Rokt, how UX is more than just about the aesthetics and the musician he would have a classic NYC dinner with (scroll down for the full interview).
Q: Tell us about yourself.
A: My name is James Voltz and I am the SVP of User Experience here at Rokt. As one of the original employees, I have worn many hats over the years, shifting focus based on where I could add the most value at the time – from product, partner management, and operations. Originally starting in Sydney, the Rokt’star life has seen me relocate to Singapore and now New York. Being analytical, customer and detail focused, coupled with my diverse experience, it has been a natural progression and desire for me to champion UX at Rokt.
Q: What were you doing prior to Rokt?
A: After completing my communications degree from the University of Technology in Sydney, I worked for a range of organisations including Google and Ogilvy. Then prior to beginning my long tenure at Rokt, I took 3 months to cycle 15,700kms (10K miles) around Australia as part of a six-man team raising awareness and $1.2 million for kids with rare diseases (Cycle for SMILE).
Q: What does championing UX at Rokt entail?
A: I think there is a natural bias for many to think of UX as the visual delivery of the product. In fact, it’s much more – it’s the seamless culmination of design and technology. The effectiveness of a company like Rokt and the sites we work with is just as much about the content displayed as the way it’s displayed. One can have the most aesthetically pleasing and usable interface, however if the content isn’t relevant, it has failed. For us, we see huge value in meeting customer expectations – aligning on intent and consent not only provides an optimal user experience, but is vital in driving quality outcomes for our clients.
I love the diversity in the problems we’re solving, and ultimately the common goal – to improve the user experience, making it more usable, relevant, desirable, memorable and valuable. It’s fascinating to see where the work comes from, it may stem from customer feedback left on social media, conversation with a client, a trend we’re seeing from data, or a passing remark from a coworker. However it starts, the process is very much the same: identify an area of improvement, build some hypotheses, test the solutions, analyse the results and deploy the optimum solution.
The diversity in the solutions often feed into more than just changes in the design or technology – it informs the policies, culture and best practices we action with our clients.
Q: And how does tech inform UX?
A: In my experience, tech is the most important ingredient in achieving an optimal UX. Predominantly because it’s the brain that determines what content is displayed to which customer – the relevancy, reliability and speed in these decisions are key. A customer will sacrifice design for relevance and value, but rarely the other way around.
As Rokt has evolved we have bolstered our product and engineering resources, enabling us to improve the technology to support a better UX. We constantly experiment and the learnings feed into the improvement of our technology. It’s a vortex, as these tech improvements allow us to conduct new and more sophisticated UX experimentation, which lead to further tech evolution, and so on.
Q: Talk about Rokt’s latest UX initiatives.
A: So far in 2019, we have been focused on simplifying our proposition and improving efficiency. We’ve removed ineffective steps, tweaked design elements to further qualify customers and added additional smarts around certain elements, making them dynamic, which facilitates greater optimisation and relevance for customers. The result is a more concise, intuitive and consistent experience that benefits all parties – customers and clients.
Q: The needs and wants of customers often change seemingly overnight. How can companies stay relevant in the face of constant change?
A: The barriers to entry for new players to compete online is reducing by the day. In my opinion, the winners will be those that obsess over and evolve with their customers – constantly re-evaluating relevance and delivering value. The ability to ingest data and effectively make real-time decisions will give the winning edge, and is something I’m particularly passionate about. Making a difference for each individual, rather than assumptions based on the cohort the customer fits within.
Q: And finally, a Rokt must-ask: which musician would you have dinner with and at which NYC restaurant?
A: Random, but I’d say dumplings and egg tart from Chinese Tuxedo in a private jet with Robbie Williams. Why… Probably the best Chinese food I have come across, not something I’d expect in NY after living in Asia for 4 years. And Robbie Williams, because the guy is a born entertainer – probably full of mindblowing stories, often the result of some bad decisions. All assuming Robbie will cover the cost of the private jet.