As a non-profit organisation, we rely on the generosity of sponsors to make the event what it is. Our sponsors allow us to put on great events while remaining in the background. We would therefore like to give you a bit more insight into these companies and take you behind the scenes.
In this post we’ll be focusing on this year's venue sponsor, Adyen.
Adyen is a global, omnichannel payment service provider. Founded in 2006, with a wealth of experience in the payment technology sector, Adyen saw the need for innovation and modernisation in an industry running on systems that were old, patched together and with little focus on the customer.
Over the past decade, their success and customer base, which boasts companies such as Spotify, Uber, Facebook and Netflix, shows that they were not alone in understanding the need for a new approach. Adyen currently employs approximately 180 people in Amsterdam with further offices across the globe.
We caught up with Tim Hudson at Adyen’s offices where we were given a sneak peek of this year's venue and chatted to him about Adyen, it’s UX challenges and opportunities and also about UXcamp. Tim has been with Adyen for 3.5 years and holds the position of Experience Architect. He is responsible for the Front-End and Interaction design team at Adyen which currently consists of 12 employees.
Adyen have been around for 10 years now. In “traditional” finance, that’s pretty young but in the booming Fintech space, it could be considered pretty mature. Can you tell us a little bit about Adyen’s journey and challenges along the way?
The company is only 10 years old, I’ve been here for three of those, but the guys who built the payment system have been in and around the payments space a lot longer. They built completely new rails for the payment system and that is the system that we have now. Of course, when the system was created, it started with developers creating functional products. There was little thought for UI or Interface design, it just grew and grew to a functional system. These guys are absolutely brilliant at writing and solving very difficult payment challenges, but UI was not considered. So, six years down the line, we started to introduce UI and became part of the team and that’s quite a hard sell, because there were still people building stuff, making connections to acquirers and building out functionality. We’re actually trying to turn the whole process on its head here, which is a challenge, but we are certainly making progress. We’re adding to our team and are currently recruiting as there is lots of work to do. We have a tremendous amount of functionality that we need to revisit to see what and how we can improve it from a UI perspective.
Can you tell me more about UX challenges that you face within Adyen, both long term and on a day to day basis?
We have some very big customers, but a number of them don’t currently utilise our UI. It’s all API based. One of our challenges is to get them to see the benefits of using our interface. We can provide better insight into data and risks. We are really trying to emphasise and focus on the User Journey and on giving insight into what is happening right now and how we can help through our payment optimization tools.
The data is important and we focus on being clear and succinct. Of course, we want it to look nice and visually pleasing, but first and foremost our focus is on giving insight.
After three years at Adyen, what are your proudest achievements, successes and highlights?
I’m proud of the team that we’ve built. Before I came, there was no design, no branding, little marketing and no consideration for front-end and UX and that was my remit when I started here. It’s always easy to stand and look at where you are and what’s ahead and there is a huge amount to do. But when I take the time to look back at what we’ve achieved already, I am very proud of what we’ve done, the changes that we’ve made and the attitude and focus of the team. But it’s still really exciting. We’re still a startup. We like that feel, we’re growing rapidly, there are big challenges and a mountain of work ahead, but it’s all really exciting stuff. We’re changing the payments arena and there are many many challenges such as designing new Point-of-Sale interfaces and new customer journeys - a lot of our merchants are really keen to partner with us on working out new and future customer journeys. And this is a really really exciting space to be in.
We have been working hard on our Omnichannel offering, whereby with our system, merchants are able to sell online and instore all through one platform all over the world. We can help merchants gather data regarding purchases and give feedback into the customer experience enabling the future improvement of that experience. From a UX perspective there are several aspects, such as how does that play out at the till, in the shop itself, how does it play out for the merchants themselves and how does it play out for the customer. Essentially, how do we give the customer the best experience possible.
So, in addition to all of these challenges, are there any other areas that you would like to explore? If your boss came to you and said “Tim, take 6 months to work on something that excites you in relation to payments”, what would you do?
In addition to the Customer Journey and Omnichannel work, which I find really interesting, I’d definitely like to explore Virtual Reality (VR) more. It’s not big in payments at the moment. We are now familiar with making micro-payments on mobile. VR is a whole new aspect. To make payments invisible is a big challenge. When you’re in VR, you want to act naturally, so if someone says “Do you want to pay for this?” you say “Yes please” and mechanisms should be in place to make that happen. But before we get to that point there is a lot of work to be done, for example on different interfaces. VR is such an exciting medium, we are still looking at traditional ways of doing things in VR, but that is just the process we tend to take to get to the next stage.
This is your second year sponsoring UXcamp Amsterdam. In addition to sponsoring last year, you also ran a session. Can you tell us more about that?
I ran a session based on the challenges that we face here at Adyen. I talked about how and why we made the decisions that we have made. It was nice to see the enthusiasm from the attendees and we had a little bit of fun as well!
Do you have any plans to run a session again this year?
Yes, we are discussing some ideas to pitch in the “Madness Session” and hope that these will be of interest to the attendees and that we get a good amount of votes. I can’t give you specifics. It’s all “Top Secret” at this moment!
Did you attend any sessions last year? Any particular highlights?
I did, I attended a couple. One in particular resonated with me, by Igor Asselbergs. He ran a session on “The secret to colour design”. I found it so relevant that we invited him back here to speak with our team to help with some challenges that we had, particularly with the coloration of charts and graphs that we are working with.
If there was one presentation that you would love to see at this year's UX camp, what would it be?
I’d like to see someone come along and talk about animation in UX, not for the sake of looking pretty, but how this could lead the user to better insight into what the UX is doing. I’m quite interested in that, because then we would also invite them to come and work for Adyen straight after the talk!
I think motion within interface for the sake of clarity and indication is an interesting thing. We don't do a lot with that at the moment and we would love to do more.
What do Adyen as hosts hope to get out of this year’s events?
Well, we’re recruiting so it’s always good to interact with talented people, there will no doubt be sessions that are relevant to us and I’m excited to show Adyen to the community that you have. It was a great experience last year. I’m proud of Adyen and proud of working here and I’m excited to show off the space and invite people to have a look at what we are doing.
What words of advice do you have for fellow sponsors or any companies out there who may be considering sponsoring our event?
Simply invite the UX guys in. They are a good bunch of people, you get to meet talented professionals while getting your name out there as a company that takes UX seriously. It’s good exposure and will be a great day.
Thanks to Tim and Adyen for welcoming us in for the chance to spend some time getting to find out more about the company and to see their working environment. Adyen are certainly a very interesting, forward thinking company with great offices and some interesting times ahead. We’re delighted that they have agreed to sponsor us for a second year in a row and look forward to their hospitality on September 10th.