Sam Media’s Kudakwashe Shamu on how designers have to get out of their comfort zones

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Hi Kudakwashe, thanks for chatting today. How have are you?

I am doing great thank you. It’s always a pleasure meeting new people that are passionate about conversion optimization, so happy to be here.

Well, we’re happy to have you. So let’s begin with a bit about you and your career path thus far.

Well I studied software engineering but I was also passionate about Design, business and psychology. SoI thought I could blend these four things together and that’s how I ended up in the product design industry (ux/ui,front-end coding). I read materials everyday  (books / articles ) from how the brain works to design, coding, and business models. So the best way I can describe myself is, I am an entrepreneur at heart. I love thinking outside the box. I make connections from all these different angles and I think that’s my edge.

Few years ago I joined a performance marketing company as the Head of Design, designing and optimizing funnels. My soul goal is to build a design team that is data driven. We have millions of users that go through our funnels, with over 50 thousand sales every day. So it’s important that our design team push conversion rate as opposed to pushing pixels. Day to day activities for me and my team involve looking at data (heatmaps, funnel KPIs, ) and coming up with hypotheses to improve the conversion rate. We also look for other interesting behavioural data such as how users interact with our forms, secondary call to actions and implicit call to actions. We learn something new about our users everyday.

As leader in design, how important is Experimentation to Design?

I can not stress enough the importance of experimentation in Design. I believe design is communication, to communicate effectively you need to speak the same language with your target audience, and there is no better way to learn how to communicate with your audience than experimentation. Either this is to drive sales, brand awareness or engagement. Designers need to communicate to their target audience better.

What advice would you give to designers to help them get the most out of Experimentation?

First I would say of you not experimenting, start now!. GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE. If you are already experimenting and need to get the most out of your experiments, learn to measure everything. In experimentation, many things can go wrong. Learn to break down exactly what you want to test and measure it. Measure before you test, during your test and after your test. 

Love it. Design has a lot of heuristics and best practices. Do you have any examples of when a best practice was proven wrong?

There was one interesting heuristics experiment that really surprised us. The use of Directional cues. For example, we expected directional cues to lead users to the form but instead, users ended up trying to interact with the direction cues themselves.

How about a design pattern that is always a slam dunk no matter how many times it’s been tested? Or rather, is there something you wished folks would stop testing?

  • Optimizing page speed is always a slam dunk. Reducing page speeds means more people will see a full load of your page which usually results in more people going down the funnel.
  • CTA written with user internet always win. Whatever your audience goal is, it should be in the CTA text.
  • What should folks stop testing? Mmm, I would say test things that bring value to your organization or team. If you want to test button colors (might not have value for other folks), well go for it. Make sure you learn something new. Focus on value.

Finally, it’s time for the Lightning Round! Are you a Bayesian or a Frequentist? 

Bayesian. Our beliefs are often updated after we have gathered data.

If you couldn’t work in Experimentation, what would you do? 

I would probably just be a coder.

Describe Kudakwashe in 5 words or less.

Creative problem solver.

How has inspired you the most in this field so far?

Very cool. Who should Experiment Nation chat with next?

Andre Morys. Here’s an example of their material.

Awesome! Thanks so much for chatting with me today!

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