Global UX: What's It Like Being A UX Designer In Indonesia?

Global UX is a series of interviews where Nicholas Tenhue from The UX Blog meets user experience professionals from around the world to hear about their perspective on the state of UX in their area.

Bahni Mahariasha, a UX designer from Jakarta, talks about the state of UX in Indonesia.

In this episode we hear Bahni talk about:

  • his move from Engineering student to User Experience Freelancer
  • UX Design is not a common role in Indonesia
  • UX in Indonesia is growing and will be common in startups and big corporations there within the next 2 years
  • his dream to build his own agency with charitable initiatives


Nicholas Tenhue: Hello everyone, and welcome to the first episode of global UX, brought to you by Global UX will be a series of interviews with UX professionals from around the world. We will be interviewing people from different countries, cultures, and companies, all different walks of life. We will be talking to everyone from students to C-level executives in order to find out what UX really means to the professionals across the globe. Today we have Bahni Mahariasha from Indonesia. He will be sharing his experiences as an intern in freelance UX. So, Bahni, welcome to the show. Why don’t you start by telling us a little bit about yourself?

Bahni Mahariasha: I am a fresh graduate, from being a student a University in Jakarta. I studied computer science, especially in software engineering. I got in the UX, in 2014. My friend told me “Hey do you know UX?”, and I said “No, what is that?”, and he said to me “Go read Steve Krug's book”, do you know it?

Nicholas Tenhue: Yes, I have actually read it twice. So, what about that book really inspired you to get into UX?

Bahni Mahariasha: I found that many websites I read about in that book... it’s a great example for us to inspect what is wrong and what is right when we design a website. I found that there are so many problems in usability, and it really challenges me to learn more about that.

Transition From Engineering to User Experience

Nicholas Tenhue: That is really great to hear. So you mentioned that you studied computer science, what made you want to get into UX rather than engineering?

Bahni Mahariasha: Good question. First of all, back then, when I graduated from high school, I wanted to be in design school, but my parents didn't want me to go to design school because they thought that design is like fine art, you know? Painting and stuff like that. I didn't know either; what my career was going to be. So, my parents and I finally decided to go to IT, to software engineering. And then after the third semester, I took a human-computer interaction class. I was really excited about that class, and started to learn more and more, and then one day my friend comes to me and tells me about UX, so I started to join the UX community, meet-ups, contributing to the community, and getting into internships.

Nicholas Tenhue: So, what is the most fascinating thing that you have experienced during your time as a UXer?

Bahni Mahariasha: My experience in UX is just internships and my research, but the most interesting thing I found is how we communicate the goal of the UX to the developer because some developers don't know about the importance of UX.

Nicholas Tenhue: Now that is a really interesting problem. I know that I have faced it a number of times myself. What do you think is the best way to deal with that type of situation?

Bahni Mahariasha: When we are talking to engineers, we have to look from their perspective, an engineer's perspective. They think how this works in the system, and we talk from their point (of view), you know, and when we talk to stakeholders, we talk from their perspective. How the user experience can affect their business.

Nicholas Tenhue: I think you are exactly right there, not only do we have to empathize with the user, but we have to understand and empathize with those within our own company as well.

UX Is On The Rise In Indonesia

Nicholas Tenhue: speaking more generally, what is the state of UX in Indonesia right now?

Bahni Mahariasha: In my country, it is just starting. We are learning and it is just starting, it’s really early.

Nicholas Tenhue: I see. So considering that UX isn’t that mature over there, what do you think are the main challenges that you are going to face?

Bahni Mahariasha: The main challenges, I think is to introduce UX to companies, introduce them to how important UX is. It is just starting, I think. Most clients need full-stack designers and full-stack developers, not a specific UX designer. It is really rare.

Nicholas Tenhue: Right, and it is always a challenge to convince stakeholders about the business value of good UX. What do you think is the best approach to tackle this kind of situation?

Bahni Mahariasha: It has to come from the leader. Start from the leader because, personally, I have worked for the company Samsung. I have been an intern there, and they are focusing more on the engineering. My vision was to get into more of a design perspective, but they're not (looking at things from a design perspective). So how can we integrate it? It is really hard to do, but I think it has to be (that way). Start from the leader. So if the leader is the design thinker, and other teams can integrate it into their thinking.

Nicholas Tenhue: You know, I think that is a really excellent answer. I think getting top level management buy-in for UX is always a key ingredient for the success of UX and the business. So, Bahni, where do you think UX in Indonesia is going to be in 2 years time?

Bahni Mahariasha: It is going to be everywhere. Big companies and start-ups are more into UX. They realize how UX can provide a big impact for their business. Internships, the usability of the products, and the customer satisfaction revenue as well.

Big Dreams and Philanthropic Goals

Nicholas Tenhue: Great. So it sounds like Jakarta could be quite a hotbed for young professionals trying to get into UX very soon. Just before we finish, is there a message that you would like to send out to the Global UX community?

Bahni Mahariasha: My message, for all of you guys, is don’t stop learning. We learn more and more, and I believe that UX will contribute to and change the world (you can change the world).

Nicholas Tenhue: And, how would you like to change the world?

Bahni Mahariasha:  My dream is to build my own agency, I wanna have an agency that has a charity as well, and we have an academy. I want to train poor people how to use computers. Small businesses; I want to help their business grow bigger with UX.

Nicholas Tenhue: You know what, Bahni, I think that is an amazing goal.

Bahni Mahariasha: Thank you so much.

Nicholas Tenhue: You are welcome. So thank you very much for being the first guest on UX global podcast. I wish you the very best of luck when it comes to starting your own agency. I am sure you will do great, and I am looking forward to hearing from you soon.

Bahni Mahariasha: Thank you very much.

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