Since moving to Paris over a year ago, I’ve been learning about the local UX scene by participating in design sprints, going to UX related talks and by joining a UX-centred coworking space and meeting other designers. I wanted to learn about the main differences between how the UX design ecosystem works in France from my perspective as an Aussie designer.

My journey began in July 2016 when I volunteered as a test participant at a Google Design Sprint run by my coworking space, Le Laptop. Then in a design thinking workshop run by General Assembly, I participated as a live persona to be interviewed by its participants who represented the HR divisions at luxury conglomerate LVMH. From there, I’ve participated in a couple of other sprints, including a Design Jam run by Facebook which tackled the issue of data privacy. Most recently, I collaborated with a small group of designers to facilitate a design thinking session that saw us create a prototype within hours. I feel fortunate to have experienced a range of different collaborative design sessions, which use both industry standard methodology and a mix of several.

And so as you can tell, my first observation in France is that there is a focus on sprints. A lot of them. Hence, UX design takes on a collaborative approach, as its nature intends. The UX community in Paris doesn’t seem to be very large but it is active and thriving. With its international population and recent funding in Europe’s largest startup incubators, the interest in designers is only set to rise.

So without further ado, below are 5 things I’ve learned about the state of UX in France from both personal experiences and conversations with several UX designers. Keep in mind, I’ll also be updating this post as I gain more insights throughout my journey. Feel free to subscribe here if you’re interested in receiving updates on this topic.

  1. UX projects in France are highly collaborative. Much of the work revolves around sprint sessions with clients, with entreprises booking at least 2 workshop days to collaborate in design thinking and receiving a prototype within one of the days. These sessions often involve two or more designers, or are solely design-driven from the beginning.
  2. Design sprints emphasise heavily on conducting in-session interviews. Sometimes encouraging participants to interview each other or bringing in volunteers to be interviewed. Including these interviews sheds light on the actual pain points, while at the same time it shows the value of beginning the project with UX research.
  3. More and more medium to large sized companies in France are beginning to incorporate design thinking into their departments. These companies are open towards letting designers lead the process, which means a level of trust has been established either between agencies or across the industry. Companies who seek innovation actively embrace the design process and hold designers as key roles for leading business growth and cultural impact.
  4. We see various terms in the industry, like UX Design, Design Thinking, Lean Startup Design and Service Design, apparently used to describe the same thing. What’s the difference? The frameworks that the designer chooses to use in the process depends on the nature of the problem the client is trying to solve. So, when looking for design help, clients should approach the brief by communicating skill sets, not roles.
  5. Post-project engagement, like monitoring, optimisations and iterative testing can be forgotten, resulting in designers not knowing the hard and final results of the project. This may be due to lack of budget or waning enthusiasm which occurs after spending months on a project. Or perhaps it is handed off to the internal side of the client. I’d be interested to know more about other experiences in this area, so if you have something to share, please comment below or drop me an email.

I’ve been told that UX design is still a fairly new field here in Paris, and now I’ve been observing its rapidly growing demand. In the first two months of 2018 alone, I’ve seen the floodgates open for various design positions in the field, which may even indicate a lack of designers to fill the demand. It’s never been a more exciting time to be a digital designer.