Judge’s Q&A: Roberto Hortal

Judge’s Q&A: Roberto Hortal


Judge: Roberto Hortal
Role: Head of Digital at EDF Energy

  1. Do you have a favourite app & website in terms of the design and user experience?

    I have recently discovered Lark. It is deceptively simple in design but the conversational interface at its core creates a surprisingly engaging experience.

    On the web, I am a big fan of the Gov.uk service design manual and the impact it’s having across the entire range of highly transactional government websites.

  1. Which industries, in your opinion, tend to deliver the worst user experiences, and why?

    Banking. I’ve been quite disappointed by new entrants such as Metro Bank and established players such as First Direct alike. The postage-stamp-sized First Direct banking popup is an old favourite of mine when it comes to highlighting bad online experiences.

    Financial institutions prioritise security over everything else, and I wonder whether there may be some unconscious association between security and cumbersome interfaces in the minds of the designers or maybe even the customers.

  2. What has been the greatest game changer in the UX and usability sectors over the past 10 years?

    Touch. The introduction of interfaces that respond to direct hand contact and respond in ways that mimic the physical world around us has revolutionised the way people interact with Digital systems.

  3. What do you think are the biggest challenges companies face utilising UX?

    One of the eternal challenges to UX remains: perception. Particularly in large organisations, UX is seen as a luxury, an option to be considered only when budgets are large, time is ample and the technology has all been delivered. This leads to frequent corner-cutting and disappointing results, leading to budget reductions and even less effort in UX. This is good for challenger brands, of course, and we are living through a renaissance of the challenger in many industries so customers can vote with their feet towards great UX.

  4. Do you have any UX pet peeves?

    Silly captchas, the recent introduction of the “please disable your adblocker” overlay, anything that disables automatic form filling and password saving, “strong” password rules that make passwords less secure yet more cumbersome, small text, low-contrast text. Did I mention the First Direct postage-stamp-sized transactional popup?

  5. If you could have any super power what would it be and why?

    Choice. Every time I use a system with poor UX is because I haven’t got a choice to use another. From company-provided computers to cash machines to train operator websites. I always wish there was real choice with real consequences for those who choose not to invest in UX.