Design magazine published an exclusive interview with Jason Huang, founder of TANG, in the “Special Issues on the Series of China's Outstanding Independent Design Institutions”. The reporter conducted an exclusive interview on a series of issues such as the social background, the status quo of the company, the development stages, and main obstacles in the cooperation with companies.
Article selection: DESIGN vs Jason Huang
DESIGN: What about the social background, company and personal status of TANG when it was founded?
Jason Huang: TANG was established in 2007. I myself started working on user experience and interaction design in 2003. In the first three years, I was engaged in the interactive design of smart phones. Since 2005, I have worked at HFI, the world’s largest usability consulting company, and i established a branch office in China for HFI. Since 2007, I have established my own company. At that time, some of larger domestic enterprises, such as Haier, Huawei, and China Mobile, had already generated requirements on user experience and research, and the investment was also growing. As the first generation of practitioners in this industry, I was able to bring together a group of like-minded colleagues around me and build an internationally renowned user experience consulting brand featuring “In China For China”.
DESIGN: What are development stages of TANG?
Jason Huang: the company has experienced three stages of development since 2007.
The first stage refers to in the period of 2007 and 2008. The company received several large-scale projects, such as full-process product innovation design from General Motors and customer experience mechanism process consulting project from ICBC. Although there are not many projects, it is enough to support the operation of the company. During implementation of these projects, we have accumulated valuable experiences.
The second stage refers to period of 2009 and 10 years. Due to the successful cooperation experience with China Mobile, ICBC, GM and other large enterprises, many customers will also turn to us on their initiative. This period has seen rapid development. The number of companies has risen to 40, and product areas involved included communications, banking, Internet, commercial software, hardware, etc. During this period, which have accumulated a certain reputation and brand effect in the industry.
The third stage began from the year 2010, which is the stage of brand establishment. The number of employees has risen to 50; we opened branches in Shanghai, Xiamen and Beijing, and are planning to open a fourth branch in Shenzhen this year. Nowadays, there are more and more businesses from various fields, especially mobile Internet, banking and e-commerce. We will also cooperate selectively to provide high-quality user experience services for high-quality customers.
DESIGN: What are the main development strategies and long-term goals of TANG in the next three to five years?
Jason Huang The first thing we need to do in the next three to five years is to consolidate the brand of TANG. In addition to accumulating reputation in the country, I hope that more customers in foreign countries will recognize the brand value of TANG. We will promote the brand of TANG through sponsorship, exhibition, contribution and presentation in well-known professional conferences at home and abroad. Our goal is to transform TANG into an internationally renowned Asian consultant with Chinese design as the core. In the future, it is possible to expand its business in some major Asian countries including India, Singapore, Japan and South Korea.
DESIGN: What is the biggest difficulty encountered in the development of TANG? How was it resolved?
Jason Huang: Compared to some small domestic companies, we have a big competitive advantage and are able to undertake some large projects with complete user experience. Our main challenge comes from competition and threats of some large foreign companies. Due to historical accumulation, they often have greater advantages in project experience, which requires time for us to achieve such accumulation. On the other hand, in addition to working with large companies, we also need to persuade more SMEs to believe in the value of the user experience, and believe that design can enhance the value of the product; we need to make more companies understand this field; after all, it is not enough to only rely on some big brand customers to support the industry.
DESIGN: What are the main obstacles in the cooperation with companies? Any suggestions for solving these problems?
Jason Huang: In the cooperation with some large enterprises, the understanding of user experience and UCD is not a problem, since he awareness is already in place; but for some relatively important projects, large enterprises often choose foreign consultants, and are prone to believe in their execution ability, which is partly due to the fact that the level of foreign design companies is higher than that of domestic companies, and partly caused by conceptions. Due to this, domestic companies will lose many opportunities, especially those with valuable significance. Of course, this situation is gradually changing. Our company has become a long-term partner of some large enterprises at home and abroad such as Huawei, China Mobile and Ericsson. Only by Enhancing the ability of local design companies in terms of overall strategic planning of products, and accumulating experience to build hard power in this area, can we change the traditional concept gradually and overcome these obstacles.
DESIGN: In the future, what are areas in which design services will greatly enhance the brand value in China?
Jason Huang: Currently, our design services are mainly focused in the fields of mobile Internet, finance, software and network, home appliances, digital IT, etc., which are the main sources of our projects. In the future, the construction of e-government will bring more opportunities for user experience and interaction design. In addition, service design is also an area we lay emphasis on; due to close combination with industry associations, we also carry out design education and training business, provide a platform for gathering talents.
DESIGN: Who is your role model in the industry?
Jason Huang In my opinion, our position that based on China, the world’s largest emerging market is what companies from other countries do not have. We look forward to becoming FrogDesign+IBM. We hope to have the strategic research and design capabilities such as Frog Design, and management consulting capabilities of IBM. On the professional side, we advocate design philosophy and development model of AdaptivePath, which is composed of a group of product design and user experience experts, and founded in 2001 in San Francisco. They work with innovators and leaders in a variety of industries, including many Fortune 500 companies, and provide services including consulting, training, events, research and development. I wish to learn from them.