Hi! I'm Babusi Nyoni, a UX Designer and Artificial Intelligence enthusiast. Ask Me Anything!


I’m the Senior UX Designer at Thomson Reuters Labs Cape Town and I am passionate about technology, design thinking and human factor design. Before then, I worked as the Creative Group Head of Digital at M&C Saatchi Abel, an advertising firm in South Africa where I worked on award winning campaigns for global brands such as Heineken.
I’m also an Artificial Intelligence evangelist and I believe AI is on the brink of shaping the technological space worldwide and that now is the time to use that technology to improve the lives of Sub-Saharan Africans.
In 2016, I gave a TED talk about an algorithm I developed that seeks to use AI to predict where a refugee crisis is most likely to occur in Africa.
I also like Kanye West.


Hey Babusi!
First question - UX is kind of a buzzword in these parts and I’m wondering exactly what your definition is, and if you think definitions change based on context (seeing as there are so many).


Hi Babusi! I’m with Thomson Reuters in Washington, DC. I’m curious about what lessons the fintech industry in South Africa has for the US.
For instance, the US, like much of the world, has an access to justice problem for many of it’s citizens. Do you think AI can help the common person without money for expensive legal services access legal services and justice in any parts of the world? Or do you think AI/apps will be more useful in certain countries’ legal systems than others?


Welcome, Babusi!

My first question is about process.

How do you convince management/a new client on the design direction for a project?


Hey @Fird! For me, user experience design is very closely related to human-centered design. It’s the process of ensuring that a product/service best suits the people for whom it is created. It involves a great deal of research and also, surprisingly, empathy. I think it’s very important because without a clear articulation of an idea-to-market that considers the end user a product is bound to fail.
I don’t think the definitions change but I have noticed that the language around UX is interchangeable depending on industry. Hope that answers your question!



Hey @sam2xdc, I just looked you up on the hub fyi!
On the question of fintech lessons, a local telecoms company Vodacom learnt the hard way that you can’t retrofit solutions created in one market to another one. This happened when they took hugely successful mobile payments platform mPesa and introduced it to the South African market without conducting adequate research. They essentially tried to solve a problem that didn’t exist. It of course tanked, yet continues to thrive in Kenya where it was conceived.
I really believe AI can help many communities access services that they wouldn’t normally be able to access and in the process improve their lives. Legal/financial advice AIs are simple enough to implement, (data dependant). And in a country like South Africa where there are more phones than people (1:1.5) and 14 million Facebook users, platforms such as Messenger can be used to disseminate such services to communities with limited access to them.


Hi Babusi,
I am interested in the overall learning process of design and I have few questions for you about this. Do you you think that design is something that’s intrinsic to a person, like a talent a person is born with or is it something that can be learned, or a combination of both? Also, do you think that a person who has little to no artistic abilities whatsoever would be able to learn design? If yes, what are the practical steps that you’d advise a person who’s just getting started in design to take? Books? Courses? Practice? What exactly?
Thanks for being here!


Thank you @Mobi :pray:t5:.
You do this by presenting your idea in the most clear articulation of it.
This is through showing your research, the purpose of the idea (your strategic thinking), and what it will do for your client.
Hope that helps!


Hey @Fope!
Design and art are not necessarily mutually inclusive. I think Kanye West explained this best in his 2015 interview with Zane Lowe where he said:

“Art is to be free. Design is to solve.”

Contrary to popular belief, the visual aspect of design is just but an arm of it. User experience design for example doesn’t entail making pretty interfaces. Instead, it’s a process of problem solving through various information-based methods. Intrinsically, qualities you definitely need to possess are empathy, problem solving and curiosity. That’s what makes a great designer, regardless of industry or application, as far as I’m concerned.
Udacity has a great (free) course on product design which incorporates a lot of UX and design theory in it, I would highly recommend it.


It does. Thanks.

I have another question. Still on your design process.

Do you do wireframe > test, or wireframe > interactive prototype > test? And, if you’ve tried both, have you noticed significant differences in outcome?

Also, might be difficult to choose but what’s your favourite Kanye album?


Here’s my process: Workshop (iterative) => Wireframe => Review (iterative) => Visualise => Prototype => Review (iterative) => Minimum Viable Product / Proof of Concept.
YEEZUS used to be my favourite Kanye album, because it was the least apologetic and the second-most conceptual (narrowly beaten by 808’s and Heartbreaks). My favourite is My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. It’s almost perfect and the short film accompanying it is a work of modernist art.


Thanks, Babusi

I do have one final question :grin:

There’s a lot of talk about AI and machine learning and even disagreements about what should be classified as AI. And a lot of us only think of AI in terms of sci-fi movies. What resources would you recommend for an AI novice looking to understand what it’s really about and maybe even work on a few beginner projects?


Yes! It does. Thanks.
Which leads me to my next question - In an environment with little understanding of the value of UX, how do you get stakeholders to invest their time and money?


Hi Babusi,
Thanks for talking about this :point_down:

Still on your process: Is this consistent with every project you do? Or are there times where you’ve had to “cut corners” given the lack of time.

Also, can you speak to a particular project that really changed your narrative about how South Africans consume/interact with digital products.


That’s a good question @Mobi. My understanding of AI is that it is the development of programs that perform tasks usually requiring human intelligence. So even a pre-programmed decision tree can qualify as AI but that’s a very basic version of it. Smarter AI is that which incorporates some dynamic learning structure such as machine learning so it evolves to something that is best tailored to the task to which it has been assigned. That’s where AI is currently. The Sci-fi version of AI is still many years away, and that is AI that is self-aware/sentient. That’s the dream for AI engineers and for many for whom the perception of AI has been shaped by pop culture and media, it’s an absolute nightmare.
Siral Raval is my favourite AI tutor and if you can take a liking to his high energy presentation format I’d highly recommend him to you.


Hi @babusi

Do Thomson Reuters Labs have domain area experts for all the different industries come to them to build data science and machine learning products? Or do they mostly have industry-neutral tech and numbers people?

btw, I like Siraj too :slight_smile:


Hey @udezekene, sure thing.
That is actually my process for every project. At TR we develop products for our customers who mostly lie within the financial services and local governance spectrum so any services/products introduced must be thoroughly interrogated and assessed wrt viability. And exhaustive UX design helps alleviate many factors that would ultimately lead to product failure.

Regarding the project, there’ve been many. But what I’ve found is the aversion to sharing information to access a service being the biggest hurdle in adoption. Also, mass market consumers don’t subscribe to traditional channels of app distribution. So either find a data partner to zero-rate/subsidise on downloads of your app or be open to and endorse peer-to-peer sharing.


Hey there @lai. Yes we do. As TR Labs Cape Town, we have an amazing labs network across the globe with highly skilled data scientists and UX specialists that we leverage in our areas of focus which are Risk Management & Mitigation; Land Administration; AgriBusiness & Supply Chain; and Informal Economy & Financial Inclusion.


And +1 for Siraj!