Sian Townsend is an international User Experience Researcher at Google. Her special research interests are Mobile Search and Mobile Products for Emerging Users. At Google, Sian works with multiple teams to help them understand the reality of how people use different mobile phones around the world, pinpoint problems they have, identify their unmet needs and help design new mobile products that answer those needs.
She also works with Google.org, the philanthropic arm of Google, to conduct user experience research into mobile products for emerging users. This has included various research trips to Africa where she conducted, amongst other things, innovative research to understand the information needs of target users in Uganda by mimicking a search engine using SMS and human experts. This research led to the launch of a suite of Google Mobile products, including: Farmer’s Friend, Health Tips and Clinic Finder, and Google Trader. The latter product won the award for Best Use of Mobile for Social and Economic Development at GSM Mobile World Congress in Barcelona Feb 2010.
Prior to joining Google in March 2007, Sian was a User Experience Manager at Vodafone’s Global User Experience team, freelanced for Nokia, led UX at 2 start-ups in London where she designed and researched SMS and WAP based mobile services for clients such as Orange, T-Mobile, Argos and Odeon Cinemas to ensure they were easy to use and intuitive.
Sian is an ambassador for Africa Gathering to promote connected thinking in the Africa Mobile space with the goal of enabling others to create useful services for Africa, delivered via mobile phones of all types.
Sian holds an MSc in Human-Computer Interaction with Ergonomics and a BSc in International Politics.