55 posts categorized "business"

Tuesday, 09 December 2008

Influencing Strategy by Design: Design Skills

Luke Wroblewski talks about how design skills can influence business strategy. He outline 4 key attributes of design that are valuable to strategy work: pattern recognition, storytelling, visual communication, and empathy.

Story Telling

This ability to craft a structured narrative is also pertinent to strategic work. When compared with the series of graphs and bullet points typically used to communicate a strategy, a story can be more impactful, memorable, and clear. It is well documented that people can recite epic poems from memory but fail to do so when the same content in these stories is presented to them as a series of random words. Storytelling not only makes strategic direction more memorable, it makes it more compelling.

Monday, 01 December 2008

Designing for Luck

Kate Rutter of Adaptive Path quotes several references that luck is a big portion of success.

Michael Bierut of the Design Observer stated in an interview with AP:

It’s a dirty secret that much of what we admire in the design world is a byproduct not of “strategy” but of common sense, taste and luck. Some clients are too unnerved by ambiguity to accept this, and create gargantuan superstructures of bullshit to provide a sense of security.

Rutter offers a few themes to increase our luck:

Recognize Possibilities

  • Ask the right questions
  • Gain an understanding where to aim and why
  • Listen to intuition and gut feelings
  • Create, notice and act upon chance opportunities
  • “You were lucky…you launched the right product at the right time.”

Create Positive Relationships

  • Build and maintain a strong network
  • Positively shape interactions with other people
  • “You were lucky…you got stakeholder buy-in despite all the company politics.”

Be Open and Optimistic

  • Be open to new experiences
  • Adopt a relaxed attitude to life
  • Be certain that the future will be bright
  • “You were lucky…”

Don’t Dwell on Mistakes

  • Persist in the face of failure
  • Employ ways to cope with, and even thrive upon, ill fortune
  • “You were lucky this time…not like last time.”

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Selling UX

The October newsletter of UX Matters includes a handy article on Selling UX.Some of their tips include:

Start with people’s own product experiences, then work toward communicating UX concepts.

The recommended exercise for the above tip is to ask stakeholders what search engine they use. Most will likely choose Google and will say because it's easy to use, simple, etc. At this point you can take the stakeholders to Google's Ten things Google has found to be true page where #1 is "Focus on the user and all else will follow."

So, how can you package and present UX in your organization? We suggest doing the following:

  1. Know your target audience.
  2. Have a UX sales plan.
  3. Understand what does and does not sell.
  4. Create UX foot soldiers and arm them with a UX sales kit.

Friday, 27 June 2008

Integrating Social Media into a Web Content Strategy

Here is an excellent Digital Web Magazine article on focusing on your client's needs rather than the technology:Integrating Social Media into a Web Content Strategy

Make it clear that social media is not about technology, nor about keeping up with the latest trend. The primary goal of using social media has to be communication, not technology and not viral marketing. A company has phones because it wants employees to be able to talk to other people, not because it wants to be at the “cutting edge of voice-activated, enterprise digital communication systems”—and not because it wants to call everyone in the phone book with a sales pitch! If the main goal for using social media is to be at the cutting edge of technology, or if your client’s eyes light up when they realize they can use social media to send a mass message to followers, it will fail. Social media is part of a long-term communication strategy to build relationships.

You can replace "Social Media" with any of the latest and greatest tech buzzwords... "AJAX", "Web 2.0", "Cool whiz-bang thingee". The focus should be on the what your client wants to achieve balanced against their customer's needs.

Monday, 14 January 2008

Design Thinking v. Business Thinking

Luke W's notes from Roger Martin's talk - "Design Thinking: The Next Competitive Advantage"...

  • This process can be thought of as a knowledge funnel. As we move down the knowledge funnel, we leave things out. When something is a mystery, we consider everything. When it is an algorithm, we need to consider less things to understand it. Finally, when a computer runs code it thinks about nothing. It just executes.
  • As we move down funnel, we create more efficiency. But the drawback is we leave things out.
  • Advice on how to work together. Designers working with business:
    • Take design-unfriendliness as a design challenge: this needs to be part of your job.
    • Empathize with the “design-unfriendly” elements. Find out what they are trying to produce.
    • Speak the language of reliability. Consistency, efficiency, etc. Need a shared language.
    • Use analogies & stories. This looks like something that has happened already. Substantiated by how analogous it is to something that happened in the past.
    • Bite off as little a piece as possible to generate proof. What’s the small piece that you can do to generate belief or proof.
  • Advice on how to work together. Business working with designers:
    • Take inattention to reliability as a management challenge.
    • Empathize with the “reliability-unfriendly” elements. Trying to save you from downside of knowledge funnel: honing yourself to oblivion.
    • Speak the language of validity.
    • Share data & reasoning, not conclusions. Help designers link past to what they believe in the future.
    • Bite off as big a piece as possible to give innovation the biggest chance for succeeding.

Wednesday, 09 January 2008

The Emotion of Customer Experience

LukeW posted his notes from the talk The Emotion of Customer Experience at MIX07. Some of the bits I really liked:

Engineering Customer Experiences...

  • Rigorous systems to develop and manage clues. Most companies spend their time learning how people feel about their brand instead of how their customers feel about themselves. You cannot NOT have an experience. The question is how well architected or designed is it? Does it have a set of random clues? Or do the clues create an emotional connection.

Managing Experiences...

  • There is a hierarchy of customer behavior. At the top is ownership. We have many tools (blogs, social apps) to move people up levels.
  • Language analysis. One study showed a 300% difference between a bank site’s language and their customer’s language. A 30% difference according to communications experts, is a barrier to marriage!
  • You can’t get an entire organization to have intuitive skills.


  • Progressive insurance differentiation features: have adjusters show up at scene of accident with loss counseling and claim checks are written at the scene. Give competitor’s quote alongside their own.
  • Howard Johnson restaurants: used to be all over highways. Got into cost cutting exercises: cost of napkins, dropping ice flavors for efficiency. All restaurants are now gone. Focused on extracting value from clients vs. creating value.

Monday, 17 December 2007

Investing in UX

UX Mag decided to create a UX Fund where they invested $5,000 each in 10 companies they felt did a great job at user experience.

In the 365 days we owned our stocks the value of the portfolio increased 39.37%. This outperformed the major indexes (NASDAQ 18.09%, S+P 9.47%, NASDAQ 100 26.81%, NYSE 14.67%).

UX Fund at 1 Year

Monday, 12 November 2007

7 Steps to Remarkable Customer Service

Excellent Joel Spolsky article on customer service: Seven steps to remarkable customer service.

2. Suggest blowing out the dust

Microsoft’s Raymond Chen tells the story of a customer who complains that the keyboard isn’t working. Of course, it’s unplugged. If you try asking them if it’s plugged in, “they will get all insulted and say indignantly, ‘Of course it is! Do I look like an idiot?’ without actually checking.”

“Instead,” Chen suggests, “say ‘Okay, sometimes the connection gets a little dusty and the connection gets weak. Could you unplug the connector, blow into it to get the dust out, then plug it back in?’

“They will then crawl under the desk, find that they forgot to plug it in (or plugged it into the wrong port), blow out the dust, plug it in, and reply, ‘Um, yeah, that fixed it, thanks.’”

Many requests for a customer to check something can be phrased this way. Instead of telling them to check a setting, tell them to change the setting and then change it back “just to make sure that the software writes out its settings.”

Monday, 11 December 2006

Joel on Simplicity

Joel Spolsky writes on Simplicity in developing products.

I think it is a misattribution to say, for example, that the iPod is successful because it lacks features. If you start to believe that, you'll believe, among other things, that you should take out features to increase your product’s success. With six years of experience running my own software company I can tell you that nothing we have ever done at Fog Creek has increased our revenue more than releasing a new version with more features. Nothing. The flow to our bottom line from new versions with new features is absolutely undeniable. It's like gravity. When we tried Google ads, when we implemented various affiliate schemes, or when an article about FogBugz appears in the press, we could barely see the effect on the bottom line. When a new version comes out with new features, we see a sudden, undeniable, substantial, and permanent increase in revenue.

Monday, 05 June 2006

Value of Design Factfinder

The Design Council has put together a wonderful site that provides evidence for the value of design in business. The site is focused on the UK but the lessons apply to businesses around the globe. From their list of headlines:

In businesses where design is integral to operations, over three quarters say they’ve increased their competitiveness and turnover through design.

The site also provides detailed reports and case studies by region and sector.

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