By Peter Eckert
Co-Founder and Chief Experience Officer (CXO), projekt202
It has been 13 long years. Running a services company is hard. Everyone in my network that has tried that knows it is not for the faint-hearted. The unpredictability of something like this can rob people of sleep and create ulcers if you let it get to you. However, if you figure out a way to do it, it feels amazing and liberating.
Many people, friends, clients and family helped to make projekt202 what it is today and what it stands for. In the early days, we WANTED to build better experiences for the people in the world. The goal has never changed. However, over the past 13 years, we have changed the way how we accomplish that.
We started as a humble four-people shop (2+2) with the belief that technology companies had it all wrong. If we could just help those companies to understand, they would change the way they do things. We tried every possible way to educate the companies we worked with. We tried to convince them that design thinking is the missing link and that understanding the user is instrumental for success. The first few years were like pulling teeth. Nobody wanted to spend on "research" to understand the user, the term "UX" didn't exist, my title of CXO (Chief Experience Officer) was throwing everyone off, and there were no smart phones. So it has been an uphill battle from day one: July 7, 2003.
The first few years, we had maybe one out of 20 projects where we were allowed to do experience research. The following years, that percentage increased and we took extra time to document our successes when we were allowed to do it. When I say research, let's be clear, what we did was observe human beings in their natural behaviors while using technology, then using the inputs we received to build better solutions. Sounds logical, right?
Eventually, we reached a meaningful size as a business with some minor brand recognition and things started to click. The iPhone came around and the craze started. All of the sudden, everyone wanted UX and things like the iPhone of HR software, the iPhone of oil rig software, the iPhone of fraud protection software (?). I am not kidding.
UX became a household name and people started paying attention. This is about 2010 and we at projekt202 started getting frustrated, because enterprise technology companies were still not getting it. The problem had shifted. They wanted UX and even better insights into their users or customers, but now the development execution in those companies would screw it up or it took them years to size the opportunity at-hand. And of course it got really ugly when offshore teams were involved.
However, that moment in time was instrumental in helping projekt202 to become an even better company. We decided to also build things instead of just designing them. We merged with a company that had strong technology chops and fundamentally believed in UX. Most importantly, they also believed that, by focusing on the user, we can build better products.
Looking back, we started as an agency believing we can deliver better products through meaningful design methods and make the world a better place. Today, we are a software company that builds better products for our clients, using empathy and experience thinking to execute rapidly.
Our mission has not changed, but the results are different.
We BUILD better experiences for the people in the world!
To the republic of projekt202: I would be nothing without you. You are my inspiration and my passion. I come to work every day because of you and I wouldn't want it any other way.
p202 4vr, peter