The annual Big Design Conference is a must-attend event for user experience (UX) and usability professionals, digital marketers, designers, content strategists, and developers.
Understanding your customers is more than just good business. In today's competitive environment, it can be the deciding factor in whether your company sinks or soars. projekt202 Chairman and CEO David Lancashire recently discussed the ways companies can fully leverage user experience (UX) strategies and shared his predictions of what's on the UX horizon.
In this conversation with the Co-Founder and Chief Experience Officer (CXO) of projekt202, Peter Eckert looks at his company's origins and what lies ahead for companies striving to deliver the best possible customer experiences.
An entire industry has grown up around agile methods for software development, but isn't there something better, something beyond agile?
In this podcast with projekt202's Chief Technology Officer, Rob Pierry discusses key aspects that make cross-functional teams effective and how moving beyond agile can have a profound impact on a company's success.
Some of projekt202's Thought Leaders -- representing key areas such as User Experience (UX) Design, Technology, and Experience Strategy, among many others -- broadcast their expertise in solving complex challenges facing today's businesses. Their presentations were recorded this week as part of projekt202's new Thought Leadership series. The videos showcase the experts behind projekt202's methodology and holistic approach to experience-driven application development.
Learn more about what we do at projekt202.
By Jannis Hegenwald projekt202 Experience Researcher
and Amber Lindholm projekt202 Director of Experience Strategy and Insight
In June, we are heading to the 2016 Enterprise UX Conference in San Antonio. In its second year, Enterprise UX focuses on the unique challenges of designing experiences for people who work for and in large-scale enterprises. This conference is exciting to us because it fills a gap in the UX community, where the historical focus has been on UX for end consumers. projekt202 has a long history and passion for working on enterprise solutions, and we look forward to meeting fellow attendees to understand your specific challenges and points of view.
Here is a brief overview of the topics we are most excited about: fear of change, getting started, prioritizing and design systems.
FEAR OF CHANGE
In today’s enterprise environment, developing great experience strategies and UX designs is not enough anymore. As business challenges become increasingly complex and enterprises need to react with more agility to market developments, equipping organizations to take action immediately and confidently is key to successful experience design. This requires experience strategy teams to take on various roles (researcher, strategist, facilitator, mediator, coach, etc.) and to be comfortable with working across disciplines fluently (design, research, business, economics, sociology, coaching, etc.).
At projekt202, we work with some of the biggest companies in the world on keystone projects that change products, organizations and industries. Because of the scale and the level of uncertainty, clients often turn to us to guide teams who are afraid of change. It will be interesting to hear how Steve Baty approaches this topic in his talk, "Breaking Out of Ruts: Tips for Overcoming the Fear of Change."
Fear of change is only one facet of an unwieldy beast of enterprise challenges when it comes to implementing impactful experience strategies and design. We have built numerous strategies that guide our clients’ efforts over 5-10 years, and one of the key things we focus on every time is breaking things down and helping teams get started. Russ Unger from 18F will talk about "Getting Out from Under Everyone: How to Escape the Paralysis of Getting Started" and it will be interesting to hear about his experience working with federal agencies.
Another piece that is of the essence in getting organizations started is helping them prioritize initiatives. The art here lies in directing -- but not constraining -- the prioritization efforts, while ensuring that stakeholder and user voices are heard. Helping organizations understand the value of trade-offs is key. The intriguing title of Harry Max’s talk -- "Priority Zero: Some Things are More Equal than Others" -- has us excited to find out more about how he approaches prioritization.
Zooming out a little bit, we see a clear trend that we as designers, researchers, strategists and managers don’t design products or services anymore; we design systems. The times of isolation are gone for good, both on the front end as well as on the back end of enterprise UX. For us at projekt202, this means building resilient systems that are able to evolve and adapt over time. It will be interesting to learn how Nathan Curtis views this development in his talk, "Design Systems: From Project Done to Product Sustained."
What are the biggest challenges for enterprise UX in your opinion? Do you agree with our choice of topics? We would love to hear from you or, even better, see you at Enterprise UX 2016 in San Antonio.
Let’s chat. Message us to meet up during Enterprise UX 2016:
Director of Experience Strategy and Insight
In a brand-new episode of "Expose UX," a TV show devoted to identifying user experience (UX) issues and solutions, projekt202's Vice President of Customer Experience Jeremy Johnson deals expert advice to a North Texas startup.
The latest episode highlights UrComped, a platform that connects casino players to loyalty rewards. UrComped's creators realize it's a safe bet that they need solid information architecture to help people learn about rewards they wouldn't have otherwise discovered.
What inside tips and winning strategies will the three-of-a-kind panel of UX experts -- Jeremy Johnson, Adam Polansky and Elisa Miller -- raise with the UrComped team? For the payoff, watch the new episode now.
"I knew that moving to projekt202 was the right move for my career. What I didn't know at the time, though, was how impactful the job was going to be for me."
projekt202 has been a moving experience for Senior UX Designer Jerehmie Cannon.
Jerehmie headed in a new direction -- northwest, to be exact -- with the opening of projekt202's Seattle office in 2013.
"The relocation was great and everyone in the Seattle office -- four people at the time -- really went out of their way to make sure I was set up with everything I needed on a personal level," he said. "The move to Seattle was seamless and now I'm fortunate enough to learn how to grow a fledgling office."
On the professional level, too, Jerehmie said projekt202 has provided him with exciting new challenges and opportunities:
I've gone from being a Senior Designer with basic delivery responsibilities to completely owning projects from start to finish.
projekt202 is great about figuring out where people fit best. Our leadership has a knack for asking and inferring what each of us really want out of our careers. They foster an environment that is flexible enough to let us figure our own way.
I have been fortunate enough to work with huge clients, but the level of talent at projekt202 is so high that I'm constantly challenged to be a better designer, consultant and professional.
Ready to make the next move in your career? Find your opportunity to join us in Seattle, Austin or Dallas.
"It's going to tie directly back to what we're designing, building, taking into market and driving revenue streams with."
How are companies missing out if they fail to employ user-experience (UX) strategies and what impact does this approach have on their bottom lines?
In this conversation with projekt202's Chairman and CEO, David Lancashire shares the real-world ROI of user experience, his advice to skeptics about embracing UX, and his predictions on the resources that companies will invest in and adopt in coming years.
"Engagement. Opportunities. Advancement. Those are three motivational differences that set projekt202 apart."
These significant characteristics have made projekt202 the employer of choice for Solutions Architect Reggie Samuel and our team of talented, dedicated professionals. Reggie shared the ways that projekt202 stands out:
In my nearly three years with projekt202, I have experienced unique opportunities that have grown me professionally and personally. Beginning as a Senior Developer and having since been promoted to Architect, where I now manage a small group of Developers, I have had the opportunity to hone my communication skills and succinctly relate our vision to my team.
projekt202 has a well-laid-out roadmap for its employees to develop their skill sets and build knowledge for career advancement, be engaged in the work they perform, and receive incentives for outstanding employee performance.
Map out your career as part of the projekt202 team. See our current opportunities in Seattle, Austin and Dallas.
"I believe that form also needs to follow empathy. We need to truly understand the things that people try to accomplish in their daily lives, how they do it, where they struggle ... and have that empathy on the deepest level for their situation. Once we understand what they truly need, then everything comes together."
In this podcast with projekt202's Co-Founder and Chief Experience Officer (CXO), Peter Eckert sheds light on his company's origins, the principle of "form follows empathy" and his predictions about the evolution toward a global, connected Experience of Things.
Follow Peter Eckert on Twitter: @petroid
"projekt202’s emphasis on cross-functional teams really gives our employees a breadth of exposure to all of the roles necessary to create amazing software experiences ..."
At projekt202, we support career development among our diverse teams of professionals. Employees are actively encouraged to investigate and take on new responsibilities and roles that allow them to grow in their professions.
Program Manager Mike Mannis shares his perspective on his career path at projekt202:
I originally joined projekt202 as a Solutions Architect and led the development effort on multiple projects. Yet, over time, I was becoming disenchanted with the day-to-day intricacies of actual development. However, I was still interested in the software development process, especially the focus on research and design at projekt202.
When I spoke to my manager, he was very understanding and helped set me on a new career path, first in information architecture and analysis, and then in project management, expanding on my project experience from my architect role.
projekt202’s emphasis on cross-functional teams really gives our employees a breadth of exposure to all of the roles necessary to create amazing software experiences, which, in turn, makes career growth -- even in a totally different direction -- a natural effect of working here.
Ready to take your career to the next level? See current opportunities to join our team in Seattle, Austin or Dallas.
North Texas business leaders recently got a taste of what's possible in delivering improved customer experiences.
The projekt202 team shared customer experience (CX) insights at an invitation-only breakfast, held May 3 at the scenic Four Seasons Resort and Club in Irving.
Chairman and CEO David Lancashire and Vice President of Customer Experience Jeremy Johnson discussed projekt202's observation-based methodology for helping companies understand and deliver solutions their customers genuinely want and need.
To illustrate the importance of fully knowing an organization's audience, time was blocked out for a brief but creative exercise. Using Legos, teams were tasked with building prototypes for package-delivery vehicles.
Without a clear and complete picture of customers' and users' specific requirements, however, teams assembled a variety of vehicles, ranging from trucks and vans to airplanes and drones.
The constructive activity shed light on the basic understanding -- or, in many cases, misunderstanding -- that companies have of their users.
David said that most organizations fall somewhere on a broad spectrum of understanding their customers' needs, wants and emotional connection points. Customers are hungry for better, more fulfilling experiences, which can only be created through deeper, lasting insights.
This methodology is further outlined in the new book, "Designing Software for People: Application Development in the Experience Age." The book marks the latest chapter in projekt202's work to help businesses and their customers realize the full potential of technology.
Challenge: Applications are running into language barriers
One of the world’s top technology and hardware development companies needed consistency across its enterprise suite of over 80 applications. A streamlined enterprise design language, uniform navigation and standard product guidelines were essential.
Recommendation: Create language and workflow consistency
With its experience-driven design research methodology, projekt202 was asked to improve key workflows for high-revenue products and establish a design-thinking approach within the enterprise organization.
To gain insights into core users, projekt202’s team observed IT administrators, revealing that more than half of the applications were controlled by third-party development teams. In addition, many products had overlaps in functionality.
projekt202 also conducted a visual design exploration that would become the foundation for the company’s enterprise design language. This created a new look and feel to apply to an initial set of core products, showcasing their scalability and flexibility.
Results: Uniform language delivers pronounced revenue increases and brand reception
Applying its synthesized data from direct user observations, projekt202 built a new navigation across large portions of the application suite. The team also created an online repository to facilitate the new enterprise design language and its patterns. With these guidelines, the client established requirements for all third-party teams, which formed a more streamlined, cohesive and integrated suite of applications.
As a result of projekt202’s work:
- The client’s software as a service (SaaS) revenue has grown dramatically, along with its Net Promoter Score (NPS), a valuable indicator of business performance and brand experience
- The company bulked up its internal user experience (UX) team from three members to more than 30
- Employees have access to continuing education on experience-driven design and UX classes, taught by projekt202
Challenge: A retailer’s mobile presence didn’t pack the punch of its in-store experience
A nationwide retail chain couldn’t contain itself any longer: it realized that its mobile app was boxing the retailer into a corner. Customers were hampered by the app’s lack of responsive enhancements for phones and tablets, text that appeared too small and difficult to read, and navigation that was incompatible with touch devices. The retailer needed to shelve the cluttered app and, in its place, provide customers with a responsive and consistent user experience across all platforms.
Recommendation: Organize a full mobile redesign and updates to key features
projekt202’s team of designers and developers wireframed each section of the client’s existing mobile app. A visual design was presented to the retailer in the form of clickable prototypes, the frames of reference for projekt202’s developers to build the application. Developers also improved the app’s default font size to make text more legible, increased the size of the navigation buttons and redesigned menus for touch devices.
The projekt202 team made updates to the shopping section, where all filters, categories and product detail pages were overhauled to be more user-friendly. In addition, the wish list feature was redesigned so consumers could readily and conveniently access their favorite or saved items from any device.
Results: Exceeding the goal for reaching shoppers on mobile devices, with a mention in Forbes for Best Mobile Site Performance
A primary goal for the retailer was to boost the percentage of customers shopping from mobile devices, which previously stood at a rate of 0.1 to 0.375 percent. After projekt202 wrapped up its responsive redesign, the conversion rate surpassed that goal, rising to 0.45 percent. The increased rate of conversion meant more value to the retailer’s bottom line and the overall result was an accessible, better-organized and more user-friendly shopping experience.
In addition, Forbes cited the retailer for having the best mobile site performance, with a high score of 88 out of 100. These findings were based on a survey of 300 websites and mobile sites during the hectic holiday season. Companies were scored against 200 best practices, with criteria that included social media integration, contextual help including live chat and mobile optimization.
Challenge: An unreliable workforce design needs to be terminated
A global workforce management company was laboring under outdated, convoluted technology. Its primary management resource had grown inconsistent, unreliable and difficult to use. The organization needed to improve customer interactions, keep competitors at bay, and create a new user-centered design and development process internally.
Recommendations: A redesign, UX support and a demo that silences the competition
projekt202 identified pressures from key competitors, documented users’ frustrations and perceptions, and interviewed stakeholders to capture the vision of the organization. Based on its analysis, the projekt202 team recommended a user-friendly redesign of the client’s 900-screen legacy application; hiring dedicated user experience (UX) staff; and unveiling an impressive demo at industry trade shows to spark word-of-mouth and sales.
Results: Superior user experience delivers over $1 billion in sales
When presented at an industry conference, a new dashboard solution based on projekt202’s design research caused an immediate sensation. Sales demand doubled as customers eagerly anticipated its release to market. Development strategy and priorities reflected the huge interest generated by the prototype’s unveiling.
In addition, persona-specific roadmaps for the legacy application were produced and validated, and mobile tools supporting key workflows across all personas were established and released. A consistent new visual design language was built across all applications and products. Design guidelines, principles and themes were created, along with interactive design and pattern libraries. To reinforce the company’s tech foundation, projekt202 helped grow the client’s UX team to more than 20 employees.
As a result of this collaboration, the workforce management company saw sales skyrocket from $240 million to over $1 billion.
The sales and marketing divisions continue to rely on projekt202-constructed resources. Providing this superior user experience has led to a sustained design and development partnership between the client and projekt202.
Challenge: Taking stock of the ways customers actually use trading platforms
A leading investment and banking firm wanted to create a new standard for high-end trading by making its existing platform more user-friendly and engaging, allowing customers to become better investors.
Recommendation: Bank on a customized solution to make users feel powerful (especially in front of their spouses)
By observing the ways people researched and chose investments using resources from the client and its competitors, projekt202’s researchers gained several interesting insights. Customers wanted to feel powerful and in control by having the ability to customize the system to suit their needs.
In particular, men wanted the trading platform to look complex, sophisticated and important so they could impress their spouses. This vital emotional factor – which would have been overlooked by standard market research – was discovered through projekt202’s unique, contextually-relevant observations.
Based on these user insights, projekt202 recommended a new infrastructure that supported a customized trading solution to fit customers’ practical and emotional expectations. It needed to balance stability, familiarity, flexibility and reliability; maintain current customers’ loyalty; and add new generational users.
Results: Gaining an outstanding 97% adoption rate
projekt202 worked with the client’s development teams to create multiple concepts for the application’s UI framework. A fresh look emerged to complement the newly-designed tools. Throughout development, projekt202 and the client worked together to integrate controls and tighten layout and interactions.
This partnership created a world-class application that was stable, secure, efficient and fast.
The application was built to:
- understand the complex work of trading
- support users by giving them a market-wide perspective
- guide their decisions in making solid investments
The innovative application achieved a 97% adoption rate in the client’s first quarter. It was also recognized in the trade media and by renowned industry analyst firm Gartner for its outstanding, forward-thinking design, development and adoption.
Challenge: Obsolete equipment and time-draining inventory steps need to be shelved
A leading retail services company was recognized industry-wide for its legacy of outstanding work. Internally, however, it was building a legacy of clunky equipment, outdated processes and low employee retention.
To hone its competitive edge, the organization needed to give its salespeople a more efficient, productive and accurate way to do their jobs. Each of its in-store retail service representatives was saddled with multiple, aging resources – an obsolete handheld scanner that required evening dock and sync, a digital camera for sending photos to the company for documentation, and bulky binders of UPC pages to scan at grocery stores on their routes. Printing for the code pages alone cost the company thousands of dollars each month.
Inadequate training and lack of enterprise support services also contributed to an in-the-field staff turnover rate of over 100 percent.
Recommendation: Design a convenient, powerful mobile app
A consideration to allow reps to use their own phones or tablets helped projekt202 build an application for use across multiple devices with multi-platform capabilities.
The work involved was three-fold: (1) design and implement a new mobile application for the field force, (2) architect and build new enterprise services to support the mobile app and other systems, and (3) transform the development organization to an Agile one.
projekt202 did contextual inquiry and built journey maps to understand the true needs of the reps and of the business, including device form factor and connectivity requirements.
projekt202’s team of designers, developers and architects used data-rich observations of the reps’ training programs and work environments to drive the application’s design. Features were added to improve the ways in which reps planned their routes, received support, documented work and reported to the company:
- Connected/occasionally connected modes, including request/response caching and queuing
- Near real-time work assignment and results reporting, including camera, sensors and GPS data
- Built-in, in-context training and learning aids, including instructional protocols for performing work
Results: Reduced overhead and increased efficiencies for over 40,000 employees
projekt202's solution completely eliminated employee reimbursements for wasteful printing costs and administrative time spent transferring data from paper in the old interface. This resulted in a 13% reduction in overhead costs.
The creation of a new mobile application -- along with a suite of enterprise services that supported it -- formed the foundation of new app development initiatives across the client company. As a result, 40,000 field reps across North America were better able to plan daily tasks and map routes with the help of the internal GPS feature. Tutorials helped reps complete tasks more efficiently. A request queue also let them access information on- and offline, and report documentation – including photos – directly to the company.
During the three-year collaboration, projekt202 and the client's team built processes in the back-end with a suite of enterprise services, such as true REST services, including Hypermedia/HAEOAS, content negotiation, caching and Domain Application Protocols; commodity hardware scaling; and ESB for content aggregation.
As part of projekt202’s end-to-end application development, the client’s employees were trained and empowered as the stream of work transitioned to the company’s team. In turn, the company retained more employees, and streamlined its internal processes for standardization and quality control.
Results of projekt202's work were:
- Labor costs were two orders of magnitude lower
- First-to-market with a new service offering, which remained without competition for over two years
- Reduced training and onboarding costs
- Creation of multiple Agile teams
- Drastically reduced printing costs
- Availability of near real-time results and analytics, as well as the ability to assign work to reps already in the field
- More frequent releases and better incorporation of validation/feedback into releases
World Leader in Application Design and Development Expands Its Pacific Northwest Presence
projekt202 has named Polly Hopkins as General Manager of its Seattle office. As General Manager, Hopkins is responsible for expanding projekt202’s business in the Pacific Northwest region.
A leading designer and developer of software applications, projekt202 uses its unique, observation-based methodology to help businesses deliver improved experiences to their customers and users. Named one of the fastest-growing private companies in the United States by Inc. and the Dallas Business Journal, projekt202’s revenue has grown 214% over the past three years. With additional offices in Dallas and Austin, projekt202 harnesses the strengths and talents of more than 150 researchers, designers, developers and digital marketing strategists.
“I’m excited to join this team of skilled and passionate practitioners. projekt202’s ability for creating applications that people genuinely use and love drew me to the company,” said Hopkins, who brings over 20 years of experience in the Seattle technology market to her new role. “projekt202 has developed a proven methodology that incorporates user-centered strategy with deep technology chops, making it a true innovator in our market and industry.”
Said projekt202 Chairman and CEO David Lancashire, “Polly’s thought leadership and team-building skills are crucial in our mission to deliver the best possible user experiences for people everywhere. I’m thrilled to have her join projekt202 in this exciting growth phase.”
projekt202's Chief Experience Officer and Co-Founder Peter Eckert is regarded as one of the leading UI design visionaries. The following article illustrates why. Five years ago in UX Magazine, Peter shared his insights on the importance of meaningful interface design and usability, looking ahead to the state of technology in 2016. Looking back now, it's significant to see how spot-on Peter's forecasts were.
Following is Peter's original article, as published Feb. 24, 2011 in UX Magazine:
2016: The User Interface Revolution Underway
Looking at the next five years, the role of interface design will only increase in importance as companies compete to win market share worldwide. Ease of use is essential to winning hearts, minds, and customers. With consumer product companies in heated competition, I anticipate a surge of redesign and new design in the near term. These designs will focus on usability, which means we are likely to see breakthrough products over the next several years.
Yet these new interfaces are not going to be uniform; devices and applications will not possess common protocols. For users, each interaction will have to be learned, so despite the improved usability of products, individuals will find themselves learning the quirks and standards of more and more technologies just to get the functionality they seek.
Converging Technologies, Diverging Experiences and Standards
For global companies, the next five years is a time to put their best solutions forward and integrate the UIs and capabilities of their own product suites. As companies work to independently to improve their products within the context of new technical and usability advances, we will see more diversity and incongruence in design overall. In the next several years, differentiation and unique ease of use will matter more than a common standard.
Technologies continue to combine and converge, but much of this convergence happens only within companies. Technologies and products developed by different companies will not truly interact across platforms any better than they do so today, or at least not in the near term. For every new process and device, there continues to be a lack of common standards, which requires that people learn device- and product-specific commands and functions. This problem is still acceptable to most people because that lack of integration and the individuality of interfaces has long been the norm.
Caught up in the daily flow of our lives, we hardly recognize we are in the midst of a rapid evolution in how we leverage technology. We barely acknowledge that we are slowly replacing ordinary and extraordinary functions alike with technology, including purchasing goods via phones, receiving on-demand GPS-based directions, and eliminating hard-wired phones altogether. And it is certain more innovation is just around the corner.
Today and in the next five years, those UIs will remain separate and disconnected from each other. But many decades in the future, we can expect to see shared protocols and standards that enable users to transition seamlessly between devices and appliances, which transmit information to one another to a far greater extent than we see today.
In the meantime, all of our incremental progress toward more usable applications is exciting for the UX industry as a whole. UI designers can rest assured that over the next five years they will not be out of work. In fact, as someone working in the field for nearly 20 years, my concern is there are not enough experts in UI design to meet the avalanche of design and redesign that needs to be completed. The process for designing UIs will continue to come from research related to behavior, and from evaluation of how information hierarchies and protocols can be more intuitively accessed.
All this opportunity to design better experiences is not exclusive to the U.S. and Western Europe. In fact, much work over the next five years needs to be done to create UIs that are more in tune with the rising middle classes of China and India, each surging with unique demographics of potential technology users.
Companies will increasingly look to market consumer technologies to pockets of fast-growing populations that have so far had little exposure to technology as part of their daily lives. For these people, it will be critical that the solutions be highly intuitive to ease the abruptness of the transition.
In making these new technology products, leading consumer technology companies will be delving into new areas of UI design and need to think through language, cultural, and ethnographic particularities to create effective solutions. It will also be important to recognize how specific cultures truly interact with their social environment and technologies within the context of those environments.
Racing to market with products with long feature lists is not the only answer; in some cases, it may prove to be the wrong answer. The technologies must offer users an intuitive and tailored UI to give users full enjoyment of and access to product features within the context of their cultural experience. This is a new challenge that is rapidly unfolding as more solutions are offered to emerging populations.
A Seamless Future
New, improved UIs are part of a transformation that is happening worldwide in technology. As we have seen with Apple and others, the new measuring stick of quality and key to critical acclaim is not just about whiz-bang features, but also about the presentation of the technology and accessibility of features through sound design.
Over the next five years, UX designers will be increasingly called upon to create solutions that join the power of new technology with good usability. Their skills and vision will be put to good use as companies awaken to the new stakes related to intuitive design and strive to roll out a host of products that will be more engaging than ever before.
Consumer and business users alike will experience remarkable forward steps in the evolution of UI design, but they will also grapple with the lack of convergence and common protocols. It will likely be many more years before any common standards begin to emerge.
For emerging populations around the world, leading consumer companies will seek to capture market share. We advise these companies to go beyond the language barrier and truly evaluate the culture they are targeting as they have the opportunity to serve these customers through powerful design.
It is an exciting prospect to think of the millions or billions of more people who will be able to access technology, communicate globally and garner more information than they have before—all through intuitive, intelligently designed interfaces.