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.
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.
What was your user experience "aha!" moment? That was the question put to North Texas technology leaders, including projekt202 Chairman and CEO David Lancashire, at Celebrate UX on May 12. The networking event for Dallas' technology, design and business communities was hosted by producers of the TV show "Expose UX."
David shared his UX story of meeting projekt202 Co-Founder Peter Eckert.
"Peter talked about the programmatic methodology he'd been working on since 2003, a repeatable framework to gain customer and user understanding to capture their wants, needs, aspirations and even their emotional connection points. It was the reality of delivering a great user experience," David recalled. "This framework for gaining real customer insights was a breath of fresh air."
It was so refreshing, in fact, that David bought projekt202. The trustworthy methodology developed by Peter -- now the company's Chief Experience Office -- is used by projekt202 today to help companies and organizations deliver better digital experiences for people everywhere.
Along with David, executives from AIGA Dallas, Launch DFW, Women Who Code Dallas, Big Design Events and the Dallas Entrepreneur Center discussed their key moments of UX enlightenment.
Compelling user-experience stories also liven up "Expose UX." In each episode, startups make their best product pitches to a panel of local UX experts; panelists have included projekt202's Vice President of Customer Experience Jeremy Johnson and Senior UX Designer Chelsea Maxwell. Participants receive useful feedback and, if their pitches are strong enough, a variety of prizes. As one producer described the show, "It's 'Shark Tank' for design."
The Celebrate UX event in Dallas was the kick-off to the "Expose UX" Kickstarter tour, as well. The TV crew will travel to 25 U.S. cities to showcase its program and, no doubt, capture more UX "aha!" moments along the way.
"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: 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: 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
It was another big year for projekt202 and our ongoing mission to deliver better experiences for people everywhere. As the leader in experience-driven application design and development, projekt202 unveiled our latest innovative resource -- the new Usability Testing Lab in Dallas (pictured below) -- in 2015, while also reporting outstanding growth, with a 66-percent revenue increase and 162-percent increase in profits.
In 2015, the projekt202 team was honored to be named one of the Best Places to Work (Dallas Business Journal), a Top Place to Work (Dallas Morning News) and one of the top software development firms (Austin Business Journal). Also, for the fourth year in a row, projekt202 was named to the Dallas 100 list of fastest-growing private companies in the Dallas-Fort Worth region.
projekt202's professionals were in high demand for speaking engagements and presentations. Our experts shared their insights at forums such as the Big Design Conference, DX Summit, Front Porch Conference, Gartner ITxpo, Dallas Startup Week and CEDIM, among many others.
We covered the media landscape in areas such as TV (with Jeremy Johnson and Chelsea Maxwell participating as judges on the new “Expose UX” show), radio (CEO David Lancashire’s interview on the “PlayMakers” business program) and print (including Co-Founder and CXO Peter Eckert's column on user-centric mobile strategies in "Mobile Commerce Daily" and Kelly Moran’s “Methods and Tools” article on an ethnographic approach to software).
At projekt202, we love what we do and we have fun doing it. Enjoy this look back at 2015 and join us in looking ahead to a successful New Year.
Photo from Fox Searchlight via Fast Co.Design
As writer Sumit Mehra, points out, “Director Wes Anderson has always been distinguished for his visual artistry, detail-rich sets, and storybook like imagery.” See how you can apply five basic principles from a comprehensive review of Anderson’s work to your next UX/UI project. projekt202 is already way ahead on leveraging number three.
— Thanks to Kelly Moran
The Anti-Design of Everyday Things
At last: The Anti-Design of Everyday Things.
— Thanks to Dennis van Huffel
Xbox, Contextual Research, and Biking
Photo by The Verge
This article shows how research in the environment (contextual inquiry, anyone?) helps to shape and form the design process. The design of the bike centers around new commuters in a city with lots of rainfall, beaches, hills and the need to quickly adapt your riding style. The design lead’s quote on integrating the lock into the handlebars has it doing duty not only as a quick-lock system, but also theft deterent: “When you come up to the bike, there’s no handlebars. If I steal this bike, how will I ride it?”
— Thanks to William Yarbrough
Gratitude in a Social, Virtual Context
In this long read, J. Nathan Mathias (a PhD student at MIT Media Lab’s Center for Civic Media) explores the implications of common human expressions of gratitude — thanking, rewarding, showing recognition — in the context of social applications. He points out different approaches to gratitude, such as the “thanks” feature on Wikipedia or the review system of Couchsurfing and discusses various ways to promote or hinder social engagement and community-building through design.
— Thanks to Amber Lindholm
Game User Research Drives the Design of the New Dungeons & Dragons
After the poor reception of Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition, the D&D team incorporated user research, player feedback, and game user testing to create Dungeons and Dragons: 5th Edition. The design team hopes hopes to winning back the hearts of role players by refocusing on storytelling, in-depth rules and mechanics, and looking toward the future of the D&D franchise.
— Thanks to Rae Gibbs
Customizable Ambient Sound
Noisli — a project by Italian multidisciplinary designer, Stefano Merlo, is an ambient, high-quality sound and color generator for working and relaxing. The app features various sounds, including rain, thunderstorm, bonfire, forest, train and seaside — all of which can be toggled and layered with varying emphasis to produce your ideal sound combination. An everyday app with a beautiful and minimalist user interface. Clean, crisp icon design with excellent use of color.
— Thanks to Oscar Tellez
Design Thinking and Airbnb
Video from First Round
This article presents an in-depth look at how solving problems through design, specifically getting into the shoes of the user, allows shareholders to want to solve problems in a larger capacity. The founders dropped their mentality that the solution needed to be scalable in favor of just choosing a path that would work to drastically improve the user experience. Encouraging all design decisions and then validating those changes with actual data fosters an experimental and design-driven culture.
— Thanks to William Yarbrough
By Peter Eckert
Originally Published in Mobile Marketer: Thursday, April 9, 2012
By 2015 it is predicted that mobile shopping will account for $163 billion in sales worldwide, according to ABI Research. As mobile devices begin to dominate the marketplace, retailers are shifting their focus to mobile applications as part of their retail ecommerce strategy.
At first glance, creating a mobile app seems straightforward. Judging by the now-millions of apps out there, it cannot be that hard, right? Wrong.
Keeping pace with the shift to mobile apps is becoming increasingly complex. Marketers must understand the needs of their end user, the different platforms available and the strengths and weaknesses of each—as well as their technical limitations—to create a meaningful user experience.
One of the most common problems today is that companies are trying to “port” existing software applications onto a mobile platform. They are trying to squeeze too much functionality into a mobile device form factor, which has limitations on hardware and user perception.
Complex applications will not translate well onto touch-enabled mobile devices because most were developed for PCs.
It appears that companies take two different approaches to this issue: approximately half the companies think they can port over an existing application while the other half are embracing a simpler paradigm.
The simpler paradigm leads to two common approaches to mobile app development: a single platform – native app – and mobile Web app.
Native apps are device-specific apps that run directly on the device, whereas mobile apps run via a Web browser. The pros and cons are less about the platform and more about the level of delivery and the impact on user experience.
Selecting the right app for an ecommerce strategy can be tricky. There are several key drivers that need to be considered.
The apps’ goals should be defined from the onset: does it aim to increase sales or to provide useful information that supports an overarching ecommerce goal?
Next, executives must decide on their target demographic of users to design an app in a meaningful and intuitive way for the consumer/end-user without overdelivering.
There is no simple answer as to which approach is best. It hinges on balancing business goals with performance needs, usability and costs.
Performance and usability
Native apps have a distinct advantage over mobile Web apps when it comes to user experience.
The Apple store currently offers more than 500,000 native apps for the iPhone and more than 140,000 for the iPad.
The popularity of these apps is driven partly by their commercial promotion via the mobile app stores but also by the unique user experience that they offer.
Hands-down, native apps typically offer a smoother, simpler user experience compared to Web apps.
Since native apps run directly on the device, they are typically faster, can access hardware features of the device and can handle richer graphics and content. They are great for games and other performance-dependent applications, while Web apps are better suited for news feeds and less complex data.
While native apps provide a more streamlined experience, mobile Web apps—which run on a common browser—are accessible by almost any Web-enabled device. The downside is the impact on the performance – they tend to be slower, which makes them feel clunky and less rich.
Additionally, since Web- apps are delivered through a browser they generally cannot access hardware functionality of the devices themselves, at least not today.
Considerations: Cost and flexibility
Aside from performance and usability, marketers must evaluate the overall cost and flexibility each approach offers.
Native app development can be streamlined and efficient, enabling companies to maintain full control over the user experience. But there are some trade-offs.
Since native apps are device-specific, companies will need to develop a separate app for each mobile platform – Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Window Phone 7 – which drives up development and maintenance costs.
Additionally, all native apps and future updates are subject to approval by each specific app store and user downloads, limiting a company’s ability to quickly change existing code.
The ability to instantaneously update a Web app makes it a more accessible and flexible approach, but it can also add additional cost and increase development time.
Web apps benefit from the updates occurring in real time with no need to download or install any software. As a result, they can evolve and advance through a more incremental process.
AS MOBILE COMMERCE continues to grow, mobile apps will become even more important to marketers’ strategy. When deciding on whether to build a native or Web app, the primary consideration should start with determining the real strategic objectives and weighing them against the technical limitations of the application.
Marketers should focus on functionality before complexity. With each there are trade-offs, but they can also be used to complement each other in an overall mobile strategy.