design thinking

Why UX Should Embrace Digital Transformation

Why UX Should Embrace Digital Transformation

Digital transformation -- "using digital technologies to drive effective business and, in some cases, stave off becoming obsolete" -- is red-hot, writes projekt202 VP of Customer Experience Jeremy Johnson.

What Was Your Big UX "aha!" Moment? CEO David Lancashire Shares His

What Was Your Big UX "aha!" Moment? CEO David Lancashire Shares His

In this fresh episode of projekt202’s Thought Leadership video series, Chairman and CEO David Lancashire recalls the moment he saw user experience (UX) through a brand-new lens, plus the person who redefined the power of user observations.

CXO Q&A: Why the Future of UX is Greater than the Internet of Things

CXO Q&A: Why the Future of UX is Greater than the Internet of Things

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.

projekt202 podcast: A Conversation with Co-Founder and CXO Peter Eckert

"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."

projekt202's CXO and Co-Founder Peter Eckert
projekt202's CXO and Co-Founder Peter Eckert

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 podcast: Designing Experiences that People Really Value

"It is changing the industry ... This approach has at times been called 'design thinking.' At projekt202, we like to call it also 'experience thinking,' because it really is all about people's experiences."

projekt202's VP of Experience Strategy and Insight Aliza Gold
projekt202's VP of Experience Strategy and Insight Aliza Gold

In this conversation with projekt202's Vice President of Experience Strategy and Insight, Aliza Gold discusses the importance of fully realizing customers' wants, needs, motivations and goals.

"Understanding those elements," she says, "is what helps us design, create and envision experiences that people really value and can connect with emotionally."

Follow Aliza Gold on Twitter: @alizagold

Serving CX Food for Thought at projekt202 Breakfast

projekt202's Joe Dyer, Russ Bair and Matt Scamardo
projekt202's Joe Dyer, Russ Bair and Matt Scamardo

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.

Embracing the Evolution toward the Experience of Things

Embracing the Evolution toward the Experience of Things

Over the next few years, many advancements in technology will unfold and dramatically shift our behavior and expectations in society. Just look at the IoT, the Industrial Internet, autonomous driving and flying, virtual and augmented reality, wearable devices, biometrics sensors and implants, among others. It is on us to bring these things together in a meaningful way. Welcome to the Experience of Things.

A Class Act: Design Research Workshop with UTD's UX Club

The projekt202 team went back to school recently to coach the next class of UX designers. The UX Club at The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) hosted projekt202 for an interactive Design Research Workshop on March 31. Senior UX Designer Chelsea Maxwell, Experience Researcher Nick Ansel, Talent Coordinator Jessica Hart and Vice President of Customer Experience Jeremy Johnson shared their expertise in conducting research and the many ways it informs the design process.

The collaborative session helped UTD students investigate and answer research-driven questions such as: Who are the customers and users of our technology? What do they actually need? What methods help reveal those needs? How does research fit into the design process?

In one exercise, students were asked to "design a hat" with no other guidance or restrictions. The attendees' heady imaginations were brimming with creations of all shapes, sizes, colors and purposes.

Working in UX often involves wearing many different hats.
Working in UX often involves wearing many different hats.

To top things off, however, few of the designs could really meet a specific user's needs. This was an important and enlightening "aha!" moment: students realized that without research to guide design, they were simply throwing out prototypes to see what might work.

At another point in the workshop, students interviewed Nick about his daily trip to work, then watched a video of his actual commute.

There were notable differences between the interview and the real-world observations. Like many users in similar interview situations, Nick didn't mention details that would be critical in solving commuting-related problems. By simple observation, however, these factors were easily discovered.

Using their interview and observational notes, UX Club members performed Affinity Diagramming to develop high-level insights that would inform their designs. They then wireframed creative and innovative mobile apps to make workday trips easier and more efficient for frustrated commuters.

"It was a treat helping students bring theory into practice," Nick said. "It’s great to see such curious and passionate students make the most out of their interest in UX. It reassures me of the bright future ahead for the experience design community."

A bright, experience-driven future is a large part of the mission of the UX Club. It envisions the reality of its students playing crucial roles in Dallas design.

The student professional club actively works to increase awareness of user-centered design. To understand and create well-designed experiences, the UX Club provides its members with opportunities -- such as the projekt202 Design Research Workshop -- to network with industry leaders around Dallas-Fort Worth.

As Chelsea explained to the group, projekt202's methodology and best practices are easily applied to the students' coursework and personal projects, enabling them to strengthen their portfolios and experience.

"What's really awesome is that schools are starting to catch up with what is going on in the industry," she said. "Previously, in regards to technology, what schools were teaching and what skills were needed by employers were miles apart. We're starting to see that change -- for example, with the UX Club and courses offered in design."

UX-Club-10.jpg

Jessica said, "It was exciting to watch them take in our methods -- interviewing, affinity diagramming, wireframing -- and contribute their own ideas to solve real-world problems in innovative ways. The big takeaway of the evening for them was that observing users is absolutely crucial to strong design."

With a passion for changing the experiences people have with all aspects of technology, the projekt202 team members appreciated the opportunity to share their professional insights.

"Working with such a bright and curious group is always rewarding. It keeps me sharp while also nurturing the profession with critical knowledge-sharing activities," Nick said. "I was honored to share what makes projekt202 such a great place to practice my craft: the culture, the work and a focus on bettering experiences everywhere."

projekt202 sincerely thanks the members of the UX Club, and the students and faculty of The University of Texas at Dallas.

Photos courtesy of Jessica Hart, Jeremy Johnson and the UX Club at UT Dallas

2016: The User Interface Revolution Underway

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.

Worldwide Vision

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.

Conclusion

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.

Helping Startups Expose UX Issues

expose-ux2.jpg

Two of projekt202’s User Experience (UX) Designers – Jeremy Johnson and Chelsea Maxwell– recently served as judges for an upcoming episode of Expose UX. Expose UX is a new Web TV show devoted to identifying UX issues, challenges and solutions for early-stage startups. Founders demonstrate their products and receive honest feedback from a panel of UX experts. In each episode, five startup companies pitch their products in front of three UX professionals.

For episodes and additional information, visit http://exposeux.com.

A23D: A 3D-Printed Letterpress Font

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This video starts out with a nicely filmed and narrated overview on the history and process of letterpress printing. Then we see the development of a custom letterpress font from initial design concepts to 3D printing and then ultimately being a working font in regular use on their presses.

—Thanks to Derek Rosenstrauch

How We Created Color Scales

Image by datavisualization.ch
Image by datavisualization.ch

Image by datavisualization.ch

An in-depth look behind the process of determining color schemes for datavisualization.ch’s charts and graphs, addressing issues such as color blindness and semantic meaning of colors.

—Thanks to Jerehmie Cannon

What to Steal From Destiny’s UI

Who says designers can’t learn from games? Lots of great little tidbits for UI designers to pick up from the massively hyped next-gen game Destiny.

—Thanks to Chris Williams

5 Timeless Marketing Lessons for Today’s Brands From Visionary Designer Paul Rand

Paul Rand’s approach to brand design, founded on simplicity and attention to form, remains profoundly influential today. With the reprint of his book Thoughts on Design, Michael Beirut lists five design principles that today’s brands can strive to follow.

—Thanks to Chip Wilson

How To Kern Type Perfectly

Image by Rob Sutton
Image by Rob Sutton

Image by Rob Sutton

A simple trick to bring a more discerning eye to your type kerning.

—Thanks to Alan Koda

13 Ways Designers Screw Up Client Presentations

Image by Havoc
Image by Havoc

Image by Havoc

The first time I presented design to a client I absolutely choked. I put the work in front of them and stood there like an idiot. It was humiliating. The next time was a little easier. And the time after that, well, you get the idea. I have done every one of the things on this list. I’m sharing them with you in the hopes that they’ll spare you a humiliating experience or two. It’ll take time.

—Thanks to Jared Christensen

The Boring Designer

BoringOR
BoringOR

Whenever I’m looking at a product designer’s work, I find myself continuously asking the same question: which solution is the boring one? Maybe it’s born out of seeing apps choose flash over function, or trying to understand just one too many indecipherable icons-as-buttons. Whatever the case, here’s an ode to the boring designers among us. The designers who choose obvious over clever every time.

—Thanks to Jared Christensen

Get Ready for Generation Z

Photo by Chad Hipolito

Generation Z—the post-Millennials generation—may be shaping up to be smarter, more ambitious, and better connected than those who came before them.

—Thanks to Jeff Steinberg

Startup Marketing and How Emotion Drives Customer Action

“It is easier to build marketing around the [what], but storytelling originates in the [why]. The why enables startups to tap into its product/brand’s intrinsic emotional advantages – like excitement, happiness, or contentment.” Rather than relying on metrics, Kobie Fuller argues that startups should be creating an emotionally resonant story to bring to market.

—Thanks to Chip Wilson

Scribble’s Color-Matching Pen

Photo by Scribble

This pen uses an integrated scanner and CMYK paint mixer to create ink that is true to scanned color. It also comes with a stylus to match that color against the sample and create the color on mobile and tablet. Kickstarter coming this week.

—Thanks to William Yarbrough

Patatap: Visual Music-Making in Your Browser

Make musical bloops and bleeps, accompanied by beautiful algorithmically-generated visuals, from the comfort of your keyboard and browser.

—Thanks to Alan Koda

X to Close

Image by Lauren Archer

Ever wonder where the basic visual language of our Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs) originated? This very thorough and entertaining essay by Lauren Archer traces the origins of the [x] symbol that is now a standard in UI design. Prepare yourself for a journey into the GUIs of the past.

—Thanks to Amber Lindholm

How Giant Websites Design for You (and a Billion Others, too)

Photo by TED

In this TED talk, Margaret Gould Stewart, Facebook’s director of product design, discusses the challenges of designing at a massive scale—where small details cascade into huge consumer ripple effects.

—Thanks to Jessica Dolson

Calculate Your Typographic System with Gridlover

Image from Gridlover

Gridlover helps designers create a typographic system and quickly see how different variations look. You can play around with vertical rhythm, scale for body and heading text, preview different fonts in the content area, and view the content with or without a grid. Once you’re done, you can get the output for CSS/Sass/Less in pixels, ems or rems. It makes doing the math for a typographic system much easier—which you’ll love if you aren’t a mathlete.

—Thanks to Lindsey Norman

A Designer’s Guide to DPI

Image by Sebastien Gabriel

Taking dozens of devices, screen sizes, and resolutions into account can be a difficult ordeal. Sebastien Gabriel lays down a short and sweet refresher on how to take consideration of screen resolutions in your designs, covering the basics on DPI, PPI, HD, 4K, PT, Hz, and any other acronyms I’ve left out. A great guide for thinking about mobile resolutions on a variety of devices.

—Thanks to Dennis van Huffel

Designing Rehabilitation into the Prison System

Responding to the ethical dilemma posed by designing spaces to purposely isolate and punish inhabitants, some prison-design architects look toward participatory design methodology to discover how the prison experience can encourage rehabilitation over punishment. Following the movement started by Scandinavian architects, Deanna VanBuren designs “restorative environments” for prisoners. In a workshop conducted with California inmates, 18 participants shared their thoughts on designing prisons in a way to lead toward rehabilitation and decrease likelihood of re-offending.

—Thanks to Rae Gibbs

Want the Best User Experience? Make it Harder to Add Features

Photo by UX Magazine via Shutterstock

Building software with scalability in mind seems like a logical choice for most companies. I would argue however, that software should be built for its current purpose, without scalability in mind. It seems counterintuitive, but it’s the right thing to do. It means that adding features down the line will need to be a careful process of consideration rather than just something that’s tacked on.

—Thanks to Jared Christensen

The Importance of Prototyping Your Designs

As a designer it’s imperative that, before you simply dive into a project and start creating, you must start from the beginning of the process and test your ideas to ensure they’re the most effective way of accomplishing what you’re working towards. Prototyping offers a way to test what looks great and is fit for purpose, whether it’s for a website or a piece of software.

—Thanks to Jared Christensen

A Great Excuse to Revisit Your Favorite Wes Anderson Movies

Photo from Fox Searchlight via Fast Co.Design
Photo from Fox Searchlight via Fast Co.Design

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.

Five Things UX And UI Designers Could Learn From Wes Anderson: Lessons from the Most Meticulous Filmmaker Alive

— Thanks to Kelly Moran

The Anti-Design of Everyday Things

At last: The Anti-Design of Everyday Things.

The Uncomfortable Project

— Thanks to Dennis van Huffel

Xbox, Contextual Research, and Biking

Photo by The Verge
Photo by The Verge

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?”

How the Design Firm Behind the Xbox Built the Bike of the Future

— 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.

Gratitude and Its Dangers in Social Technologies

— 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.

Designing the New Dungeons & Dragons

— 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.

Noisli

— 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.

How Design Thinking Transformed Airbnb from a Failing Startup to a Billion Dollar Business

— Thanks to William Yarbrough