trends

Agile Isn't Enough: Here's a Better Way to Build Software that Users Want

Agile Isn't Enough: Here's a Better Way to Build Software that Users Want

By incorporating behavioral science with agile methods, companies can deliver software that customers and users genuinely want and need. projekt202's CTO Rob Pierry explains the importance of this approach to move beyond agile and stand above the competition.

Enterprise UX 2016: Our Thoughts and Hopes

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."

GETTING STARTED

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.

PRIORITIZING

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.

DESIGN SYSTEMS

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:

Jannis Hegenwald
Experience Researcher
jannis.hegenwald@projekt202.com
@jannishegenwald

Amber Lindholm
Director of Experience Strategy and Insight
amber.lindholm@projekt202.com
@amberlindholm

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

2015: projekt202’s Year in Review

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.

projekt202 Named 161 on Inc. 500 List

Research-Driven Design Process for Application Development Drives Outstanding Growth of over 2,400%

DALLAS, TEXAS – OCTOBER 17, 2013 projekt202, a design-led technology services firm, today announced that they were the recipient of two prestigious awards that recognize today’s fastest-growing companies. Inc. magazine ranked projekt202 No. 161 on its annual Inc. 500 list of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies and the Metroplex Technology Business Council ranked projekt202 No. 3 on its annual Fast Tech Award list of fastest-growing technology companies.

This marks the third-consecutive year that projekt202 has been named to the Inc. 500|5000 list, with an outstanding, 3-year growth rate of 2,436%. In addition to awards recognizing the company’s fast growth, projekt202’s unique process and blend of services have been recognized by a leading analyst firm. In their 2012 report to CIOs, they stated, “The perspective and processes projekt202 is focusing on and perfecting will, over time, become standard operating procedure for any application development project.”

“Over the past 10 years, we have refined a methodology for creating delightful user experiences that eliminates much of the wasted spend on software development,” said David Lancashire, Chairman & CEO of projekt202. “By observing people in their everyday environments, we are able to uncover the reality of their needs and desires. In turn, this allows us to incorporate these new found ‘truths’ into our solutions – whether they be on the web, a smart phone, or in the workplace.”

projekt202’s other significant rankings on the Inc. 500 list include being named No. 15 of the Top 100 Software Companies and No. 20 of the Top 100 companies in Texas.

“We are delighted that what we have worked so hard to perfect – our blend of generative research, user experience design, and technology development – is now gaining visibility on a global stage,” said Peter Eckert, Chief Experience Officer of projekt202.

About projekt202

projekt202 is the world leader in applying strategic design research to spark innovation. The company is actively changing the way people interact with technology around the world. Recognized as an innovative and impactful vendor in application development, projekt202 creates emotionally rich and intuitive solutions that enable customers and end-users to access the full potential of technology in today’s connected world.

projekt202 helps to create and bring to market compelling experiences through design research, interaction & visual design, application development, and digital marketing. Clients include Expedia, Microsoft, Samsung, Charles Schwab, NFL, PayPal, Pier1 Imports, and more. For more information, visit www.projekt202.comor find us on twitter, @projekt202.

2011 Tech Trends — What’s Next for Today’s Tablets?

By Peter Eckert
Originally published in Product: Design & Development, May 2, 2011

Technology never remains stagnate. Consumer and business applications, along with hardware, are constantly changing to create and satisfy the public’s demand for advanced computing. For the past 20 years, we have seen a staggering adoption of technology worldwide and greater access to information than ever before.

We hardly notice the vast transformations until we step back and reflect as each of these technologies has become increasingly integrated into our lives. It is difficult to remember what we did before Google, and few of us can imagine going back to static maps to find our destinations.

Today we see planet Earth instantly, zooming into a particular address in Wisconsin effortlessly. And we can send a single email or text or post a message accessible to millions with about the same amount of effort. Each incremental advance offers us new possibilities.

So, to look at 2011 with its technology trends, is also to see we are part of a vast evolution with different facets making advances simultaneously. The process is chaotic and advancements are driven to meet various needs.

But, the net-result is often inflection points where we rapidly integrate technology into our lives at a new level. And, in the next couple of years, we are continuing to do so as the market brings us compelling solutions as well as entertaining options.

Technology advancements are as much about the power of a processor as they are about how that information is interconnected to other data sources. However, advancement also lies in how that technology is accessible to the end user.

It’s common knowledge that our processing capacity far exceeds its application in our lives at this point in history. It will take many decades, experts predict, for us to fully tap into the computational power we have created.

A key hurdle in the ongoing technology evolution is the process of translating computational power into usable applications via intuitive user interface design that enables the end user. Simply put, the easier it is for end users to access features, make decisions, analyze data and/or interact with technology, the more we are actually leveraging the computation power we have available.

Setting the Table with Tablets
2011 may be known best as “The Year of the Tablet.” The iPad is part of a growing transformation in computing: mobility, ease-of-use and a depth of functionality at our fingertips. But, stepping back and looking at the 20-foot view, the tablet’s mobility and engaging user interface is part of the much broader evolution and transformation in computing.

On the surface, the tablet is a light weight, sleek portable computer. Those qualities alone do not make the tablet in and of itself a breakthrough in computing. A key facet of the innovation lies in what Apple did with the iPhone and transposed on the iPad; an intuitive user interface design, access to engaging apps, elegant graphic and hardware design with an easy-to-use touch screen.

Since the 1990s, the tablet itself has been around in various formats. The breakthrough in the new decade is in the way computing functionality and form has transformed it.

The tablet is an important part of personal computing and has literally carved out a market through its design, even though it cannot and is not designed to replace the workhorse data entry capabilities of a laptop or desktop, or the convenience and size of today’s smart phones.

Simply put, these devices are a new instrument of technology that is capturing the imagination of consumers and businesses alike based on what it does offer.

Early in 2011, technocrats and industry gurus began the debate about the iPad’s viable competitors. A key facet necessary for a successful rival includes creating an interface that serves up compelling apps intuitively and matches the iPad with its sleek and attractive portability.

Much debate, sizzle, rumor and likely criticism, will encircle competitors of the iPad. Technocrats speculate who will rise to the top and who will and who will sink with new tablet offerings. And many of the world’s technology leaders are rushing to market with their version of the tablet experience.

Apple may have the hearts of the consumer, but the business user is also at stake as more and more organizations around the globe, and in vastly different sectors, examine how mobile computing can increase their productivity and enable their workforces. Apple won the consumer; it may not win the tablet war with business.

In business, organizations must translate their process to the tablet for it to have a meaningful impact on their day-today operations — unlike consumer adoption which is built with an avalanche of enthusiasm and excitement, business tablet users are slower to adopt as it is evaluated for its functionality in the workforce.

Nevertheless, leading organizations are already looking to integrate the tablet into their practices. With an increasingly mobile workforce, many leading companies want to offer their own business-to-business software applications in a form that aligns with the tablet as a benefit to their clients.

They envision making a version of their software — like workforce management applications — more accessible to clients through a mobile device. For others, however, they have staff working in environments where desktop computing is less accessible, such as deployed workforces based in or frequently visiting industrial and/or other sites.

They would benefit by being able to enter information while working versus having to stop and enter data and/or retrieve information from a computer located elsewhere.

While the tablet’s potential is vast, it is not limitless. Tablets and other mobile devices are not built for the kind of data entry inherent to laptops or desktops. Also, it is not a simple process to create an “app” version of complex enterprise software.

In some cases, to do so, would require numerous apps that breakdown the software into so many components the convenience would be eliminated. One might see 25 apps to equal one ERP implementation.

Each organization who identifies a potential synergy with offering app versions of their software should evaluate the potential outcomes and limitations. In many cases, porting a software application to a mobile environment will decrease the functionality and change the application.

Decisions related to functionality and features will have to be considered closely. That said, the tablet itself offers new opportunities for leading companies and many will look for these synergies throughout 2011.

Tablets Keep Evolving
As tablets and smart phones continue to penetrate all facets of the mobile market, in 2011, leading innovative companies will take them further by offering apps and solutions that literally begin to replace processes within our daily lives.

An area that appears to be drawing new interest is natural human behaviors like gestures — meaningful gestures that can create a communication on or between devices. One is example is the iPhone finger scroll or pinch to expand images. Another one discussed in the past is bumping cell phones together to exchange contact information.

Imagine reading a newspaper and being able to circle with a finger a coupon and it goes into a folder nice and orderly. Or, by simply placing a tablet under your arm — like you would a newspaper — it shuts off. Simple sounding, but each convention and/or gesture must be designed for the specific user type and the context that those users will be in.

It’s like taking the most ordinary of movements and integrating them into a computing environment that responds to human directives. These simplistic responses are foundational and symbolize the start of a next generation of computing — one that begins to absorb and take over or support many small and large daily processes.

Technology must get simple and seamless on a lot of fronts. There are real market drivers at play; namely an emerging middle class in China predicated to be twice that of US’s in coming years. In emerging markets around the world, new middle classes are surging and technology companies are seeking to offer these populations solutions that align with their needs.

In China, India and South America, iterative technologies have been skipped and, thus, the populations require totally intuitive applications to meet their needs. The tablet — its simplicity — offers an interesting solution or component in worldwide mobile computing.

Technology will take some interesting turns in 2011 and throughout the next decade.

Mobile in general is shifting the computing environment in many significant ways and leading companies want in on it for a host of reasons. Their challenge is ensuring their objectives and the tablet environment align for a successful and useful adaptation. For all the innovation of the tablet, people still need computing tools that support heavy data entry.

The tablet itself embodies far more than a new piece of sleek hardware. Apple’s focus on customer-centric usability sets a new paradigm in computing. It also demonstrates a worldwide demand for simplicity in computing.

Mobile devices are integrating into our daily lives in big, compelling ways as well as simple ways. Collectively, the evolution of computing is chaotic yet creating an exciting new foundation that goes beyond a new device but illustrates a future where we seamless interact.

Peter Eckert, co-founder of projekt202 and chief creative officer, is regarded as one of the leading UI design visionaries in the U.S. Peter has helped many fortune 500 companies implement a meaningful UI design process into their organizations. He has directed efforts for SAP, Charles Schwab, Sabre Airlines, Motorola, Microsoft, Agresso, Thompson Financials, Vignette, Buffalo Technologies, LeGrand, Logitech, Tektronix, Deloitte and many more.

2016: The User Interface Revolution Underway

By Peter Eckert
Originally published in UX Magazine, February 24, 2011

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.

Copyright 2011, UX Magazine