Automotive News writes about personas “developed by Mercedes-Benz Financial Services, in partnership with consulting firm projekt202, to capture the attention of millennial and Generation Z consumers and usher them into a new phase of their lives …”
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.
By Kelly Moran
Principal Experience Researcher, projekt202
Originally published in Medium
Why do we need to observe people to learn from them? Why does a product owner need to observe her end users to discover problems? Why should a business observe its customers to uncover needs?
Can’t we just ask?
Observation is a critical part of the process of understanding people — whether they be users, customers, clients, or even friends or family. You need to experience a person’s context, with them, to really get what’s important.
Imagine aliens came down for a visit. If they asked you to tell them about your day, what would you say? You would likely start off in vaguely chronological order and tell them you wake up, get out of bed, wash up and get dressed. You might mention breakfast and, if it’s important to you, you’ll note the nutritional makeup of that meal. Then you’ll move on to the things you do after leaving your house — get in the car, buckle up, drop off children (please note that they’re yours), drive to work. You may remember now that you think they should know you locked your doors and set the security alarm. It would go something like that.
Think a little about what else you might tell them. I’ll wait.
Did you remember to include breathing? You do it all day long. It’s so much a part of your existence that you don’t usually think about. What happens when the aliens go back home and build you a habitat that doesn’t include air? In my industry, we call that a usability problem.
Whose fault would that problem be? Should you have been responsible for providing an exhaustive list of your daily needs and habits? Or should those expecting you to thrive in this new experience have been more involved in collecting the necessary data to make adoption easier?
You can’t expect people to tell you everything they need. If you ask, they’ll give you aspirational answers or focus on the things they really care about; like the kids, or the food, or the safety measures. In-context observation is what I (and many others) do to discover unarticulated and implicit needs — those things that are as natural to the user population as breathing. We want to see people filling their lungs in exasperation, or huffing out in relief. Hear the hiss of a startled response, or the sigh of contentment. We are literally looking for air.
And that’s why we can’t just ask.
When learning a new instrument, Jonathon Lott found that video slowed his playing guitar.
Jonathan turned to YouTube for help, but the instructional videos usually played faster than his fingers could. In response, he created Snippz, an app for looping and slowing down sections of YouTube videos.
In the latest episode of “Expose UX,”a TV show devoted to identifying user experience (UX) issues and solutions, Jonathon seeks advice from projekt202’s Vice President of Customer Experience Jeremy Johnson.
Along with fellow UX panelists James Helms and Ken Tabor, Jeremy helps Jonathon strike a chord with his new Snippz app. Tune in to the new episode now.
"The over-arching goal of this entire project is to get passengers to destinations faster."
projekt202 has helped on-time performance soar for one of the world's leading airlines.
In this podcast, projekt202 Solutions Architect Mark Sims discusses working with the airline's team -- through research, UX design and UI development -- to successfully deliver large-scale web applications to support millions of travelers daily.
projekt202 Co-Founder and Chief Experience Officer Peter Eckert recently attended the Unit4 Connect 2016 User Conference in New Orleans. The popular conference presented opportunities to network with industry peers and attend professional development sessions.
"The Unit4 User Conference in New Orleans was interesting," said Peter. "The presentation that really stood out was one by Unit4's Thomas Staven and Ton Dobbe about the future of business software. They presented the natural language digital assistant Wanda, which handles timesheets and expense reporting through live chat. It was an awesome demonstration that, as always, form follows empathy for the customer and user."
projekt202's Senior UX Designer Chelsea Maxwell and Vice President of Customer Experience Jeremy Johnson share their expertise in an illuminating new episode of "Expose UX," a TV show devoted to identifying user experience (UX) issues and solutions.
The latest episode shines a spotlight on Openbrite, whose modular LEDgoes products allow businesses to create programmable LED marquee displays of any size, shape, color and speed. However, its creators are struggling to clearly pinpoint their key audiences.
Along with fellow UX expert James Helms, Chelsea and Jeremy open up with their own bright advice on the importance of targeting exact users. Watch the new episode now.
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.
In the world of UX design, what are three key areas primed for real change?
In this podcast with projekt202′s Vice President of User Experience, Mike Blakesley looks at the present and future states of the industry, and discusses significant UX opportunities to leverage in the remainder of the year and into the next.
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.
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.
"I fully believe leaders aren't chosen -- they're made. projekt202 presents a lot of opportunities and you just have to be willing and persistent enough to go get them."
One of the many perks of working at projekt202 is the ongoing opportunity for advancement. Employees aren't boxed into specific roles; in fact, team members are encouraged to embrace their professional passions and think outside the box when it comes to their career paths and roles.
Senior UX Designer Lan Nguyen shared the career development opportunities she's found at projekt202:
When I started, I was told that I would be given a lot of autonomy, which still holds true today. I've been encouraged to take on more responsibility outside my job title.
projekt202 has been very encouraging for me. I am in two mentorship programs: one with projekt202 leadership and one with (Co-Founder and Chief Experience Officer) Peter Eckert, who works specifically with the UX team.
I've been able to grow very fast and far in the 15 months that I've been with the company. It's really all about what you want to do and the impact you'd like to make.
Do you have designs on a new career? 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