By Leif Roy and Trent Mankelow
Service Design 2012
Attended by Trent Mankelow
I liked the intimate feel of this conference. With only 120-ish people it made the whole thing feel really friendly. The local case studies and content (there was nary a mention of Apple) helped to create a “we can do this” attitude.
The conference had a real focus on process over deliverables, so there were lots of photos of workshops and post-its, and fewer customer journey maps than last year. Overall the conference itself wasn’t chock full of takeaways, but in some way that mirrors the service design industry as a whole. I just don’t think this thing is well defined. My attitude led to a dinner-time debate with Steve Baty, one of the organisers of the conference, as to how important it is to define service design (him = this is very important, me = this is very nice sushi).
Anyway, here are my top three:
Creating Real Business Value when Designing Services – Damian Kernahan
I took the most notes from the first talk of the day. There were lots of nuggets in Damian’s talk, although I think there was a bit missing. He talked about getting to a compelling business case for service design, but never addressed the fundamental problems with business cases (I think most of them are pieces of creative writing whose underlying premises are never looked at again).
- Most clients provide the questions that they think they want answered. These questions aren’t bad, but they are seldom the best questions, and are often the same questions that their competitors are asking
- Design research helps to answer “the killer questions hidden from view”, and gets to the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’
- 7 Days [PDF] is a research technique that asks questions in the context of participants’ lives
- “It’s important to make a robust case to the bean counters that customer experience is worth investing in”
- One way to map value is to translate the research data into themes, and then value each of the themes using NPS and business intelligence data
- Another way to think about value is to ask yourself what job it is that you are hiring X to do. For example, what job are you hiring a thick shake to do? Reduce thirst? Or make a long commute less boring?
- Once you use this ‘jobs’ filter, a whole new world opens up in terms of what people value
Blended design teams: from clients and consultants to co-workers – Harriet Wakelam, Owen Hodda and Zaana Howard
I got goose bumps watching the 3-minute video that kicked off this presentation. The video summarised a 4-week project building a ‘bank branch of the future’ in a warehouse. Funnily enough this presentation was a meta talk, more about the process and the team than the actual branch.
- Their brief was to “test all the things and tell us if they work”
- They created a blended design team made up of people from Deloitte and NAB, which functioned extremely well
- They were working long hours, towards an undefined outcome, under some pretty high-level scrutiny
- What helped was realising that “no-one had all the answers”, and A LOT of trust
- They also found it useful to have non-designers in the team. It was uncomfortable at times, but it forced the designers to challenge their own practice. To a certain extent they had to give up ownership of their tools and methodologies
- One of their big takeaways was to “avoid fetishisation of design deliverables”
- “Design itself doesn’t solve problems”
- “Conversations about the customer experience are now happening that transcend the artefacts.” 80% of the work of the NAB design team is at what they call the conceptual design phase
- “There is no end-point to design”
The value of consciously design services – Iain Barker
Iain talked to a dozen or so luminaries to put together his slides. He said a number of provocative things, which was a great way to end the day. I took away the following:
- It’s a good time to be doing this kind of ‘strategic design’ work
- But to “change the customer experience, we need to change the organisation”
- And to change the organisation, should we be stopping at the design of services?
- We need to be confident in our process
- But not too confident. In January 2011, Forrester announced the winner of their 2011 Customer Experience Index was Borders. In February 2011, Borders filed for bankruptcy
- It’s hard work, but you know you are making a difference to your organisation when there is: More time for thinking; More interaction with customers; An increasingly sophisticated problem definition; and Recognition of the value of an insight
- Bonus point: “Don’t fail fast, learn fast”. This rephrasing helps sell innovation
UX London 2012
Attended by Leif Roy
This was my first time at UX London and I was a little surprised that it wasn’t a bigger event. With roughly 250 attendees (and close to 400 on the waiting list), the organisers could easily have chosen to fill a bigger venue. As a result of their restraint, and like the Service Design event in Australia, UX London felt relatively intimate and friendly.
On reflection I don’t think there were any major revelations or ground breaking presentations over the course of the three days, but rather an underlying sense of “arrival”. There is now an escalating demand for UX and design in the commercial world, and many speakers touched on the importance of wielding this power with care and consideration.
My highlights from the conference talks were:
The essence of Bill’s presentation was that design and innovation don’t happen overnight, and that seemingly new ideas, solutions, and products don’t appear out of nowhere. Most of the work that designers produce can be traced back to what has gone before. Bill peppered his presentation with examples of “game changing” products that could be traced back to a historical source or seed.
- It’s a myth that innovation comes from a ‘light bulb moment’
- The reality is that design is more like hard work, and many ‘overnight’ innovations may in fact have been gestating for many years, if not decades
- We should be actively learning the history of our discipline
- We should be “prospecting” for ideas, and sampling, sketching, and synthesising from what we observe and experience (what Bill called “mining and refining”)
- “Creativity is the art of making what should be obvious, obvious”
Anders was a last minute stand-in for a presenter who wasn’t able to make it on time. He had a great presentation that tackled the familiar challenge of fitting UX into an Agile process.
- Anders was initially disappointed with his experiences of Agile. He named different types of Agile dysfunction: “Feeding the beast”, “Half-baked UX”, “Sprint tunnel vision”, “Faux Agile”
- The problem as he sees it: “Stop running the relay race and take up rugby”. Too often people are continuing to play the old Waterfall game on an Agile playing field
- Rugby = Intensive and continuous collaboration is core to the game
- Agile UX = Collaboration-centred design and a shift towards facilitation as a core skill set
- The best approach probably sits somewhere in the centre of Traditional UX, Agile UX, and Lean UX
- Traditional UX – Design and usability
- Agile UX – Collaboration and delivery
- Lean UX – Measuring and validating product / market fit
Luke gave a very polished and insightful presentation that explored both his practical experiences and his personal explorations into how to design successful mobile web experiences. His overarching theme was that “Mobile is not a desktop PC”. Here are some of the interesting pointers and tips from his presentation:
- There are 1,400,000 mobile devices entering the world every day, compared to 371,000 babies
- 85% of smartphone use is at home
- 39% of people use smartphones in the bathroom
- Key parameters of a mobile device are: small screen, a battery, an inconsistent network, fingers, and sensors which give access to a lot of environmental data
- There are four primary use cases that represent the majority of what users are doing on the web on their mobiles: 1) Look-up / Find, 2) Explore / Play, 3) Check-in / Status, 4) Edit / Create
- Minimal navigation, maximum content. “People don’t want to wait while they’re waiting”
- Provide relevant content up front and remove the friction of a Dashboard
- Make content front and centre
- Focus on what matters most
- Gradually reveal experiences
- Avoid excessive navigation