Category Archives: UX happenings

Tour of user centred New York businesses

New York … New focus

I’m off to New York with Better by Design, for a fresh take on being customer centred – shifting focus to a different type of customer…

The customer of design.

Prevalent models like Lean Startup, Design Thinking, Jobs To Be Done etc. all stress a primary need to understand the end user of the product. In fact, it’s hard to find a contemporary ’best practice’ example of design or product development which doesn’t include ‘getting out of the building’, ‘walking in their shoes’ or having ‘empathy’.

…But there’s little thought given to the customer of user centred design – the business decision-maker considering investing in the often unquantifiable value this approach will bring, and wanting assurance they’re doing the right thing by leading their team down this path.

Who’s walking in their shoes?
Where’s the empathy for them?

Being a coach with Better by Design certainly takes this direction, and joining 25 Kiwi CEOs on a tour of NY businesses offers a great opportunity to take a taste of my own medicine by getting closer to my own customers.

The businesses we’ll visit have all been built on or have adopted a customer centred approach, from mainstays like Ideo & Google, to more ‘recent’ arrivals IBM (who’ve hired hundreds of designers in the last year) and a bunch of more ‘Kiwi sized’ product and service companies.

At each business we’ll get a taste for their approach and hear how they believe they’ve applied it in their business, through staff culture, product attributes or the way they decide ‘what next?’.

Yes, a great set of case studies to learn from, but my interest lies in the response of the curious but yet-to-be-convinced CEO or Product Manager who’s perhaps too close to their product or has lost connection with their customers’ world.

What does a user centred approach look like to them?
I’ll be looking to see what resonates, what scares them, what raises eyebrows, or triggers an inhale through the teeth.

Plenty to learn, and as with all customer insights work, the answers to these questions lie beneath the surface and between the lines. So if you’re in New York in Late October, that’s where you’ll find me.

Oh, and I’ll be speaking at New York’s UXLab hosted by Motivate – so hope to meet some locals for another kind of learning opportunity.

User centred design, coming to a government near you.

The UK government has built a serious design team, with a bias towards user research and a user centred approach.

All signs (Read below) are that our government is taking the same course. This will mean exciting things for the UX design community in New Zealand not if, but when we follow suit…

I’ve just returned from London, working with Government Digital Service, a massive team of researchers, strategists, designers, developers and general smarties with a lofty remit.

  • “To ensure the Government offers world-class digital products that meet people’s needs”
  • “The quality and user centricity of major commercial internet properties should be our minimum goal”
  • “Our aim is to be the unequivocal owner of high quality user experience between people and government”

They’ve literally put the user at the centre of their process, and adopted user research as a core design tool.

Their approach has been boiled down into a beautifully succinct ‘service manual’ which has become required reading for UX people, particularly in the digital field.

Some chapters are: Digital by default –  User Centred Design –   User Needs

Throughout the approach is a strong bias towards user research, with 25 researchers on the team (and growing), tackling every type and method of research I’ve heard of and the ultra broad spectrum of users which is… the UK public, and every way in which they interact with goernment.

This quote from their website demonstrates how committed they are to basing their design work on user research and the needs of their customers:

  • “People come to GOV.UK with specific needs. Anything that gets between our users and meeting those needs should be stripped away”

To achieve this standard, they’ve set 26 Criteria, of which the first is below:

Their work extends way beyond digital into service design and interactions in the built environment, as it should.

So to what degree is this happening in NZ?

Last month an initiative from the DIA came onto my radar…

It’s called Transforming the System of Service Delivery and lays out the same goals and principles as a way to redesign the way services are delivered to Kiwis.

  • “DIA will put the customer at the centre of everything we do “
  • Designing and delivering our products and services around how New Zealanders live their lives: we will develop a deep understanding of what our customers want and need, and work collaboratively to put customers at the centre”

Here’s an illustration of their customer’s world:

I know IRD and the MOJ have some internal capability but when a wide reaching project like this kicks off, our telcos, banks and digital agencies will have to fight even harder for the best UX talent from the tiny pool here in NZ.

and now look what’s been floated by the director of the Design Museum … a Minister for Design.

Exciting times.