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Putting People First

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30 October 2014

Global Social Media Impact Study

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The Global Social Media Impact Study based at the UCL Department of Anthropology (London, UK) is dedicated to understanding the implications of social networking sites for global humankind and society, and explaining their significance for the future of the social sciences.

Nine simultaneous ethnographies take place in eight different countries around the world – Brazil, Chile, China (North), China (South), India, Italy, Trinidad, Turkey and United Kingdom – in order to grasp the implications of social networking sites and social media for mankind.

The main focus of the research is on the insights that a study of social media might bring to social science more generally. Other key topics are parent-child relationships, separation in families, transnational separation, privacy and politics, welfare issues (incl. low income populations and issues of the digital divide), the elderly, the role of SNS in memorialisation and the assessment of new social media relative to everything else that a person, or indeed a society, does.

The study brings together a team of leading anthropological researchers from around the world, supported by experts in social media and dissemination. They include Daniel Miller (Principal Investigator), Elisabetta Costa, Jolynna Sinanan, Juliano Spyer, Nell Haynes, Razvan Nicolescu, Shriram Venkatraman, Tom McDonald, and Xinyuan Wang.

The project blog contains draft chapters.

30 October 2014

Graphic novel explains our role in the world of Big Data

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Big Data powers the modern world. What do we gain from Big Data? What do we lose? Al Jazeera America examines the role of technology and the implications of sharing personal information in the network’s first graphic novella, Terms of Service: Understanding Our Role in the World of Big Data.

The new comic novella, available on Al Jazeera America’s website at http://projects.aljazeera.com/2014/terms-of-service, is a thought provoking, entertaining field guide to help smart people understand how their personal, and often very private, data is collected and used.

Co-produced by well-known cartoonist Josh Neufeld and Al Jazeera America reporter Michael Keller, Terms of Service is an entertaining feature that follows characters “Josh and Michael” as they journey through the challenges of digital privacy and other issues consumers should be aware of in the “brave new world” of technology and Big Data. The comic attempts to entertain and educate readers while providing a solid foundation for them to begin asking their own questions.

Between social media profiles, browsing histories, discount programs and new tools controlling our energy use, there’s no escape. As we put ourselves into our technology through text messages and photos, and use technology to record new information about ourselves such as FitBit data, what are the questions a smart consumer should be asking? What is the tradeoff between giving up personal data and how that data could be used against you? And what are the technologies that might seem invasive today that five years from now will seem quaint? How do we as technology users keep up with the pace while not letting our data determine who we are?

Michael Keller is a multimedia journalist at Al Jazeera America covering issues at the intersection of technology and civic life. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Newsweek/Daily Beast, and others. He graduated from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 2011 and is a research Fellow at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University. [mhkeller.com]

Josh Neufeld is a nonfiction cartoonist living in Brooklyn. His previous works include A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge, The Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone On the Media, and the ongoing series The Vagabonds. Neufeld was a 2012–2013 Knight-Wallace Fellow in Journalism at the University of Michigan. [JoshComix.com]

30 October 2014

The BancoSmart ATM by Experientia for UniCredit selected for ADI Design Index

adidesignindex

Last year Experientia designed the interface of an ATM of UniCredit, a major Italian bank. The interface is now rolled out across the bank’s ATMs in Italy, to great satisfaction of the bank and the customers alike, since interaction speed is much faster and error rates went down dramatically.

Last year UniCredit and Experientia also decided to enrol the design for the ADI Design Index, the annual publication and exhibition which since 1998 has brought together selected products representing Italian Design, from which then the prestigious ADI Compasso d’Oro International Award gets selected.

Not only is it the first time a bank product has been submitted for this design award, but the interface was also selected and a video of it (see above) is now part of the ADI Design Index exhibition that is currently on show in Milan (Spazio ex Ansaldo until 8 November) and will then move to Rome (ex Cartiera Latina – 17-28 November)

Video: YouTubeVimeo

The Experientia team:
Jan-Christoph Zoels, creative director
Michele Visciola, user research director
Michele Giannasi, PM and information architect
Laura Polazzi, user research lead
Alessandra Canella, user researcher
Yosef Bercovich, interaction design lead
Dohun Jang, interaction designer
Lukas Schuster-Woldan, interaction designer
Giovanni Buono, usability test lead
Caterina Manolino, testing
Fabio Carnevale Maffè, testing
Raffaela Citterio, information architect
Shadi Lahham, prototyping
Gabriele Santinelli, prototyping

29 October 2014

Experientia at EPIC: UX transforming a financial institution

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In September 2014 Experientia gave a presentation on working as UX professionals with financial institutions at the EPIC conference in New York.

The paper is now available on the EPIC site in HTML and PDF versions (free registration req’d).

Abstract
Application of a user-centered approach rooted in ethnographic methodologies facilitates a major European bank’s transition to a business strategy based on understanding people’s needs, behaviors, values and motivations. Three UX case studies conducted over three years illustrate our educator, moderator, partner framework for collaborating with large enterprises in flux.

EPIC stands for Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference. It is the most important global conference on qualitative research in business. The next edition will take place in September 2015 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

28 October 2014

The zombiefication of business travelers

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Tim Askew, CEO of Corporate Rain International, explains how technology is increasingly isolating us from each other and stifling creativity and real experiences.

“As a frequent business traveler, I have noticed an unhappy change of late: I’m meeting fewer people than I used to. And I don’t like it. [...]

I’m afraid technology is turning us into dull-eyed, unpresent I-Zombies. We are losing the gift for connection to our fellow human beings, as well as stunting our brain processes that summon nonrational revelations and “aha”s.

In short, he says, “our ‘eureka’ moments may be being sacrificed for a mess of pottage–that mess of pottage being our present experience of superficial sledding on an omnipresent sea of technological connectedness.”

27 October 2014

Five things marketers can learn from designers

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Why are highly successfully companies putting top-notch designers in key leadership roles, ask David Weber and Lisa Leslie Henderson. What are designers bringing to the table that marketers and other c-level players are not?

“In today’s business landscape, where customer experience is the primary source of competitive advantage, designers have much to offer organisations. Although we often think of design as making objects more beautiful or functional, design now encompasses the broader strategic process of need finding and problem solving that tees up great products, services, spaces, events and digital interactions—in short, remarkable customer experience.”

27 October 2014

Best practices for medical app development go beyond standard UX

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Mobile healthcare app development poses a set of challenges very different from mainstream apps. Not only is security an area that requires a considerable attention, compliance with regulatory standards is also absolutely crucial. Mithun Sridharan lists nine things app developers should pay close attention to during the development process:
1. Focus
2. Understand the healthcare system
3. Don’t rely on user expertise
4. On-board experts
5. Leverage design thinking principles
6. Embed the app in research
7. Get in the trenches
8. Test the prototype
9. Data and processes first; then logic

Mithun Sridharan is the Managing Director of Blue Ocean Solutions PLC, a Germany-based Inbound Marketing company focusing on technology companies.

26 October 2014

Creating user-friendlier environments

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MIT News describes how Federico Casalegno of the MIT Mobile Experience Lab designs technology environments that keep human experience at the center of user experience.

“The director of the MIT Mobile Experience Lab looks to innovate with technology — but only in support of the user. This approach results in less-impersonal hotel lobbies, smarter gas stations, more intuitive homes, and a conference that examines design and creativity with a decidedly bottom-up approach. “We want to design technologies around people, not people around technologies,” Casalegno says.”

25 October 2014

Should more banks acquire UX design firms?

 

Underscoring the importance of a great customer experience, Capital One has acquired the San Francisco-based design and user experience firm, Adaptive Path. Is this a testing of the waters by a historically innovative financial institution … or the beginning of an industry trend?

Joel Oxman, VP Business Development of Extractable [a digital strategy and user-experience design agency in San Francisco that specializes in helping Financial Services clients succeed online], explores the matter in more detail.

“Why is the financial services industry so slow to respond? The hesitation most likely stems from the lack of understanding and appreciation by financial institutions for the financial return on investment they can expect from improving the digital customer experience.

This can manifest as both cost-reduction for impractical and less effective methods of service (i.e. utilizing call centers for basic service tasks) as well as increased customer LTV metrics that go hand-in-hand with improved engagement. Staffing a call center in America can cost banks an average of $11.00 for an average customer call. With an effective content strategy for curating and service-oriented content that’s laid out across an easy-to-use and action-oriented design, it’s easy to see how these costs could quickly be pared.

There is a strategic imperative for the financial services industry, specifically consumer-focused banks and credit unions, to awaken to the principles of user-centered digital experience design. Great examples are now being infused into a wide variety of industries to promote highly-considered purchases such as real estate (Zillow), cars (Tesla) and even watches (IWC).

Quite related to this article, is a recent post by Adaptive Path co-founder Peter Merholz, entitled “San Francisco Design Agencies Feeling the Squeeze“.

In both cases, I recommend you read the comments as well.

Also check this reflection by Rami Tabbah.

25 October 2014

Report outlines future of UK social design research

socialdesignfutures

Social Design Futures: HEI Research and the AHRC
By Armstrong, Leah, Jocelyn Bailey, Guy Julier, Lucy Kimbell
University of Brighton and Victoria and Albert Museum
October 2014, 84 pages

The UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) has just published a report exploring social design research in the UK.

The report scrutinises the future of social design research at a time when its relevance is growing rapidly as a result of policy shifts towards more open government structures and increased visibility of strategic design thinking and social innovation, and a wider context of economic austerity and digital revolution.

Current and ongoing interest in social design means the field is at a critical point. This ‘social design moment’ presents opportunities for researchers in design and related areas. However, in order to take full advantage of these opportunities, and to support the development of social design research, some challenges must be addressed.

> Press release
> Full report

25 October 2014

Experientia president to speak at User Friendly 2014 in China

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Experientia president Michele Visciola is one of the keynote speakers at User Friendly 2014, the annual user experience conference of UXPA China, to be held in Wuxi, China, 13 to 16 November.

The theme of the 11th conference is the “new era of the experience economy,” thus underlining the importance of transferring UX concepts and practices to industries and fields, and of shifting R&D from a manufacturing-oriented focus to a service-oriented one.

Other keynote speakers are Rong Tao, president of UXPA China and Chief Experience Officer, Ping An Financial Technology Co., Ltd; Sheng Fu, CEO, Cheetah Mobile; Tomer Sharon, Senior Search UX Researcher, Google Search; Alfred Lui, Chief Design Officer, Seer Labs; Melanie Arens, Vice President / Customer Experience Delivery Manager, Wells Fargo´s Digital Channels Group; Vijay Kumar, Professor, Chicago’s IIT Institute of Design; and Lou Yongqi, Dean / Professor, College of Design and Innovation, Tongji University.

Michele will address the topic of why ecosystems in the digital economy should be open and how UX can help different ecosystems to evolve and co-exist by enabling people to cultivate their own stability and aspirations. UX, he says, should not be aimed at “not making people think”, but rather at “making people think better”.

19 October 2014

Hospitable Hospice, Redesigning Care for Tomorrow

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Design for good death
Hospitable Hospice, Redesigning Care for Tomorrow
An IDEA 2014 Award winner research project
Free download: issuu, pdf

Existing healthcare systems can make the end-of-life experience more frustrating and undignified. The Lien Foundation and ACM Foundation (Singapore) in collaboration with fuelfor design consultants have published an experience design handbook, pdf). Its aim is to raise the universal standard of hospices, the service providers of end-of-life care.

Hospices suffer a poor image. They deserve to be better understood by society, to become a welcomed part of lifelong care services. An ageing population affects not only Singapore but is a worldwide phenomenon, so designing better palliative (non-curative) care services is of great relevance globally.

The team is proposing seven universal experience design concepts. They envisage a new service that is community-integrated, personalised in care and that helps all stakeholders navigate the end-of-life journey with greater confidence. The ideas range across diverse levels of opportunity; ideas like a Goodbye Garden can add dignity to the way that the deceased leaves the hospice. While others like the toolset for baking Thank you Cookies encourages patients to express their feelings in memorable ways. Besides many thought-provoking ideas, the handbook offers a set of 24 Experience Design Principles for designers involved in future hospice projects.

The researchers believe that the Hospitable Hospice handbook can create more conversations about death and dying – in the same way we can speak about marriage and birth – free from stigma, fear and taboo.

19 October 2014

Event: Why the world needs anthropologists

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An upcoming event is encouraging anthropologists to “come out of their ivory towers” and work more closely with their colleagues in the field, in order to bridge the gap between “pure” and “applied” anthropology.

The international symposium “Why the world needs anthropologists” (Facebook page) will be held on 5 December 2014 in Padua, Italy.

Experientia president Michele Visciola will be one of three speakers at the free symposium. He will reflect on the conference aim of erasing the boundaries between “pure” and “applied” anthropology, and presenting opportunities for establishing long-lasting cooperation between academics and practitioners.

According to the organizers, “contemporary demands give us no time to get stuck by internal tensions and divisions within the discipline – anthropologists need to come out of their ‘ivory towers’ and come to terms with the increasingly prominent economic, political and ecological challenges of our world.”

Other speakers are Antonio Luigi Palmisano, Professor of Social and Economic Anthropology at the University of Salento, and Rikke Ulk, CEO, Chief Anthropologist and founder of Antropologerne.

19 October 2014

Update on EU research on energy efficient built environments

CityOpt-logo

The European Commission funds research on a lot of important thematic areas, and in recent years the themes of sustainability and participatory approaches have received a lot of attention. This has made way for companies like Experientia to participate in research projects, as part of project consortiums with research and industry bodies from around Europe.

CITYOPT is just such a project. The consortium, in addition to Experientia, comprises research centres, cities, and energy utilities from Finland, Austria and France. The project aim is to develop applications and foster new partnerships between city leaders and stakeholders to optimize energy use in delicate urban environments.

Experientia has been leading the Demonstration work package, in charge of user research activities and user and stakeholder involvement. The project is currently underway, with research completed in Nice, Côte d’Azur Métropole (France), Helsinki, Finland, and Vienna, Austria.

Helsinki, Finland. One of the contextual interviews with the Kalasatama district's stakeholders.

Helsinki, Finland. One of the contextual interviews with the Kalasatama district’s stakeholders.

The CITYOPT project (Holistic simulation and optimization of energy systems in Smart Cities), started in February 2014 and will end in January 2017.

The project team consists of a consortium of 7 companies, aimed at improving sustainability by enabling more energy-efficient built environments. The CITYOPT consortium gathers project partners from 4 European countries, including research institutes, cities, energy utilities and a design studio:

Helsinki, Finland. Business models workshop with Östersundom stakeholders.

Helsinki, Finland. Business models workshop with Östersundom stakeholders.

The specific project targets are to engage users with the new CITYOPT applications, create new partnerships connecting city leaders and stakeholders and create new business models for decision support systems for energy efficient neighbourhoods.
The project will create a set of applications and related guidelines to support planning, detailed design and operation of energy systems in urban districts. The project addresses energy system optimisation in different life cycle phases, focusing on specific potential for optimisation and user & stakeholder involvement characteristics. 3 case studies in different climate zones demonstrate solutions: Helsinki, Finland; Vienna, Austria; Nice Côte d’Azur, France.

Nice, France. Contextual interviews at a dweller's flat.

Nice, France. Contextual interviews at a dweller’s flat.

Experientia, leader of the Demonstration work package, organises and conducts the user research activities and the user and stakeholder involvement. To date, Experientia has conducted a series of user research studies in the three pilot cities aimed at understanding the local contexts, end-users’ mental models and common behaviours, and involving the stakeholders in the business model definition. These activities included 15 contextual interviews, 3 participatory workshops, 3 business model workshops, 1 design ideation workshop, a session of contextual observations and an online survey. These activities involved city planners, utility companies, energy distributors, product and automation technology suppliers, facility managers, office workers, dwellers, and domain experts from the project consortium.

Vienna, Austria. The moderator describes how to execute an exercise during a participatory workshop.

Vienna, Austria. The moderator describes how to execute an exercise during a participatory workshop.

The results of the user research were analysed by Experientia’s research team and constitutes the starting point for defining the information and system requirements of a set of applications focused on real people’s expectations.

In the upcoming project months, Experientia will support the design of the CITYOPT application user interfaces. Experientia’s efforts will focus on the design and front-end development of a community-based application for the Nice Côte d’Azur residents, France, to support energy demand response scenarios. The application will be tested by 50 families, and their valuable feedback will play an essential role in improving the application UI and features, and to validate the project results.

16 October 2014

What human-centered design means for financial inclusion

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What Human-Centered Design Means for Financial Inclusion
Yanina Seltzer, Claudia McKay
16 October 2014, 126 pages
Interactive publication
Download pdf

CGAP has released today a 126 report entitled “Insights into Action – What Human-Centered Design Means for Financial Inclusion“.

The acronym CGAP stands for Consultative Group to Assist the Poor. It is a global partnership of 34 leading organizations – hosted within the World Bank – that seek to advance financial inclusion.

Publication abstract

Well-established in other industries but relatively new to financial inclusion, human-centered design (HCD) is a process built on learning directly from customers in their own environments. The process challenges financial providers to understand, create, evolve, and test possible solutions and repeat the cycle for as many times as it takes.

CGAP has experimented with seven HCD projects in eight countries. We brought leading design firms to work with banks, telecos, and insurance intermediary. As a result, we developed 175 financial product concepts and 30 prototypes. One lesson learned during these projects is that mobile money as a solution to financial inclusion for the poor is not without challenges. Using human-centered design as a method for examining how financial services work for the poor gave us many ideas about how to combine the best of informal financial services with what we know to be the strengths of mobile money.

Maybe the biggest lesson from these seven projects is that it’s going to be a challenge to integrate mobile money into the lives of the poor. Mobile money is not a magic bullet and neither is HCD. Even the most customer-centric and innovative concepts can fail without an ecosystem designed around the needs of customers. The flip side of this is that by working with HCD techniques, we have gleaned insights from hundreds of people that make us incredibly hopeful. Together, the results of these projects are helping to point the way forward.

16 October 2014

Push, pull or nudge

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Push, pull or nudge” is the title of a 2.5 hour workshop (video here) at the 5th European Conference on Public Communication held today in Brussels.

The workshop explored the potential of concepts such as design thinking, choice architecture and nudging in public affairs communication, and featured:

  • Sean Larkins, Deputy Director and Head of Government Communication Policy, Prime Minister’s Office and Cabinet Office Communications, UK
  • Runa Sabroe, Project Manager, Mind-Lab, Denmark
  • Katja Rosenbohm, Head of Communications, European Environment Agency
  • Fran Bambust, Choice Architect, CIBE Communications, Belgium
  • Bert Pol, consultant and researcher on government communication, Tabula Rasa, The Netherlands (moderator)

More information on page 16 of this pdf.

16 October 2014

Position Open – Experientia Communications Officer: writer, proofreader & editor

 

Experientia, the Turin-based User Experience Consultancy, is looking for a native English speaking Communications Officer to work in their Turin, Italy office. The company is specialised in interaction design, ethnographic research and usability testing for an impressive roster of international clients. We often describe this role as our in-house storyteller, and it is a critical part of Experientia’s commitment to high quality English-language deliverables.

The Communications Officer will work with the senior partners and the design and research teams, both as a proofreader and editor of other people’s work and as a copywriter and content creator. An important part of the role is contributing to strategic communications such as writing outgoing proposals for new work, website content strategy, and B2B communications.

Check here for more details.

15 October 2014

With Electronic Medical Records, doctors read when they should talk

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And this can have tragic consequences. Like Ebola death tragic. Abigail Zuger, M.D., shares her own experience:

“We do not really know whether dysfunctional software contributed to last month’s debacle in a Dallas emergency room, when some medical mind failed to connect the dots between an African man and a viral syndrome and sent a patient with deadly Ebola back into the community. Even scarier than that mistake, though, is the certainty that similar ones lie in wait for all of us who cope with medical information stored in digital piles grown so gigantic, unwieldy and unreadable that sometimes we wind up working with no information at all.

We are in the middle of a simmering crisis in medical data management. Like computer servers everywhere, hospital servers store great masses of trivia mixed with valuable information and gross misinformation, all cut and pasted and endlessly reiterated. Even the best software is no match for the accumulation. When we need facts, we swoop over the surface like sea gulls over landfill, peck out what we can, and flap on. There is no time to dig and, even worse, no time to do what we were trained to do — slow down, go to the source, and start from the beginning.”

Her conclusion: “Like good police work, good medicine depends on deliberate, inefficient, plodding, expensive repetition. No system of data management will ever replace it.”

11 October 2014

Reflections on Capital One’s acquisition of Adaptive Path

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This week Toronto-based UX strategist Rami Tabbah and I discussed Capital One’s acquisition of Adaptive Path. We were both a bit surprised by the lack of real reflection on the pros and cons of this development (with a few exceptions), so Rami, who has worked a lot with banks, wrote one himself.

His post is excellent and I encourage you all to read it in full, as he is not afraid to point out the potential pitfalls for Adaptive Path:

I am sure that the good intentions exist at Capital One. However, my experience with big enterprises tells me that Adaptive Path designers are up for a rough ride. Working from within will limit Adaptive Path designers’ influence on the bank. Being thought leaders and running conferences gave them not only visibility but influence that made it easier for clients to follow their recommendations. Inside the organization, they report to a senior person and everyone has to respect the hierarchy, not exceed limits and play by the rules. In this environment strategy and priorities change. Even AP’s management style will change and adapt and there is no guarantee the ideal conditions will last, even with a VP of design from Google. Adaptive Path designers risk loosing their mojo and may slowly become followers instead of leaders.”

and also the huge challenges for Capital One:

“For this “integration” to succeed, Capital One needs to absorb Adaptive Path’s philosophy. They need to put users first even as they design for new technology. Here I am referring to Garrett’s definition of users. It takes an organizational design strategy that also focuses on call centers, internal applications and every touch point with internal and external users. This cultural shift needs to change development frameworks. Capital One will also need to hire a savvy VP of Information Technology possibly from Google as well to build an entrepreneurial spirit that can allow great design ideas to be transformed into new products. They will need advanced project management skills able to develop and launch projects fast without compromising quality. They will need strong product managers to manage lines of products from a technical perspective and not just from a banking perspective as we see in many banks. They will need to have highly skilled architects to select appropriate infrastructures that adapt to future changes and have skilled developers and analysts able to understand and integrate new technologies. Ultimately, to make this transformation a success, Capital One needs to become a software company and excel at the game Google and Apple are playing.”

Rami Tabbah is a user experience strategist and with a focus on efficiency at Ergonaute Consulting in Toronto – Canada. He uses quantitative and qualitative research techniques and conceptual design to help companies better understand their users and how to shape their websites, applications, products and services to better match users’ expectations. He also focuses on innovation and inclusive design.

10 October 2014

The future of UX leadership: radical transformation

 

Jim Nieters and Pabini Gabriel-Petit have started a series of columns that offers insights on how to help companies progress from delivering mediocre user experiences, as is all too common, to producing truly great experiences that differentiate their products and services in the marketplace. Doing so, they say, requires a radical transformation in the way business executives and UX teams engage in creating user experiences.

“This series is not about making incremental improvements to the way UX teams work. It is about taking a different approach and driving radical transformation within organizations. No major changes in history have ever come about by playing it safe. Having said this, all of the ideas that we’ll share in this series have proven effective in one business context or another.

In this first installment of our series, we’ll focus on three main points:
– the problem that UX teams currently confront
– the role that design-driven differentiation plays in business success
– positioning User Experience for success within your organization

Jim Nieters is Senior Director of User Experience for Travel Products at HP, Scotts Valley CA USA

Pabini Gabriel-Petit is Founder and Principal Consultant at Strategic UX Silicon Valley CA USA, and Founder, Publisher, and Editor in Chief at UXmatters