Archive | March 2012

Best (and worst) social TV moments of the Oscars

This year’s Academy Awards on ABC was infused with social media and second-screen experiences, top to bottom. So much so, we were juggling apps and devices — three different hosted live streams during the red carpet show — which was a bit out of control. While the show didn’t offer many (if any) smashing viral moments, there were some terrific second-screen developments and a few memorable social media tidbits.

(Update: The Oscars falls well short of social TV records Super Bowl and Grammys)

Best on-screen Twitter integration goes to…

Last year, it was news when the #Oscars hashtag appeared on the screen. This year, that’s par for the course, but a red carpet Twitter integration caught our eye. Users were asked to tweet with #bestdressed and the name of the celebrity to vote for their favorites. Every 30 minutes or so, the red carpet hosts announced the top three, in a simple bottom-third graphic (below). It was easy, clean and consistent with the show. There have been hashtag votes in other shows before, but I think this illustrates how you don’t always need a big trending dashboard thing to make Twitter a valuable interactive element of a show.

Biggest Oscars publicity stunt…

“Part of me thought he’d be up to something,” Ryan Seacrest said live on E! after Sasha Baron Cohen, dressed as “The Dictator,” dumped fake ashes on him. “When someone asks what you’re wearing, you’ll tell them Kim Jong Il!” Cohen yelled. Other than the fashions, this stunt was the subject of many red carpet tweets.


Oscars moment that turned into a Twitter account…

The best second-screen experience goes to…

There are a few winners here. During pre-show, we liked the IntoNow experience (below) that gave users the ability to “like” or “dislike” fashions by displaying photos (with about a 5-10 minute delay) from the red carpet. After you voted, you could see how others reacted.

During the show itself, the Oscars app provided multiple backstage live streams and a hosted experience, too. We found it distracting during the show — unless there was a particular winner we wanted to track backstage (after all, producers cut off people after about 30 seconds at the microphone.) For example, when the emotional Octavia Spencer left the stage, we watched as she made her way backstage, could barely talk into the “thank you” camera, then went to the press room for more. You could watch in a six-screen split (our favorite) or watch the ticker to see what was happening on various cameras. Very well done.

Also during the show, Viggle surprised us the most. The TV rewards app provided a slick real-time poll (below) that’s one of the best second-screen experiences we’ve seen. Perfectly in time with the broadcast, Viggle asked for predictions the moment a presenter approached the stage. It locked the votes seconds before they were read. Then it displayed the winner (awarding points accordingly) moments after it was announced. In each case, it prompted the user with a sound effect — the sound of a projector — which could be disabled easily. During other moments, it served up trivia questions (and you could get hints via Bing searches — yep, it was sponsored Bing.) All in all, the points all added up to real rewards.

On the conversation front, Twitter wins again. Twitter’s owned apps and Twitter.com may not be perfect, but they’re still better than other second-screen apps with Twitter clients for posting tweets. And definitely better than other second-screen apps running on their own discussion platform that have yet to gain any scale — those apps weren’t empty rooms this time, but the quality of discussion was dramatically lacking. This time, Twitter even pulled together its own list of live-tweeters for the show — probably not the last time we’ll see Twitter organizing content production (instead of just platform technology) around live events.

The best new second-screen feature is…

Umami rolled out a feature before the Oscars that’s one of the best we’ve seen on the second screen: a simple way to “screen grab” an image of what you’re watching on TV and sharing it with your friends (below). Umami lets you sync with the broadcast, then click “freeze frame” to choose from several images snapped from the broadcast over the last 30 seconds or so. Pick one, then share it out with your friends. Snazzy.

Weirdest second-screen moment is…

At one moment during the red carpet pre-show, I was watching three live streams at the same time — all hosted by different people — on TV, online and the Oscars app. And at one point, Milla Jovovich was “live” on two separate streams at once. Hmmm.

During the show, the official account @theAcademy tweeted gems like this one. Over and over again. (Spoiler alert? Now if it tweeted who won several minutes in advance, THAT would be a spoiler.) Not to mention, the upcoming presenter was already teased minutes before on TV, and in this case, Tina Fey had already been on the air for several minutes by the time it appeared in my tweet stream.

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Social TV Fans Driven By Desire To Keep Shows On The Air: Survey

Viewers Believe They Can Influence TV Business, According to TVGuide.com Poll

By Todd Spangler — Multichannel News, 4/3/2012 3:19:30 PM EDT

The top reason TV viewers cite for engaging with Twitter, Facebook and other social media is to prevent their favorite shows from getting canceled, according to a recent survey by TVGuide.com.

In a March 2012 online survey, 76% of respondents said keeping their favorite shows on the air was their main motivation for social activity, up from 66% on a TVGuide.com survey last year. Telling friends which shows they watch was the No. 1 reason a year ago at 77%, dropping to 61% in the 2012 survey.

The results indicate that “fans believe they have the power to influence the business of TV,” TVGuide.com general manager Christy Tanner said in prepared remarks. She was scheduled to present the survey findings at the Social TV Summit in San Francisco Tuesday.

Major live TV events also are a big driver: 69% of respondents said they participated in social activity to see what others were saying about an event like the Super Bowl or the Grammy Awards, while 33% of respondents said they wanted to say something about the event.

Of those who participate in social TV activity, 95% said they do so after watching a show — up from 68% last year — while 40% participate during a show (up from 33%) and 53% before a show (up from 52%).

TVGuide.com’s social TV research was based on seven surveys in February and March 2012, with between 1,800 and 3,500 participants per survey. The definition of social activity in the survey included a broad variety of social actions, including posts, status updates, check-ins and comments on social networks, fan sites, official network sites and entertainment sites and apps.

TVGuide.com — as well as TV Guide Network and the TV Guide brand — are part of a joint venture owned by Lionsgate and One Equity Partners, the private equity firm of JPMorgan Chase.

TVGuide.com has more than 24 million monthly unique users, who have created 500,000 social watch-lists on the site and entered 7 million TV check-ins.

7 Things You Should Never Do During An Interview

With the job market extremely tight, even the small stuff counts, especially when you’re on a job interview. That’s why it’s so important not to say or do the wrong things, since that first impression could end up being the last one.

 

With that in mind, here are seven deadly sins of job interviewing.

1. Don’t Be Late To the Interview

Even if you car broke down or the subway derailed, do everything you can to get to that job interview on time.

“If you have a legitimate excuse it’s still hard to bounce back,” says Pamela Skillings, co-founder of job coaching firm Skillful Communications. “People are suspicious because they hear the same excuses all the time.”

On the flip side, you don’t want to show up too early and risk appearing desperate, but you do want to be there at least five minutes early or at the very least on time.

2. Don’t Show Up Unprepared

It seems simple, but countless people go on job interviews knowing very little about the company they are interviewing with when all it would take is a simple Google search to find out. As a result, they end up asking obvious questions, which signal to the interviewer that they are too lazy to prepare.

“Don’t ask if the company is public or private, how long it’s been in business and where they do their manufacturing,” says Mark Jaffe, president of Wyatt & Jaffe, the executive search firm. “Sharpen your pencil before you go to school.”

3. Don’t Ask About Salary, Benefits, Perks

Your initial interview with a company shouldn’t be about what the company can do for you, but what you can do for the company. Which means the interview isn’t the time to ask about the severance package, vacation time or health plan. Instead you should be selling yourself as to why the company can’t live without you.

“Your interest should be about the job and what your responsibilities will be,” says Terry Pile, Principal Consultant of Career Advisors. “Asking about vacation, sick leave, 401K, salary and benefits should be avoided at all costs.”

4. Don’t Focus On Future Roles Instead Of The Job At Hand

The job interview is not the time or place to ask about advancement opportunities or how to become the CEO. You need to be interested in the job you are actually interviewing for. Sure, a company wants to see that you are ambitious, but they also want assurances you are committed to the job you’re being hired for.

“You can’t come with an agenda that this job is just a stepping stone to bigger and better things,” says Jaffe.

5. Don’t Turn The Weakness Question Into A Positive

To put it bluntly, interviewers are not idiots. So when they ask you about a weakness and you say you work too hard or you are too much of a perfectionist, chances are they are more apt to roll their eyes than be blown away. Instead, be honest and come up with a weakness that can be improved on and won’t ruin your chances of getting a job.

For instance, if you are interviewing for a project management position, it wouldn’t be wise to say you have poor organizational skills, but it’s ok to say you want to learn more shortcuts in Excel. “Talk about the skills you don’t have that will add value, but aren’t required for the job,” says Pile.

6. Don’t Lie

Many people think its ok to exaggerate their experience or fib about a firing on a job interview, but lying can be a surefire way not to get hired. Even if you get through the interview process with your half truths, chances are you won’t be equipped to handle the job you were hired to do. Not to mention the more you lie the more likely you are to slip up.

“Don’t exaggerate, don’t make things bigger than they are and don’t claim credit for accomplishments you didn’t do,” says Jaffe. “You leave so much room in your brain if you don’t have to fill it with which lie you told which person.”

7. Don’t Ask If There’s Any Reason You Shouldn’t Be Hired

Well meaning career experts will tell you to close your interview by asking if there is any reason you wouldn’t be hired. While that question can give you an idea of where you stand and afford you the opportunity to address any concerns, there’s no guarantee the interviewer is going to be truthful with you or has even processed your information enough to even think about that.

“All you are doing is prompting them to think about what’s wrong with you,” says Skillings.

Read more: http://www.glassdoor.com/blog/deadly-interview-sins/#ixzz1rpMwmDdl

Connected TV company says second-screen apps are distracting

For the Super Bowl, the connected TV marketing company CTV Advertising conducted a survey. It worked with ten heavy-consuming TV viewers (“couch consultants”) around the country, and asked them to fill out questionnaires before and after the game about “companion applications,” with an emphasis on synchronized advertising. And the results are in:

  • 6 of the 10 said they experienced “social disruption” in engaging with a second-screen app during the game, including negative reception from others in the room.
  • 4 of the 10 said the second-screen ad experience distracted from the primary TV spot
  • 7 of the 10 said they had trouble getting the apps to work properly, including “poor content recognition, loud group conversations and a general confusion as to what ads actually held synced capabilities.”
  • But… 8 in 10 said they derived value from the second-screen content experiences. “There was also a widespread acceptance and deeper engagement found for ads that rewarded their viewers with specific incentives.”

All this, according to CTV Advertising, adds up to one conclusion. “”There is a lot of power within the second screen, but also a lot of considerations and difficult factors when creating brand experiences for consumers,” said Zachary Weiner CEO of CTV Advertising. “Our belief holds that true two way interactivity found within the first screen holds the potential to have more seamless user experiences, such as our main practice area of connected TV advertising.”

Now, ten “couch consultants” are not a statistically-significant sample by any stretch, and CTV Advertising certainly has a vested interest in attempting to prove the point that second-screen apps are distracting. But I think there’s some truth buried in here.

As we mentioned in our Super Bowl social wrap-up, the big game is a different animal and not a good gauge for daily TV programming. Many people are watching with their friends — more than any other TV event — and the social TV experience is happening in real-life. “Second screen experiences are very unsocial when watching with friends in real life. Not sure of solution,” tweeted NBC News’ Ryan Osborn during the game. If I’m watching alone, that’s another matter.

Second-screen ad experiences are still in their early days, and they have a ways to go. “So few of them were done with any forethought whatsoever,” wrote Alan Wolk, managing director of the social strategy department at KIT Digital. Wolk argues that most second-screen ad experiences are “way too time-consuming and confusing” to conduct while trying to watch TV. “Let me save something for later in a basket, bookcase, coupon book – whatever you want to call it. But don’t make me stop and make decisions I have to think about.”

Wolk also raises one of my longtime concerns about Shazam. Unless you’re lightening fast — and know exactly where you’ve stashed your Shazam app — tagging a 30-second commercial is a challenge. (For the record, Shazam says it saw “record engagement” during the Super Bowl.)

In the world of companion TV experiences, the second screen has a big head-start over connected TV. That’s because 1) a touch screen interface beats a remote control hands-down and 2) the iOS and Android platforms have tremendously more scale than all of the fragmented connected TV experiences combined. But what happens as Android (underway now) and iOS (probably soon) apps begin to extend into connected TVs themselves? Will the first screen or second screen become the primary “companion” experience? What if it’s both, synchronized together? This will be a very excited time over the next two years.

What do you think about the first screen vs. second screen debate?

What does a UX Strategist do anyway?

Having just made the jump to full-time freelancing, I’ve been confronted recurring question: “What exactly do you do?”

I’ve primarily been focused on my existing clients, but am starting to get a number of new requests to work together; so I wanted to tell everyone what it is I do – and how you can start working with me.

There are three primary ways I’m engaged:

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1. True Consulting: I have built several relationships with global marketers using this method. The marketer, or agency, hires me to review materials & provide an opinion on how to proceed based on experience, research, stakeholder interviews etc. I’ve generally begin a relationship consulting on an ad-hoc basis, invoicing the client on a project basis. I’ve recently been retained by a couple clients who wanted the flexibility to engage me anytime, on multiple projects, by paying for a number of yearly hours upfront.

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2. Integrated Project Consulting: I’ve worked with several marketers & agencies in this method. This normally happens when the marketer, or agency, has a process & a team assembled, but is missing an element. I’m normally engaged to fill a missing strategic roll or to fill a missing user experience roll. I prefer to use this method, it allows me to engage with the team early, and stay engaged throughout the project. Getting the opportunity to review design & final development allows me to ensure the interpretation of strategy or UX doesn’t compromise any elements.

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3. Document-Only Consulting: This is a low-impact, easy way to engage with me. The document-only method is generally used by marketers or agencies who have a very specific need on a project. For instance, if a marketer needs a second opinion on a set of wireframes, or social media governance document, he will engage me to create that specific document. I’ve also been engaged by agencies to simply create a site map, or conduct a forensic audit of an existing site. This is generally not the best method, unless we’ve done work in the past and I’m familiar with the client.

That said, I have been asked about what types of documents I generally create throughout a project. Although every project is different, and may require customizations, here are some documents I’m engaged to create often:

**Note: If you’re not sure which of these documents to use, or when to use them, skip this section.**

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Strategic Models: Modelling is a visual way of strategic planning. Models without the right background research, context, or explanation can be good visual aids, but are poor investments. The point of modelling is to show why a strategy works, why some strategic elements were selected & others excluded. Complicated strategies may be governed by several models.

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Strategic Road mapping: Mapping out a high-level strategic roadmap & detailed campaign-based roadmaps help avoid misunderstandings between stakeholders, and allow teams to have a unified view of upcoming activities.

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User Personas: I was engaged by the Ontario government to create one of the largest sets of user personas I’ve ever created. It was 8 months in the making, and involved a 15 person team performing a month-long ethnographic study. Most persona development doesn’t take that long, but it is a substantial investment that pays off over time. Understanding who your users are, and what they want, allows you to customize your campaigns, strategies, and offerings to speak to the most interested audience at the most relevant time.

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Mental Models: I generally like one-page mental models to identify gaps, opportunities, and cognitive processes. Creating mental models are useful throughout the project in multiple ways, from focusing creativity, to managing scope. If feature-creep begins to happen, the mental model can be used to eliminate irrelevant features.

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eCRM Strategies: A strategy generally pulls together several documents into one cohesive deck. I have my own style & template for a eCRM deck, but can adapt it to match your internal style if required. An eCRM strategy is somewhat complex in the sense it deals with multiple platforms, content strategy, communications strategy, social media strategy, and data segmentation. That said, everyone has to start somewhere – if you don’t have an eCRM strategy, it’s time to get one ready. Even if it’s a 3 or 5 year plan, it’s better to be working toward a goal than not to have a goal to work toward.

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Social Media Strategies: This is another strategic deck (see eCRM Strategies) that I can customize to match your internal template. This is a document where I’ll make recommendations on content, moderation, community management, platform selection, monitoring guidelines, integration opportunites etc.

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Experience Maps: Is a broad term that refers to swim-lane-like documents that map out a unique campaign experience, platform experience, or an entire customer experience. This can be mapped back to business objectives, or to a mental model.

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Site Maps/ IA’s: A good first step in any digital project is to create an information architecture or site map. This visually shows the parent-child-sibling relationships, as well as being an overview of all pages. In addition to standard labelling, site redesigns may append template letters to the site map which will indicate which template governs each page.

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Navigation Design: It’s somewhat rare to be asked to do a navigation design without being engaged to do the entire site redesign, however it’s happened before. In this document, I propose a new or enhanced navigational system & structure. This might involve re-categorization, but might not. I’ll show how parent-child relationships are shown, where user-feedback is required, and how navigational buttons behave.

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Forensic Audits/ Content Inventories: This is a must-have document for all site re-designs. If I’m being engaged to do a re-categorization, or any part of a site redesign, I will complete a forensic audit of the existing site (if one isn’t provided) & will deliver a content inventory of the proposed solution. This will generally be delivered as an Excel document, unless otherwise specified.

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Wireframes/ Prototypes: There are many different programs & methods of creating wireframes & prototypes. Unless otherwise specified, I tend to either use Omnigraffle or Axure to create these. I have my own style, but can adapt it to mimic your internal style. I prefer to go through two rounds of wireframing, a preliminary-draft round and a detailed round. Sometimes these are delivered with additional supporting documents like a site-map, user flows, user stories, or a functional specification.

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User Testing: User testing is always a good idea on every project. At least one round of user testing should be performed prior to handing off prototypes to design. Ideally, a second round of user testing will be performed after implementation; with a focus on iterative improvements. MVT should be an ongoing process in addition to qualitative user tests.

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Re-categorization/ Card-sorting: When users are having a hard time finding what they’re looking for, you might need to re-examine your sites taxonomy. For smaller sites, this can be an easy exercise, but can be much bigger for e-commerce or informationally-heavy sites.

 

For those of you who are confused about these documents, don’t worry; there’s an easy way to figure out what you need. Ask me.

Again, these are just some of the most common documents. These certainly don’t speak to all the methods & documents I use to help define goals & objectives, or the documents I can create to help project teams document requirements.

Mixing and Matching

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I know that deciding to hire a consultant can be challenging. No one wants to introduce an unknown element to a team dynamic. Although I’m generally a great team-member, there are certain atmospheres that I work better in. Setting up an initial interview is always a good way to begin to get to know each other.

I’m easy with regards to meeting in person, over the phone, or via email. An interview will give me the ability to find out what your goals are, what your customers goals are, and how I can help. It’ll also give you the opportunity to get to know me better.

I’m often engaged to perform a mashup of responsibilities. For instance, a number of clients engaged me for true consulting on an organizational level & document-only consulting on a couple projects. This worked out well. It allowed me to stay involved at a high-level on all ongoing projects, and allowed me to lead the UX design for the intranet-redesign.

FACEBOOK BRAND TIMELINES TELL BETTER STORIES, BUT WHO’S LISTENING?

 

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BY: JOSHUA TEIXEIRA AND VICTOR PIÑEIRO

Facebook’s newly redesigned Timelines represent a richer creative canvas for brands. Which is great, assuming anyone is visiting. Guest columnists Joshua Teixeira and Victor Piñeiro from Big Spaceship remind marketers to extend their social strategy beyond the Page.

 

The crown jewel of Facebook’s first fMC conference, Brand Timelines, is being touted as “the richest, most customizable marketing canvas ever created.” Judging by the hype that’s flooded the Internet since their unveiling, marketers agree: This is apparently Facebook’s most important development since Open Graph. Brands now have the opportunity to craft a richer story on the platform and build a more inviting destination site that lives inside the smaller Internet we call Facebook. And yet, among the avalanche of articles full of tips and best practices, most marketers have been silent about an elephant in the room.

Nobody actually visits your brand’s Facebook page.

According to comScore, Starbucks generated 156 impressions across Facebook (via content and media) for every 1 person that actually visited their page. Vitrue has found that the news feed is 110 times more engaging than a brand’s page, tabs, or apps. Yet even those numbers sound significantly higher than the traffic many of us see in the brands we manage socially–not to mention the more precipitous drop in traffic when one considers tabs and apps besides the brand’s wall (now Timeline).

Of course, the argument could be made that Timelines’ design and feature set might change all of this, and finally succeed in sending your audience to your brand’s page. But what do Brand Timelines actually bring to the table? On the one hand, a cover photo gives brands a bit more to play with visually–though it also pushes actual content down on the page so that most of it is below the fold. Tabs and apps are now highlighted on a strip below the photo, though some argue that this makes them harder to find and less inviting than the sidebar menu. And the ability to pin a post to the top of your Timeline lets you highlight your most important content, though the new design means that all of your other content will move down the page faster–too fast if you’re letting fans post on your wall.

And then there’s the Timeline feature itself, which does open up interesting storytelling opportunities, allowing you to chronicle your brand’s history by highlighting specific milestones. But are these features enough to finally rip fans away from their walls and send them venturing to your page?

Not without a strong value-add and pull strategy from your brand. Facebook users’ core behavior is going to stay rooted on their wall for the foreseeable future, so continue prioritizing your editorial strategy, unless Facebook Insights tell a different story. In fact, the real star of the fMC is Facebook’s Reach Generator, which guarantees that 75% of your fans actually see your content (versus the approximately 15-20% that currently see it). Alongside new Premium Ads, which repurpose editorial content as paid media, they make a strong case for keeping your focus where it should be: on adding authentic value to your fan base through social posts.

There are some brands that inherently make sense with Timelines, and will be able to offer rich experiences that could bring fans flocking to their pages. The New York Times has given us a dazzling retrospective of our last 150 years told through the history of their newsroom. Other brands will have to come up with clever campaigns around the Timeline. Fanta is the first out the gate with a strong concept, inviting its audience to chase its characters through their Timeline, dropping clever hints and letting their fans do the hunting.

However, few Timeline-centric campaigns will deliver results unless Facebook’s entire new suite of tools is used to create an internal ecosystem with social, spreadable content at the center. Resist Shiny Object Syndrome. It’s tempting to fixate on perfecting your brand’s story on your new destination page, but nobody will be listening to your story without a well-thought-out invitation–hopefully one to participate.

Joshua Teixeira is Director of Strategy and Victor Piñeiro is Senior Strategist at digital agency, Big Spaceship.

[Image: 2Happy/Shutterstock]

The Key To A Unified Brand: A Consistent UI

 

WHETHER IT’S AN IPAD APP OR A WEBSITE, EACH PART OF A DIGITAL ECOSYSTEM SHOULD SPEAK A SIMILAR LANGUAGE. THAT ENTAILS A FUNDAMENTAL ORGANIZATIONAL SHIFT, ARGUES EFFECTIVEUI’S PEYTON LINDLEY

 

 

I recently went online to pay a credit card bill with a well-known financial institution. Upon logging in, I was presented with a promotional advertisement for the company’s iPad application. As a designer, I was naturally curious as to how the app differed from the Web experience, assuming it might just surpass my expectations. And why not? The iPad presents a blank slate on which many organizations can create a unique experience free from legacy constraints inherent in a long-standing Web application. With this in mind, I quickly abandoned my bill-paying task to download the application on the iPad. A few minutes later, I was happily logged in and navigating the iPad application.

The interface was slick. But there was one major issue: I couldn’t do what I originally set out to do–I couldn’t pay my bill. Not only that, but the iPad app had a completely different look and feel from the Web application. Ultimately, it was a confusing and disappointing experience and convinced me to stick with the bank’s old-school Web interface for the foreseeable future.

How does this happen? My hunch is that this design fail was the result of designing in a vacuum. This generally happens in one of two ways:

  1. “Expert” design: When the design of a product (or service) is considered without understanding the needs of those who will be using it. While there are cases where expert design may be appropriate, it’s also quite risky. Without user insight and feedback, you have little way of knowing whether your new product will resonate with its intended audience, yet it happens all the time.
  2. Siloed design: When the design of a product (or service) occurs without a truly cross-functional and collaborative team effort–that is, when design happens in its own functional silo within an organization. Not surprisingly, the finished product doesn’t necessarily mirror what the designer had intended.

At EffectiveUI, we see examples of this all the time. Aside from the fact that large organizations struggle to understand their customers’ needs as they relate to a changing digital ecosystem, these organizations also create (or inherit) false internal structures that prevent great design work from happening in the first place. It’s all too common to see an organization where the Web team is a completely distinct unit from the mobile team.

Here’s the problem: The end user doesn’t care how your company is structured. Customers view brands as a unified entity, and they expect that brand’s value to be delivered across all channels with an equal degree of integrity. The good news is that the digital landscape is forcing all of us to re-think how we work. The bad news is that we’re trying to crawl out of a work style that was better designed for Ford’s assembly line than for digital ecosystem consistency.

Personally, I’m excited. While there’s certainly a ton of disruption (and serious failure) happening across many industries that long thought they were invincible, there are some incredibly bright spots across the businesses that are reconsidering a new way of working so that design’s true values can be brought forward. In a world full of sameness, design can act as a key differentiator. Organizations that never had a design department are now hiring designers at a rapid clip. That said, there’s a ton of work to be done. Adding designers to your staff won’t make much of a difference if the organization can’t understand its customer needs or create a brand-consistent digital ecosystem that serves those needs.

We’re trying to crawl out of a work style designed for assembly lines.

So, how do we move forward? At a fundamental level, we need to resist the way we’ve been taught work happens: Departmental and functional silos are working models of a past era. Obviously, some of the issues addressed here occur at a very deep organizational level. While outside consultants have been brought into large organizations for years to diagnose certain organizational challenges, I believe that designers are in a prime position to observe, interpret, and model back a different way of working.

If we can agree that consumers see a brand as having one “voice,” I’d argue that the internal organization’s infrastructure should be set up to reflect that singular voice: No more Web team, separate from the mobile team, separate from the development team. The unifying principles that guide these teams should center around what customers actually need, not what new technologies we want to throw at them. These needs exist regardless of platform, and they act as a sounding board in conjunction with the core business objectives.

Telling designers to “create organizational change” is like saying “we put our customers first.” Both things are easier said than done. What I’m advocating is simply changing the conversation at a grassroots level by modeling different behaviors.

Your challenge? Re-think the way you’ve been working. Break your old habits. For example, rather than generating a 50-slide PowerPoint to sell your new digital concept, facilitate a conversation with your team in a workshop. Rather than presenting a fully baked concept, sketch something out for early feedback. Present a prototype for user feedback instead of launching a fully functional application. Get out of the design vacuum, bring other perspectives to the table, and ideally, get others to reconsider how they’ve been working to date.

Generating space for design is challenging amidst the general pace of business, but with the right mindset, dedicated team members, proper cross-functional collaboration, and a clear focus on the voice of the customer, digital products and services can be conceived with a fresh perspective.

[Images: echo3005 and ChipPix via Shutterstock]