Posts about Experience design


Bringing together personas, jobs to be done, and customer journey maps

Is this something you've been wanting to do? Here's how these three tools fit together, in one diagram (and some supporting paragraphs of text). 

I've tried to keep this as jargon-free as possible.

What's the difference?

Personas provide humanizing context. What kind of emotional experiences does the person want? What is their social and physical environment? 

Job to be done provides the functional steps toward the desired outcome, and how you know if the user has achieved their desired end goal. 

A journey map provides the framework that holds it all together, and allows you to view the human context and the functional desires over the timeline of your choice. 

As a reminder, all of these tools should be based firmly in qualitative (and, if you have it, quantitative) research. 

Do you need jobs, personas, AND journeys? 

It depends. 

Without personas, jobs bury emotional and social needs under a thick layer of functional analysis. Jobs quickly become cold, clinical, and divorced from the kind of humanity that inspires creativity. 

Without an anchor in the desired outcomes of jobs, personas can sway easily into the troubling realms of unrealistically specific, overly vague, biased, or just completely prejudiced. 

Without journeys, it's easy to get lost in details and lose sight of both the scope of experience you're focusing on, and the scope of experience you may have intentionally or unintentionally set aside.  

There are many other factors to consider, and this post is in no way exhaustive. 

So what?

As with all of design, there's no one true answer. Choose your poison carefully, and let us know how it goes! If you need help, we offer both public and private training on personas and journey mapping.

We hear a lot of confusion about "personas vs. jobs to be done" or "jobs to be done vs. journey maps." In this post, a potentially clarifying framework. 

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How much interface does your analytics product need?

Original article posted on Medium.

While working on a project earlier this year, an interesting tidbit emerged from research: users tended to have just a few simple needs when it came to accessing data. Given that the tool we were working on is pretty robust, the lightweight nature of the most common use cases was a surprise… there is more “tool” available than what is necessarily needed. 

This reflects a broader trend among analytics providers: there’s a popular interface-first reflex when it comes to building data products. We opt for flexibility over convenience, often attempting to satisfy all plausible use cases rather than optimizing for the most frequent ones. Here’s an outline of some analytics use-cases, addressed in a one-size-fits-all way:

The approach is, in a way, straightforward. Give the user access to the data. If they have a question, they can go to the interface and “tell” it what they need. They then digest the information, isolating some meaningful insight (hopefully) before disseminating the information to their peers, supervisors, or other stakeholders. 

The interface-first approach is capable of satisfying many use cases for end users. Analytics tools can be used for all sorts of purposes — from status updates to fact-finding to open-ended exploration — but it’s not unusual to see a user base rally around a few lightweight ones (hint: open-ended exploration is usually not among them). Let’s think through a simple use case: a gym owner wants to know if member attendance has changed this week, as weather has been especially nice. Here’s how that scenario looks for an interface-first analytics tool:

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Taking a look at different approaches to analytics products: interface as a "tool" vs technology as an "assistant." Inspired by research done in the field. 

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A Public Display of Interface

Graphic Design from the Collection, May 14–October 23, 2016, SFMOMA, Floor 6

The last time I visited SFMOMA was 3 years ago, just before they closed for a major expansion of the museum. I worked on an interface that had just won an interaction design award several months prior to my visit and was on a designer’s high, daydreaming as I walked through the museum, wondering, would a modern art museum, like SFMOMA ever feature the design of something like an interface? Maybe I could be part of that history, contributing to an innovative interface or at least one little icon. 


Amused by the idea that one day there could be an exhibition detailing the mode of interface style throughout the years, I imagined the possible exhibits celebrating a functional, digital aesthetic.

Consenting Affordances: Web vs. Desktop and their Lovechild, Mobile

Wistful Analog: Skeuomorphism and the Rise of Flatland

Extravagant Limitations: Evolution of the Application Icon

Window Shopping: The Armors of Netscape, Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome


Could something like a 16x16 icon be on display in a modern art museum? Would something so tiny and digital be considered too silly and insignificant to rest under the same roof as a Rauschenberg, O'Keefe, or Warhol? With the awakening of a new SFMOMA, the interface daydreaming stopped and revealed a new reality: the recognition of an artform whose infancy rivals that of Pop Art but until now has yet to be collected, to tell a new story, found on floor 6 in the exhibit: Typeface to Interface.

Typeface to Interface.

I was reunited with those interface exhibition dreams during the opening of the overwhelmingly airy and far-too-much-to-see-in-a-day new SFMOMA. The 170,000 square feet of exhibition space turns the museum into one of the largest art museums in the United States (larger than the New York MOMA and The Getty Center in Los Angeles) making SFMOMA one of the largest museums in the world specifically focusing on modern and contemporary art. 

The exhibit takes selected work from the museum's permanent graphic design collection (spanning as far back as 1950) and joins it with examples of graphic design that has shaped the development of the interface – our modern day means of visual communication. Posters, visual communication systems, and annual reports are interwoven with a variety of technology platforms: the desktop interface, the stylus, and the mobile touchscreen – the tools and methods we’ve used to communicate via the interface. Underlying all of this are the foundations of visual design and as a result an understanding of human behavior.

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With the awakening of a new SFMOMA, the interface daydreaming stopped and revealed a new reality: the recognition of an artform whose infancy rivals that of Pop Art but until now has yet to be collected, to tell a new story, found on floor 6 in the exhibit: Typeface to Interface. 

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From CX to CVX: Delivering and capturing value, by design

I often tell people that I’m passionate about designing value exchange, and I am often met with blank stares. Here’s why this little-known but powerful principle matters.  

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At every encounter between your brand, business, product, or service—across channels and over time—you have an opportunity to capture value from and/or deliver value to your customer. Value exchange is the idea that every encounter should involve both delivering and capturing value. Customer experience (CX) is actually the experience of value exchange. 

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Rethinking UX Research: Non-Verbal Clues

By: Katherine Hill & Robin Zander

Understanding the end user is a complex and sometimes daunting process. Typically, we as humans don’t know what we want until we see it. We need experts to interpret our segmented requests and half baked ideas in order to design something we think we might like to use.

As the researcher, designer, or expert in any creative field this can be maddening. The individual uneducated in the specific field attempts to describe details and nuances without the proper language, experience, or expertise.

However, when working with clients, interpreting their needs is the name of the game. So, we’d like to propose a new (and old) way to go about it- pay attention to the nonverbals.

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As the researcher, designer, or expert in any creative field this can be maddening. The individual uneducated in the specific field attempts to describe details and nuances without the proper language, experience, or expertise. However, when working with clients, interpreting their needs is the name of the game. So, we’d like to propose a new (and old) way to go about it- pay attention to the nonverbals.

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Sound Design: From the Ears of a Motion Designer

...How do you communicate with a user when their eyes aren’t glued to their screen? As a motion designer, I firmly believe that motion design is a critical consideration in the world of experience design. As I’m learning more about sound design, I’m realizing that it is equally critical to a user’s experience.

A few months ago, I was inspired by Adi Robertson’s article, “Sound Decision” in which she covers the audio branding created by Skype. Sound is something I pay particular attention to; maybe it’s my love of music that influences my interest or that I am intrigued by experiences that touch on multiple senses. I really believe that sound is an area that should be explored and considered when creating unique experiences for people who are constantly bugged to look at their screens.

I’m not talking about pops and pings that demand your attention to the screen, I want blips and bloops that reinforce interactions I have made without picking up my phone to see that I “got it right.”

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A few months ago, I was inspired by Adi Robertson’s article, “Sound Decision” in which she covers the audio branding created by Skype. Sound is something I pay particular attention to; maybe it’s my love of music that influences my interest or that I am intrigued by experiences that touch on multiple senses. I really believe that sound is an area that should be explored and considered when creating unique experiences for people who are constantly bugged to look at their screens.  

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Classification and Design

Us | Taxonomy | The World 

I’ve been interested in classification and taxonomy for a long time. Categories are everywhere, and we use them intentionally or unintentionally to understand a lot of stuff. They’re also great at slithering away when you try to pin them down. In this short series of posts, I want to explore how classification manifests in design, what its relationship is to other popular design concepts like mental models, and what kind of new lens it can provide for understanding how people understand.

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In this article, I explore how thinking about design work explicitly through a lens of classification. We think in categories and so do the tools that we use, and they make suggestions about how we should classify the world. By paying attention to this process of classification, we gain a new tool to see how people understand the world and how our products can, for better or worse, change how they see the world.

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6 before ‘16: Top Design Talks of this Year

Crowd-sourced from everyone  at Cooper, here are some of the most thought provoking and enjoyable design-related talks of 2015: 

Redefining Value: Bridging the Innovation Culture Divide by Nathan Shedroff: 

Rethinking the value that design brings to the table.


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Crowd-sourced from everyone at Cooper, here are some of the most thought provoking and enjoyable design-related talks of 2015: 

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Uncovering Service Design Opportunities: A Checklist

You understand your customer’s experience and your back of house service delivery processes. Maybe you’ve even created a service blueprint or a value chain map. You’re ready to take on the world! Or rather, the service system. Use this handy checklist to make sure you don’t miss any major opportunities. 

We’ve identified five primary categories of service design opportunity. The first three are the most obvious and the most essential, and the final two are what we recommend for organizations who are ready to tackle the future.  

The next time you're reviewing a customer journey map or service blueprint, use this list to help you think through all the types of potential improvements that might be possible.

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You understand your customer’s experience and your back of house service delivery processes. Maybe you’ve even created a service blueprint or a value chain map. You’re ready to take on the world! Or rather, the service system. Use this handy checklist to make sure you don’t miss any major opportunities. 

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Customer Journey Map or Service Blueprint?

If you have a hammer, everything is a nail. If you have a service blueprint, everything is a detail to be nailed down, even if those details don’t contribute to your ultimate goal. To design and deploy services, it’s crucial to have both journey maps and service blueprints in your tool kit. This post will help you determine which tool is right for the job. 

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To design and deploy services, it’s crucial to have both journey maps and service blueprints in your tool kit. This post will help you determine which tool is right for the job. 

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