The Women in Design and Tech Leadership Forum

Lean In. A leading light in design and tech leadership, Sheryl Sandberg, has called for women to lean in to their work and leadership roles just as they might be considering pulling back. One recommendation is increased and focused discussions of leadership and mentorship among professional women. Together, Cooper and WebVisions heeded the call for questioning and discussion of how to move toward leadership equality in design and tech with this event in the co: here series.  

Read More

Cooper and WebVisions join together to host a conversation about how to move toward leadership equality in design and tech with this event in the co: here series.  

Read More

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. 

Read More

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:

Read More

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. 

Read More

Winning the Primary Election with Data Visualization

Cooper has just published the second in a six article series about Elections for UX Magazine. Below is an excerpt from the article "Winning the Primary Election with Data Visualization" written by Jim Dibble. Read the full article on UX Magazine

In addition to following your favorite candidate’s progress during election season, as a UX designer, you can find new inspiration for ways in which to help your users explore data.

Election season offers UX designers lessons and inspiration for helping users understand and explore data. In addition to following your favorite candidate’s progress during election season, as a UX designer, you can find new inspiration for ways in which to help your users explore data. In this article, I’ll take a look at a couple of the different news and political sites, and see how they’ve used interactive data visualizations to help readers better understand the complex data behind election predictions and results.

There are myriad ways to present election data. As with all information and interaction design, your method of presentation depends on the type of reader you’re trying to reach and the types of questions you’re helping them answer — do you want to help them understand the likelihood of future results or to help them interpret how demographics and behavior influenced votes in the past?

I’ll take a look at several strategies for presenting data, depending on whether the user is looking forward to predict potential results or looking backward to understand how demographics and issues influenced results. During election season, readers want to examine data from several perspectives:

  • Looking forward to upcoming primary results
  • Understanding election results as they arrive
  • Looking back to understand the meaning of what has happened
  • Predicting the future
  • Playing “what if” scenarios with the data
  • We’ll look at good and bad examples of each in this election cycle, and then pull out some general principles for data visualization that can be applied for any examination of data.

Read all of Jim's article here on UX Magazine.

In addition to following your favorite candidate’s progress during election season, as a UX designer, you can find new inspiration for ways in which to help your users explore data.

Read More

Reflection: The Pause That Gives Insight, Part Two

In part one of this article, we introduced two common maladies of teams at the juncture between research, sense-making, and concept: diagram hypnosis and analysis paralysis. And based on our own experience in projects and workshops, we suggested that making time for reflection can be a powerful antidote to these difficulties. 

“Take time to listen to our intuitive mind: that part of us that has been paying attention all along, but which cannot be heard in our usual business pace. …That side of ourselves is great at noticing patterns, but it doesn’t have language. And it is much closer to our values, our beliefs, our sense of the big important stories. We simply need ways to help it connect what it feels to what it sees, and give it a chance to express itself.” 

Four ways, all sharing similar steps

To find new approaches and methods, we’ve looked in places outside corporate design, where people include reflection in their work as a matter of course. We’ve borrowed from the arts, theatre, and writing, as well as wisdom traditions. There is a huge catalog of ways people do this, but we can offer four here that are easy to do in a corporate setting, easy to learn, and wonderfully effective. 

 All four share the same initial steps: 

  1. Set aside uninterrupted time (no colleagues, cell phones or cockatoos) 
  2. Get still (you can read more about getting still here
  3. Consider your situation and ask yourself (or your group) a question. We find questions like these to be at once specific and vague enough to let the good stuff out: “What is true here?” “What is really going on?” “What is possible?”

Then use some means to give expression to what shows up for you, like one of the following.  

Read More

In part one of this article, we introduced two common maladies of teams at the juncture between research, sense-making, and concept: diagram hypnosis and analysis paralysis. And based on our own experience in projects and workshops, we suggested that making time for reflection can be a powerful antidote to these difficulties. 

Read More

Reflection: The Pause That Gives Insight, Part One

Diagram hypnosis and analysis paralysis

Hannah du Plessis and Marc Rettig, Fit Associates


“Always make room for the unexpected in yourself.”

- Steve Martin


The fear of the blank whiteboard

We’re standing in a project room. Every inch of wall is covered with photographs from the field. Fat black arrows point to portrayals of key moments. Quotes on sticky notes form colorful clusters. Diagrams of space, ritual, and process complement the persona-faces looking back at us from the wall. And now it’s idea time. After the intensity of research and analysis comes the challenge of conceiving the right thing. How do we create concepts that are both good for business and responsible to the lives we have glimpsed through all this data?

We have all experienced that moment when the true complexity of life challenges the powers of our imagination. We are asked to translate complexity into concepts, but the complexity can be overwhelming and its patterns elusive. Together we turn to a blank whiteboard, we crack open a fresh pad of Post-Its, and feel the pressure to find The Answer.

Read More

We have all experienced that moment when the true complexity of life challenges the powers of our imagination. We are asked to translate complexity into concepts, but the complexity can be overwhelming and its patterns elusive. Together we turn to a blank whiteboard, we crack open a fresh pad of Post-Its, and feel the pressure to find The Answer.

Read More

12 Tips from Cooper Managing Director & Drummer Jon Mysel

If you haven’t met him, Jon is a charming man. Watch this video where he offers advice to new designers.

Way back in September 2015, Cooper expanded to New York. Through this expansion, we gained some pretty excellent colleagues. One of these colleagues is Managing Director, New York, Jon Mysel. Jon is the senior-most designer at Cooper’s New York office, and a stand up guy. On top of being an interaction design guru, he’s a proud father, a patent holder, a talented drummer (his band performed at CBGB), and lived in Australia for many years. I had the great opportunity to interview Jon a few months ago and learned much from our conversation.

Here are 12 sage insights from our friend Jon:

Read More

Way back in September 2015, Cooper expanded to New York. Through this expansion, we gained some pretty excellent colleagues. Here are 12 sage insights from our friend Jon. 

Read More

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.

Read More

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. 

Read More

Is Online Voting the Next Big Thing?

Cooper has just posted the first in a series of articles on Elections for UX Magazine. Below is an excerpt from the article "Is Online Voting the Next Big Thing" written by Chris Calabrese. Check it out and read the full article on UX Magazine

Even though we live in a digital age, in Election 2016, you won’t be voting for Clinton or Trump via your phone or the web. 

You’re probably reading this article from your mobile phone. And with the US primary elections in full swing, there’s a good chance you’re learning about issues and candidates on the web, and sharing your political opinions through social media. Even though we live in a digital age, in Election 2016, you won’t be voting for Clinton or Trump via your phone or the web. Instead, if you go (43% of eligible voters didn’t vote in 2008), you’ll wait on a long line of US citizens to cast your ballot in a number of antiquated ways:

  • Paper Ballot - 1856
  • Mechanical Lever Machine - 1892
  • Optical Scan Ballot - 1962
  • Punch Card - 1964
  • Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) Voting Machine - 1974

It’s amazing that the predominant ways we are using today to cast votes in our government elections have remained virtually unchanged through the whole digital age.

Think about this: NASA sent two people to walk on the moon in 1969, when the entire agency possessed less computing power than your mobile phone. We can do better!

So what’s the problem?

In a nutshell, the biggest hurdle to online voting is insufficient security. You may wonder, in a world where billions of dollars of financial transactions occur on a daily basis, why can’t I vote for my government officials online? Unlike a financial transaction, which requires a transparent and auditable process for its security, online voting needs to not only be auditable but also anonymous. These conditions, according to a report published by the Atlantic Council in 2014, are “largely incompatible with current technologies”.

Read all of Chris' article here on UX Magazine.

Even though we live in a digital age, in Election 2016, you won’t be voting for Clinton or Trump via your phone or the web.

Read More

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.  

Read More

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. 

Read More

1 2 3 4 5 63 64