Designing Culture Bicoastally

As Operations Coordinator at Cooper, I am responsible for planning internal events and building culture for the company. Being effective at my job requires significant personal interaction and relationship-building. Many think that being a successful culture-builder also requires a bottomless well of creative ideas, and an engaging personality. However, I’ve learned that more than those attributes, creating an atmosphere of fun and cohesion is about following rather than leading. Here are a few tactics that have worked for me: 

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As Operations Coordinator at Cooper, I am responsible for planning internal events and building culture for the company. Being effective at my job requires significant personal interaction and relationship-building. I’ve learned that more than those attributes, creating an atmosphere of fun and cohesion is about following rather than leading. Here are a few tactics that have worked for me: 

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.

Nonprofit Boards Need UX Designers

This is my attempt to play matchmaker. Nonprofit Boards, I'd like you to introduce you to the user experience (UX) industry.

I came to Cooper, a leading UX design consultancy, after ten-plus years working in the philanthropy sector. Because of my background in fundraising, and interest in social justice, I have served on a number of nonprofit boards, including the Hispanic Health Council, the Association of Fundraising Professionals, and currently Kristi Yamaguchi's Always Dream Foundation. I’ve also managed alumni association boards of directors at top universities, including UC San Francisco, UC Berkeley, and The George Washington University.

When there are vacancies, boards often default to recruiting individuals from a handful of professions: lawyers, fundraisers, marketers, accounting and finance types, and philanthropists. These are important backgrounds to have on a nonprofit board. However, one critically important perspective is missing from most boards: design professionals. 

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When there are vacancies, nonprofit boards often default to recruiting individuals from a handful of professions: lawyers, fundraisers, marketers, accounting and finance types, and philanthropists. These are important backgrounds to have on a nonprofit board. However, one critically important perspective is missing from most boards: design professionals. 

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: 

UX vs UI

This is a topic many people have discussed before — the difference between UX and UI. We have all fallen into the trap at one point or another. I often times use the two terms interchangeably to tell my family and friends ‘what exactly it is that I do.’ Sometimes it just seems easier.

But, if you know me in a professional sense, you’ll know that I’m passionate about creating seamless holistic experiences that cross all mediums, platforms, channels etc. One of my biggest pet peeve is when a UXer is encouraged (often times naively) to be an ‘interface designer’ or to take on both roles at the same time.

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This is a topic many people have discussed before — the difference between UX and UI. We have all fallen into the trap at one point or another. I often times use the two terms interchangeably to tell my family and friends ‘what exactly it is that I do.’ 

Against Infinite Scroll

I was recently part of a Cooper Slack conversation about infinite scrolling navigation.

"I hate infinite scroll," I said. 

"👆," several people responded. 

"But why?" asked someone else.

In my worldview, infinite scroll has three major failings. I’ve listed them here from least to most important. 

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A user experience critique of infinite scrolling as a navigation pattern, based on a Slack conversation with colleagues at Cooper. 

The Roles Trilogy

Modern product teams consist of three key groups working together—Design, Development, and Product Management. It’s surprising how many companies struggle, simply because they don’t recognize the need for all three to work on equal footing but with clear lines of responsibility. Putting expectations in place makes all three groups more effective, allows each to do the job they’re best at, and ultimately results in a thoughtful, well-constructed, kick-ass product. 

So let me tell you about your job.

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Modern product teams consist of three groups working together: Design, Development, and Product Management. Let me tell you how to do your job.

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. 

1DocWay: Increasing access to psychiatric care

We’ve been chatting with some of the startup founders we’ve met through Rock Health. They’ve offered us an inside look into how they’re tackling some of the biggest challenges in healthcare. Now we’re offering you a peek behind the curtain. 

Company: 1DocWay

Founders: Danish Munir, Samir Malik, and Mubeen Malik

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We’ve been chatting with some of the startup founders we’ve met through Rock Health. They’ve offered us an inside look into how they’re tackling some of the biggest challenges in healthcare. 

A message from Alan and Sue Cooper

User experience leaders,

It is our great pleasure to share with you the exciting news that Cooper has acquired Catalyst Group, a user experience design firm in New York City. Founded 17 years ago, Catalyst Group is an exceptional team of skilled designers, researchers, and strategists led by Nick Gould and Jon Mysel.

As the world of digital products explodes, the expectations of users climb apace, and there is simply no room in the marketplace for a product that can’t deliver a great experience. Cooper understands your need for a strategic partner with the wisdom, experience, tools, and perspective to help you stay on top in a crowded and competitive world.

This new union strengthens Cooper in many ways. We add fresh talents and capabilities in the fields of high quality user experience design, product strategy, design thinking, service design, product management, and user research, both pure and applied. We are infused with new experiences, new talent, and new character and, of course, we are geographically closer to our clients in New York, the Eastern US, and Europe.

At a time when many companies are building in-house design teams, Cooper believes that by remaining independent we play a critical role that internal teams cannot. Our independence gives us an outside point of view, and the perspective to make it work for you. As outsiders, we never shrink from the tough conversations that can move a business forward.  

Our brilliant new teammates, now also called “Cooper,” stand ready to serve from their office in Manhattan, giving you the same superb quality you have come to value from our San Francisco office.  

- Sue & Alan 

Cooper acquires New York based UX Design firm Catalyst Group.  

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