UX Boot Camp with Marketplace Money

Old School Radio Meets the Digital Age

Take a look inside Cooper’s June, 2013 UX Boot Camp with American Public Media’s Marketplace Money radio show, where students explored the next horizon of audio programming—a paradigm shift from broadcast to conversation-based platforms.

The Challenge
Students rolled up their sleeves to help the show respond to the trend away from traditional radio by finding the right mix of alternative distribution platforms. Marketplace Money came equally ready to take a radical departure from their current format in order to create a new model that redefines the roles of host, show, and audience in the digital age. To reach this goal, students focused on designing solutions that addressed three big challenges:

  1. Engage a new, younger audience that is tech savvy, and provide easy access to content via new platforms, such as podcasts, satellite radio shows, and the Internet.
  2. Inspire audience participation and contribution. Facilitate conversations and inspire people to share their personal stories so that listeners can learn from each other.
  3. Design ways for the host to carry an influential brand or style that extends beyond the limits of the show and engage with the audience around personal finance, connecting with listeners in ways that are likeable, useful, and trustworthy, making the topic of personal finance cool, fun and approachable.

At the end of the four-day Boot Camp, student teams presented final pitches to Marketplace Money, and a panel of experienced Cooper designers offered feedback on their ideas and presentations.In the following excerpts from each day, you can test your own sensory preferences for receiving content as you see, hear and read how design ideas evolved at the Boot Camp, inspiring new relationships between people and radio.

Marketplace Money Class

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Explore New Interaction Paradigms at UX Boot Camp: Wikimedia

Advance and apply your UX design skills to a meaningful real-world problem in this intensive, hands-on workshop

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This September, join Wikimedia, Cooper, and design-thinkers from around the world as we find new ways to spread knowledge through mobile Wikipedia. In this four-day workshop, you’ll use new UX skills to make mobile content contribution more approachable, intuitive, and less reliant on traditional input methods like typing. If you’ve wanted an excuse to explore new interaction paradigms and stay ahead of the design pack, this is your chance. Best of all, you get to do all of that in the creative classroom setting of Alan and Sue Cooper’s 50-acre ranch in Petaluma, CA.

Register now: UX Boot Camp: WikimediaSeptember 17-20, Petaluma, CA

What’s in it for you?

  • Learn new interaction techniques and approaches under the guidance of industry leaders, including Alan Cooper
  • Learn how to think through a problem from both a design and business perspective, rather than blindly applying methods by rote.
  • Energize your practice and make new connections by working on a real-world challenge with peers from around the world.
  • Beef up your portfolio with a smart, new design concept
  • Pick up leadership and collaboration skills that will help you better navigate your work environment.

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UX Boot Camp Goes to Europe

Guest post by Francesca Di Mari at Sketchin, a Swiss user experience design firm based in Lugano.

At  Sketchin we strongly believe that design can improve lives and foster social good. We first heard of Cooper’s UX Boot Camp when we visited Cooper in September, 2012, and we fell in love with their idea of using design to educate and foster social good by bridging design students with non-profits. This idea was conceived of and developed by Kendra Shimmell, the Managing Director at Cooper U, and it launched our determination to be part of a design revolution for social good.

Our first step was to create our own UX Boot Camp modeled after what we experienced at Cooper. So in May of 2013, together with Talent Garden Milano and Frontiers of Interaction, we organized the first Italian UX Boot Camp in Milan, modeled after the Cooper UX Boot Camp. Here is a look back at what we created and discovered in the process.

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Design the Future of Radio

According to popular belief, radio is dead.

It’s not; it’s just taking a different form. Instead of families gathering around a radio to hear the nightly news, people are staying informed by listening to the “All Things Considered” podcast or following Fareed Zakaria on Twitter.

So how does a radio program make the transition from on-air to online and define their role as journalists in the digital age? And how can designers influence how radio content is generated, shared, and consumed?

In the June UX Boot Camp, through experimentation and exploration, participants will redesign how listeners interact with radio content. They’ll conduct this examination through a radio program you may have heard on your local public radio station: Marketplace Money.

American Public Media’s Marketplace Money is a weekly public radio program airing locally on KQED that looks at matters of personal finance with wit and wisdom. In this particular UX Boot Camp, students will work with American Public Media’s Marketplace Money to transform the experience of radio. They’ll come up with new tools and models for engagement that encourage multi-platform participation, crowd-sourced content, and an entirely new type of relationship between listeners and show host.

Sound like a challenge you want to solve? Save your spot now.
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The Sound of Design

Our lives have a soundtrack.

Throughout the workday, we are immersed in a chorus of snaps, taps, squeaks, dribbles, drops and pops. These ambient sounds (and not so ambient from the guy who blasts death metal all day) play an important role in our design practice. Sound can be a muse or a distraction, but it’s always an influencer—of your mood, your process, and your outcomes.

Have you ever thought about the sounds that surround you at work? Ever wondered what story your workplace tells about you and your culture? Share the story of your design studio by recording the little (and not so little) sounds that make up your design practice, and help us create an artifact that tells the larger story of design. Each recording we receive will be uploaded onto the Sounds of Design audio stream adding to the first soundscape of design.

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It’s Never Just a Website Redesign: Transforming Business Through Design

At Cooper’s UX Boot Camp, facilitated by Kendra Shimmell, Stefan Klocek, and Teresa Brazen, held between March 25th and March 28th at Monkey Ranch in Petaluma, CA, Fair Trade USA looked to participants for ideas around how to raise awareness of their mission and inspire consumers to purchase Fair Trade products.

Fair Trade USA enables sustainable development and community empowerment by cultivating a more equitable global trade model through certifying and promoting Fair Trade products. Their work benefits everyone from farmers and workers to consumers, industry and the environment, and yet only 20-30 percent of Americans even know what Fair Trade means. Why? The issues are complex, but as students dug into this problem they identified key factors behind this disconnect, including a lack of brand awareness of the business case for Fair Trade, low brand adoption, and limited Fair Trade product presence in stores.

From those explorations, the following goals emerged:

  • Motivate and inspire brands to adopt and evangelize Fair Trade practices.
  • Put more Fair Trade products in front of consumers.
  • Build “pop culture” awareness of Fair Trade to get more brands to buy into the movement.

To get there, student teams went beyond the initial concept of a website redesign and took on the bigger questions that lead to business transformation. For a look behind the scenes as the teams approached this challenge, check out the following video filmed during the Fair Trade USA Boot Camp, and read more to take a look at the Fair Trade USA ecosystem model and what the students came up with in the pitch decks that follow.

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Cooper wins Best in Category, Optimizing at IxDA’s Interaction Awards

Cooper is honored and delighted to receive the award for “Best in Category, Optimizing”. We are proud to be in the company of some of the most creative and innovative designers and grateful to the Interaction Awards Jury for their consideration.

Over a year ago, Cooper teamed up with Practice Fusion to design an app that revolved around how medical professionals think. Instead of asking them to learn a new way of organizing information, this EMR for iPad app leveraged their natural mental model of treating and working with people. This app significantly simplified and reduced the work of using an EMR by eliminating complex navigation and abstract categories. Now doctors can clearly view and capture details about their patients, without being chained behind a desktop.

Related Reading

Playing with iBooks

At Cooper, we love to share what we learn in our consulting work. We’ve published and socialized techniques and tools for doing interaction design in our books, at conferences, and through Cooper U. Recently, Apple released the iBooks Author platform, and a few of us have been giving it a test run.

The platform itself has lots of potential. There is much to improve, but the possibilities are interesting and it’s too early to critique it too strongly. There’s been much talk already about the EULA and whether or not this will disrupt education. It’s too early to make that call, though. Our initial impression? It’s an accessible tool aimed at a user population that, up to this point, hasn’t been equipped to produce engaging and usable interactive educational content.


In our trial run, we produced a look book with some of recent work, including slideshows, imagery and video. It’s a little rough in some areas, but we’d love to see what you think. You can download it via the link below and share your thoughts in the comments section.

Download the Cooper iBook.

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Cooper U Rio Style

Kendra Shimmell, Tamara Wayland and I recently enjoyed some Spring weather in beautiful Rio de Janeiro while sharing methods for interaction design, collaboration, and communication in an agile environment with forty employees of Globo.com, the Internet branch for Latin America’s largest media conglomerate.

The team knew that Rio would be warm this time of year, but what really amazed us was the warmth and hospitality of the people we met. Andrë Braz, Globo.com’s User Experience Design Manager and Art Director, and his team were engaged and inquisitive, and really hungry for ways to take their already successful site to the next level of efficiency and innovation.

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During the course we talked about how to effectively integrate user experience design into an agile environment, and shared techniques for collaboration and communication that are lightweight to create but provide big impact. The Cooper team showed Globo.com a blueprint for defining and designing digital products and services that centers on users, but within the context of business needs and implementation realities.

Here are a few snapshots from class:
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Participants quickly grasped the value of focusing on goals and behavior patterns when developing personas.

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A cross-functional team works together to storyboard the key contexts and moments in time that their primary persona will interact with the product they are designing.

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A student sketches design concepts for the mobile experience.

The enthusiasm carried over into the final day of the week, during which we were joined by close to 80 Globo designers, developers, product managers, and executives. We can’t wait to go back (and I am still dreaming of the feijoada we had on Friday afternoon).

Thank you Globo, and thank you Rio!

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Initial user experiences of the New York Times metering system

When the New York Times activated its highly anticipated metering system this week, there was no shortage of opinions on the matter. As opinionated people, the designers here at Cooper started to feel a little left out, so we put our thoughts together on the user experience of the new service. Enjoy, and chime in with your own thoughts and opinions below.

Suzy Thompson

Overall, I think they’ve done several things right, like the fact that home subscribers (even those like me who now only get the Sunday edition) get an all-access pass to the online content. Also, they’re not throwing up a paywall over all of their content — folks can access up to a certain amount of content a month before you’re asked to become an online subscriber. And they’ve thought about how to ensure that folks can read articles that someone has shared via email, FB, etc. We’ll see how it goes, but I think that the iTunes store has pretty effectively proven that if you make it easy to do so and provide demonstrable value, people are more than happy to pay – even for something they could get for free elsewhere.

I do worry, though. Because the NYTimes isn’t just a business. Their journalism is a public service that everyone benefits from. And unlike a burger or a pair of jeans, where some folks are willing and able to pay for higher quality and some aren’t, and the provider can scale back production to match demand, journalism can’t be scaled back and still maintain its quality. The fact that I view it as a public service is part of why it’s so important to me to contribute financially — just like giving $$ to PBS. Sure, there are some who use it and don’t pay for it, and I probably don’t use it enough to justify what I pay for it, but I want it to be there and available to everyone. That, above all else, is what worries me about the paid subscription model. Because the prospect of a world in which only Fox News or USA Today can profitably succeed in the news business terrifies me.

Jim Dibble

I understand why the NYTimes is putting this policy into place. They are my go-to place for US and international reporting. We only recently canceled our NYTimes paper delivery — since I no longer work in Pleasanton, I don’t have the long BART commute to read the paper. (Thank you, Cooper!). And it just felt like a waste of resources (trees, ink, and gasoline) to deliver a paper that we typically recycled without reading.

However, I’m utterly confused why readers have to pay more to view content on multiple platforms. In the morning and on BART, I read the NYTimes on my iPhone. At work and at home at night, I read the paper on my laptop. I’m not sure why I need to pay twice as much just because I’m using two platforms. I’m surprised that they didn’t follow the kindle sales model, where you purchase a book and own it in the cloud, regardless of which platform you use to access it.

It would be great if they provided a way to ask for articles of interest to you. For example, if I’m interested in reporting on the Middle East, it would be great to be able to have a special category for those articles. It would also be great to have articles that assume that I’m well-versed in a particular region. For example, if I’m familiar with what has already happened in Libya, many of the new articles will review the recent history of what has occurred, so that I have to wade through information that I already know, in order to find out about the most recent developments.

Peter Duyan

So, after reading the “letter to readers” and looking at the subscription breakdown, I feel a little deflated. Initially, I was actually excited to pay the NYTimes for their digital media, and to help support them as they find a way to continue doing what they do best. However, I don’t like their subscription models at all for a very specific reason. I only read (almost only) the NYTimes on my smartphone, and I feel like I should have the option to pay for mobile-only content. If and when I buy an iPad, I’m pretty sure I would be interested in smartphone and tablet use, but still have little or no interest in the “online” content. Basically, I want to be a mobile-only user and that option isn’t open. From my perspective, they are missing the point if they don’t let their users pay for content on whatever device they choose.

Doug LeMoine

I think journalists should get paid, and I think publishers should figure out a way to make digital journalism pay. I don’t understand people who talk about metering like it’s some violation of their civil rights, and yet I’m also a nerd, so I must admit that I did Google “nytimes metering hack” yesterday (out of curiosity, really), and I found some very interesting CSS (that I did not install).

Still, I do have a problem with the metering service as the NYTimes has implemented it: It seems both too complicated and too stupid at the same time. Why are there so many different options? Why are there different prices for iPads and iPhones? Why is the digital thrown in for free with print? Why is the NYTimes.com version a required baseline for all plans? And why the heck is the Dealbook blog exempted from metering? The investment bankers have been bailed out by the middle class yet again, it seems.

I would bet that these “tiers,” if you can call them tiers, were an effort to try to create “choices.” But the way they’re broken out makes me think that they’re simply the configurations of devices and content that were easier to track on the back end. I would argue that it gives the impression of “choice,” without really making sense as a set of choices.

I’ll go one step easier with a user-friendly model: How about one price for print + digital, and another for just digital? And how about charging the investment bankers double for Dealbook? That would help the NYTimes recover some of the $40M they supposedly spent installing the metering system.

Golden Krishna

Adding a paywall is like moving newspapers from the online street corner to the concert hall. Journalists shift from being free street entertainment to performers in a luxury experience that viewers will likely expect to work smoothly and look beautiful. I fear that paywalls will shut the doors on the common, limit access to the kind of information that should be freely available to all, but I am eager to see the good design that results as papers compete for online eyeballs that are willing to pay for their services.

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