Posts tagged "design thinking"

Why I dislike Devigners (and never buy fried chicken in Marin)

Take a look at this photo, of a sign that I drive past every single day…clearly someone at KFC decided that they could lift some stock imagery, adhere to brand guidelines, use the corporate approved font, and create for themselves a sign that would ensure that people honored the 1-way drive through system appropriately. I can’t say for sure, but it’s consistent with so many conversations I’m privvy to — we don’t need one of those designers, just give us the templates/some examples/some guidelines/some best practices and we can do the design ourselves. But seriously …. I wonder if there’s a correlation between the Colonel himself warning you not to enter his establishment, and the fact that I rarely see any customers as I drive past. I’m often asked “what’s the return on investment of design” – in fact I was challenged to address this question last year at Adobe’s Analyst Briefing in San Jose. My position was that you should really restate the problem as “what is the ROI that you believe exists in the solution you are developing; design isn’t a line item that delivers ROI of its own, rather than the process that unlocks the available ROI in the solution”.

kfc_donotenter.jpg

Because that’s the crux of it … if your problem is customer retention or customer acquistion, if your problem is shopping cart abandonment or number of customers who give up midway through a loan application, or if your problem is customer satisfaction for an online self-service experience, then you likely know your performance, and you have some sense according to industry convention or expectation, as to where benchmark performance is.

I wonder what would happen to the footfall in Mill Valley’s KFC, if “DO NOT ENTER” instead said “WAY OUT”, “EXIT ONLY” or “DRIVE THRU AT THE NEXT ENTRANCE !”

Once you understand that ROI that’s available in any given initiative, the Design process offers a much more user-centric approach to solving the problem and unlocking the ROI. While technology – whether that be Adobe technology such as Flex, AIR, LiveCycle ES, LiveCycle Collaboration Server, or another technology – may enable a solution that realizes the ROI, the design process is the difference between a solution built upon that technology that unlocks the ROI, and a solution built upon the technology that doesn’t.

Customers and partners will often ask me if our User Experience team can share some documents or papers that outline “UX practices”, or if we can create some “example screens” that can be used as baselines for someone without design in their DNA to cookie cut every other screen. When I’m asked this, I always think about KFC in Marin…about the logic that suggested that with some sample assets, some photoshop comps, some brand guidelines and the right fonts installed on the computer, customers could be steered in the entrance and out the exit in their droves.

For sure I’ve met some developers who happen to be incredible designers (they’re usually designers who manage to become developers, I think I’m yet to meet anyone who crossed over in the other direction) but they are the exception rather than the norm.

Design is a process, and designers are professionals that drive and participate in that process. I think the real opportunity isn’t to turn designers into developers, or developers into designers…it’s to find approaches, processes and methodologies that create the handshakes between the two, and to create tools (like Flash Catalyst) that facilitate these handshakes and workflows.

In the meantime, if you are working on a project, or with a customer, who is seeking “devigners”, or where “the business analyst” or “the project manager” is “designing the screens”, then maybe you should play a little chicken with them.

Welcome to TXI

It’s somewhat of a habit, to post a blog entry with a leading apology for how long I’ve posted a blog entry…over a year in this case. However, it has been a tremendously interesting year at Adobe, building a team called “TXI” (Technology and Experience Innovation) of Technologists and User Experience Designers to deliver on a common belief that the most innovative and effective applications of Adobe technology, are the fusion of great user-experience design and great technology implementations.

You’ll know many of my team already, from the work they have already shared with the community — whether it’s technologists like Alistair McLeod, Peter Martin, Paul Barnes-Hoggett, Yaniv de Ridder, Francois Le Droff, or user-experience designers like George Neill, Jerome Doran, Kalle Korman, James Mellers or Dusty Brown. Along with their numerous other peers spread in our team from Romania to California, this team is responsible for really driving the state of the art in “what’s possible” with Adobe technology and design. In many instances, it’s in the solutions that we deliver for Adobe’s most strategic customers, in other instances it’s working with our partners and system integrators to help drive that thinking into their solutions, and in other instances still that team faces inwards, creating the applications and experiences that allow Adobe to better serve our ecosystem.

Along the way, we’re continually evolving how we think about bringing designers and developers together. We create tools, we derive techniques, we adapt software development methodologies like SCRUM to user-centered design techniques. We find ourselves deriving recurring patterns, whether these be software patterns, technology best-practices, or user-experience patterns that can improve interactions from one problem domain to the next. And it all culminates in the work the team delivers, and is proud of delivering.

I am missing an opportunity sharing our thoughts as we go, and collecting your thoughts along the way. And this is a tremendous vehicle for doing so.

There’s 4 things I care most about when I think about creating best imaginable experiences:

I care about Adobe technology; I truly believe that the phenomenal work of our product teams gives us the fabrics, the materials, the tools and the techniques to carve the most aesthetic, most effective and simple experiences, as abstractions to the most complex, robust and scalable enterprise solutions. And the more our technology platform matures, the more the world shifts to software that works the way people work, not the way systems work, the more experience matters, then the more I get excited about the opportunities we see not just to create effective veneers upon complex enterprise systems, but the more I see incredible integrations between our platform technologies and run-times, our creative products in the enterprise, our video and media products. Enterprise workflows, creative workflows, the seamless blend from virtual to just-in-time manufacturing, the production, protection and monetization of interactive media content, all present an incredible array of technologies from which to craft and carve solutions.

I care about Technology. More than just Adobe technology, but trends, directions, innovations and opportunities. Innovation is so often a product of cross-pollenation; taking ideas from one ecosystem and germinating them in another. Tracking trends and innovations in the wider technology ecosystem is the manner by which we ensure that we have the most advanced bricks and mortars to bring experiences to life; and as the materials we work with evolve, that in turns informs the experiences we are able to deliver. Design informs technology, but technology can also inform design.

And I care about Design. More than anything else. Technology is in service of the user, the customer, the citizen … it is necessary but not sufficient. Adobe has an incredible community of designers and creative professionals, and an incredible community of developers and engineers. The consumerization of IT, the trends in the industry from system centric to people centric applications, all bring mass market realization to the importance of Design in the software development process. This is something we are incredibly passionate about…we believe that design and development is a handshake, not a handover, and our people, our skills, our tools, our processes and our methodologies have evolved to bring these disciplines together (but not to create “devigners”, an inmate in disguise who still pulls strings in the day to day running of the asylum).

And all of this ? Adobe products, Technology trends and Design thinking ? To me, they are in service of Innovation. For that is what drives us, that is what keeps this team ticking, that is why customers engage us, why partners listen to us, and why in turn we enjoy immersing ourselves in our customers business, walking in their customers shoes, and understanding our partners opportunities. By bringing together our technology and design, we have an incredible opportunity as an industry to Innovate.

How can that not be exciting ?

So being the things that we care about as a team, these are the things we care about sharing. And in return, we hope to learn as much from you in return.

Where do we start ?