Category Archives: User Experience

I’m comfortable being uncomfortable

It’s six months since I started the biggest job of my career to date. My days bring with them a constant Wile E. esq feel of laying the tracks as the train speeds to the cliff edge whilst I’m speeding one step ahead to build the bridge that will carry everyone over safely to the other side.

I don’t actually know what the other side looks like yet, but since jumping in to this role I’ve learnt once again to trust my instincts and the many years of experience I have leading change.

Allow me to give a little background; I’m a CXO. A what? Great question. A CXO, a ‘Chief Experience Officer’. A fairly newly created space on the expanding c-suite of companies that design for the next rather than the now. Over the course of 27 interviews, 3 countries and 6 months a handful of my now team and I crafted a job description that is part ‘sh*t to get done’ and part ambition statement. This was the first hook – we don’t really know how this will go but what I do know is that I feel energised.

I constantly seek to make a difference with every small action and to balance positive disruption and forward impact. When I’m in our agencies I look around me and the small but rapidly growing teams assembling are passionate, excited and if they were honest probably a bit scared. Most of all though we are hungry.

I’m frustrated (as always) by the ‘we don’t do it that way’ computer says no mentality of some of the structures and processes in place but hey, whilst I can’t (and don’t want to) break all the rules, we can definitely create better more modern and future proof ones.  I’m excited by the gravity of people pulling together and that excitement wouldn’t be as sharp without the frustration to balance it.

Everyday I turn my phone on in the morning to watch my emails argue out my day and my calendar level up in Tetris – the demand on my time and my brain is exhausting. I love it.

It’s reminded me that I thrive amidst an assembling puzzle, playing out the chess board whilst figuring out what piece you are on any given day. I’m glad we have the ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ agencies out there and people to run them because that’s boring to me. Got a problem but you don’t know where to start? Great. Losing customers with only a vague idea what to? Excellent. Your market’s been thrown into turmoil by a #movement? Bring it on.  Your business is chaos and a watertight process won’t stop the sinking feeling? That’s us.

We’re building a practice that meshes business transformation, creativity and technology to address growth challenges anchored in human centred design thinking – in doing so we’re helping our clients design and build their futures.

I don’t have a crystal ball but I do have faith in how things change because the system of change is always fundamentally the same. The pace will be different, the complexity governed by how many people do, or don’t know what they’re doing. But it will happen, it will keep happening and we’re at the front of it.

What a brilliantly uncomfortable journey to be on.

WileThatsAllFolks

Image found on Google and likely sourced from Looneytunes originally – Thank you!

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Personalisation with a side of ease

As someone who travels a lot there’s nothing worse than stepping off a long flight, red-eye kicking in, knowing you’ve still got to claim your luggage, find your transfer, get across town, find your hotel, complete an arduous check in process and get up to your room before you can finally collapse on the bed.

So imagine my excitement when I spent a day with the top tech bods in the travel and hospitality industry reinventing the entire future-scape for the upgrade needed to cater for Gen X & Y travellers.

We talked a lot about the automation of the journey. How we could put in place a centralised data approach with intelligence systems connected to smartphones and robots aiding the various staff throughout. Whilst I find that really exciting, I’m sure you won’t want to be bored with the tech stack, so to let you in on how it might feel in 2025 I’ll summarise a brief walk through of a typical business trip, we’ll start with stepping off that plane again…

The second you switch from flight mode a signal is sent to your smart suitcase where the built-in tracker connects to your phone as you make your way through customs, you time getting to the conveyor belt perfectly. You pick up your case and activate the next signal, which is sent to your driver who now knows to get to the pick up bay within a three-minute window, avoiding parking fees, congestion and more importantly you being irritated by him not being there.

Your GPS switches to your driver who you find with equal ease. You collapse in the back of the car, whatever music you want is synced automatically, the temperature adjusted and an update sent to your hotel with your live eta feed updating your awaiting concierge.

On arrival your check-in is confirmed through facial recognition, you’re then greeted personally and swiftly shown to your room whereupon your climate is again synced, your drink and snack of choice is freshly prepared and your smart TV pre-loaded with your favourite channels. You can even activate a holographic in-room personal trainer should you so wish…

Your dinner table is reserved at the time you would normally eat and on arrival you see that the menu is based on your culinary preferences with wine recommendations to match. Not only that but the seasonal info and the history of the restaurant Chef are sent to your mobile because they know you like to read the background to what you eat and how it’s prepared.

After dinner, you retire to the lounge and login to a guest screen which is loaded with your business itinerary, options to tailor your travel and where to take your clients, plus recommendations on what to do with your spare time.

You relax, confident that every detail has been taken care of.

In this future-scape our aim is to democratise an executive level of assistance so that everyone can have his or her own ‘Parker’ rather than having to rely on ‘Manwell’.

do not disturb

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Concierge for all

I spent 94 minutes on the phone to British Gas on Saturday morning, trying to set up paying for my bills for the 3rd time since I’ve moved into my new home, and couldn’t because of system issues their end. The guy at the end of the phone could not have been less bothered, and all I wanted to do was be able to go online and set up everything myself, but I couldn’t.

Going online is always my first port of call, anything that spares me giving my D.O.B umpteen times and spelling my postcode out more so. For the duration of the call, I sat in a state of denial, hitting the refresh button at 10 second intervals hoping some magical 5xx error state would relieve me of my frustration, trust me, this user experience gives 418 I’m a teapot a run for it’s money!!

This isn’t the only awful experience out there though, I mean there are so many, I’m sure as you’re reading this, you’re nodding your head and recalling a twitchy ‘I AM CALM’ online moment… So it got me thinking (not for the first time) what would make me happy, make you happy, and therefore all users of the World Wide Web… happy.

I’m the kind of person who will choose a restaurant with good food and excellent, personal service, over an excellent culinary experience but average service, every time. Over the last year or so I’ve started doing the same with shopping, I avoid shops with bad layouts and moody checkout chicks, I will pick theatres with nice door-staff and bar-staff and I will stay in hotels that have good concierge.

That’s what I believe we’re missing online; an online concierge service as standard, what could that protocol look like? As someone who obsesses with the detail when designing experiences, how could we democratise the luxury unrivalled personal service and exclusive privileges to save time and effort for everyone…

Well if I told you, I’d be out of a job, but you want it don’t you?

Now where’s my FAB 1… Home James!

Lady Penelope

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