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Business+Design: Jess McMullin

Jess just started up, his blog on the intersection of business and design.

His information architecture gives you a sense of the direction he is going: Books, People, Schools, Firms, Events.

As far as topics, "design thinking" is the early focus (but it has been only 2 weeks). Peter Merholz mentions it too - must be the latest buzz-phrase.

Also, in his about bplusd post, there is a non-working link to the CPH127 discussion. Just a simple typo in Jess's HTML, which I am sure he will fix when he gets back from CANUX.

Do the direct marketing people get it now?

Jeremy Zawodny is going to help direct marketers 'harness the buzz power of blogs' but what I find more interesting are the usability sessions on the DMA 05 conference program.

Web Usability Lab (3 of them): Join this informative and interactive session, run by usability experts from Creative Good, that will give you insight about customer experiences on Web sites. These labs offer a peek at what a customer experiences when they visit selected Web sites. An attendee will navigate a Web site while the audience observes. Then, experts will offer solutions for improvement.

I thought Creative Good called them "listening labs" but at least DMA has someone there talking about the experience. And teaching them how to really "learn to listen to your customer".

I have never seen a DMA program before - is this a first for them? These 3 sessions are still a drop in the bucket for experience compared to all of their other sessions.

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Better by design

Christina Wodtke points out this article:

  • Better by design from the RSA e-journal (August 2005). RSA is The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce.

Summary: Design used to be associated purely with aesthetics. Today it has been embraced by business leaders and is advocated for social policy development.

Nico Macdonald (see his business, his event reporting, his Design and society blog) wrote the article.

You should read it yourself, but I would like to pull out some key sections to entice you (in part because the article is not formatted for easy scanning).

  • "The [Designer of the Year 2005] award celebrates Cottam's skills in designing an innovative process rather than a product. Her talent lies in drawing together an inspiring team [and] her ability to challenge orthodoxies and persuade policy-makers to take risks." [emphasis mine]
  • This understanding [of design] has evolved to include basic problem-solving, form-giving, choice of materials and - particularly with respect to the web - usability.
  • Design is human-centred and humanistic...[promoting] inclusive design principles and user-focused research methods...
  • "Designers listen differently"...“Absolutely brilliant ideas come up from ordinary people”.
  • Design brings...prototyping, evaluation and iteration..."Getting it wrong is perfectly safe".
  • People who use these methods may not be called designers.
  • Design is no longer discipline- or media-based.
  • A future for designers as teachers.

Nico's background of the article includes several places where the online debate will ensue.

Martha talks to Business Now

A few weeks ago, a local business TV segment, Business Now, re-ran their interview with "business intellectual" Martha Rogers. I missed the first airing in March, and since I had recommended they interview Martha, I really wanted to see it. I caught it this time: short but good. Watch the 3 minute video clip.

I met Martha at BGSU in 1995. I can still remember learning about her first book, The One to One Future, as I was flipping by the other local PBS station late one night in 1994. In 2001, I was fortunate to be able present at the same event as her and relate web usability to her customer strategy.

I have tried to keep up with her other books (all co-authored with Don Peppers), but they crank them out faster than I can read them. Their latest is Return on customer - turning ROI on its head. My goal is to read this before the end of 2005: look for a blog entry here once I do.

I do have 1 nit, however. In her interview, Martha says that the 1to1 book does not mention the World Wide Web because "there wasn't one" in 1993. Yes, it did exist in 1993, and like Jakob, I was trying to figure out how to make it easier to use. Of course, Martha is right that the WWW was not a crucial part of the customer experience back in 1993. But 1to1 and WWW are tied at the hip now, and experience design is the bridge between the WWW technology and the 1to1 strategy.

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Mysterious UX Management

I think many would agree there is a lot of mystery around how to be an effective manager of a user experience team in large companies.

This new blog - uxm - looks like it will try to address the enigma, with initial posts on being scientists, lobbyists and analysts.

But at this point, the blog only adds to the mystery. Who is this person? What job roles are included on the team? What about non-web experiences? What company are they at? According to the (free) 2005 list, one of these "Fortune 5" is the employer of our secret author:

  1. Wal-Mart
  2. Exxon
  3. GM
  4. Ford
  5. GE

With IBM #10 on the list, at least I know that my manager is not behind this.

Will this person ever reveal themselves? Will some investigative soul be able to expose them? Oooh, how thrilling the mystery should be. (^:

The Race for First: Siebel and SAP

In the July 10 (2004) INSIDE 1to1 email newsletter, the lead article is about SAP and Siebel competing in the CRM software space.

One quote of note: "You cannot have a product that is too usable. CRM is hard. You have to think of the business outcome and make it a goal that is approachable and applicable to the people that have to use it."

Admin note: this was originally blogged in 2004 at my account. I moved the entry here in 2006 and took that old blog down.

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Timberland Blazes a Better User Experience Trail

This is the first reference I have found in the "1to1 literature" specifically about the quality of the user experience: Timberland Blazes a Better User Experience Trail.

It mentions the importance of navigation and the web experience. Timberland was tracking (disappointing) sales and noticed that design issues were getting in the way. Do some user-centered design and sales climb. Makes sense to me!

Admin note: this was originally blogged in 2003 at my account. I moved the entry here in 2006 and took that old blog down.

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