My thoughts on work and life

My views on Customer Experience Design

Late last year I was approached by Zafer Bilda (of Bienalto Consulting) to be interviewed for a white paper he was writing. His aim was to approach several experts in the field in both the USA and Australia and uncover their views on best practice.

I was amongst good company that included Indi Young, Elizabeth Churchill (Principal Research Scientist at Yahoo!), Steve Cotterill (UX designer at Apple), Charles Yiu (UX designer at Microsoft) as well as some leading local lights in Stephen Cox (WestPac), Suze Ingram and Elizabeth Pek.

Zafer presented his findings as a presentation and white paper.  Well worth a read.


  1. Piotr Kulaga

    Interesting paper and here is another point of view.

    1. You may design great experiences without any user research.
    – How about counting on intuition and vision gained from a well informed position and supported by UNDERSTANDING of the user domain. Apple product isn’t designed by Steve Jobs, he is a hands on micro-manager and that is why he is so good at selling it and the pitch he makes is a great part of the Apple success. One should be more concerned with Jony Ive (Apple’s principal designer since the jelly-bean Macs) or his close friend Marc Newson thinking about design practice and its principles.

    2. The ultimate goal of a UX practitioner is to deliver User Centred Design.
    – So many misconceptions of the statement amongst the responses. UCD isn’t about asking what users what next, but seeking to understand how they would use a product, in what circumstances or context and then GUESSING what they are ready for.

    3. UX was invented to stop programmers making important design decisions.
    – Driving a lot of cars doesn’t make a car designer, but UX is the motivation to put the user guide in the glove-box, the tools in the trunk and hoping they will never emerge. And yes, the Agile Software Development scrums and sprints simply don’t cater for problem INSIGHT in design. Programmers have more interest in code design.

    4. With or without developing Personas you may end up with the same design.
    – Personas don’t limit the design to a particular case, in contrast – the broaden the perspective beyond the design office to encompass some of the REAL WORLD CONTEXT.

    5. When all clients learn to practice UX, there will be no need for UX practitioners.
    – Yes sure, funny how a designer may say “I like purple” as a parody of the situation, but a client is likely to say it and mean it. Experience teaches us that subjective is just that and not always a GENERAL emotion. See 3.

    6. Companies promote UX because it is the new trend in marketing.
    – Many businesses have a deep experience with product development and marketing based on MODEL BUILDING and those usually do UX well.

    7. Companies can only become customer centric if a UX practitioner becomes the CEO.
    – See 1, CEO (love The Chief Experience Officer pun) should simply believe in their UX Designers, just look at software companies managed by software engineers, usually they can’t do business not to mention building great software.

    8. A higher number of clicks to a site or increased sales of the product show the success of the design.
    – Statistics can be influenced by so many other aspects of the business, UX metrics have more to do with effective use of the SCARCEST RESOURCES e.g. time, in the same way that increased profit relates to the other scarce resource – price. Critical resources include: time, money, physical effort, cognitive effort, social deviance (trust) and non-routine (familiar tasks = less effort).

    9. Non-designers cannot be UX practitioners.
    – Creativity in design is an innate attribute, but so much of UX is an interpretative skill behind a CHAMELEON like ability to be and see through other peoples’ eyes, coupled with heuristic expertise and commonsense knowledge.

    10. UX practitioners should be involved in all customer service channels.
    – SERVICE IS USER EXPERIENCE even in a vending machine. UX people who don’t understand service would do better in other jobs.

    11. UX is not a job, it is a way of thinking.
    – Every stove I look at seems to have something wrong with its controls. CRITICAL THINKING is an everyday, everywhere, but not everyone’s thing. If in doubt read Donald Norman’s “The Design of Everyday Things”.

  2. Fritz Alda

    @Piotr Kulaga
    -If in doubt read Donald Norman’s “The Design of Everyday Things”.

    It’s mandatory reading for any anyone interested in the design and creation of software, architecture, or consumer products. Great information, thanks.

  3. George Thompson

    @ Piotr…The UX outline you posted provides what should be manadatory guidelines for all engineering departments prior to product development. As you pointed out, Steve Jobs did an excellent job and in fact made UX his primary focal point when building Apple products. Because of this, much of Apple’s sales and it’s marketability can be largely attributed to a superior user experience for their customers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *