Incidental Business Re-engineering

User Experience trying it on with the business

When designing interfaces for my clients, I sometimes find myself bound to the legacy systems and processes that come part and parcel with the brief. Often these legacy set-ups go unquestioned as people are simply used to them and ‘It’s just the way we do things’. After all we are creatures of habit so why rock the boat?

I’ll tell you why, sometimes we need to break out of these legacy set-ups to deliver kick ass user experiences.

Now I’m sure you’ve heard of the ‘5 Whys’ where by repeatedly asking the question ‘Why’ helps to determine a root cause of a situation, but have you tried asking ‘Why not?’?

As a User Experience (UX) Specialist, I am in a very privileged position where I am able to hold up a mirror to my clients business, and ask of it to justify decisions that it has made along the way that affect the user. I could keep asking ‘Why’ things are the way the are, but I have found over the years, that when I ask my clients ‘Why not try this?’ exciting things happen!

By giving the client a solution, we don’t give them a problem and it often turns out that with a bit of tweaking, turning and re-jigging later, we probably should!

With a Why Not, the users get the experiences of a lifetime AND we’ve just incidentally triggered the client into making a change in the way they do things internally that will help their business. We’ve helped our client re-engineer a part of their business. This is more traditionally known in the trade as doing a bit of Business Process Re-engineering (BPR).

BPR*, also called Business Process Redesign or Transformation is the analysis, restructure and re-design of workflows within an organisation to improve customer service or to cut operational costs. BPR consultants can be brought in from the outside to help do just this and coincidentally enough, just as we begin our work by understanding the client’s business strategy and user needs and objectives, BPR consultants also begin with the same.

Already in bed with Service design

When looking to BPR to improve Customer Service, businesses have sought out the services of the Service Design craft to help them rethink how their business could work by looking at the experience from the point of view of the customer. Putting the consumer at the centre of the approach is also what UX and User Centered Design (UCD) do.

The relationship between Service Design and UX has been growing ever more serious from the first day that Customer Service jumped into bed with Digital. Digital has been used not only to service customers but also to be accessible and there whenever and however the user wants, to create experiences with brands for the elusive brand engagement, to become advocates and ambassadors, to get rewarded for loyalty, to connect them with friends or other people ‘like them’ and to personalise, customise and socialise for them.

Lets face it, based on their very definitions, Service Design* – the planning and organisation of people, infrastructure, communication and material to improve quality and interaction between customer and service provider – and UX – the overall experience a user has using the game/app/site/system that we design and build – were always going to get it on.

Now don’t forget Product Design* – the generation and development of new consumer products – who becomes the final member of the threesome. Now we see a next generation of mashed up design approaches and techniques that are borne of all three disciplines. Consumer Journey Mapping, touch points, Moments of Truth, devices, cognitive load and emotion indicators, all romping together to create customer service flows and interactions that impact not only the external customer but that require a shift, a change, or a restructure from the internal business.

Size doesn’t matter. Honestly.

All clients,big and small, and all projects, big and small, are susceptible to this unintentional BPR-ing. There is no holding back the value of considered, thoughtful design that asks Why Not, however smaller businesses may be more able to act on these since they tend to be more lean, and less tethered to historical or political processes that are symptomatic of larger businesses.

A relationship with benefits

Whilst some companies bring in specialist BPR consultants to explicitly help the business improve its customer service and to cut operational costs, we, working on digital and user experience constantly do it in the background. It’s more noticeable now that channels have converged, different touch points are all part of the same experience and the consumer lives in a constant state of incipient conversation and interaction. Everything is tied together more than ever before and not just from a technological convergence point of view but also from a consumer relationship or lifecycle management point of view.

So why am I banging on about this BPR that we seem to generate as we go about designing experiences for our clients? It’s because I think it’s a great relationship!

We’re doing something that can add value when we didn’t mean to. We have relationships with our clients that offer them benefits – Incidental Business Re-engineering.

For our clients out there, look forward to this possibly happening and be open and ready to catch those Why Nots and to harness and act on them to turn them into value for your business.

For our fellow UCD agencies out there, recognise that as we go about designing a digital solution and asking Why Not along the way, we are able to show how all the sum of the parts of their business fit together. It’s special to be able to make a difference to our clients internally as well as externally.

Finally, for the ruthless agencies out there, you could consider charging for BPR in the background whilst you go about your day job. You could charge for a whole bunch of people to go around asking Why Not to increase the wisdom of the crowds. But don’t because it won’t work.

It is not a substitute for good quality UX design.

*Thanks to good old Wikipedia for help with definitions



GDPR is currently a grey area and until a precedence is set, general consensus is that a pre-selected opt in is no longer permissible.

Not having to double enter email addresses or to valid email addresses has been pivotal for businesses and marketing in bringing down the barrier to CRM sign up.

A key PoD however, between now and May 2018 when the act comes into play, is that the burden of proof will shift from user to business. Thus a data audit trail will be vital and a double opt in – email verification – will be advisable. The plus side is that it will give better data integrity.

The new GDPR also affects cookie policy and notification overlays and users will have a ‘right to be forgotten’ whereby users can request for their data to be deleted off the system.

Currently, cookie overlays or reference to, in the Privacy Policy are absent. This will affect features such as geo location and remembering 1st time vs new vs repeat visitors which may be used for segmenting and targeting.

Careful how you go though, even the best laid intentions have resulted in means tested fines. Poor Flybe.

Tesco ad tech, Twitter feelings and brand iBeacons

1. Tesco buys into Ad Tech with big data, loyalty cards, store and online

2. Not ‘We Feel Fine’ but “How we are Feeling” Twitter sentiment

3. Its not just the retailers, InMarket let BRANDS target customers using in-store iBeacons

…and for those who missed it yesterday

Emoji invades twitter:

Have a lovely Thursday!

Cookie policy: Increase acceptance rate by ‘notification’ method

“Sites which inform users that cookies are running and then offer the option to disable them – implicit consent – are seeing exceptionally high acceptance rates of up to 99.7%, according to customer data platform QuBit’s analysis of 500,000 interactions since the EU Privacy Directive was enforced on 26 May.
By comparison, sites that seek explicit consent from users before receiving cookies are seeing consent rates of just 57.2%.

The report also found that using a notification-only method, which only informs users that cookies are running on the site, results in a 99.9% consent rate.”

Disney’s talking objects, Tinder UI for shoes and steamy couples messaging app

1. Talking objects from Disney Research

“New 3-D Printing Technique Makes Any Object Transmit Sound” by turning them into speakers.

2. Tinder Left-Right swipe language goes Retail

“Stylect, a shoe shopping app for iOS, has a Tinder-esque UI, underpinned by its own recommendation engine, to help women find and purchase the perfect pair of shoes.Swipe right if you like. Swipe left if you don’t.”

3. HowAboutWe gets steamy with You&Me Messaging App for couples

Love interests can exchange photo, text, and video messages, voice memos and even their favourite songs.

Also includes Photobooth, which offers a four-window boardwalk-esque Photobooth experience, Halfsie that takes a Frontback-style photo of you on top and them on the bottom, as well as Secret, which sends a “steamed up” photo which the recipient must wipe clear to see.

Bonus! Yes, more wearable Tech! Tintell – a wearable phone & GPS, for kids

“I came up with the idea for Tinitell when I was hanging out with a friend who is also a father,” says founder Mats Horn. “His son wanted to go outside and play, but he didn’t have a cell phone. He had lost a cell phone once before, and we didn’t feel like lending out our smartphones. Worst of all, we couldn’t join him outside because we were busy cooking dinner. His son ended up playing in his room with his iPad, and I thought that was sad.”

Whatcha up to Google? Stars, Glass Wallet and Now Retail

1. Google Star-ing

A cloud service for favouriting, saving, organising and sharing web items, not just pages.

2. Your Glass Wallet

Send money to your mates through Wallet by voice commanding Glass to “Send Money.”

3. Google Now Retail Alerts

Be an android user and walk past a store and be alerted if a store carries an item that you have previously searched for.

Can’t tell you whether the item is in stock though…yet…

Pros and cons of contact forms vs email addresses


5 Pros

  1. Better data capture therefore easier processing for organisation – saves time and money
  2. Better data storage therefore better for CRM
  3. Browser autofill makes it easier for the user to complete
  4. Better conversation tracking from website – i.e. can tell which pages are converting/lead generation
  5. Can accommodate multiple contact list – i.e. not just mail out to one address, email routing

A Con

Spam which will require captcha forms/similar* to vet out


A ‘sort of’ Pro

Have a record of comms, however since we are capturing the users email address we can send them a copy when they submit the form so not really a problem.

6  Cons

  1. Can’t ensure we have all the information we need to respond back
  2. Makes the sales cycle even longer due to back and forth due to lack of any data capture form
  3. No database to interrogate to create customer profiles and segments
  4. If Mail To is used then takes user off page to launch email client which additionally may require log in
  5. If only web address provided then user has to copy paste and open their mail client to contact you
  6. Exposed email address i.e. shown onsite are often harvested and sold which leads to spam coming into the organisation

Captcha Alternatives

3 Ted vids that rocked my world this weekend

Twitter, Athletes and Love

1. The Strangeness of Scale at Twitter – Del Harvey – 9 min

“When hundreds of thousands of Tweets are fired every second, a one-in-a-million chance — including unlikely sounding scenarios that could harm users — happens about 500 times a day. For Del Harvey, who heads Twitter’s Trust and Safety Team, these odds aren’t good. The security maven spends her days thinking about how to prevent worst-case scenarios while giving voice to people around the globe. With deadpan humor, she offers a window into how she keeps 240 million users safe.”

2. Are Athletes Really Getting Faster, Better, Stronger? – David Epstein – 15 min

“When you look at sporting achievements over the last decades, it seems like humans have gotten faster, better and stronger in nearly every way. Yet as David Epstein points out in this delightfully counter-intuitive talk, we might want to lay off the self-congratulation. Many factors are at play in shattering athletic records, and the development of our natural talents is just one of them.”

3. Love. You are Doing it Wrong – Yann Dall’Aglio – 11 min

“In this delightful talk, philosopher Yann Dall’Aglio explores the universal search for tenderness and connection in a world that’s ever more focused on the individual. As it turns out, it’s easier than you think. A wise and witty reflection on the state of love in the modern age.”