7x7 - Doubling down on design.

croppedimage540333 7x7 Tile Teal


Since joining DNA, I’ve been working on projects that include improving the UX of a high traffic consumer product, the redesign from the ground up of a number of public sector service experiences and the delivery of a suite of tools to improve the accessibility and drive self-service experience as users interact and transact with Government agencies.

In this work, I’ve seen users dealing with current experiences that are overly complex and often confusing. Thankfully, there are encouraging signs that organisations are open to solving problems and improving experiences, through fixing what most needs to be fixed, and being more innovative in the models and solutions they consider - to make their services easier and more empowering to experience.

Context, motivations and goals.
As mobile web browsing continues to grow globally and locally it’s good to see how many New Zealand businesses and organisations are delivering great responsive experiences to their customers.

While it’s fairly straightforward to see how content can be adapted between a laptop, tablet and your mobile phone it’s another thing working out how a watch or even your fridge could and should be involved in your customers’ experiences.

Rather than lose sleep over the growing lack of control, more and more businesses are taking a step back to regroup and focus on what they can have a hand in, and that’s the content.

Taking the time to improve the purpose, quality and clarity of content mean that however technology might develop you are future-proofing the customer experience as much as possible. This allows you the time to work out quite what the fridge 2.0 experiences of tomorrow should be, safe in the knowledge that the current experience has and will be continually optimised for current users.

This year, we’ll continue to move beyond designing purely visual interfaces (further into voice, gesture, glances) where there is a great opportunity for more sophisticated engagement, enablement and story-telling tailored to the user’s needs, locations and experiences.

Omnichannel user experiences put the focus on to prioritising content and the importance of how that content is designed. Being device agnostic will allow organisations to adapt to emerging technology while ensuring the core customer experience is consistent and fluid.

Collaboration for greater value. 
The effectiveness of local government, regional councils and their communities is crucial to ensuring New Zealand’s long-term success.

In New Zealand, we commonly refer to how there are only two degrees of separation. If New Zealand is such a village, then why do our local/regional councils' IT systems more often resemble islands? We have seen the negative impact from poor resourcing lead to siloed mindsets and inadequate services.

While there is already a great community in New Zealand tackling these challenges, further investment is required to ensure local governments throughout the country have equal opportunity to offer world-class customer experiences.

Local councils and related organisations are spending their resources developing and supporting individual digital systems that then deliver 80% of the same services and support throughout the country as the other systems do. 

Centralising the costs and developing a suite of scalable tools, all delivering a cohesive high-quality customer experience, would allow regional communities to work faster and more efficiently.

Encouragingly, we have seen (and are working on) a number of initiatives where pooling resources and budgets to build once and share the value are underway - and not just regionally - we’ve also seen a radical change in how Government agencies are adopting tools, templates and models to drive efficiency and effect.

This year I believe we’ll see further examples and significant value delivered, as both national, regional and local govt agencies focus further on collaboration - in order to put users needs and goals ahead of traditional organisational roles or territories; and invest in 'outcomes over ownership’ - through common tools, and aligned journeys and service experiences.

Fix what needs to be fixed.
This past year we’ve had some great experiences with our clients exploring the 'what-ifs' and 'I-wonders' for how their businesses could tick behind the scenes. 

This has often come about through a desire to improve the customer or user experience of one of their products and services. Armed with analytics that points to issues where channel experience, content or marketing could and should be improved, organisations seek to fix what they clearly see needs to be better.

However, product-wide performance is telling.  When users have signed up but are not active, when customers buy once and never return and when customers show interest but don’t convert - product fundamentals may be to blame.

More and more, our research is demonstrating that to improve the UX - sometimes you need to do more than tell a better story and smarten up your site - you may need to simplify the product, streamline pricing, significantly improve accessibility for users or radically reduce what it takes for customers to actually sign-up.

With a lot of post-it notes and coffee, in collaboration with our clients, we've prototyped, prodded and designed our way towards new business models to understand what simplified products and services could look like for their customers. 

The resulting ideas have helped our clients in a number of ways, enabling them to;

> Address directly the pain points users are facing

> Improve the desirability or competitiveness of their product

> Gain a better understanding of their business (product/distribution/marketing/channels) as to what customers want and need

> Tangibly assess the cost and impact of any proposed improvement or innovation

> Respond faster to user research, testing and analytics 

> Get new products and services to the marketplace in quicker cycles.

This year, we’ve improved the desirability of a number of products, making the job of presenting them to customers much easier. In the year ahead, we are confident this will continue.


Alastair Bruerton - UX designer.