Archive by Author | Jenny Jokinen

UX and Service design excursion at Eficode

This week I was again lucky to be able to get a seat to an interesting excursion hosted by Eficode. The topic of the excursion was User Experience and developing digital services and it was held together with VIMAPA and KäY (Frieds of the User), a cross-disciplinary community of students interested in usability, user experience, user centric methods and services.

At Eficode, we were first welcomed with fresh salads and selection of beverages. It was nice to find yourself sitting next to new acquaintance to discuss about the evenings topic –and off the topic. 😉

But of course, the main motive for me to join this excursion was not only to meet new faces and enjoy refreshments, but to find out more and understand in more detail what UX means and how is it applied in practise: How professionals nowadays test usability and users and how is UX linked to the overall process-ecosystem and design process? What are the roles of the relevant stakeholders (clients, service-providers, users etc.) involved in the design process? Also, the topic is spot-on for my kind of marketing professional studying service design and having a keen interested in human behaviour.

I didn’t have to leave disappointed from this excu-visit that offered a lot of discussion and talk about the UX and testing followed by an impressive presentation on Eficode’s strategy and way of doing business.

First part of the visit was about UX and the importance of qualitative research and codesign. The practise on measuring customer satisfaction merely by quantitative methods was challenges and the importance of qualitative research that is needed for deeper customer understanding was stressed. I fully agree on the above. What do you do with merely a numeric rating, no matter how good or bad it is, if you aren’t able to understand the reasons and arguments behind it? “Oh, our customer’s give us 4/10… Seems we need to improve the quality of our services… BUT how do we do that? What are our customers dissatisfied with?”

Qualitative research and testing play an important role in developing digital concepts and services and is needed to validate the work including such as concepts, ideas, goals and usability i.e. user interface.

Optimally, testing would be done throughout the development process to ensure the ease of use (usability) and concept interesting enough, both key factors behind a successful product or service. Poor quality user interface can ruin the whole product or service to succeed, no matter how interesting your concept is. Usability is the key success factor especially when competing in an industry with homogenous service offerings. Think for instance banks with very similar lone and insurance offerings: the ease and smoothness of use of the online bank accounts. (You can always check my previous blog post on doing Business Design at OP Group, a customer of Eficode. 😉)

It is also good to understand the difference between the two: Usability testing and User testing.

Usability testing is about testing the products’ usability to determing how well it works from technical perspective. Mainly done by the developers and throughout the development process.

User testing on the other hand focuses on User Experience (UX) and studying the people using the product to understand what they click and why and how well they find what they’re looking for, e.g. task oriented testing. User testings are made in focus groups and optimally testing can be followed by clients and stakeholders. Also, this is a good way to convince and justify to the client. And at times also the experts working on the product development.

Note! The above testing should be considered as service design instead of scientific study. No huge reports of these will be made and are to validate a project with a short time to go market.

Very often a product is tested during the development (go-to-market) stage, but once a customer launches the product, no one cares about testing anymore. However, in this rapidly developing digital ecosystem and business environment full of competitive offering entering the market, in order for your product to survive and be successful, you should not forget about the continuous testing and frequent follow-up. As seen also at Eficode, the launch is only the beginning of the journey.

Accessability testing was also briefly mentioned. at the end of Rainos presentationis important and will become more important. From September 2018 onwards our national legislation requires equal accessibility for all when the EU Accessibility Directive will be implemented in Finland. Meaning that service providers are required to create fully accessible websites and digital services to all users. Although this directive binds only the public sector, private sector cannot afford not to follow and develop to meet the requirements.

I have to admit I had a gap in my civilisation here. Hence right after the visit I had to go to google to update my knowledge on the Directive and its implementation throughout the EU. In case interested, check here to start from.

Second part was about Eficode’s Digital Building concept. Their way of developing digital services and products and supporting clients on their digital transformation and how service design methods (from gaming, cross-functional collaboration and cocreation) have been implemented in the development processes to ensure fast and cost effective go to market time and to enhance client commitment. Interesting topic especially to an SD student.

Eficode’s concept from a clear and transparent project starting from the 5-day innovation session with the prospect client from zero* to ready product in 4 weeks –and even beyond in terms of post-launch support sounded truly impressive. *point where not a single code exist yet but the coding can be started.

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Final part of our excursion was a visit to Eficode’s UX studio offering various techniques to test and follow:  Streaming, online screens, “interrogation rooms” that could be followed behind a mirror glass… We got to visit the testing rooms and the different techniques were explained to us.

Eficode had also created a Digital Building Toolkit -game for a one-day co-creation workshop to kick-start the client’s digital transformation initiative and to enhance the common understanding and commitment throughout the different stakeholders.
1st part of the DBT-game is on defining who and what is needed at different stages of the project whereas the 2nd part concentrates on the project purpose and actions needed.

We did not have time to play this game, but I am in the hope of getting an invite to an open gaming session that was advertised to us. Maybe I’ll post a blog on the gaming session if it is to happen…

Phew, this blog turned out longer than planned. Congrats for making it to the end, appreciated. Hope you also find the content interesting.

Jenny

Ps. At Eficode they surely understand what a customer support genuinely means 😉

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Designing Business at OP – thoughts from an excursion visit

I got the chance to participate in a company excursion visit to OP Financial Group organised by Ompeluseuran Palvelumuotoilijat. Ulla Jones, Design Culture Lead at OP was to give a presentation on and around the topic Business Design. What it is and how it was applied at OP.

I was really looking forward to this excursion for it interested me for various reasons of which few below:  

·       Company excursions are great way to hear and see how service design and design thinking are utilised and practised in companies also to learn about the current status of this interdisciplinary scholarship. As what is taught at Universities and what is written in publications, are barely ever the reality.

·       Business Design as a topic is extremely interesting and ever more relevant for current business environment

·       I am married to OP with my mortgage 😀

After we had gathered down stairs of the OP headquarters our host Ulla Jones took us to the second floor and gave a brief presentation on the building itself. It was nice to hear and see how the Finnish design and culture was present everywhere, in the architecture and materials used. And how the building was really designed to serve employees and provide inspiring and well-functioning facilities. I am sorry I didn’t take any photos to add into my blog but you can surely google-up some pictures -or pay a visit. As downstairs is open for everyone. 😉

Our mini-tour ended in one of the six cafeterias where we sat down and helped ourselves with some refreshments. Ulla started her presentation by going through her own career path and how she had ended up designing business at OP. Key take-away from this section to me was to understand and accept that service and business designers job as such and job descriptions are constantly evolving and working as one requires courage and ability to tolerate uncertainty. The role of designer is greatly influenced by the ever changing needs of business environment that again are shaped by various external factors. Tomorrow is different from today. But to what extend we cannot know for sure.  

The second part of Ulla’s presentation was more OP-related and concentrated on how design doing and design thinking were applied in OP. And what role does design play at OP in the current business reformulation in shifting OP from a systems centered to customer centered company able to serve customers better and more profitable way with serving them more coherent packages instead of smaller solutions (as stated in OP’s strategy since 2016). This reformulation is pushed by the need to survive in the constantly changing business environment, which in turn is caused by digitalisation.

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I have also tried to gather some key-notes from the part in which Ulla explained the current status of design and design function´s set-up at OP.

Design at OP is business development done in a holistic, customer-centered, co-creative and evidencing manner. In 2016 design was used in 79% of the projects from start to finish and to understand the fast growth in the importance of design, the percentage in 2015 was only 38%. Since 2017 design aims to be seen as strategy instead of process or methodology.

At current, OP has 90 in-house designers with various responsibilities and roles who all form a competence centre serving the whole organisation.
Design at OP is applied in following three levels and perspectives:

1. Strategic Design from customer centred and business perspective
2. Tactical Design from holistic service concept perspective
3. Operational Design concentration on touchpoints and user experiences.

Business feeds the needs and Business Designer as Strategic Service Entity Lead play an important role in keeping up with the dialogue within the company and departments to enable and maintain common understanding about the customer needs.

Designers also arrange strategical workshops and provides information visualisation to support decision making.

Short and sweet: Designers at OP build insights, deliver solutions and involve customers in the development processes.

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Design function is also responsible of the internal communication and brining service design more known within the company and among its employees:
Design practises are applied in all development processes and the design team organizes an annual Design Day to the whole organisation.

You can find out more on what design is at OP from this Youtube-channel.

At the end of the visit, we had a speed work-shop in which we used OP´s value formation tool with which they use to determine how and where value is being formulated to further define and decide where a company with their services would then be positioned. In other words, where to play and what to offer. We were given a task to work on the topic around “Food to home”. I am not going to explain this work-shop here in any more detailed but have a look at the pics below to hopefully get at least a vague understanding of our idea generations.

It was a shame that so little time was left for this workshop part for it certainly would have been interesting to carry on and compare the relatively various results of the speedy innovations.

Of course, we were invited to stay for longer to share thoughts and network, but personally I felt it was my time call it a day.
Coping with full-time work, Master´s studies and all these design-events can at times become mentally and physically challenging, no matter how interesting they all are.
😉

Jenny

Designing Work for Future Needs. Future Needs are Here NOW!

Last week I participated the last one of the design related discussions of the series “Enter and Encounter – A series of discussions hosted by curators” jointly organised by Design Museum and the Finnish Association of Designers Ornamo. My expectations were high due to the interesting title: “Designing Work” (more here, in Finnish) and due to the fact the previous discussion was so inspiring. (You can read from it on my previous blog-post here.)
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As last time, it really was worth making my way to the Design Museum after a long and exhausting day at work.

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Design is here, at your Service. Enter and Encounter.

I have always been a fan of art and design and therefore a regular visitor of Helsinki Design Museum. Also, having only recently started to study Service Design and Innovation, I was delighted to spot the Design Museum advertisement on “Enter and Encounter – A series of discussions hosted by curators” as part of their ongoing exhibition “Enter and Encounter – An Invitation to Tomorrow” jointly organised by Design Museum and the Finnish Association of Designers Ornamo.

“Enter and Encounter – A series of discussions hosted by curators” is a series of individual design related discussions on the main theme: “Design in Future – where do you go?”. Curators of the exhibition, all experts in design in their own field are holding discussions with invited guests free for all museum visitors to participate in.

I managed to spot the advertisement just in time to book slots from my calendar for the last two sessions of the series. Luckily enough, both related to Service design –currently my main field of interest outside work. I was full of excitement last Tuesday evening when taking the stairs to the second floor of the museum where the first of the two discussions was going to take place under the main topic: How is design challenging the present and shaping the future? I sat myself on the chair among the concentrated audience who had come to listen to Juha Kronqvist, Lead Service Designer and Design Director of Hellon and Sampsa Hyysalo, Associate Professor in Co-Design at Aalto University School of Art.

Kronqvist and Hyysalo shared views also on the following questions:
Who are the designers today and with whom are they designing?
How should new design, new design forms, and design in general be exhibited?

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Let your ideas fly!

I had only just started my Service Design studies in Laurea when I noticed an ad on Facebook of an event called Palvelumuotoilun Q&A – Sparraile ja innostu kehittämään (Free translation: Q&A of Service Design – Come to sparr and get excited about SD) organized by a group of XAMK Service Design students and was welcoming everyone interested in Service Design. Due to the event title, as well as the fact that the event was organized and advertised as part of the ongoing Helsinki Design Week 2017, I decided to pay a visit on my way home from work.

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Design Thinking –and quite a lot of doing

Throw-back Saturday. Sitting by my lap-top trying to find ways and words to describe my thoughts on last weekends’ Design Thinking -course. What are main learnings I took home from the weekend and what are the ideas I still carry with me after getting familiar with the recommended literature* on the topic? I grouped the outcome into three main themes; Group dynamics, Design processes and various models, Characteristics of a designer.

Outcome grouped

GROUP DYNAMICS
The two-day intensive course started off as it was to continue,
fast and intensive. 20170916_135752Right after the opening words, we were to get to know one another through inspiring bingo-game to find a person with the right feature. I got pretty close…
Another fun exercise was to play with the Mindshake Design Thinking cards to identify, pair and cluster the design techniques with the corresponding design actions. It was interesting to notice how quickly the groups started to work on the task productively without really knowing one another. Here’s a mini video-clip I took from my team in action. 😊


At least to me, these exercises managed to proof the importance of team-work (you could’ve not managed to fill in the paper without getting and giving help), point out the heterogeneous nature of our group (diversity is a strong asset in a design team), and strengthen our group dynamics from the very beginning.

DESIGN PROCESS AND MODELS
All these warming up tasks prepared us for the bigger teamwork that was to follow. We were given a design case to work on by following the Evolution62 -model, which at times turned out to be not so clear. However, after refining our concept for several times we finally managed to come up with a brilliant idea and an applicable concept I still am proud of today. To get an idea on our design process journey, check the evidence. 😉 Continue reading