Clive Grinyer on customer experience design

In this insightful blogpost Clive Grinyer, formerly designer a Orange, now at CISCO, reflects on his experience of customer experience design in the mobile industry. Some excerpts I enjoyed:

"In the conventional industrial product development process at that time, my design specification was handed to a mechanical engineer, with specialisms in a greater level of detail of material and process. It was a shock to then realise that the design was treated as merely a guide, where the engineer would take hold of the reigns and steer the object in whatever route made the production easier and more robust. (...) It is only in exceptional circumstances, such as at Apple, where their leadership, investment and strategy embraces those values, that you see the full impact. (...) In the mobile world I saw this repeated through a culture dominated by technology and decisions and assumptions made at every level that impacted badly on the end experience of the user. The situation was worse, in that I was not in the right order of process and "design" had already happened by the time I or my team had anything to do with it. This leads to technology developed without any thought of how it would be used, or 3rd party application providers incapable of customising or improving usability. (...) For the last months I have also struggled to understand what to say about the mobile. It seems so exciting that millions of people can be walking round with so much technology in their pocket but find so little use for it apart from speaking and texting. Open platforms, the promise of Android, ever more capable devices failed to unlock my cynicism in the ability of the mobile to deliver useful applications to normal people. And then the iPhone 3G did it."

His conclusion about "what to do" is basic: Talk about people (look at what people do), Discover the customer journey, Tell stories of how it could be, which are relevant aims in technological companies, and as he points out generally a surprise ("Hardly rocket science but revealing to most people still").

mobile device

Why do I blog this?some good hints here to be re-used in my user experience course. The "talk about people" is a familiar trope to me. I often face the same situation, delivering a speech to technology people in a certain company (e.g. video-game industry, mobile software organization, design students) and I see the fascination towards the material I show them. Most of the time, documenting people's life is of great value to them as they smile and see how things work (or don't work) in a concrete way. However, it's then important to show them how this is valuable for the time being, for what they're achieving. Which is why what Grinyer describes about telling "stories of how it could be" is important. Perhaps I would add as a preliminary step "showing problem, issues, pain points and dreams", as a sort of material to inspire design.