If reports from the recent South By Southwest Interactive Festival are to be believed,
“serendipity” – a fortunate accidental discovery – appears to be “Buzzword of the Month.” This is both good and bad.
Good, because we need more serendipity in our lives.
Bad, because the word has become synonymous with creativity, which it isn’t.
Invention vs. innovation
Let’s start with the bad. Invention can happen by accident (“Mr. Watson, come here! I need you!”). And yes, chance meetings between engineers and developers have often led to a beneficial combination of ideas. This is why coffee breaks and water coolers play key roles in breaking down departmental silos. In fact, MIT discovered that longer tables in company cafeterias contribute tremendously to enabling these serendipitous meetings. And smokers, gathering outside the building 10-15 times a day, often have the most effective cross-silo social networks in their companies.
But encouraging spontaneous meetings does not necessarily spawn creativity. Nor do they necessarily encourage innovation. As opposed to invention, innovation is always a planned activity. It solves a problem – and if it doesn’t, it will invariably create one. And every innovation will result in technological, social, and political consequences. Companies can’t afford to leave this to chance.
Google and serendipity
Google’s Eric Schmidt calls their product “a serendipity engine.” Yet Google’s entire philosophy rests on its ability to zero in on data and display it in an incredibly targeted manner. In truth, the less serendipitous the results, the better the sales results from AdWords, etc.
Google is giving serendipity lip service while encouraging conformity. I dislike this kind of hypocracy.
Pasta and serendipity
Some months back, I was having lunch with an Italian acquaintance. I was chided for my Scandinavian manners, having used my knife to cut my pasta. Apparently, the correct method is to use the sharp crust of the accompanying bread (which you are not required to actually eat). The knife itself is never touched.
This is typical of the kind of accidental discovery that we see less and less of. Our lives are becoming more focused. The people we follow on Twitter and Facebook are selected because they often share our viewpoints. Yes, we are exposed to cute photos and viral videos, but how much do we actually learn from these interactions? I’ll bet you cannot browse through a printed newspaper without reading at least one article that fell outside your “normal” profile. That’s serendipity.
Social media and serendipity
As the amount of information at our disposal explodes, our tendency is to focus on fewer and fewer subjects. Authors such as Eli Pariser talk of how enterprises want to keep customers encased in information cocoons. And the information architecture community, myself included, has worked hard to emphasize the importance of both relevant content and context.
Unfortunately, this attitude is as right as it is wrong. Right because it introduces some of the basics of feng shui – we eliminate the clutter. Wrong because we hinder those accidental discoveries that make our lives richer.
Sorry, I don’t have a solution. But this is something I think about constantly and I suspect social media is going to play an important role it has not yet discovered. At the dawn of the Web era, Microsoft had a great slogan, “Where do you want to go today?” Alas, most people now go to exactly the same places they went yesterday. I think we are losing something incredibly valuable. Not because people have become less curious, but because they are being robbed of the opportunity to exercise their curiosity.
Recently, I’ve started to wonder what really matters to me here in life. The answers have surprised me and I’d like to share one of them with you now.
Over time, I’ve acquired more personal property than most. I have many physical things that live in boxes, papers I’ve archived and will never read again, and the still-packed remnants of my late parent’s home filling my attic.
But here’s my epiphany: most of this stuff just doesn’t matter. Except maybe the good wine glasses ☺
Oh, I love my books. I love my piano. I have some paintings that mean a lot to me. But that’s all – just a tiny fraction of the physical stuff that clutters my life. Even family photos are somewhat irrelevant; what’s in my memory is far more meaningful than faded images in a tattered folder. When I say my head is in the clouds, think in terms of cloud computing, not naïveté.
Working too hard, achieving too little
Suddenly, I realized what I had long suspected: Good user experience, UX, is a question of less rather than more. Much much less than what most practitioners…practice.
We don’t need to analyze 150 touchpoints along the customer journey; instead we should focus our attention on finding those few essential moments that make a truly meaningful difference. We don’t need 1000 pages on our website, only the dozen or so that truly tell our story. Do we really need to clutter up our message with a QR code? Perhaps not. And we certainly shouldn’t be spending more to produce strategy documents than on creating the artifacts that contribute directly to UX. Or inventing new names for time-honored techniques.
How to do it
This is the seemingly tough part. Yet in truth it is remarkably easy.
Imagine you’re about to buy a house. You walk in. You take in the big view. When you leave, you have a selection of impressions imbedded in your brain. These are the key issues. It is only when you decide to buy the house that you make detailed measurements, consult an architect and an interior designer and other specialists.
So, in terms of UX, I beg you to roll things back a bit. Try and remember the big picture, before you get bogged down in site statistics, and all the specialties that characterize our industry.
The big picture is where the true UX story lies. Is “God in the details?” Where UX is concerned, it strikes me that the Devil is in the details.
As designers, we need to take off our eyeglasses. We need to spot the big fuzzy shapes. They will almost always define the elements of UX on which we should later focus.
We must not allow ourselves to be so blinded by our amazing opportunities to examine big data, that we can no longer see the forest for all the little digital trees. Alas, it appears user experience is rapidly becoming the stooge of big data. We bow before the alter of obscure statistics. Yet, these data will never move us beyond the “what.” Our talent as designers lies in discovering the “why” and communicating this effectively. If we fail to do so, we will never convey the needed empathy toward either our users or our stakeholders.
Earlier this year, my dear friend, Hannah Koppel, gave me a paper angel she had made. Here’s a photo:
Hannah is a talented designer and ceramacist. And as the daughter of renowned silversmith Henning Koppel
, her gene pool leaves nothing to be desired.
Unfolded, the angel is a simple circle of paper. Nothing more.
I share this design with you because, for me, it represents the ultimate in what design should represent:
- spiritual and visual harmony
- freedom from unnecessary constraints.
This combination of elegance and simplicity is something all designers should all strive to attain. I’m grateful to know people like Hannah who can guide me along the path. And pleased to share this wonderful little gift with my friends in cyberspace.
I grew up in an unusual household. As the son of politically aware scientists, by the time I was six, my greatest passions were music, baseball, antique cars, and nuclear isotopes.
What I learned at a very young age has served me well in promoting the benefits of user experience (UX) to my clients and community. Please bear with me through a long ramble. Hopefully, you’ll think it was worthwhile.
Where I’m coming from…
My parents were founding members of the St. Louis Citizen’s Committee for Nuclear Information, CNI. Back in the late 1950s, they realized that above-ground nuclear testing was eventually going to kill people due to air-borne radioactive fallout entering the food chain. But how could they convince politicians that this was something that should be addressed? After all, increases in thyroid cancer wouldn’t appear for another 20-30 years. By that time, the powers-that-be would be retired or dead. Clearly emotional arguments were not going to work.
CNI’s tactic was one from which the user-experience professionals could learn: opinion-based projects generally fail. Fact-based projects generally succeed. In 1959, CNI started to collect deciduous teeth and measure the Strontium-90 that children had absorbed through the food chain. The results were published in 1961. No emotion. No hyperbole. Just solid scientific data.
The work of the CNI played a key role in bringing about the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union. Linus Pauling ran off with the Nobel Peace Prize. But the grunt work was done in St. Louis. (I was always fascinated by Pauling’s missing incisor)
Sadly, the death projections made back in 1961 have proven to be true. The evidence from the St. Louis study is so powerful that it provided the baseline from which the Japanese government evaluated the Fukushima disaster.
For those of you who are scientifically and historically inclined here’s a link:
And what can the UX community learn from this?
Today, the user-experience community is still basing far too much of its work on opinion rather than facts. And to be frank, why should our opinion weigh more than that of a CEO who wants to put pictures of kittens on the home page? Or an eager brand manager who thinks an iPhone app will further his flagging career?
This is why books like Susan Weinschenk’s “100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People”
is important. And Dan Ariely’s “Predictably Irrational.”
Or even my blogpost from 2011
about the limbic system and how dopamine production affects our ability to make rational design choices at different stages in the development process.
If our community is going to actively sell the concept of user experience, we need hard data. Yet at every conference I attend, I hear about new tools, new techniques, new processes –but almost never about unassailable scientific results that demonstrate replicability. Sadly, most of the case stories I hear are merely glorified advertising. Moreover, like touching the hot iron as a child, learning about what doesn’t work is also important.
Can we trust the source?
A few years ago, I was told by a professor at the University of Bergen (Norway) that red buttons demonstrated a 21% better conversion rate than green buttons. And if you google “submit button” and look at the images, the preponderance of red buttons suggests that there is some truth to this statement. Unfortunately, when I tried to trace this “fact” back to the source, it appears to have come from a blogpost, with virtually no supporting data whatsoever.
As was pointed out in one of the better sessions at the recent IA Summit in Baltimore, we need to show up at meetings and presentations armed with hard data. Printouts. Case stories. Anything to back up our point of view. Yet where are these reports and statistics? No, not just basic usability studies, but solid facts that establish a baseline and demonstrate concrete changes following the application of specific UX techniques.
Can we game the exceptions to the rule?
As a former smoker, I was immune to the scientific data. I knew cigarettes killed. In fact, my father died of lung cancer, yet even this wasn’t enough to keep me away from my beloved unfiltered Camels. Talk to a smoker, and you can present facts that prove that quitting will increase their longevity. But it won’t work. The trick is to show that smoking now projects a highly negative image. There’s no advantage for women to wear trendy Italian boots if their clothes stink of smoke.
Yet talk to a CEO, and you can present facts that prove that UX will improve their conversions. More importantly, if you can show that better results will improve his or her standing within the organization, you can hit two nails squarely on the head simultaneously.
The difference is one of timing (demonstrating short-term wins for a manager looking for a promotion). And killing off magical thinking (“This doesn’t apply to me,” proclaims the nicotine addict). And showing the before-and-after results based on an earlier baseline (“This is where we were. This is what we did. And look where we are now.”).
Case in point: I recently rewrote a couple of landing pages for a client (a traditional ad agency had provided the original content). My approach increased conversions dramatically. Despite my NDA, I need to find a way to document this case. Internally within the client organization, they are using the statistics to build a case for bigger budgets. And they are now giving my company thousands of dollars worth of work on almost a daily basis.
I know other companies are experiencing the same kinds of wins. But where is the data being collected? Isn’t it high time we stop talking about the tools of our trade and start demonstrating the value of our craft?
Can we circumvent the NDA?
There are lots of stories waiting to be told. Because I am discreet, many people confide in me. I mentor. I guide. And I know these data exist. But recalcitrant project managers, cagey legal departments, reluctant middle managers, and impotent brand managers team up to say: “Don’t you dare say a word about this. Our baseline is so shitty, we don’t dare admit how stupid we’ve been.” So the best stories remain behind the curtain.
Let me suggest a solution.
Let us work to create an organization that will verify the results of a project, without revealing the origin. Issuing the “trust” certificates we see on e-commerce sites. Hey, I really don’t care if Coca-Cola screwed up; what I want to know is what problem they identified and what they did to improve things. In strictly generic terms. Something I can learn and apply to my work.
There’s a business opportunity here. For the certifying organization, who will undoubtedly charge for their services. But more importantly, for all of us who are still bogged down in the Grimpin Mire where bean-counting hounds frothingly attack our methods, budgets, and raison d’etre.
On January 24, 2013 one of the clips on my TIMBUK2 Messendger D-Lux Bag broke due to harsh weather conditions. To be fair, it was the second time, cause low temperatures cause the plastic to wear off in general and become fragile. About 40 days ago another one broke, but I replaced it with a spare I had on the other strap that came with the bag...
I've had my TIMBUK2 bag for about two years. It is one of the things I carry around every day that I cannot live without. It is functional and I can put everything in there - my iPad, my Friday antipasti bought at the market, my umbrella and even my niece when she was a bit younger... So you can imagine how devastated I was when the clip broke...
Since I already knew before hand that TIMBUK2 does not have retail shops in Germany (I got my bag on Amazon.de), I decided to battle my own laziness and took a picture immediately attaching it to a tweet addressed to @timbook2:
And this is the chronology of events in their full length:
At 8:32 pm I reported the problem (photo included) and asked for help/guidance.
At 8:41 pm (only 9 minutes later) I got a reply with instructions on how to proceed.
At 8:49 pm I shot an email featuring the picture, a screenshot of my amazon order details (so they'd know the model of the bag) and my email copy.
At 9:15 pm I received a reply from "CustomerService At Timbuk2" filled with compassion and asking me from my address.
At 9:23 pm I sent a reply with my address.
To sum up, I had a shout out on Twitter @timbuk2, was transferred to email to deal with privacy sensitive information and none of my time was wasted by unnecessary questions. Throughout the communication I was being treated with genuine care, understanding, addressed by a first name in an informal, but yet polite tone and everything was kept short and to the point. My user experience was just great.
And since I am a digital marketing professional with a thing for User Experience, I can only treasure the approach TIMBUK2 is taking on service design. If one visits their website, they will see the same coherent approach there as well. Starting from shared reference on bag vs laptop sizes, going through well implemented personalisation functionality in their online shop and finishing up with support information from integrated social media channels. These guys have their digital marketing strategy on the right path.
It still amazes me that in the age of social media being used virtually by everyone that is on the net (one way or another), there are still companies that neglect social media integration in their customer support services. To be able to do so, one has to have a well structured service design, otherwise it would be an even greater mess delivering bad user experience.
I've wrote today back to them, asking whether it would be possible to talk to their Digital Marketing Manager or the Marketing one, just to learn more about the social customer service integration at the back-end. Not sure, if they will have time for me. But if they do, I will try to make a case out of it and offer it to you on this blog, should TIMBUK2 give their explicit permission to do so, of course.
Kudos, TIMBUK2! You've got a customer for life.
Do you have any experience with social media integrated in customer service? Care to share it in the comments bellow?
An acquaintance recently called my user-experience (UX) message “outdated.” As perceptions are always true in the eyes of the beholder, I did not contest this remark. But I’m surprised that this person doesn’t seem to understand either my mission or the industry we’re in. Let me explain.
I teach a subject called “UX 101.” It’s an entry-level course for CEOs and their ilk. I teach this “class” because every day, there are thousands of newcomers to interactive media. Someone has to help them understand what this brave new world is all about. And a lot of things remain constant across time and space. Kind of like Newtonian physics. I’ve written a couple of books for this target group, too.
Naturally, if you’ve been in our industry for any length of time, you’ve probably heard my stories. Or been exposed to concepts I helped develop. Or adopted various best practices, without thought to their history.
And that is as it should be. As President Harry S. Truman once said, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you don’t care who gets the credit.”
“Outdated”? I can’t help but smile. And I’m flattered that folks get something out of “UX 101.” Now it’s your turn to take things to the next level while I continue to work on those entry level CEOs :)
Here's a list of about 20 things that you'll want to have with you when a hurricane strikes. Not just "around the house," but WITH YOU, preferably right there on your hip.
No, I’m not a paranoid prepper, but my family did live in South Florida for 40 years and I've seen first-hand what hurricanes can do. Having been caught up in several major storms, I now know what I want close at hand in a worst-case situation.
“Worst case” can be several things. Generally, it means you are without food, water, electricity, or shelter. You may be trapped and you may be injured. My fanny pack will help you through the first 24 hours and hopefully longer.
I’m no Bear Grylls or Ray Mears. I'm not trying to be overly dramatic. I’m just a middle-aged businessman who has learned some basic hurricane survival techniques and would like to share them.
Why a fanny pack and not a backpack?
Yes, a backpack is larger. But the fanny pack is something you can wear ALL THE TIME. I discovered how important this is when I went outside during a lull in Hurricane Wilma. We were between feeder bands, the wind was low and the sun was shining. I left our Florida house, walked 30 yards to the street to check out the situation, the weather blew up and I spent an eternity clinging to a ficus tree while the next feeder band passed through. Believe me, when things get serious, they get serious FAST.
So, even though a fanny pack doesn’t make much of a fashion statement, it is eminently practical.
Why didn’t you include a cellphone or water?
Yes. Your cellphone is important. But in a storm, you lose both power and cell towers. Don’t count on having service after a storm hits. More importantly, your phone should be in your pocket, not in a fanny pack. Finally, unless you really have an emergency, you shouldn’t be using your phone anyway – don’t tie up valuable bandwidth updating your Facebook page – except for perhaps a single short message to tell friends that you are OK.
Water is important, but again, not something for a fanny pack. Put a bottle in your pocket,
Here’s the unprioritized list. Feel free to modify depending on the size of your pack.
- Extra keys
- Flashlight / batteries
- Antiseptic cream
- Toothbrush / toothpaste
- Identification / bank cards
- Pencil / paper
- Cheap digital watch
- Swiss army knife
- Multi-purpose tool
- Lighter / matches / candle
Let’s look at these, one by one.
When the electricity fails, so do the ATMs. You may not even be able to get to a cash machine. So, keep cash on hand. The photo illustrates 20s, but make sure to have 10s and 5s, too. People don’t make change during emergencies. If all you have is a 20, you’re going to pay 20 for whatever it is you need.
To your house, car, office. Trust me, if you really get hit, keys tend to get lost.
If you need reading glasses, put an extra pair in your kit. This is really an optional thing, but eyeglasses, like keys, get lost during emergencies.
Keep about 4-6 feet. I prefer jute to nylon as I can break the individual strands by hand or with my teeth if things really go wrong. You’ll want this to make a tourniquet or to hold a door open or for simply securing stuff that broke. As to tourniquets, if you’re really in trouble and need to protect an arm or a leg, you can also use the belt off the fanny pack itself.
For attracting attention if you are trapped. Let’s hope you’ll never need it. Did you know there's also a whistle attached to every life vest you’ve ever seen demonstrated when you board an airplane? C’mon folks, nobody makes this stuff up just for their own amusement.
Flashlight / extra batteries
If you’re sitting in a shuttered house when the electricity is out, a flashlight is extremely useful. Almost two million Floridians sat through several weeks without electricity during Hurricane Francis - and that storm never really hit Florida! Get a flashlight with a flat base so you can set it on its end, for example during a meal. The reflected light from a white ceiling can be very practical when several people need to navigate a space or accomplish a task simultaneously.
But be sensible: batteries in the average flashlight only last a couple of hours, so be conservative in your use. For example, big old D-cells in a flashlight with a traditional incandescent bulb will only last three to four hours.
Band-aids, aspirin, antiseptics
These are for small cuts and such. Water is often contaminated when sewage systems and water supplies become mixed. The idea here is to prevent infections from minor wounds, not provide full first-aid treatment for major injuries. Hence, no gauze or larger bandages. Tear your shirt if you need to make a pressure pad to stop major bleeding.
Toothbrush / toothpaste
Nice to have. Brushing your teeth makes you feel somewhat civilized when you’re stuck in a hurricane shelter with 1000 other stinky people who have been evacuated.
Identification / bank cards
Most guys carry a wallet in their pocket, so this may not be so important to them. But, women, assume your purse is going to get lost. Keep the most important things with you at all times!
Pencil / paper / post-its
Forget Sharpies and other writing tools. Get yourself a big, fat, carpenter’s pencil that won’t break. Carry a pad of paper and even some post-its so you can leave messages for friends and family.
A granola bar, a candy bar, whatever. As long as it will provide you with a little energy and relieve the hunger pains if you are waiting to be rescued. Make sure it’s something that can be unwrapped with one hand and eaten without utensils.
Cheap digital watch
Mine came from K-Mart for 10 bucks. It’s waterproof and has a lighted dial. And in a hurricane, it beats the hell out of my expensive Rolex Submariner in terms of practicality. The lighted dial is an important feature as hurricane aftermaths are characterized by lack of electricity/lighting. And yes, this is better off on your wrist than in the fanny pack.
Multi-purpose tools / Swiss Army knife
I have both a cheap, knock-off Leatherman and a Swiss Army knife in my kit. Of all the many features, the knife blade is perhaps the most important of all. The can opener can easily become the second-most important feature. By the way, if you're stocking up on food, get cans of stuff that can be eaten cold. Van Camps pork and beans are good and nutritious. Canned tuna is good. Spaghetti-Os and other stuff from Chef Boyardee are at least relatively tasty, when eaten with your fingers out of a cold can.
Lighter / matches / candle
The American Red Cross says to use flashlights, not candles. Well, flashlights have a much shorter useful lifetime than candles, and if you are sitting in the dark, a little light provides a lot of comfort. I carry a tea candle and a simple gas lighter. The gas lighter will dry out faster than matches if it gets wet, and although the flame is not as hot as a match, it’s still hot enough to sterilize a knife blade if the need arises.
A real candle will burn at about 1 inch per hour; if you have room in your fanny pack, put one in.
I guess that’s about it. Stay safe. And do take all this seriously. I know it’s all a huge laugh afterwards when the storm has passed and nothing really happened. But sometimes these storms DO hit…
I'm really looking forward to yet another whirlwind trip to Canada and the United States next week! In addition to MeetUps in Vancouver and San Francisco, courtesy of the brilliant folks at the IxDA, I'll also be holding two UX workshops in Los Angeles. I'd love to see you!
Psst - if you use the discount code "quack" you'll get a $50 discount on each workshop! Registration info is at the bottom of this page.
“Usable Usability” will be held Saturday, October 13th
Lean UX is about applying common sense to create better user-experiences. Come to this half-day workshop and I'll show you how to start this process through simple usability improvements. Basically, I think usability and UX are built on three E’s: Ease of use – the product does what the user wants it to do; Elegance and clarity – the product does what the user expects it to do; and Empathy - understanding and addressing the needs of the users. During our four hours together, I will show you how to evaluate and improve products and services in a truly lean and agile way – a method that has proven successful with clients, business students, and seasoned usability professionals alike. The method even includes a hands-on technique for individuals within a large organization to carry out guerilla-style usability hacks that show the value of usability to the people in charge of budgets.
“Writing for Interactive Media” will be held on Sunday, October 14th
Let's face it, without content, you can't have content strategy! In this half-day workshop, I'll show you how to create findable, scanable, skimable, and readable on-line content that creates understanding, builds trust, and increases conversion rates. Topics include: Why writing for the web is different; Navigation - it’s about labels, not graphics; How to build shared-references with your audience; The importance of core content descriptions; How to use contextual navigation (locally relevant links); What is information architecture from a content-provider point-of-view; What is responsive content from a reader and device point-of-view; and How to build landing pages and conversion funnels that win customers.
Both workshops are scheduled from 8:00am – 12:00pm at NextSpace in Culver City. I'll also sign copies of my new book, Usable Usability: Simple Steps for Making Stuff Better, kiss babies, and do interpretive dance as appropriate.
For additional info and registration, please visit:
Writing for Interactive Media
(and remember to use your discount code, "quack")
For months, we've been whispering about this behind closed doors! Now, we can finally share the news: The FatDUX Group has formed a strategic alliance with nexum AG, one of Germany’s leading digital agencies, to offer even stronger and broader expertise in the international user-experience marketplace.
Naturally, nexum AG has translated the official announcement into German and distributed it there and FatDUX HQ in Copenhagen has sent it to relevant Danish media so this big splash is heard far beyond the Duck Pond.
Dateline: COLOGNE, GER. and COPENHAGEN, DEN. (24 September 2012)
Friends, this isn't just the start of another week, it's the start of a whole new era for user experience in Europe and the Americas! Here's the official release:
-- nexum AG, one of Germany’s foremost digital agencies, and The FatDUX Group, an international user-experience design firm headquartered in Denmark, have announced the formation of a strategic partnership. The combination of nexum AG’s large workforce with FatDUX’ multinational influence and operations makes the partnership one of the largest in the global user-experience sector.
nexum AG will open FatDUX Cologne to strengthen its position in the growing user-experience (UX) market and bring a greater degree of international experience to German clients. In turn, FatDUX will offer nexum’s extensive e-commerce, social media consulting, design and development services to clients throughout Europe and the Americas.
Dr. Michael Klinkers, CEO of nexum AG explains, “The partnership between nexum AG and FatDUX gives us the ability to effectively tackle even the largest, multinational projects and therefore will take us to a new level. When FatDUX’ methods and international talent pool are merged with our own staff and creative use of cutting-edge technologies, we can provide clients with the depth and breadth of experience needed to cut through the international clutter.”
“The use of experience design to differentiate products and services has become a key competitive factor,” said Eric Reiss, CEO, The FatDUX Group.“ The bottom line is this: we know how to make money for our clients. This partnership is the right fit at the right time and will significantly benefit all organisations operating in a crowded global marketplace.”
“FatDUX and nexum share the same understanding of user-experience as an increasingly decisive factor for the successful realization of corporate objectives”, adds Georg Kuehl, CEO of nexum AG. “When it comes to creating and implementing user-experience concepts we already play a leading role in the market. With joint forces, we will now further develop this topic internationally on a strategic level.”
FatDUX’ beginnings as a boutique agency in Denmark have given rise to a global organization whose clients have included eBay, Vodafone, T-Mobile, Nokia, Zappos, Rockwool, Switzerland Tourism, the Copenhagen Zoo, UCLA, the University of Washington, KB Home, TÜV Rheinland, Babcock & Wilcox Vølund, the United Nations’ International Labour Organisation, and many others.
nexum AG has extensive experience in digital brand management covering fields such as online marketing, e-commerce, websites, content management and social media. The consultancy and agency for digital media has carried out projects for: BMW, FIFA, Lufthansa, Vaillant, Coop, Sony, and dozens of other world-renowned brands.
# # #
About nexum AG
nexum AG is a consultancy and agency for digital media. We enable our clients to attain their business goals through optimal user experience and the creative use of cutting-edge technologies. Services provided by nexum AG include Consulting & Concept Design, Design, Development, Marketing Services, Consulting & Editorial Services and Project Management. nexum AG specializes in eBusiness, Online Marketing, Websites and Content Management.
nexum AG has offices in Cologne, Germany (headquarters) and Basel, Switzerland. The company employs more than 100 people and provides comprehensive, targeted services to meet the needs of both small- and medium-sized companies, as well as large corporations. Customers include BMW, Coop Schweiz, DIS AG, FIFA, Intersnack, Lufthansa WorldShop, METRO, Otto, Penny, Sony, Telefónica Germany, Thyssen-Krupp, and Vaillant
About The FatDUX Group
FatDUX was established in 2006 to bridge the gap between new and traditional media communications, coordinating brand experiences in order to increase both conversion and customer satisfaction. Headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark, The FatDUX Group has offices and associates throughout Europe and the Americas. The company’s business model is built on experts worldwide sharing their highly specialized skills and best practices among all offices and clients thus bringing the best and the brightest talents to individual projects, no matter where these may originate.
The Lord Mayor of Cologne, Jürgen Roters (at right) welcomes Eric Reiss and FatDUX to his city while Dr. Michael Klinkers, CEO of nexum AG looks on. The Lord Mayor called the new partnership "a true win-win situation".
Download press release as PDF
A few days ago I got so frustrated with Korean Airlines’ online booking system I decided to share the horror with the rest of the world.
I admit, because of what I do I am a bit more sensitive about bad web pages. Sometimes I overreact and get cranky (you web designers know what I mean). But this is the second time I’ve ever gotten so far as to write about my bad experience on the web.
The whole thing started the previous night, when I lost my patience with their web site and called the sales line to make the order with a live person. I was surprised that the toll free number connected me to the USA (I live in Europe). The overseas call was paid by Korean Airlines so I did not care. I was connected to a nice lady, who spent about 20 minutes with me trying to find the right flight. What was very surprising to me was that she couldn’t email me the options she found, that my only options were either to buy the flight right then and there or write down all the times and flight numbers and hope I could find the paper again the next time I call the sales line. The lady was so kind and helpful I took a deep breath and wrote down all the details. Which I lost the next day, so I had to give the web a second chance.
I was buying two long distance flights for approximately three thousand dollars
The next morning I opened the Korean Airlines site, which is a narrow (760px) stripe looking a bit funny in the middle of my big monitor. Approximately 90% of the narrow space was covered with ads, menus and options I did not care about. What I needed was the flight booking form displayed using gray on gray tiny font, where the select boxes with dates are so small the data does not even fit and is partially hidden.
(This is a screenshot in actual size, the letters blending into each other is what gets displayed on the actual site)
When filling this form one has to choose the continent and then the city for the departing and return destinations. It is not possible to type in the airport code, or the date, which has to be selected from a miniature calendar. This turned out to be quite annoying when I filled out the form for the tenth time.
The next page showed the date I had selected with a price matrix displaying three previous and following days. I was flexible in the dates, so I wanted to make sure the previous or following weeks are not significantly cheaper, but I could not change the dates in the matrix, I had to go back to the home screen and keep filling the booking form again and again. Filling the stupid form from scratch every single time!
After about ten iterations I found the flight I wanted for $1200 and proceeded to selecting the flight times and other usual stuff. After 10 minutes of fine-tuning our journey to the maximum degree of perfection I realized I forgot to add my soon-to-be wife (I was booking a honeymoon) and I could not add another passenger at this point.
I had to start all over again.
At this moment I was getting really irritated, so the next obvious thing was that I made a mistake in the date. My excuse: I could not clearly see the date in the booking form, because it was half hidden in the small “select” box. When I discovered my mistake, the only option was to start all over again.
The next attempt got me almost there. I had gone through the price matrix, times, and even the inconvenient login form, this time I typed my and my girlfriend's names and proceeded to the checkout, gave my card number, billing address, expiration date, security code and all that. At the final check I realized my girlfriend will have different name after the wedding. Being so far in the process I could not believe I could not go back to change the name and my only option was to start all over again!
I thought it will go fast this time. But after filling the destinations, dates and number of passengers, the price had changed and the flights were now $350 more expensive.
And here I have to admit I lost control and almost broke the keyboard.
I had spent almost two hours with this, did not accomplish anything and felt angry and defeated for the rest of the day.
How is it possible that airlines with billion dollar budgets give such a poor user experience when they’re booking a ticket - the most crucial part of their business? Fixing this problem by adding a back button is probably less expensive then the tickets I have bought. Changing the layout of their web, such that users can see the important information, would cost less than what KA must have paid for the phone call I made the to customer support centre?
How can a company be so ignorant and blind about how users interact with their systems?