On being "outdated"

06.11.2012 | Author: Eric Reiss

An acquaintance recently called my user-experience (UX) message “outdated.”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“Outdated”?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 :)

UX Workshops in Los Angeles

03.10.2012 | Author: Eric Reiss

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:

Usable Usability

Writing for Interactive Media

(and remember to use your discount code, "quack")

nexum AG and The FatDUX Group establish strategic consulting and design partnership

24.09.2012 | Author: Eric Reiss

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.

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:

Dateline: COLOGNE, GER. and COPENHAGEN, DEN. (24 September 2012) 

-- 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

FatDUX Prague sponsoring EuroIA in Prague

22.08.2011 | Author: Stepan Doubrava
I am proud to announce the opening of FatDUX Prague. Our offices are located just minutes from the famed Wenceslas Square in the heart of the Czech capital. Over the past few years, our sister company, ExperienceU, has grown to become one of the most respected usability testing facilities in Central Europe. Now, working hand-in-hand with FatDUX Prague, we are able to provide a full range of UX services – from strategy and design to usability and search optimisation.

To help celebrate our new company and build our local user-experience community, FatDUX Prague is subsidising 20 registrations for residents of the Czech Republic to the upcoming EuroIA conference. The conference is possibly the most important event of its kind in Europe. We are honoured that this year, it will be held right here in Prague on September 22-24.

Rather than the normal registration fee of EUR 430, with our discount code, you will only pay EUR 150. We will take care of the rest. For details and your personal code information, please write to me directly: stepan (at) fatdux.com

Rádi bychom oznámili oficiální otevření pražské pobočky dánské designové agentury FatDUX. Naše kanceláře se nachází na okraji historického centra Prahy. Díky spolupráci s agenturou ExperienceU, respektovanou zejména v oblasti testování použitelnosti, dodáváme celé spektrum služeb v oblasti UX, přes strategii a design po audit použitelnosti a SEO.

Abychom oslavili oficiální vznik nové pobočky a zároveň podpořili místní UX komunitu, FatDUX Praha sponzoruje registraci 20 zájemců z České republiky o nadcházející konferenci EuroIA. Tato konference, která se řadí mezi nejvýznamnější svého druhu v Evropě, se bude konat v Praze 22 – 24. září.

Místo plné ceny 430 Euro zaplatíte pouze 150 Euro a FatDUX doplatí zbytek. Případní zájemci, neváhejte mne prosím kontaktovat na: stepan (at) fatdux.com

Former Director of Business Development, Kim Schultz, has passed away

05.06.2011 | Author: Eric Reiss

From October 2008 to January 2010, former A.P. Møller-Maersk director, Kim Schultz, was FatDUX’s Director of Business Development. He died on Thursday after an illness that was longer than Kim had let on. Kim was 65. I lost a close personal friend, FatDUX lost a trusted advisor, and Denmark lost one of those rare, insightful businessmen who could strengthen both GDP and international relations.

I first met Kim Schultz back in the mid-nineties when I was invited to complete a whist foursome with three business executives. Although I didn’t play whist and wasn’t yet a business executive, the invitation was appealing – “beer, chili con carne, and good conversation.” Happily, conversation, not whist, was the driving force behind these get-togethers. And although I eventually became a decent whist-player, more importantly, I received business training from three of the brightest minds in Denmark. And Kim was our senior advisor in this talented group. Kim and I also shared similar hobby interests – vintage wristwatches and cars – which provided a nice change of pace when we grew tired of discussing due-diligance procedures, the economy of Latvia, or whether the “white-tail” jets parked at Keflavik Airport might be for sale.

For years, Kim was part of the top management within the A.P. Møller-Maersk organization. Most of his career was spent in air freight, including 14 years as Vice President of Maersk Air Cargo. In 2000, Kim was promoted to Managing Director of Star Air, another Maersk company, which operated an impressive fleet of 14 Boeing 747 cargo jets. After leaving A.P.Møller-Maersk in 2003, Kim joined former Maersk Air CEO Bjarne Hansen, Robert S. Arendal, and Marita Petersen to form a new Danish air-brokerage company, WingPartners.

In the fall of 2008, Kim agreed to share his time and business acumen with the FatDUX Group where he navigated us deftly through the treacherous first year of the financial crisis. Kim had an incredible ability to maintain his cool in every kind of situation – even when our idiot bank advisor proceeded to lecture him on international cargo logistics. Our debt to our dear friend Kim is enormous – for his skill, knowledge, personal charm, and unswerving support.

Some will question whether a corporate blog is the appropriate place for a piece such as this. I say, absolutely! Kim was a vital member of the FatDUX family – and just as we use social media to share our successes, it is only fitting that we share our losses, too.

On behalf of FatDUX Chairman, Søren Muus, and all the FatDUXlings worldwide, our hearts go out to Kim’s son, Mikkel, and his extended family. Ære være hans minde.

Memorial service

We have just learned there will be a memorial service for Kim on June 14 at 11 AM at Søndermarks Kirkegård og Krematorium, Roskildevej 59.

From left: Cleantech CEO Jesper Boie Rasmussen, FatDUX CEO Eric Reiss, and FatDUX Director of Business Development Kim Schultz admire Cleantech's electric Jaguar XF in 2009.

An open letter to John Hancock Insurance

13.04.2011 | Author: Eric Reiss
The following represents strictly my personal views, which may or may not represent the opinions of the owners and employees of The FatDUX Group. This represents the essence of an email sent earlier today to the John Hancock Insurance Company, in response to a promotional e-mail.

To Whom it May Concern:

Thank you for your “personalized” e-mail. Thanks, too, for the useless flash animation. Perhaps, as promised, my personal information could have been edited but I didn’t have the patience to wait through the advertising crap.

While I have your attention, I’d like to mention that my mother paid almost USD 9,000 a year for home health care. She did this for well over a decade. But when she turned 90 and really needed your help, John Hancock made us jump through all kinds of hoops.

My mother died before your policy finally “took effect”. You never paid out a cent. Good business model. Bad user experience. Your 100-day waiting period is quite effective. Alas, most needs for home health care arise quite unexpectedly. Ah, but you know this, of course :)

When you transferred her policy from one agent to another (the original agent retired many years ago – that’s how old the policy is), you kicked two numbers: the policy number and her social security number. Despite hours and hours on the phone (mostly listening to your Muzak), I don’t know that this situation was ever resolved – whenever I called, you were never able to find her policy. Yet you kept magnificent track of her bank account across at least two account changes.

During her memorial service (held at her home), I received a phone call from your organization (the fourth), requesting an appointment for one of your “professional advisors” to inspect the house to determine if my mother was really entitled to your help. Pardon me. I think I may have been rude to your representative – I was missing my mother’s eulogy.

I’m posting this on a user-experience blog because I think someone at John Hancock needs to sit up and take notice: you have a customer who paid over USD 100,000 to you and was kicked in the balls for the privilege. Imagine my joy to find I am still on your mailing list.

Eric L. Reiss
son of the late
Louise Z. Reiss
of Pinecrest, FL

Eric Reiss
The FatDUX Group
Copenhagen, Denmark
office: (+45) 39 29 67 77
mobile: (+45) 20 12 88 44
skype: ericreiss
twitter: @elreiss


If you received this in error, please let us know and delete the file. FatDUX advises all recipients to virus scan all emails, and to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables daily.

- Show quoted text -

On Wed, Apr 13, 2011 at 12:16 AM, John Hancock South Florida Group
<XXXX@jhnetwork.com> wrote:
> Dear Eric,
> Every few months, I try to keep my clients and friends up-to-date with current financial issues or critical concerns. Here is the latest.
> Access Here for Your Information.
> If you want more information on this subject, just click-on the additional details box at the end.
> Feel free to send me a message. It’s always good hearing from clients and friends.
> Sincerely,
> John Hancock South Florida Group
> (305) 579-4026 (O)
> xxxxx@jhnetwork.com
> John Hancock Financial Network
> South Florida Group
> 1101 Brickell Ave. 16th Floor North Tower
> Miami, FL 33131
> http://www.jhfnsouthfloridagroup.com
> If the link above does not open, try this link – or copy and paste this link into your browser.
> http://ebriefme.com/1/?d=411&r=4mcM1zuoLkqlUa2-XXXXX>
> Registered Representative/Securities and Investment Advisory Services through Signator Investors, Inc. Member FINRA, SIPC, a Registered Investment Advisor
> This material does not constitute tax, legal, financial or accounting advice. It was not intended or written for use and cannot be used by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding any IRS penalty. It was written to support the marketing of the transactions or topics it addresses. Anyone interested in these transactions or topics should seek advice based on his or her particular circumstances from independent professional advisors.
> The information contained in this email is not an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any products or services. It is for informational purposes only. Products and services mentioned in this email may not be available in all states and are only valid for distribution in the United States of America.
> If you feel you have received this message by mistake, or if you want to be deleted from further communications from me, please click below:
> http://ebriefme.com/0/?d=411&r=4mcM1zuoLkqlUa2-XXXXX>

A logical puzzle. A cash prize.

25.03.2011 | Author: Eric Reiss
The story

Wendy was nervous about attending the 2011 IA Summit in Denver, Colorado. It was her first time at a major conference and she didn’t know a soul. But as this is an informal, friendly conference, her fears were unfounded. In fact, lots of people came up to her during the opening cocktail hour on Thursday evening to chat. And Linda even brought her a drink. By the time she had talked with Dr. Sternberg and three other IA/UX professionals, she was feeling pretty confident.

The challenge

From the following clues, can you name the first four people Wendy spoke with, the order in which they arrived, and the subjects of the various conversations?

The clues

1. One person, who operates a small west-coast studio, came up to Wendy to talk about service design. This person stepped up just before Andy, but after Ms. Smith.

2. Another person was particularly interested in personas and had many ideas to share with Wendy. This was after Prof. Jones had congratulated her on winning a FatDUX student sponsorship to the event.

3. Someone had just finished reading a post on the FatDUX blog about “Writing for the Web” and was all excited about content strategy. This was just after Wendy had spoken with Hansen, who was the next person to approach her after Lynn.

4. “I’m so jealous of your work,” said Wendy to the person who came up to her and talked about wireframes. “Deliverables are simply SO exciting!” The wireframe expert was the person who showed up just before Jeff.

The prize

As a prize, FatDUX will be awarding a USD 50 gift certificate that can be redeemed at any participating…oh screw the formalities…Eric will give you fifty bucks cash to use any way you want. But you do have to show up in Denver to collect it!

So there you have it. Can you solve the puzzle? You’ve got all the information you need. Now show us that as an information professional you know how to handle information challenges!

Send your answers directly to Eric at er (at) fatdux (dot) com. First right anwer takes the prize.

Offer may be void in Southeastern Montana, parts of central Romania, and at 924 West End Avenue, NYC. Check local regulations before responding. Employees of FatDUX are not eligible for the cash prize, but if you show up at the Hyatt Regency bar in Denver, we won’t disappoint you.

Seven things I learned

21.03.2011 | Author: Eric Reiss
1. Listen and learn. In that order.
Wisdom may come from intuition, but understanding comes from knowledge. If your urge is to show off your knowledge, that’s generally the time to shut up.

2. A perception is always true to the perceiver
If someone thinks “green is ugly”, you will rarely convince them otherwise. It is very difficult to mirror your own unique vantage point.

3. The best ideas are the toughest to convey
I’ve found it helps to say that Seth Godin, Warren Buffet, or Benjamin Franklin thought of my ideas first.

4. Insightfulness is both a talent and a curse
Did you experience a true epiphany? Or are you just creating problems in a Munchausen-by-proxy fashion? It’s not easy to tell…and always frustrating.

5. Common sense is not a common quality
The mesencephalon (mid-brain), which controls emotions, tends to veto the rational stuff coming from the prosencephalon (new brain). Very frustrating when our prosencephalon gets into a fight with someone else’s mesencephalon.

6. Honesty provides the ultimate competitive edge
Folks can take my friends and my belongings, but they can never take my integrity. Cheaters never prosper. This I believe to be an absolute fact.

7. Never take yourself too seriously
The “high horse” is still a depressingly popular vehicle.

N.B. Thanks to Erik van den Berg from Zeist in the Netherlands, for encouraging this interesting philosophical exercise via Twitter and e-mail.

The usability of coffee measuring spoons

31.08.2010 | Author: Eric Reiss
The discussion at FatDUX this morning focused on Nescafé. And which spoons each of us used to make coffee (note to self: we have a perfectly good, very expensive coffee maker. Why are folks drinking this instant crap?)

It seems that coffee measures are not standardized. They're not even close. In various drawers, I found no fewer than six different measuring "instruments". And their capacities ranged from less than 1 gram to over 10 grams. No wonder our morning coffee ranges from dishwater to mud.

Here's what we have:


From left to right, we have a very expensive coffee spoon from Georg Jensen designed by Arne Jacobsen, followed by a more traditional silver teaspoon. Next, we have a miniature scoop. The wire-handled measuring spoon is an Ole Palsby design from his Eva Trio series of kitchen utensils. Finally, there is a black plastic scoop that came with a bag of coffee, and a smaller, white plastic scoop that came with some tea.

Let's see what they can hold (the first number is heaping, the second is level), measured with real, ground coffee, not the instant crap.

Jacobsen      <1 gram (<1 gram)
Traditional      3 grams (1 gram)
Scoop            4 grams (3 grams)
Palsby            9 grams (8 grams)
Black plastic  10 grams (7 grams)
White plastic   4 grams (< 1 gram)

The directions on our instant coffee suggest "one heaping spoonful per cup".

Hmm. How many different cup sizes do we have...?

How this relates to interaction design
In the field of interaction design, we know that standardization often improves usability, although it can stifle creativity and innovation in the hands of pedantic rule-followers. Could it be that we should be chosing our standards with greater care? That there are some generic patterns that benefit from standardization and "best practice" whereas there are others areas that should be avoided if they impinge on artistic value?

Take for example, the Ole Palsby measuring spoon above. It holds more coffee than almost all the other devices. In terms of volume, it doesn't equate to any of my standardized cooking measuring spoons (teaspoon, tablespoon etc.). So where did this design originate? Did Palsby pull the size out of thin air? In truth, he could have chosen a more reasonable size without compromising his design. I wish he had - my wife insists on using one scoop per cup, plus "one for the pot".  When made with this scoop, her coffee can be used to patch bicycle tires.

On the other hand, Arne Jacobsen's spoon was designed for stirring, not measuring. To change this design would also mean changing its basic function, which would be wrong from an artistic point of view (and a usability POV as well).

So, what do YOU think should be standardized? And why? Does anyone have standardized rules for standardization? If so, I hope you'll share them here.

Movies on your desert island iPad

13.08.2010 | Author: Eric Reiss
OK. Here’s the deal. You’re shipwrecked on some desert island. Lots of coconuts, fish, and other food - plus a magic spring that spouts water, beer, wine, cocktails, and Coca-Cola. There is also a power outlet for your iPad.

Alas, your iPad has very limited memory and there is no wireless. So which 10 movies would you want to view over and over again until you’re rescued? Here’s my list:

Footlight Parade (1933)

Casablanca (1942)

The Big Sleep (1946)

Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

Some Like it Hot (1959)

Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966)

The Godfather (1972)

The Right Stuff (1983)

Good Night, and Good Luck ( 2005)

Believe me, I have a zillion movies I’d like on this list. But honestly, if you really had to narrow it to 10, what would they be?