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Studio Snapshot: The UX Tribe

May 8th, 2017

The UX Studio at Logical Design Solutions is a small powerhouse doing big things. Our experiences support new ways of working, and to create these experiences, UXers work intensively with project teams comprised of experts in the domains of business, architecture, content and visual design.

These collaborations invariably expand our understanding and nurture new ways of thinking about business problems because they provide input from colleagues who view the problem through a different lens. That’s what LDS is like—it embodies the idea of life-long learning.

This learning also happens in our UX Studio meetings, and these meetings are really where I find my tribe. They often start with quips and jokes about the latest office observance, like who in our group is eating what now and why (long story). We also catch up on what’s going on in our personal lives—usually there’s a story about someone’s kid (like, who ended up in the hospital this week). These gatherings are important because they keep us in touch during periods of concentrated work, when we are distributed across teams and may not see other UXers except to say “hello” and “goodbye” at the bookends of the day.

And then, there is also the meat of the matter—the sharing of trends and developments in the world of UX and how we might consider these ideas in the work we do. Topics are wide ranging, with recent discussions focused on AI and how we might apply and design for it in the enterprise, how to provide context in interfaces that surface big data, or the implications for digital first design within organizations. We have genuine conversations that feel like a team practicing soccer—someone kicks it off and the ideas bounce between us, everyone adding something—facts, additional sources of information, or their interpretation of the topic.

Each week, I leave these meetings understanding the value of an hour, evidenced in the ideas that such a small increment of time have inspired. I usually come away from our gatherings with a new perspective–what I thought when I took my first swallow of coffee has taken twists and turns, and arrived at a whole new place by the time I can see the bottom of my mug.

Design Trends for Digital Employee Experiences

March 31st, 2017

In 2017, we observe evolving design trends that originate in emerging technologies and efforts to address the needs of digital transformation.

The trends that we believe will contribute to the shape and definition of digital employee experiences within the enterprise range from “chunking experiences” into simple, meaningful “bites,” to enabling specific users through hyper-personalization and access to alternate paths to supporting experiences through artificial intelligence (AI). Beyond this, audience and behavior-based design, in addition to the broad use of metrics and analytics, can influence user engagement and participation.

These trends will significantly change our experiences and interactions with products and services. If successfully applied, they will leverage the depth of technology to augment peoples’ inherent capabilities and provide experiences that feel supportive and humane. While many companies are still in the early stages of their digital transformation journey, we believe the following trends are worth assessing to understand the value that they bring to the digital employee experience.

Conversation: a natural way to interact

In 2016 we witnessed the mainstreaming of applications that relied on chat bots and conversational UI to help people achieve goals using voice or text commands, instead of buttons or links. These types of applications eliminate the need to understand an interface, and the requirement to learn a new interface as people move from one device to another. Additionally, the use of conversation (voice in particular) feels comfortable because it’s like interacting with a person. Conversational UI is today providing efficient ways to get simple things done in the consumer space. Personal assistants like Alexa or Google Home help by turning on lights, playing music, or finding information online in response to voice commands. Other services like Domino’s Anywhere utilize more widely available formats such as tweets or text messages (in addition to personal assistants) to order pizza. For more complex interactions, hybrid interfaces in consumer apps like Operator or KLM’s messenger app combine the ease of conversational UI with rich graphical feedback such as photos, maps, select buttons or other formats.

This year, conversational UI will improve based on learnings from the explosion of applications in 2016. Better natural language processing will reduce task abandonment due to misunderstood language. Continued development of hybrid interfaces will support more complex interactions. Overall, conversational UI interactions will become more effective and efficient, and generally more satisfying.

For enterprise solutions, we see opportunities for conversational UI to provide efficient ways to complete tasks and access information. Getting people to the “right” information supports organizational alignment and reducing time spent completing simple tasks frees it up for more nuanced work.

Artificial Intelligence: machines that learn and teach

Trending together with conversational interfaces are advances in AI that are moving beyond expert systems and explicit algorithms. Companies and researchers on the forefront of technology are developing deep learning systems which can understand input without a specific algorithm. In 2016, Google Translate researchers developed a system which could use the concept of transfer learning to translate from one language to another based on its pre-existing ability to translate from each language into English.

In the consumer space, AI currently powers chat bots and other conversational interfaces, and is being used to give people input on how they can better accomplish a goal. Call centers are using AI systems to analyze speech and exchanges that reps have with customers. In some call centers, the AI system acts as a real-time coach, influencing a rep’s interactions by telling them when a customer is upset or suggesting changes to behavior, such as speaking more slowly.

Within the enterprise, we see tremendous value and potential for AI to supplement the experience through the provision of meaningful and relevant information and data. This input can support better decision-making, enhance process support, and positively influence employee behaviors.

Hyper-personalization: experiences that adapt to the person

Hyper-personalization is a natural progression in experience design. It creates the best experience to meet the unique needs of a specific person. To provide the best outcomes, hyper-personalized experiences are based on expressed preferences, needs, and habits combined with data collected by behind-the-scenes technology.

We are seeing these types of experiences in the consumer world for established business models and as engines of emergent models. Hotels are using AI to customize guest experiences before they arrive, setting room temperature or TV channels based on personal preferences. Stitch Fix, an online personal styling service, builds an individual profile based on a customer’s answers to questions combined with captured data from online interactions, recommendations, and purchases. This profile becomes the basis for product recommendations which change as the profile is refined over time.

Within the enterprise, hyper-personalization may provide the richest area in which design can support changes in behavior and work practices. Based on the availability of large sets of meta-data, employee solutions can evolve from tools that act as static aggregators and entry-ways into transactions, information libraries, and data sets into tools that fundamentally adjust to the situation of the person using them.

Our Approach

The methodology used by the Experience Design Studio at Logical Design Solutions combines a people-centric design approach with digital technologies to enable greater connectedness between an organization and its people. Emerging design trends present new ways to create connections. We must consider how these trends can contribute to employee experiences that exceed expectations.

Designing for New Ways of Working

October 1st, 2016


The Digital Workforce

August 9th, 2016


When Workers Become Business Consumers: Trends in Digital Transformation

June 28th, 2016

The most successful companies know that to succeed, they need to invest in their people. Increasingly, impactful investments focus not on conventional HR strategies, but rather on using digital innovation to create new ways of working – by investing, in other words, in digital transformation. This transformation allows businesses to reimagine business models and make investments in digital capabilities to support these efforts.

Inside the enterprise, digital strategies recognize employees as business consumers who bring their digital expectations and behaviors to work, and expect consumer-grade experiences on the job. This becomes a crucial input into designing a digital Employee Experience (dEX) that empowers and enables employees to work seamlessly in a digital world.

While the value of digital transformation has become widely acknowledged across industries, many organizations vary in the level of digtal maturity within their workforce. New generations easily adapt to the transformation of the organization because these changes resonate with their personal experiences, advanced technical skills, and mind-sets, while other generations of employees are still embracing the concept of digital in their day-to-day work.

Digital transformation brings significant change to employees’ work and behaviors and a majority of organizations are still in the early phases of the transformation journey; however, some emerging trends amongst the early adopters of digital transformation are now being applied more broadly to drive the consumerization of the workforce.

Enterprise Connectivity

Organizations are breaking the siloed nature of their culture – where functions, roles, and work sites separate colleagues and stifle the flow of ideas – and focusing on strategies to enable enterprise connectivity. Leadership is working to encourage social behaviors across the organization to facilitate community building, networking, and knowledge-sharing in broader business and people contexts, and organizations are making major investments in collaborative platforms and capabilities to support this shift in culture.

Working Anywhere and Anytime

In a digitally mature organization, we see employees expecting to connect anywhere and anytime. Being able to perform their jobs from any device (including mobile, wearable, and other form factors) becomes a high-priority capability. There is a big value add in digitally transforming the way employees work, whether it is digitally enabling their physical workplaces or providing flexible and fluid work environments where they can seamlessly perform their jobs and interact with peers.

New Expectations in the Workforce

Organizations now understand that the new generation of the workforce brings expectations and attitudes to the workplace that dramatically change corporate culture. Embracing and recognizing this change must influence the dEX strategy. Some of the key expectations of business consumers include:

  • Greater work-life balance and integration
  • More flexibility in ways of working (location, hours, virtual workspaces, collaboration, teamwork)
  • Feeling good about the organization they work for and knowing it is progressive and invested in its people
  • Foreseeing their potential for leadership opportunities and being free to grow quickly
  • Having easy access to knowledge and people across the organization to develop new and meaningful relationships and broaden skillsets
  • Receiving timely and frequent feedback so they can track their growth and opportunities

At Logical Design Solutions, we believe designing an Employee Experience needs to address – and exceed – these expectations. Our strategy focuses on people-centric design principles, with a solid foundation of knowledge about who your employees are, how they work today, and how they want to work in the future.

Enterprise Search – Challenge or Opportunity?

May 31st, 2016

As companies move toward digital transformation and consumerization within the enterprise, search becomes critical to the overall employee experience. In addition to key word matches, we see industry trends focusing on expanding the search experience to ideas like knowledge sharing, social facilitation, data integration, inclusion of varied content types, developing key relationships in contexts and expanding searching capabilities to support user intents.

Industry trends suggest a need to leverage a people-centric approach to designing an enterprise search experience that provides several user experience (UX) benefits:

  • Findability: Expand the range of information that is accessible and present it in a meaningful and efficient way – don’t make the employee hunt for what they are looking for!
  • Context: Add a layer of context to frame the results and provide information aligned to the employee’s intent and business’ objectives – ultimately answering the employee’s question!
  • Relevancy: Leverage knowledge about employees to allow for a more personalized experience – don’t show employees what they don’t need to see!

In today’s world we see that many companies are still on the journey of establishing a meaningful and relevant enterprise search experience. Some companies are ahead of the curve while others are still catching up. That said, we often observe similar challenges across many companies that impact the evolution of the enterprise search experience:

  • The role of search within the overall employee experience is not clearly defined Search is often perceived as a utility when it should be really considered the other half of the employee experience. We believe that search goes hand in hand with the traditional ways of navigating and browsing the solution. Ultimately search should be an employee preference that yields the same exact experience.
  • Search experiences are still siloed  While companies leverage enterprise search, the scope of what’s searched often does not extend fully across the ecosystem. This means there still siloed search functions (e.g., job search) that need to be rationalized to create a unified search experience.
  • Finding the right information is difficult without structured and tagged content

    Providing a more relevant and contextualized search results requires that content be structured and tagged appropriately. Structured content helps to support and lift the search experience through snippets and other search-optimized content types. Tagging content using controlled vocabularies helps prioritize and organize search results.

  • Employee expectations for how search should perform Google has set the standard for search expectations in the consumer space. We hear it all the time from employees, “Why can’t it just work like Google?” We believe that a design approach for enterprise search needs to balance consumer grade expectations with relevant scenarios and situations in which employees leverage search specifically in the enterprise context.

At Logical Design Solutions, we understand the complexity of enterprise search and its relationship to the overall employee experience. That’s why we consider enterprise search an important factor in the overall user experience strategy of our solutions.

How Devices are Blurring the Lines of Work and Play for Managers

February 25th, 2016

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Building Value Through People-Centric Design

January 27th, 2016


Pervasive use of Mobile Devices in the Enterprise

December 17th, 2015


User Experience Challenge: Complexity of Mobile Enterprise Ecosystems for Employees

December 17th, 2015

As the lines between work at home and work in the office blur, users expect a consumer-like experience in the enterprise where access to data and functions work seamlessly anywhere. Employees want to interact with business applications the same way they work on personal tasks outside of the office. Most of the time users expect to accomplish tasks on the device that is the most convenient to use at that point in time.

Creating a unified mobile experience for the enterprise comes with great value for employees and the business, but the waters can be hard to navigate.

Some of the major challenges we often see include;

  • Mobile Ecosystem: Definition of the mobile experience and its dependency on the mobile ecosystem
  • Readiness: Varied levels of mobile readiness for downstream applications
  • App Relationships: Lack of functional relationships of enterprise apps and systems to each other within the ecosystem
  • Governance: Established governance of enterprise apps to align to the business strategy and the mobile user experience

Let’s look at an example. Employees may be able to search and view a list of internal job openings on their mobile device, but when they are ready to apply, they are redirected to a desktop application from a third-party tool. From a user’s perspective it can be very frustrating to initiate a task from an optimized mobile experience and then sent over to a less than optimal desktop experience to complete it.

So as we think about these challenges, here are some considerations:

  • User Context: Determine when and why users pick up their mobile devices to access functions and data and how this aligns to the mobile experience strategy
  • Mobile Strategy: Establish a core list of enterprise mobile applications and their relationships to each other to support the mobile experience strategy
  • Roadmap: Define a roadmap for short term mobile access and functions vs. access to other systems and apps over time

The UX team believes that an effective mobile strategy should consider these challenges and factor it into the overall plan for the business solution and the user experience.