Buzzfeed Tasty’s quadrant video system makes choosing 4 recipes easier

By Dennis Clemente

NEW YORK— How would you like to do things in 4 ways? asked Alvin Zhou of Buzzfeed’s Tasty at the Design Driven meetup last December 13 at Buzzfeed.

Now if this applied to your life, imagine being able to restart your day four times, so you can pick the best one and end up with a perfect day. Of course, we don’t live in that world. But Tasty on Buzzfeed does. Watching, say, breast chicken baked in four ways certainly saves you time searching for recipes on Google or YouTube.

The videos are presented in quadrants and come easy to digest the way they’re edited. They’re edited precisely to make 4 videos fly by like it’s just one video. Best of all, the quadrants give us four recipes to choose from in one video. You’re bound to click on one video – and before you know it, you’ve seen them all; the way Buzzfeed presents them animatedly.

Zhou was joined by 3 other presenters, Emery Wells, CEO and founder of frame.io; Caroline Wurtzel, designer of Bustle and Laney Caldwell, product manager of x.ai.

Continue reading “Buzzfeed Tasty’s quadrant video system makes choosing 4 recipes easier”

General Assembly’s sprint process; Meetup’s rebranding

NEW YORK — If you’re rebranding and you didn’t go to the Design Driven meetup last November 1 at WeWork, you missed the outstanding presentations of Bryan Berger, Product Design lead at General Assembly and Jennifer Gergen, Design director at Meetup.

Among the presenters in the New York meetups this year, Berger and Gergen seem to have the most material for the audience, if only there were enough time for them to present them. The two took their time to explain the design processes of their respective companies.

General Assembly holds bootcamp-style tech, business and design classes in the Flatiron district, while Meetup offers a platform for people to form communities based on their interests.

For General Assembly, Berger took us to through the results of its “distraction-free” design sprint, taking us to the company’s product design process “to position ourselves to be more effective.”

“We mapped out who’s who and where we are,” he said.

It was interesting to learn how they took the initiative to look back into its library of materials to see if they are still relevant. Not many companies would bother to do so and to see if previous works still mattered, as the torrent of materials can be overwhelming, for any company.

“This is how I do it with my team: ‘Get aligned, set expectations, pre plan, get buy-in and make it real,” Berger said.

In aligning objectives, Berger said General Assembly followed patterns that champion reusability, consistency and efficiency across products and teams. “We had a single style guide to help our production cycle. We spoke the same languages across design and engineering.”

“We optimize team efficiency and design impact, fix processes and sunset old cluttered systems and shed light on things that have been overlooked,” he added.

After its sprint, Berger was only too willing to share its learnings:

  • Empower your team
  • Draft a design team charter
  • Pair new hires with veterans
  • Cross-product design collaboration is very powerful
  • Make research insights accessible to everyone
  • Frame stakeholder discussions in the present

(It’s easier to work with wish lists if we understand the facts first)

  • It’s extremely inefficient to achieve growth and future goals without the foundational pieces in place
  • Teams can now visualize the complexity and work to simplify it
  • We stubbed out a huge chunk of our Pattern Library
  • We identified key areas for additional research in our ecosystem
  • We have actionable roadmaps to tackle each initiative in order to keep the momentum going

What to avoid? “Silos are destructive,” he said. “They resist change. They promote one-off solutions. Scalability isn’t top of mind. They burn people out.”

Gergen talked about the redesign of Meetup, which now sports a new logo that captures the spirit of the platform: it’s a swarm (of people).

Her presentation was very illuminating because she talked about the company’s journey, its beginnings as a company that “didn’t have a design team when we started and who did usability before design.”

It helped explain the time it took the company a long time to rebrand since it was founded after 9/11 when there were no apps and UI was an abbreviation still alien to many. There was a lot to “unlearn.” There was a need to define design. Its rebranding, unveiled this year, took 2 years. It included a “remade Meetup that is personal, lightweight and a (good) mobile experience.”

Gergen showed how a design director’s job goes beyond the creative, as she made use of spreadsheets to do a health checkup and a design team health benchmark for Meetup.

She also made sure that everyone was involved. The primaries: the key decision makers; the secondaries: the designers who know their work and the subject matter experts. Depending on the tasks, it had IOS experts providing assistance for its app development or marketing people for its marketing efforts.

How do you get your team to become design driven? “Get lucky,” she said.

She elaborates, “Do user research. Do stakeholder surveys. Do a company wide survey.” For the latter, some staffers produced essays that were 10 pages long.”

Because its company actually makes people meet in person, she had some of her design team go to actual meetups. “We organized teams to go to meetups and interview people.”

Percolate and TeachersPayTeachers were other presenters.

UX people are ‘people people’; lessons for aspiring designers

NEW YORK—How do you get into UX work when it’s not even on a school curriculum and many of the UX designers come from various fields? It turns out there are many ways of answering the question because there are no specific skill sets required for a UX designer, as the panelists conveyed last October 19 at the qLabs in Chelsea.

You could be an architect (yes, your sketching skills will come into play), an advertising copywriter (yes, the way your process information and organize your thoughts in writing is right on the money), a graphic designer (yes, your visual eye will be of immense help) or a sociologist or anthropologist (as work can comprise understanding human behavior),

If you’re the numbers type and you like to use Excel, it’s said to be a beautiful skill to bring to UX as well. The field is wide open. Something you have done before can be leveraged for UX.

If you’re a good storyteller, it mitigates lack of experience but you will need to be all-round, multi-disciplined, and passionate about acquiring more skills. You could be doing user research, sketching wireframes, doing prototypes or thinking of the strategy behind a project. It really depends on the company. The bigger the company, the more specific your role becomes. The small company will have you holding multiple titles.

In terms of thinking, you need to have an opinion on visual space, designing a product or service, having design as a mindset, calling out assumptions.

Most important of all, you need to have empathy. A suggestion points to reading lots of literature to develop empathy. Usually, writers are empathetic, which also qualifies them. One panelist said, “If you are a good note taker and you organize your thoughts well, you already got 85 percent of the job. It’s all about being a very good listener.”

So if you think you can be a UX designer, what do you think?

For a start, look to learn from experienced UX designers by checking their portfolio online and doing your best to do the following:

·        Find UX designers on Linkedin. Reach out to them

·        Go to meetups and conference as well

·        Participate in hackathons.

·        Find projects you can do.

·        Read everything and know the writers writing about UX.

When it’s time for you to show your expertise, you won’t get a job right away. The valuable advice: “Volunteer. Work for non-profits to test your new skills”

And don’t forget to build a portfolio. If you have nothing to show, make case studies and do spec work. Applying a narrative approach is said to be the best way to present your work out there.  For reference, check out UX case studies from the Airbnb and Netflix sites.

If you’re still intimidated think of it this way, “You don’t have to be a Photoshop expert, but you must be able to simplify things.” You can use paper for prototyping, if you don’t have the graphic software skills.

And while you’re doing all these, don’t forget to build on your social capital. Sometimes it’s about connecting to someone with power and influence as much as your need to relate to something and connect to something.

As a junior UX designer, you need to show initiative, curiosity, and passion. You need to have a sense of collaboration. “UX people are people people.”

 

Blue Apron uses ratings to understand customers’ needs

By Dennis Clemente

Blue Apron, Verve Mobile and Imaginary Forces present their design process at Buzzfeed

NEW YORK — Ratings provide us a chance to quickly review a product or service, but Blue Apron found out it’s more than that. Melody Koh said, “People rate (our) recipes because people want us to learn more about them.”

Koh was speaking at the Design Driven meetup last September 13 at the Buzzfeed offices. She was joined by Tom Harman, design manager at Buzzfeed; Walter Geer, creative director at Verve Mobile and Alan Williams, creative director at Imaginary Forces.

If you haven’t heard of Blue Apron, it’s about time you did if you’re interested in learning how to cook. The startup provides all the ingredients you need to make a delicious meal in exactly the right portions.

Blue Apron takes care of the menu planning and shopping (providing you with fresh, locally sourced ingredients in pre-measured quantities), so all you have to do is cook and enjoy. You can choose to skip your orders up to 5 weeks in advance or cancel at any time.

People who don’t know how to cook at all like the idea of having ingredients, as it’s time saved going to the supermarket. Once you get the ingredients, you can watch the video on its site blueapron.com to find how to cook your meal.  In terms of portions, it offers a 2-person plan and family plan. You can check out its list of meal choices here https://www.blueapron.com/cookbook

Its 2-Person Plan consists of 3 meals perfectly portioned for 2 people, and is delivered to you once a week. Based on preferences, you’ll receive 3 recipes out of the 6 unique options created by its culinary team each week.The price per serving is $9.99 a meal, or $59.94 for the entire 6-serving delivery. Shipping is always free.

Its Family Plan is for feeding a family of 4 and consists of 4 delicious recipes delivered to your door each week. Depending on the plan, you’ll receive either 2 recipes or all 4 recipes created for that week.

For the week of September 246, here are some meals you should be able to make: Beef & Shishito Open-Faced Sandwiches with tomato, cucumber & Romaine salad; Five-Spice Chicken with Vermicelli, Mushrooms & Baby Fennel; Crispy Catfish with  Kale-Faro salad & warm grape relish.

It will also offer Thai Red Curry & Rice with shokichi squash & eggplant;  Fontina & Leek Grilled Cheese Sandwicheswith romaine, cucumber & radish salad; Broccoli & Spinach Stromboli with fennel-bell pepper salad & tomato dipping sauce.

Harman talked about design process at BuzzFeed, stressing how important it is to have a unified design process, especially when scaling a business.

“A strong design process establishes a shared vocabulary and offers clear expectations,” he said.

He discussed the five design phases the Buzzfeed design team follows with a chart showing the process and how it unfolds in reality

  1. Define. Know the problem and uncover as many constraints as possible.
  2. Explore. Generate as many solutions as possible while exploring the problem space.
  3. Refine. Validate which solutions work before distilling down the simplest design.
  4. Build. Translate this through code and design
  5. Learn. Understand whether the design was successful and whether it needs further work.

Verve Mobile’s Geer thinks that mobile without location is simply display advertising.

Showing how the iPhone can pinpoint your most frequented locations, Geer showed how Verve works to offer only relevant ads.

Founded in 2005, Verve creates mobile ad campaigns for the biggest brands, harnessing the power of location-context mobile data, so the only ads you will see are based on your experiences in your area.

Do you like title designs? The next presenter, Williams certainly does.

If you recall the animated title sequence in Mad Men or the retro design in Netflix’s Stranger Things, the company behind it is Imaginary Forces, a design-based production studio with offices in Hollywood and New York.

Williams showed us how the title design for HBO’s Vinyl came to be. He bought packs of baking powder and used it to create the look for the series’ title design sequence.

“I work using a ‘’method branding approach,” he said, which borrows from the way he actors immerse deep into characters called method acting.

He collects and curates to get the real feel for a project. For Vinyl, it was about “feeling rock and roll.”

Imaginary Forces’ has been doing title designs since 1996 with an impressive roster of clients that include Powerade, Microsoft and Nike.

Invision App demonstrates new plugin Craft

NEW YORK – Imagine if you could prototype an app that allows you to put in a photo sample without downloading it; that’s how the new Invision product, Craft, works. Thinking of adding hot spots, you add in a url and Google Maps appear.  And if you want to configure pop-ups in your prototype, it can also do that.

Watch a demo on this link https://vimeo.com/153858834

Last July 21, UX Prototyping NYC featured Invision’s new Craft, with Rocio Werner, product designer/UX Designer, WeSolv, explaining how it works at the offices of Lifion. She was joined by Simon B. Kirk, Business Development director at Invision and John Laberee, Business Development specialist, also at Invision.

InVision is now one of the world’s leading design playforms with such impressive client as Apple, Disney, IBM and Verizon, to name a few. Craft brings real data to your design but from the demo, it’s impressive to see how photos from a URL need not be downloaded for use if you are merely doing a prototype and need sample photos.

But what really is Craft? It’s a suite of plugins for Photoshop and Sketch that help streamline your design workflow by automating cumbersome actions and pulling in more realistic sample data. As explained by Sean Kinney, Craft consists of three tools:

  1. Duplicate: Quickly copy and arrange a layer in no time at all
  2. LibraryGenerate a style guide inside of your Sketch file. It makes a new page with separate color palette, fonts, text styles and custom elements you can set up yourself. Share and sync the entire library with your team.
  3. Data: Bring real text, images, JSON, and live web content to your prototype, helping make your prototypes feel real without spending time making mock data within the app.

You will need the Craft Manager, an Os X app in your toolbar panel. With this, you reportedly get instant access to all Craft plugins. This will be music to your ears. It is free. You only need to go to http://labs.invisionapp.com/craft and submit your email address so its team can provide you with a download link.

As for the versions of Photoshop and Sketch that it supports, you have to have PhotoshopCC 2014.1 and later or Sketch 3.7 and later

 For a quick overview of Craft, visit https://labs.invisionapp.com/craft

Design Driven takes Airbnb, Google Ventures and Equinox to the UN

NEW YORK — Last July 12, Design Driven NYC made history when it held its meetup at the United Nations. Because of the security measure at the revered venue, it took some time for attendees to get inside but once everyone took their seats in one amphitheater–with hundreds of microphones for each attendee to use–the venue took on a halo of significance.

“I loved being in the giant UN conference room with the microphones and earpieces. It felt very much like a Soviet Era secret government gathering!” attendee Maria Stegner said.

Just as awed by the venue were Amber Cartwright, design manager at Airbnb;  Verena Haller, SVP of design at Equinox Hotels and Braden Kowitz, design partner at Google Ventures: Design Culture – Creating Workplaces Where Design Can Thrive.

Jeffrey Zeldman and Jen Simmons also talked about the Past, Present, and Future of Web & Interaction Design. Zeldman has been recognized as the king of web standards, while Simmons is a designer advocate at Mozilla and host of “The Web Ahead”.

Cartwright talked about her work at Airbnb and how she “works with machines (machine learning).“In tapping machine learning for a new pricing tool we wanted to build for our hosts, she and her team worked on a model that would answer the question, ‘What will the booked price of a listing be on any given day in the future’?”

Cartwright then showed a Smart Pricing regression model which explained the model made up of three parts.

Cartwright emphasized the importance of working with a team that consisted of a design manager (herself), product lead, data scientist lead, engineering manager and financial manager. “We collectively made decisions with each other’s disciplines in mind. I learned how the other worlds operate and how to leverage the expertise and capabilities of my partners to build something better.”

The work with her team takes many forms, from storyboards to prototypes, strategy decks and diagrams, which result in a shared understanding of a product vision. She believes a “shared knowledge allows innovation to happen as a step change on in micro steps. Visualizing the roles that data and the machine play in the discovery process is the first part of Invisible Design.”

Cartwright talks at length about Invisible Design in her piece on Medium. “I’m continuing to work with my teams to build data visualizations that tell stories along with the interfaces our users interact with. These visualizations tend to vary as much as the products we’re creating, but the outcome is always that they help to motivate, inspire and educate the broader product team.”

“After understanding what we’re designing and how it works, we can start building the product with a variety of tools. A carpenter has a hammer. A photographer, a camera. A product designer, sketch. A software engineer, code. What’s interesting about all of the examples above is only one of them has a tool with the ability to learn, change and grow over time.

“Most product designers today sculpt UI with reactive tools–shapes and pixels are drawn on screen input directly from a designer. We also use these tools for designing outputs that are controlled programmatically in systems like responsive platforms and components. Our data partners in product are adept with tools that evolve over time. Physical systems, economic models and algorithms organically grow as variables shape their outcomes.”

As a result, they have created a new Design Language System (DLS) at Airbnb.

Can machines do design? “No, because we are the arbiters of interpretation,” she said. “Machines are good with constraints but not with images ratios, brand, style and legibility, but our (DLS), we have an intelligent framework for creative expression.”.

Google Ventures’  Kowitz came from Silicon Valley to talk about creating workplaces where design can thrive. He showed an old video about “group norms.” In the video, a man facing the elevator turns his back when people coming in did the unconventional by facing the back of the elevator as everyone did.

He talked about setting 3 cultural values in an organization:

  1. Have faith in quality, even if it can’t be measured. Create a process around critiquing.
  2. Hold designers accountable. Designers go through this process in understanding design based on surface value, user value and  business value, the latter being what designers should focus on.
  3. Design is everyone’s job. Borrowing a quote, he said an employee should be exposed to customers for two hours..He added the importance of how an employee would need to write down a critique before every meeting

Haller of Equinox talked about how the fitness company is building a hotel that is rising on Hudson Yards. “We want people to maximize their potential,” adding how they are doing a “slightly hedonistic take on elevation.”

WeWork’s Sharon brings UX thinking to co-working spaces

NEW YORK– Wework is bringing UX thinking to buildings and communities with Tomer Sharon, its VP Head of UX, talking about it last June 21 at WeWork in Chelsea through the Design Driven meetup.

Formerly with Google, Sharon recounted how he went about studying how the WeWork offices could be redesigned starting with its office on 18th Street by asking his new employer not to announce his appointment. “I pretended to be a (startup company) looking for an office,” he said.

In one portion of his presentation, he showed a time-lapse video of the people coming in and out of the building at the lobby, watching how he could make the lobby work efficiently for everyone–those entering the WeWork offices–300 at one point, not including deliveries. But we assume no one missed the big sign at the entrance, “Do what you love.” That should inspire everyone coming to its office.

Sharon didn’t stop there. He showed a photo of a smoker just outside the entrance but he didn’t offer any solution. Inside, he showed a photo of a wooden wall panel that looks like it belonged in the sixties. Perhaps you can gain some more insights in his book, — “Validating Product Ideas: Through Lean User Research.”

What is lean user research? For him, lean user research is a discipline that provides insights into users, their perspectives, and their abilities to use products and then gives this information to the right people at the right time so that the research is invaluable for developing products. Lean user research focuses on answering three big questions about people: What do people need? What do people want? Can people use the thing?

But how is lean user research different than “regular” user research? It turns out lean user research is mostly conducted by non-researchers who have burning questions about their audience (or potential audience). They want to answer these questions quickly, effectively, and on their own without hiring a professional.

However, lean user research can be at times quick and dirty, meaning some corners are cut. For example, since non-researchers might not have very good control of their body language, lean user research calls for more indirect approaches to learning. It values remote techniques over in-person ones.

Where does intuition come in, an audience asked? “We don’t always have evidence. Sometimes we take leaps of faith. But we always test,” he said.

The book is meant for product developers and managers who are not skilled researchers. Thus, research techniques are described in a relatively prescribed manner, skipping underlying factors, options, and dilemmas. The goal is to help non-skilled product developers to do their own research. “We use the language of experimentation,” he said.

If you only have time to read one chapter, he suggests Chapter 3 “How Do People Currently Solve a Problem?” It’s a guidebook, so you can choose to read any chapter in different sequences, depending on your most burning question.

Sharon also talked about the hiring process at Wework, at least for those who applied in the past. “For every role, we have asked people to write something, and asked them about their biggest design accomplishment.”

The other presenters were Mandy Cotta, head of Design at Burt’s Bees Baby & Kids, Simon Corry and Hilary Greenbaum, design director at Whitney Museum of American Art, who showed us the museum in all its new modern glory and the whimsical photos of the goings-on there, some caught napping and making use of the big program museum guide as a face mask, another even showing a blurry photo of her coming out of the subway platform.

Museums, exhibitions get digital and 3D treatment

NEW YORK–Last May 3, the NY Tech Meetup featured 10 startups with founders barely out of college or high school sharing the stage with other more matured founders at the monthly event held at NYU Skirball Theater.  The night showcased how digital wizardry is also becoming part of museums and various exhibitions nowadays.

http://www.meetup.com/ny-tech/events/227889545/

Enter the Machine is about the work of New York-based artist and programmer Eric Corriel and how he creates art out of custom software. The work showcases synchronized pulsating light boxes and a computer hard drive turned inside out to show its innards. Corriel raises questions about the digitization of contemporary society, exploring humanity’s dance with technology.

Karolin Ziulkoski, a new media artist, uses technological applications to create immersive experiences through Kokowa. Users from beginner to expert levels can create 3-D virtual spaces using an easy-to-use interface, powerful webGL technology and a growing database of user-created 3D content. They can be good for exhibitions, developing a game, showing off a new product, creating a 3D photography library, flying through an architectural model, and exploring new worlds.

Complementing the former two startups, presenter Local Projects showed how it works as an experience design and strategy firm that tests the limits of human interaction. It has won top prize in many design interaction awards. If you find yourself interacting with a digital artwork at the 9/11 Memorial Museum and Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, it’s not farfetched to think it’s Local Projects’ work.

Another presenter in a similar vein, Luxloop focuses on finding new ways to captivate and inspire our fellow humans with its creative technology, with Meural presenting itself as the canvas for the digital age. Fancy a digital art on your wall? Meural is equipped with a set of motion sensors and gesture recognition software that allows you to change your screen by waving your hand through the air.  

 

Now if you have similar ideas as all these companies, pitch to NEW INC, the first museum-led incubator for art, design, and technology founded by the New Museum.  

Other presenters at the meetup were SAM Labs, for fans of Internet of Things as it offers a toolkit for creating your own smart inventions.

Beaker Notebook is an open source polyglot UI for visualization and data analysis; Get Accent helps you read the news in a foreign language and Drone Regulator automatically monitors and enforces flight restrictions on drones.

For those who like practical ideas that can help you earn extra money, Peer Wifi demonstrated how you can sell your mobile hotspot data for other users to buy. It’s hard to do a demo in front of a big audience, but the young founders didn’t find any problems showing us how its platform works in less in few minutes.

Rethinking spreadsheets, voter forms, food and wholesale grocery

NEW YORK—Who likes Excel? If you’re the last holdout to spreadsheets or you’re more visually inclined, Airtable should make you use them more. It’ a complete rethinking of spreadsheets; it makes them colorful with visual aids to boot.

http://www.meetup.com/Design-Driven-NYC/events/229519579/

Have you tried doing a spreadsheet on your phone? Other than its grid-based desktop web interface, Airtable also carries a mobile app that formats your table rows, allowing to add and remove records and fields, attach files, share tables just like what it says you should be able to do on your desktop. All inputs are synced on all devices.

Andrew Olfstad presented Airtable at the Design-Driven Meetup at Oscar, the health insurance startup in its Soho offices. The other speakers were Dana Chisnell, co-founder of Center for Civic Design, who is always working toward making voter interaction between government and citizens easier. Boxed’s Jillian Bromley, the wholesale delivery service and Greg Hathaway of Maple, food delivery that offers a rotating daily menu from New York’s culinary talents.  

Chisnell showed how democracy can be a design problem. This happens when voting forms turn out to be too confusing when they’re meant to be as simple and clear as possible. She showed how a voting form in the 2000 presidential elections proved disastrous for democracy.

“Design changes the outcome of elections. Design even affects world peace,” Chisnell said as  the photo of George W. Bush beamed up on the projector screen.

“There was no usability testing in the 2000 elections,” she said as she showed slide after slide of poor ballot designs.  

To improve design of voter forms, she also highlighted the importance of accurate instructional illustrations.

Bromley said Boxed is Costco without the membership fee.  When you sign in, you’ll see a dashboard on the left side with the name and illustrated icons of the items you want delivered in bulk, from groceries and stationery to beverages. If it all seems like everyone else offers delivery these days, Boxed should have a sufficient runway to compete in the e-commerce space with the $100 million it has raised so far.  

Maple is also in the delivery space but it hones in on one thing — food and to keep you coming back, it’s not just any food; it’s made and prepared by New York’s culinary talents reportedly using high-quality ingredients.   

“We have thoughtfully sourced and prepaid cuisine. We are redesigning what we eat,” Hathaway said. “(We are) a restaurant without a restaurant.”  

The lesson he learned from designing the site included how people clicked more on Get Started button than its down arrow.  He also showed how its lunch box packaging evolved through time, which almost looks like jewelry boxes.  

UX Panel: Show data, validations to prove how UX design works on company bottom line

NEW YORK–A tremulous voice from the audience posed this question, paraphrasing here, “When do you put your foot down and convince your stakeholders to listen to you about your (UX) design proposal?”

http://www.meetup.com/techinmotionnyc/events/228645011/?rv=ea1&_af=event&_af_eid=228645011&https=off

You never do, it turns out, at least to Macy’s UX designer Chris Nordling, one of the other four panelists at the Tech in Motion talk about UX design last March 31.  But how do you actually convince the naysayers your design will help the company?

Nordling clarifies his response by saying how important it is to lead by example: Show them studies and current research from the team and go into the details of how a little micro-interaction or placement of a button has proven to work for a company and how they can do the same.  

“If at all possible, break it down into dollars and cents, back it up with heuristics, other data. Tell them they will lose 40 percent of their audience if they put a certain interaction where it’s not supposed to be. Get validation also from other practitioners instead of saying you’re right,” he said.

And if we heard right, one panelist said UX’s major role in the success of a company cannot be underestimated., if over 200% of the companies in the stock market has UX to thank for their success. The other panelists, US practitioners all, were John Walker of Verizon, Jess Brown of Vice Media and Danny Setiawan of the Economist.

For those new to UX or user experience, why does design matter? A question that still persists because not many people think design is all about solving problems.

Said Brown, “It’s not just superficial,” as she recounts how it’s still common for people to wonder what UX designers like her actually accomplish in a brainstorming session, which did not really needed a response as we’ve seen how those sessions energize the staff to improve on things.

Overall, the panelists were in agreement about how UX is there solve human problems and our interaction with the world—from a door knob to a road system. Setiawan said UX delivers value to users when UX practitoners applies user research and customers’ feeback to their product or service.

When creating products, Walker reminded UX professionals about the need for consistency across platforms and devices. “You don’t want users to lose progress (from one device to another),” Walker said.

Where is the UX esthetic getting some significant believers? Nordling said everything he’s doing now is for mobile and how, at least at Macy’s where he works, the customer is always defined as a “she.”

Said Setiawan, “We need to be more open how customers want to use a product,” adding how the next driverless cars will need content – and UX thinking.

How do you test your product? Setiawan says The Economist is holding a user test soon to find out how to attract a younger demographic for The Economist which is a good, accessible read and just perceived wrongfully as snobbish by many and business-centric by most.

For startups looking to hire UX designers but cannot afford them, Nordling advises them to build a network of contacts like the people they will meet at meetups and just talk to them. He said he relies on his friends.  

For aspiring UX designers, one has to start somewhere. Walker’s advice: “Listen to everybody.”