MIMA – Overused and Misunderstood: What “Experience” Really Means

cxoAh – the title of CMO was very recently new…  and now we can see a presenter with the title of Chief Experience Officer.  Long live progress! 🙂   Chuck Hermes made an insightful presentation on the November MIMA event and recommended a few resources that worth investigating further.

What is experience?  It is an event or occurrence that leaves an impression.

It does not have to be limited to any specific channel or department…

Omni-Channel Experience – Days of Product and product features are over. The product is the experience.

Experience innovation


  • Companies thirst for customer experience innovation, but don’t know how to get it. Companies are throwing time, money, and resources at customer experience innovation. But most simply copy their competition or pray that the shiny technology du jour will put them ahead. The result is scattershot experiences that provide no real value to either the customer or the business.
  • Customer experience innovation differs from typical improvement processes. Customer experience improvements enhance interactions that already meet customer needs and drive immediate business value. In contrast, customer experience innovations solve for unmet customer needs, create new types of interactions and/or significantly change the qualities of interactions, and drive long-term differentiation.
  • Successful innovations triangulate on customer needs, business model, and brand. New customer touchpoints and interactions that don’t solve a real customer problem are just innovation for innovation’s sake. Once customer needs are uncovered, potential innovations must be vetted within the context of the business model and brand to ensure business relevance and longevity.


Excellent article below explains the need to combine the physical and digital company’s operation and avoid digital silo…  silo approach is considered a development stage in the road to the more enlightened future of business.  Macy (considered success in the article) has a Chief Omni-channel Officer and not Chif Digital Officer…


Based on a study of 20 global industries, the article recommends 5 approaches that can help companies to succeed in the transition.  “Some of them are common sense but not commonly practiced.”

A very interesting point of the importance of not only understanding the need, but ability to execute based on the understanding.


Recommended books:

book-gapThe Brand Gap: How to Bridge the Distance Between Business Strategy and Design



book-outlide-inOutside In: The Power of Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business



book-peakPeak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow


UXPA – Visualizing Data for People

consThe event featured a very interesting speaker:

Paul Derby is a Senior Experience Designer within the Honeywell User Experience design studio. Paul has a PhD in experimental psychology (human factors) from Texas Tech University. At Honeywell, Paul focuses on UX research and design within the process industry (e.g., oil/gas, petrochemical, etc.). Currently, Paul is leading multiple UX efforts to improve data visualization products within this domain.

Paul spends time talking with engineers in refineries to understand their needs and works with designers to assure that the  visual monitoring dashboards provided by the company fit the need of the end users.  Product team includes people from different disciplines: marketing , engineers, designers, UX specialists, etc.


Paul experienced a significant transformation at Honeywell: the company now has a VP of experience design, over 25 designers throughout the organization, and plenty of opportunity for UX work.  It is interesting to note that Paul is a psychologist, rather than a designer or an engineer, what makes a complete sense 🙂

Ha ha – I remember attending my first university (majoring in psychology), and during that time “industrial psychology” class did not seem appealing area of specialization for most of my class.  A couple of decades later the field seems to gain significant popularity 🙂

So….  what is a dashboard?


Dashboard design principles based on human physiology and psychology:

Designing to support how we see color:

  • Green, yellow and red should be reserved for important information
  • Use color as a redundant backup – design visualizations that work in monochrome to accommodate color blindness

Designing to support attention:

  • Redundant coding – use color/shape/motion to draw attention
  • Avoid clutter (avoid meaningless pictures and effects
  • Support visual scanning through structure – use Gestalt principles to group objects for easy scanning

Designing to support working memory

  • Place related information in close proximity
  • Avoid interpretation – express important data directly and visually (using a graph to express data that is above ore below certain point
  • Avoid excessive details (5,23742 rather than 5.2)

Good chart to support working memory – the information is easy to perceive at a glance


Design to support situation awareness

  • Single screen
  • Context (use spark lines)
  • Leading indicators (display what is likely to happen rather than what already happened) – use colors to indicate that the numbers are approaching a certain stage, etc.  Example below highlights “situation awareness” principle applied to three numbers:
    • Oranges sold – 32
    • Bananas sold – 45
    • apples lost      – 98


Below are examples of bad dashboards (what seem to be relatively easy to find).  However, if asked during the dashboard development process, many users will prefer “pretty,” more colorful dashboard, even if it won’t be as easy to use in the day to day basis for the goal of process monitoring…

If you ask the users, they will want something interesting to look at…



Why the dashboard is bad: difficult to read (black background), unnecessary graphical elements, too much space taken by a simulated gadget showing one number, etc.



Why this dashboard is bad: not clear which information is important, too busy; overlooked Gestalt principles for grouping, etc.



Why this “pretty” dashboard is bad: the dashboard is trying to replicate live equipment (adds confusion), colors used randomly rather than communicate important information.


Good dashboard


Why this dashboard is good: the process is represented symbolically in the background, colors are used to convey meaningful information; redundant coding for color and shape


bookTwo books were recommended at the end of the presentation


Paul mentioned an organization created by process industry companies and educational institutions  to prevent “abnormal situations” in the industry.


UXPA – 3D Printing and Complex Quoting

Though the event was devoted to a certain usability topic, the “show” was definitely stolen by the concept of 3D printing.  Fascinating!

3D printing is actually “additive manufacturing” compared to “subtractive manufacturing” that is used conventionally.


The services that RedEye provides appeared as a response to a market need that has been discovered accidentally.

redeyeStratasys, a seller of 3D printers, was providing samples of customer’s parts before the printer was purchased.  The company discovered that they received requests for not one part to test the equipment, but several.  stratasysRecognizing that the company was expected to provide free product, the practice was stopped… but the requester offered to pay for the needed parts.  Somebody produced a quote…  and soon management was faced with positive revenue produced from the unexpected source.  The service was born.

3d3D printing is beneficial in a situation when a limited number of complex parts are needed.  Creation a mold for manufacturing these parts would not be economical – the mold will be used only for a few parts.  3D printing solves this problem.

RedEye is specializing on b-to-b space; it is not a consumer market.  However, as the technology became more available after patent protection time expired, it also expanded in consumer applications.

Is is a rapidly changing industry?  The answer is quite interesting: the technology exists and is not changing itself – at least not changing as fast.  However, the application of the technology to different industries and needs is rapidly increasing.  The expectations of the technology are also changing fast.

sd-2The target audience of the company is also changing.  First, it was the engineer who understood the technology, or was relatively prepared to research and study its capabilities.  Now, the target audience is often an executive who is not an engineer and needs to understand what the technology can do for the company he or she represents.

The process (particularly from the engineer’s point of view) is

  1. understand the technology
  2. design for the technology
  3. request a quote

The company has an instant quoting online application currently, which will be redesigned soon with application of latest knowledge of UX.

UXPA – Lean UX

topAs usually, interesting event that showed something new and unexpected.

HealthPartners adapted Lean UX as a response to the development shift to agile, and the approach helped the organization to move from documentation focus to result focus in UX design.  The process became more collaborative at the same time.

“Increasing collaboration and decreasing documentation”

Interesting, one of the UX teams in HealthPartners consists of 4 UX designers, 7 front-end developers, 1 visual designer, and a supervisor.  This team works with others, including back-end developers, content specialists, marketing, and project managers.

A great article on Lean UX in Smashing Magazine has a good explanation of the process.


One of the most eye-opening parts of the presentation was the evolution of the style guide HealthPartners used.  The “old” version is very familiar to many organizations that use it.


The new version, however, gives a useful interface where each element can be found easily and code for this element can be copied.


MIMA – User Experience Utopia

A few notes from another MIMA event – a conversation about user experience presented by Nick Finck.

Facets of the User Experience  (Peter Morville)

The article explains facets in quite a few details.

We looked at the example where animation was used heavily on non-essential elements of the site – the animation did not help the user experience, but hindered it. The example was quite typical – the animation was used for its own sake – rather than to help the user achieve the goal.

User Experience Treasure Map (Peter Morville)


I guess it is one more variation on the web site creation process – the discipline that is changing daily. It is interesting to watch the changes in the industry and marketers’ attempts to understand them…

… what leads to WaSP Interact – a living training course that tries not to capture a constant change, but to adapt to it…


Technology is changing

We are no longer building for the specific device, we don’t know what we are building for…

What is important?  Coming together – it is about the user.