zuLIVE

zuLive is home to musings from the zuCrew, photos, and generally anything that interests us. Don’t expect anything too polished, this is where we let it all out.

The UX Bar is Rising

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Creating an amazing user experience (UX) is something we’re deeply passionate about. Not too long ago, we had the distinct privilege of redesigning and developing the City of Saskatoon’s website. More recently, we built the new economic dashboard for the Ministry of Economy. When your digital project is inviting, simple to use and provides an exceptional UX, it delights your customer - and that is good for business!

Clients often approach their own website and digital requirements with a degree of scepticism. Not realizing a website is more than a marketing tool, at first glance, it may appear visually and functionally acceptable. But after a better understanding of the digital landscape, you’ll soon realize that you may be falling short of what your customers expects. Because your

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Designing for sloths

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Humans are micro-lazy

When we think of laziness, we tend to picture the classic couch potato, slouched with a remote in his hands, jowl-faced and armed with little ambition to do anything else. This is a generalization and a misrepresentation of laziness. I think humans suffer more from being “micro-lazy”. There’s something holding us back, making us unable to do very easy, almost effortless tasks that we’re designing around this passiveness. Traffic lights on walkways are just the latest design solution to address this epidemic of idleness.

Chill Users

I can relate

Every morning I leave the empty packages for my contact lenses on the bathroom counter. I consciously know what I’m doing. I know very well that the garbage is to my left, yet my body almost refuses to spend the extra .5 joules to

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Day Two of The Gathering 2016

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Brand is not owned by you, it is co-created with everyone who encounters it.

After another packed day of invaluable insights, Brian Solis’ keynote on brand experience was a great way to wrap up the conference.

Moments that your customers experience with every facet of the business ultimately defines your brand. Have you ever gone to a website that was so cluttered and hard to navigate that you didn’t know where to begin to look for what you needed? Or have you filled out a form and had to retype the date several times because it was unclear what format was required? Those seemingly innocent things can leave a customer with a bad taste in their mouth, and ultimately chip away at your brand.

Have you measured or optimized your service journey lately? Talk to front line people

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Top Three Lessons from Day One of The Gathering 2016

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Day One of #TheGathering2016 has been a whirlwind of inspiring and thought provoking speakers from some of the world’s best brands. While we take a moment to process the day’s events, we reflect on a few of our top takeaways so far:

  1. Know who your monsters are. What are you fighting against? Is there a cause you stand behind, a misperception of your brand or business that you need to clarify? For Airbnb, the monster they had to tackle was the concept of “the stranger”. In order to overcome the hesitation that hosts and travelers have towards sharing space with someone they don’t know, Airbnb launched a campaign to make the scary familiar. By knowing what it is that keeps potential customers away, this opens up the opportunity for brands to combat it face on.

  2. Build your brand on

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Build Value Through Service Design

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Every business, government and non-profit organization shares a basic, fundamental equation; they possess a core internal group of individuals who provide some type of good or service to an external audience. Traditionally, these two groups are brought together through the efforts of marketing. To be an effective marketer, an organization will divide consumers into market segments and, through research and statistics, will create one-way messages that can be delivered to targeted audiences. Most often this is in the form of advertising. 40+ years ago this was an extremely efficient way for an organization to communicate to audiences. Media consumption was far more predictable, and a well-placed 30-second television spot could reach wide swaths of a market segment.

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Unfortunately for

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Are You Building a Website or an Application?

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The other day, I had a spirited rant discussion with my friend who is a franchisee of a supply chain company. She was looking for business advice and had to decide between staying with the current system or developing one of her own. One of her advisors mentioned that the current website platform (a service that manages franchises and deliveries for customers) can easily be recreated for between $10-20K. I got worked up (as usual) and offered my two cents. Though this was a web-based system, it was far from a simple website. I was dumbfounded at how effortlessly this was passed off as a simple bump in the road.

The system provided a very customized service, and I could identify at least 13 significant features, which could be broken down into hundreds of user stories. One of these features

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City of Saskatoon Preview Launch

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As the key milestone of a preview launch via new.Saskatoon.ca has now been achieved, we wanted to take the opportunity to reflect on the big picture. When zu was first selected by the City of Saskatoon to design their new civic website, we were brimming with excitement to be part of such a transformative project, and one that closely connects with us as citizens of our City. In addition to our personal connection with Saskatoon, one of the most appealing things about this project has been its open process.

We are proud of the approach we have taken in elevating this project because this is how world-class enterprises work.

Feedback from the residents of Saskatoon has been an integral part of this redesign project. Citizen engagement has determined how the site is organized, influenced

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Top Takeaways From UX Intensive: Brooklyn

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We laughed, we cried, we wireframed. What a week it was in downtown Brooklyn, at Adaptive Path’s UX Intensive workshop, working through four jam packed days with 70 UX practitioners from around the world.

The days were split into 4 streams: Design Strategy, Research, Service Design and finally, Interaction Design. Each course was led by a different member of the Adaptive Path team, while the others helped teams along the way. We have quite a few key takeaways from these workshops. Some are being implemented into our overall process at zu, while others are on the horizon. Here are our Top 8 Takeaways:

1. New practical approaches to user research

You are not your user. This theme was repeated often, and thus we were taught several methods of collecting feedback from users. While most

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Some inspiration from UX Week 2014

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This year I was lucky enough to attend UX Week 2014 in San Francisco. So what does two full days of listening to inspirational speakers combined with two days of great workshops equal? An extremely tired but motivated designer. In a quick summary I will take you through my journey at a user experience conference.

Designing for people

The main event began on Tuesday with a flurry of amazing speakers.

Amanda Dameron from Dwell started things off by reminding us that good design, no matter the discipline, needs to be applied to all humankind. “Designs must think about users based on strengths not weaknesses”. Amanda went on to introduce Michael Graves, a well-known architect. After becoming paralyzed, it not only changed Michael’s life but also changed his design approach and practice,

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Improving Experience Through Stories: 2/3

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About a month ago I wrote a post about improving experience through stories, the idea that stories are what tie us all together and the importance of stories as they relate to your brand. zu recently began work on the City of Saskatoon website redesign project and I found myself thinking of this beyond business and reflecting on the stories that unite us as a city. Stories can be great motivators and can help put meaning and context around complex tasks and challenges. So here’s a quick story about this lovely place, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and the impact it’s having on the website redesign project.

I’ve always identified myself with Swift Current, Saskatchewan. I mean after all, that’s where I was born, raised and graduated high school. “Speedy Creek” was where I identified myself to

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The UX Lunch: Three Takeaways

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zu and MPATH (specializing in user experience design and digital strategy) took the user experience presentation on the road to Regina, Saskatchewan with a new spin to engage communication and digital marketing professionals.

“Ain’t no mountain high enough” UX lunch at Crave in Regina on May 8 2014

Albert Jame and Derek Leverington spoke to a packed house at Crave Restaurant. The key takeaways this time around were a set of tactics for improving user experience by bringing consistency to customer and stakeholder touch points. Here are three takeaways:

1. Create journey maps to align touch points and enhance user experience

Albert spoke about the importance of cataloguing your organization’s touch points and creating a journey map. Every touch point should be considered when

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Improving Experience Through Stories

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A few weeks ago, Derek Leverington (MPATH Engagement) and I gave a talk at Innovation Place in Saskatoon about User Experience. The audience of over 60 people was broad so we kept the session high-level. Our goal was to use this talk as a catalyst to get companies to start thinking about their overall customer experiences, both offline and online. We touched upon the ‘power of stories’ as part of your brand experience, but we weren’t able to expand on this due to the limited time that we had. So here’s a bit more:

“The power of stories” is the concept that having deep knowledge surrounding about an experience, a company or an item makes everything about it a little bit better. It’s about sharing that thing that makes something unique. Think of a pair of hockey pucks. They look the same,

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