International Hookup

It turns out there is an international effort to turn Sopra Steria into a user driven powerhouse, not just a technology driven one.

During this call we were organised and led by Eli, Head of UX and design at Sopra Steria Norway, who took us through some case studies and live projects while detailing the methods and challenges involved during each project. As we now know with Norway, regulations were put in place last year to heighten the level at which usability and accessibility should be developed for any public facing material. This has led to refined design patterns which the team in Norway now use as best practice, some examples include:

norway site

NYE Metoder

ehelse

Helsedirektoratet

The team there have worked extensively with local government and the public sector, just like we have. Designing for these kinds of clients can be challenging because of regulations and guidelines such as GDS, so having knowledge of their current state and best practices in place for the team is vital.

One of the ‘best practices’ that I saw from the Norway team was an online style guide created in HTML & CSS which meant that, within any project, the development team could access this site, ‘Inspect element’ and re-use the standardised library of elements, object, styles and fonts. A great bit of housekeeping that would prove valuable in any situation.

We gained some more input from Italy by Max Ramaciotti who is Chief digital officer for the company in that locale. He took us through some of the challenges that they have faced, which are much the same no matter where you practice, and he was talking about how “digital design is still quite young in Italy”. We can relate to this in the way that, yes the country knows about it and people are understanding of the main concepts, but companies still aren’t tuned in enough to really understand the true impact and advantage of well thought out strategy in that area.

General trends such as Agile development and responsive design are apparent within all teams in our sister countries, a hunger for defining and refining approaches and resources for these areas is obvious.

I don’t know if it should be obvious or a real surprise that the condition of things is quite similar across the whole of Europe.

This conference call was conducted on ‘gottomeeting’, my first time using it and providing you understand what the ‘mute’ button is for, it was great to link people in for chat, webcam and audio. The call was quickly planned by Eli in Norway just to make contact with the other resources in the company, this can be frequent call however and there is already ambition to keep it going. I think we could gain a lot out of it if we make it once or twice a month and include the whole team, maybe taking shifts per call etc. It could be our version of the ‘Agile coaching call’ which I know no-one here is really interested in because of the topic, I’m sure a UX version would be far more intriguing.

I’ll keep you guys posted with updates and any further developments for this activity.

PS If this really takes off and evolves, I want to be in meetings all day everyday!.. Meeting Wearables

A smarter way to breakfast

This morning I attended a ‘Breakfast briefing’ along with Zoe Kosmadoudi, with our good pals ‘User Vision’.

Knowing the expertise this company have and having attended a ‘World Usability Day’ event previously, I was quite interested in what this kind of morning session would offer. A great format, generally lasting an hour from 8am, it fits nicely in before setting off for another day at work. It really gives an interesting topic of thought for the day and gets your mind engaged with passionate things before setting your to-do list for the day.

This mornings topic of convo was “Maturing UX in our organisations”, an event which had been re-held as the first one a few weeks back was booked out. The main concept here was to do with the challenges we face in driving UX or user centered design, right into the heart of our organisations and get the buy-in it well deserves.

Interesting quote “At this point in time, Awareness of UX is high while the patience level is very low”. People know it and want it now!

We looked at the factors with which certain organisations ‘believe’ they are operating user experience design properly and how this is seldom true.

A valuable take-away was the concept of ‘UX maturity’ and while utilising a progression chart, created by one of Stephen Dennings (User Vision UX) friends at Google, we were able to look at the main points of what really shows how mature an organisation is with UX. Starting from immature of course, where there are no formalised approaches defined and very little professional UX being practiced, to ‘Fully mature’ where set principles have been put in place which the whole organisation understands, colleagues are kept up to date and trained in the concepts of UX, and there are an efficient number of professional UX resources which can be deployed on-site and offer valuable, best-practice output.

Maturity scale

To support that chart there is another, one which progresses in 5 steps and is used to grade an organisation once an evaluation has been completed. As an activity we were given evaluations to complete on our own organisations, which consisted of a table of factors which relate to how well an organisation buys-in to UX. From my perspective our current efforts scored in the ‘Considered’ range, pivoting on the ‘Managed’, so effectively right in the middle. Unfortunately I didn’t get a copy of the slides which were full of points and reasons for each step or else I could better justify my choice.

Here is however my evaluation checklist, showing the factors we scored by. Feel free to conduct an evaluation yourself, I’m sure we will all have different perspectives and it would be interesting to share them.

Evaluation of Maturity

From this we were asked to choose the 3 main factors which we personally would like to see evolve the most in the near future and which we believe would get the organisation to the ‘UX Driven’ step quickest.

My choices included:

  1. Written UX strategy/Roadmap (Which of course we are working hard on right now)
  2. UX training and mentoring programs (Yet another area we are currently aiming to take further once things are signed off)
  3. Agile adaptation (This comes from my previous experience of projects which reflect the current widespread issues of mixing Agile with UX.)

This ‘Breakfast briefing’ was absolutely great and I even commended the team on having this available to the community as without it “we would be going around blind”, as in to say the resources and theoretics we share at events like this are what help us evolve UX. More shall be attended!!