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Next-Gen Product Management: Innovation, Skills, and Artificial Intelligence

Tuesday, July 30, 2024
09:00 AM PST / 12:00 PM EST

Hamza Qamar

Director of Product
Innovation & Design


Introduction Starting a business can feel like an insurmountable challenge, fraught with uncertainty and endless obstacles. How do you turn your entrepreneurial dreams into reality?I had the pleasure of interviewing Jahan Ali, a serial entrepreneur and the CEO of mobileLIVE, to celebrate his remarkable journey and gain insights from his experiences.Jahan is not just the founder of mobileLIVE but also the visionary behind HachiAI and XapCard. His journey from a new immigrant to a successful entrepreneur offers a wealth of knowledge and inspiration.In this blog, you’ll discover Jahan’s practical advice on overcoming early challenges, building a business from the ground up, embracing innovation, and the core values essential for entrepreneurial success. His insights will provide you with the tools and motivation to navigate your own entrepreneurial path.The Beginnings of an Entrepreneur We did not know anyone in Canada at that time, we did not have any funds, all the funds that we had, we paid our international tuition fees and, and then we are just here in a new country.Jahan’s entrepreneurial journey began with a leap of faith when he moved to Canada in 1998. As international students, he and his wife faced significant financial challenges in a new and unfamiliar country.They managed their finances meticulously, living in a one-bedroom basement apartment and sharing Happy Meals. Jahan secured a teaching assistantship, which paid $700 a month, while his wife worked at Yellow Pages.Despite the intense financial strain, Jahan’s determination and resilience set the foundation for his future success.The Power of Persistence and Support The support from his wife was crucial. Together, they navigated these tough times, proving that community and familial support are invaluable in the early stages of entrepreneurship.Jahan’s early experiences show that success often requires starting from the bottom, embracing a positive mindset, and persistently working towards your goals, no matter how daunting the circumstances.Building a Business from the Ground UpThe idea for mobileLIVE was sparked by Jahan’s realization of a gap in the market for high-quality, onshore digital transformation and IT consulting services.This insight came while he was working at Motorola, where he noticed inefficiencies and communication issues with offshore solutions. Jahan’s ability to identify a market need and his willingness to take risks were crucial in turning his vision into reality.Securing the First Client One of the key strategies Jahan employed to get mobileLIVE off the ground was offering free pilot projects to potential clients. This approach is a powerful lesson in building trust and showcasing value.By removing the initial financial risk for his clients, Jahan demonstrated the high standards and effectiveness of mobileLIVE’s solutions. This strategy not only secured his first clients but also established a foundation of trust and long-term relationships, highlighting the importance of innovation and bold moves in business.Key Growth Milestones mobileLIVE’s strategic thinking and willingness to innovate contributed to their growth. Winning a Request for Proposal (RFP) as the alternate vendor for device testing was a pivotal milestone moment. This achievement, which led to the creation of the first-ever 3G lab in Canada, underscores the importance of seizing opportunities and investing in unique capabilities to stand out in the market.Jahan’s experience with mobileLIVE teaches the importance of identifying market gaps, taking calculated risks, and continuously striving for excellence. By focusing on quality, building trust through innovative approaches, and capitalizing on growth opportunities, entrepreneurs can navigate the challenges of building a successful business from the ground up.Embracing Innovation and Adaptability Things are changing at lighting speed. So have a learn-it-all attitude. The moment you have a know-it all-attitude, the decline will start. So always keep learning.For Jahan, innovation and adaptability are essential to success. He believes that continuous learning and the ability to adapt to changing market conditions are crucial for any entrepreneur. His ventures, such as HachiAI and XapCard, are prime examples of how embracing innovation can lead to significant market impact.The Role of Innovation in Success Jahan views innovation as a driving force behind business success. He emphasizes the necessity of staying ahead of industry trends and continuously seeking new ways to solve problems.For instance, HachiAI was born out of a need to improve user acceptance testing across various platforms. By developing a product that could pre-code human gestures and automate processes, Jahan created a solution that filled a significant gap in the market.From HachiAI & XapCard: Pioneering New Solutions Jahan stresses the importance of encouraging innovation within the company.He shares how the ideas for HachiAI and XapCard emerged from mobileLIVE’s internal incubation program, demonstrating how fostering a culture of innovation within a company can lead to groundbreaking products.Jahan’s approach teaches the importance of being adaptable and open to new ideas. By continuously learning and embracing change, businesses can stay competitive and responsive to market needs. Innovation is not a one-time effort but a continuous journey that requires persistence and a proactive mindset.The Recipe for Entrepreneurial SuccessJahan’s journey offers a blueprint for entrepreneurial success, grounded in core values and practical wisdom. His experiences highlight the importance of hard work, persistence, emotional intelligence, and maintaining a positive attitude.Core Values for Success Jahan attributes his success to a set of core values that have guided him throughout his journey. First and foremost is hard work. Jahan believes that there is no substitute for dedication and effort.Persistence is another critical value. The entrepreneurial journey is filled with ups and downs, but Jahan’s story shows that those who remain persistent and refuse to give up are more likely to achieve their goals. This persistence is closely linked with maintaining a positive attitude, even in the face of adversity.Emotional intelligence, or EQ, is also essential. Jahan emphasizes the importance of understanding and managing one’s emotions, as well as empathizing with others. High EQ helps in building strong relationships, both within a team and with clients, which is crucial for long-term success.Final Words of Wisdom Jahan’s advice is clear: surround yourself with positive, supportive people, stay focused on your goals, and continuously strive to learn and adapt. He believes that luck favors those who are prepared and persistent. Success is not about being the smartest person in the room but about being the most resilient and adaptable.Jahan also stresses the importance of giving back. Whether it’s supporting your team, helping other entrepreneurs, or contributing to your community, being a giver creates a positive cycle of growth and success. After all, entrepreneurial success is not just about personal achievement but also about uplifting others and creating a lasting impact.Takeaway Jahan’s journey highlights the power of persistence, innovation, and community support in achieving entrepreneurial success. His insights provide a roadmap for aspiring entrepreneurs to navigate their own challenges and create lasting impact.If you found Jahan’s story inspiring, be sure to tune into the full episode of Behind the Growth for more valuable insights and advice!Find it here:Successfully Navigating the Entrepreneurial Journey

The Entrepreneurial Journey: Insights for Aspiring Business Owners


Toronto, ON–June 19 , 2024— mobileLIVE, a Toronto-based technology services and consulting company, is excited to announce the successful delivery of a highly anticipated masterclass on “7 AI-Xcelerators” at the Collision Conference. The event attracted overwhelming interest, with three times the number of registrants than the venue could accommodate, and only 100 attendees managed to secure their spots.The masterclass showcased seven practical and proven AI-Xcelerators that addressing Project Planning, Code Modernization, and Operational Automation:Code Transformation: This tool comprehends and analyzes legacy code, transforming it into modern languages and architectures, enhancing efficiency and compatibility.Code to Documentation: This accelerator generates code from various documents, including business logic, flow diagrams, sequence diagrams, and class diagrams, streamlining the documentation process.Knowledge Management: By processing input documents or data against existing repository documents, this tool performs analysis, comparison, and suggestion tasks, improving document management and utilization.Effort Estimations: Utilizing AI and machine learning models, this accelerator analyzes business requirements and generates a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) to provide accurate time and cost estimates.Team Scoring: This tool collects metrics on code quality, task completion times, and peer reviews to generate a comprehensive performance score for each developer, fostering a data-driven approach to team management.Team Formations: Analyzing project requirements, developer scores, and historical project data, this accelerator suggests optimal team configurations, ensuring project success through strategic team alignment.Intelligent Digital Workers: Pre-trained to follow your processes and operate on various applications without requiring integration, these digital workers function around the clock without errors, significantly boosting productivity.The masterclass received rave reviews from attendees, underscoring the industry’s growing interest in AI-driven solutions.For more information about our AI-Xcelerators and to stay updated on upcoming events, subscribe to mobileLIVEs content.

mobileLIVE Hosts a Masterclass on “7 AI-Xcelerators” at the Collision Conference, 2024

AI-Powered Project Planning, Effort Estimation, and Team Formation

Translating business requirements into technical deliverables, accurately estimating effort, and allocating the right talent is complicated. This often leads to cost estimation errors, talent misallocation, and project failure.Here’s how our AI-Powered approach has addressed these challenges:Effort Estimation We leverage AI to transform a Business Requirements Document (BRD) into a detailed Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) with time and cost estimates, reducing the time and human error involved in project planning.Team Scoring We use data from tools like Jira, GitHub, and SonarQube to calculate a comprehensive score for developers based on their performance, experience, and code quality, facilitating informed team selection and performance monitoring.Team Formation Our approach recommends optimal project teams by analysing historical performance data and matching it with project requirements, ensuring the best fit in terms of skill, cost, and delivery time.Watch this webinar for a demonstration highlighting AI-powered approach to Effort Estimation, Team Scoring, and Formation.

AI-Powered Project Planning, Effort Estimation, and Team Formation


The secret to a company’s success often lies in how a business treats its two most important assets: its customers and its employees.This approach is vital because fostering a positive employee environment translates into exceptional customer service, thereby creating a cycle that drives sustainable growth and profitability.In this episode of ‘Behind the Growth’, I had the honour of interviewing Hussain Qureshi, the President of mobileLIVE, to celebrate his journey and explore his perspectives on the topic.With a career spanning several decades in the tech and telecommunications industries, Hussain has a wealth of knowledge on what it takes to drive a company to success. From his early days as an electronics engineer to leading mobileLIVE as its President, his insights provide a valuable roadmap for any business aiming to prioritize both customer and employee satisfaction.In this blog, you’ll learn Hussain’s strategies for driving business growth while fostering a thriving workplace culture and a satisfied customer base.Identifying and Addressing Customer Needs At the core of any successful business lies a profound understanding of customer needs. Hussain emphasizes that mobileLIVE’s sustained growth is largely attributed to its ability to identify and effectively address these needs. This approach has kept it competitive and fostered strong, enduring relationships with its clients.Engaging Directly to Fine-Tune Solutions At mobileLIVE, the engagement process is designed to ensure that customer interactions are meaningful and productive.Hussain highlights importance of using detailed feedback mechanisms, which help capture essential insights into customer needs and preferences. This process involves regular surveys, customer interviews, and the use of customer service analytics to gauge satisfaction and pinpoint areas for improvement.Moreover, he employs a proactive approach by involving customers early in the development process. This allows for iterative feedback, refining products and services in response to direct customer input before final release.This hands-on engagement strategy ensures that solutions are not only effectively addressing the identified issues but are also evolving with the customer’s changing needs, thereby enhancing overall satisfaction and loyalty.Tailoring Solutions for Enhanced Customer Satisfaction Such a customer-centric approach ensures that every solution provided is tailored to meet specific needs, thus enhancing satisfaction and loyalty. This method of operation doesn’t just solve immediate issues but builds a foundation for long-term success and customer retention by consistently delivering value that customers truly need and appreciate. This proactive stance on customer experience is the cornerstone of a successful business, driving growth through customer satisfaction and loyalty.Fostering Employee Satisfaction and Engagement At mobileLIVE, the emphasis on employee satisfaction is as strong as the focus on customer needs. Hussain believes that a motivated and satisfied workforce is essential to the company’s success. By creating an environment where employees feel valued and part of the company’s mission, you can ensure that your team is productive and deeply engaged with their work.Strategies for Enhancing Employee Engagement mobileLIVE employs several strategies to keep its employees engaged and committed. This includes a robust internal communication strategy that ensures all team members are informed and their voices heard. Regular town halls, feedback sessions, and open forums are part of the company’s culture, fostering a sense of inclusion and transparency.Moreover, Hussain highlights the importance of investing in employees’ professional growth. Through continuous training and development opportunities, employees at all levels should be encouraged to acquire new skills and advance their careers within the company. This focus on personal and professional growth helps maintain high engagement and job satisfaction levels, contributing directly to employee retention and overall company success.Cultivating a Culture of Recognition Recognizing and rewarding employees’ efforts and achievements is another pillar of mobileLIVE’s strategy. Regular celebratory events, performance bonuses, and public acknowledgments contribute to a positive work environment. Such practices boost morale and reinforce the company’s values of hard work and excellence.By prioritizing employee satisfaction and engagement, you can create a motivated workforce that is well-prepared to meet the challenges of the market while driving the company forward.Integrating Employee Goals with Customer Outcomes At mobileLIVE, the alignment of employee goals with customer outcomes is a strategic imperative that drives mutual success. This integration ensures that as employees achieve their professional goals, they concurrently advance the company’s mission to enhance customer satisfaction. It’s a synergistic approach where employee success and customer success are seen as interconnected objectives that fuel the company’s overall growth.Feedback Loops and Communication Key to this integration is the robust feedback loops and open lines of communication between different levels of the organization. By fostering a culture where feedback is both given and received across all hierarchies, mobileLIVE ensures that employee initiatives are in harmony with customer needs. This ongoing dialogue helps in fine-tuning processes and services in real-time, enhancing the ability to meet customer expectations more efficiently and effectively.Empowering Employees to Deliver Excellence Employees at mobileLIVE are empowered to take ownership of projects that directly impact customer experiences. This empowerment is facilitated through access to the necessary tools, authority, and confidence to make decisions that benefit the customer. As a result, employees feel more vested in the outcomes of their work, driving them to excel and innovate in ways that significantly enhance customer satisfaction.Through these strategies, you can foster a positive and proactive workplace and ensures that the company’s objectives of delivering exceptional customer service are met. This alignment of employee and customer goals creates a dynamic where both the company and its clients thrive together.Lessons Learned and Future Directions Capitalizing on Past Experiences Over the years, mobileLIVE has learned valuable lessons that have shaped its strategies and approaches to business. One of the key insights is the importance of staying adaptable and responsive to both market changes and internal feedback. Hussain stresses that this adaptability allows companies to continuously refine their services and internal practices to better meet the evolving needs of customers and the aspirations of their employees.Anticipating the Future Looking ahead, Hussain suggests focusing on leveraging your past experiences to anticipate future challenges and opportunities. mobileLive plans to integrate technology and innovative practices further to streamline operations and enhance the customer and employee experience. This includes adopting more advanced data analytics for deeper customer insights and further automating processes to free up employee time for more strategic tasks.Continued Commitment to Core Values As it moves forward, mobileLIVE remains committed to its core values as they guide the company’s decisions and strategies, ensuring that as they grow, they continue to provide value to their customers while maintaining a supportive and engaging work environment for their employees.Through thoughtful reflection on past lessons and a clear vision for the future, you will be well-positioned to continue your trajectory of growth and success.Takeaway As we’ve delved into mobileLIVE’s successful strategies with Hussain Qureshi, it’s evident that the key to thriving in today’s dynamic market lies in simultaneously enhancing customer experiences and nurturing employee engagement.This exploration offers a guide for businesses to understand the importance of balancing these critical areas effectively. Organizations adopting similar approaches can foster a more engaged workforce and a more satisfied customer base, propelling themselves toward sustained growth and success.If you found these insights valuable, be sure to tune into the full episode of “Behind the Growth” for a conversation you won’t want to miss!Find it here:Prioritizing Customer and Employee Experience

Prioritizing Customer and Employee Experience to Drive Business Growth


User personas are one of the many tools a designer can use to guide the design process.The intention of these semi-fictional representations of your audience is to aid in humanizing your approach and understanding who you’re designing for.Thinking about the motivations, goals, challenges and preferences of your target can help in designing in a more user centric and thoughtful way – but are these useful?In this round of “Ask a Designer,” we asked members of our design team about their experience with navigating user personas and how they remain mindful of empathy in design.Question 1How often do you create user personas? Name: Irum TariqTitle: Lead Product DesignerAnswer: Creating personas is typically common when working on a new project or a large-scale initiative. Several factors contribute to this practice, such as budget availability, time constraints, and the need for personas given existing data. Ideally, personas should be created frequently and updated after significant market research activities, like surveys, interviews, or usability testing, as these activities reveal new user information. However, due to various constraints, personas are usually created only when embarking on new projects.Name: Ram KumarasubramanianTitle: Senior UX ResearcherAnswer: In my 8 years of experience, I have created personas from scratch only on a few occasions. I have assisted in developing personas to support the establishment of a research team and utilized them to illustrate the typical day of our target users, providing valuable insights for the design process.Additionally, I curated personas and developed broad archetypes (a higher-level abstraction of a collection of personas) to facilitate internal consensus on the user base for a platform I was helping build. These archetypes aided in aligning internal stakeholders and provided clarity on the objectives and obstacles faced by the end users of our platform.Name: Sheyla AmaralTitle: Lead Product DesignerAnswer: It’s not very common. When working on existing products, it’s typical for user personas to have been established at the start of the project. In my experience, I’ve encountered situations where the target users for these personas changed slightly, requiring a reassessment. For new products, the process is different, and the method for defining personas can vary based on the product’s goals, and I have worked defining some of them, which is an interesting and deep process.Question 2What methods do you use to ensure relevance when creating user personas? Name: Irum TariqTitle: Lead Product DesignerAnswer: My process for creating user personas is straightforward. I begin by setting the objective and scope to determine why we need personas and how they will be used. Next, I conduct research using qualitative and quantitative methods. I recruit participants from targeted age groups for interviews and distribute questionnaires. Once the data is collected, I organize it according to different segments such as demographic and behavioral. I then create persona profiles, adding details and summarizing key insights from the data. Before utilizing the personas in my design, I validate and refine them by sharing with key stakeholders to ensure accuracy and relevance.Name: Ram KumarasubramanianTitle: Senior UX ResearcherAnswer: It is essential to know why personas are needed, the context behind creating one, and how the team plans to use them. It is also helpful to align with the key partners and requestors to flesh out any existing assumptions and curate available resources to build a baseline understanding of the organizational needs before creating the plan for building a persona.Personas are ideally created by conducting research with the target segments and analyzing the patterns and trends that emerge from the insights. The team working on building personas can leverage analytics and support data, such as call and chat transcripts, to identify the target segments and recruit appropriately for conducting persona research.Name: Sheyla AmaralTitle: Lead Product DesignerAnswer: To create user personas, I start by identifying and segmenting our in-house customer data. Once that’s done, I conduct a quantitative survey to gather additional information and confirm the in-house data. Depending on the project, interviews and focus groups are essential for obtaining more detailed analysis of behaviors, goals, and pain points. One particularly interesting project I worked on involved conducting a diary study with kids aged 8 to 12. It’s crucial to choose the method that aligns with your target audience so they can actively participate.Question 3Have you encountered any challenges in using user personas? If so, how have you addressed them? Name: Ram KumarasubramanianTitle: Senior UX ResearcherAnswer: One of the challenges I have encountered in using personas is that there is great enthusiasm for building one or more personas at the start of the exercise, but the energy and commitment dwindle once these personas are created. The personas also tend to become stale over time, and often, there is a lack of real application in day-to-day work. An alternative might be maintaining a list of Jobs-to-be-done by each persona that gets refreshed periodically in the context of the problems being solved.Name: Sheyla AmaralTitle: Lead Product DesignerAnswer: One of the challenges I faced before was regarding the huge number of personas. Sometimes, businesses want products to range from 18 to 99 years old, and it makes it hard to prioritize design decisions when we have so many different user needs. While having a clear problem statement helps, it’s still too broad.Another major challenge is keeping the personas updated. As user goals change over time, so do their needs. Continuously validating and analyzing data is costly and time-consuming, so often we end up not doing it.Name: Irum TariqTitle: Lead Product DesignerAnswer: Creating and using user personas can present several challenges. One of the biggest challenges I face is the lack of accurate data. Personas are only as reliable as the data they’re based on, and inaccurate or insufficient data can result in personas that do not accurately represent the target audience. To address this, I validate my data by conducting follow-up interviews and surveys. Additionally, working closely with the analytics team and gathering as much information as possible helps me validate my research and ensure the personas are accurate.Question 4Are there specific scenarios where user personas prove more valuable than segmentation models, and vice versa? Name: Irum TariqTitle: Lead Product DesignerAnswer: There are specific scenarios where user personas and segmentation models can each be more valuable. Understanding the contexts in which each tool is most effective can help make informed decisions about when to use them.For example, when designing a new product interface or improving an existing one, user personas provide a detailed, narrative-driven understanding of users’ goals, behaviors, and pain points, helping designers create more intuitive and user-friendly interfaces.On the other hand, when conducting market analysis and defining market entry strategies, segmentation models offer a broad overview of different market segments based on demographics, behaviors, and other quantifiable criteria, enabling businesses to identify and target high-potential market segments.By recognizing the specific contexts and scenarios where each tool excels, you can effectively combine user personas and segmentation models to enhance decision-making and user-centered design processes.Name: Ram KumarasubramanianTitle: Senior UX ResearcherAnswer: Personas often provide the most value when kickstarting product development from scratch. During this time, the team needs clarity to identify where to invest its time and resources to maximize value creation and minimize the risk of failure.Personas can also be an excellent tool for onboarding new team members and orienting them to the nuances of the problem space.Segments are more pertinent to targeting users for large-scale quantitative exercises such as surveys and growth-oriented activities such as ad-targeting.Name: Sheyla AmaralTitle: Lead Product DesignerAnswer: When building a product from scratch, starting with personas can help the team visualize the target users. It also assists in defining the tone and language for marketing efforts to reach those users. Product iterations and features are typically based on user needs, which can be validated using personas.However, before using personas, it’s important to develop segmentation models. These models can help us understand promising markets and trends.Takeaway The insights provided by our design team members underscore the significance of empathy in design, particularly through the utilization of user personas.User personas offer a means to humanize the design process, facilitating a deeper understanding of the target audience’s motivations and preferences. However, the frequency of creating user personas varies, often occurring at the onset of new projects due to constraints like time and resources.Ensuring the relevance of user personas involves a meticulous process of research and validation, utilizing both qualitative and quantitative methods. Challenges such as maintaining updated personas and managing a large number of personas are acknowledged, requiring continuous validation and collaboration to address effectively.In discerning between user personas and segmentation models, both serve distinct but complementary purposes. User personas guide product development and interface design by providing a narrative-driven understanding of user behaviors, while segmentation models offer broader market insights for strategic decision-making.By integrating user personas and segmentation models effectively, designers can foster user-centered design approaches that resonate with their target audience, ultimately driving meaningful engagement and lasting connections.Liked the insights shared in this article? Catch our previous Ask A Designer articles here:Ask A Designer: An Open Conversation with Product & UX Designers Ask A Designer Round 2: Questions For Designers, From Developers Ask A Designer Round 3: Staying Curious Ask A Designer Round 4: Considering Accessibility and Designing Inclusively Ask A Designer Round 5: The Dos and Don’ts of Design Thinking

Ask A Designer Round 6: Empathy in Design

Code Conversion: Modernizing Legacy Code with GenAI

Transform your legacy code effortlessly with RefactorX – a Generative AI-powered Code Converter.Our solution, RefactorX, converts any legacy code to your desired code, including version upgrades (like JavaScript to NodeJS). With RefactorX, you can also create technical and business level documentation regarding legacy or transformed code with an excellent search facility through existing documents and knowledge base.Innovative Use of Generative AI Utilizes advanced AI models to automate the transformation of legacy code into modern languages or updated versions.Comprehensive Transformation Suite Offers code translation, optimization, documentation generation, AI-enabled unit testing, and a knowledge management system.Targeted Solution Approach Designed to address the specific needs of industries heavily reliant on legacy systems, such as Telco, Banking, and Retail.Optimization Improves code quality and maintainability without changing its external behavior and business logic.With RefactorX 59% Increased Agility 57% Reduced Maintenance Costs 70% Better Integration with Other Platforms Watch now for a live RefactorX demo showcasing its GenAI-based approach to legacy modernization and experience efficient, error-free, and scalable code development.

Code Conversion: Modernizing Legacy Code with GenAI


Toronto, ON–May 14, 2024— mobileLIVE, a Toronto-based technology services and consulting company, was recognized for its industry-leading performance, its global business practices, and its sustained growth by receiving the prestigious 2024 Canada’s Best Managed Companies award.Celebrating over 30 years, Canada’s Best Managed Companies program awards excellence in private Canadian-owned companies with revenues of $50 million or greater. To attain the designation, companies are evaluated on their leadership in the areas of strategy, culture and commitment, capabilities, and innovation, governance and financial performance. “Being recognized as a Best Managed Platinum Club winner is a testament to our team’s relentless dedication and adaptability,” said Jahan Ali, Founder and CEO at mobileLIVE. “In an era marked by uncertainty, this achievement showcases our ability to overcome challenges and exhibit resilience at the highest levels. We are proud to set the standard for excellence in Canada’s private business sector, impacting how our country is perceived on the global stage.”Canada’s Best Managed Companies is one of the country’s leading business awards programs recognizing innovative and world-class businesses. Every year, hundreds of entrepreneurial companies compete for this designation in a rigorous and independent evaluation process. Applicants are evaluated by an independent panel of judges with representation from program sponsors and special guests.“The 2024 Best Managed winners exemplify the highest Canadian business standards of innovation, adaptability, and bold leadership,” said Lorrie King, Partner, Deloitte Private, Global Best Managed Leader and Co-Leader, Canada’s Best Managed Companies program. “Their relentless ambition, determined focus, and strategic agility have led them to remain competitive on the world stage, creating sustainable economic growth in an evolving global market.”The Best Managed assessment process is rigorous and comprehensive, evaluating a company’s overall performance and practices in areas such as strategy, leadership, innovation, culture, governance, and financials. Companies that achieve Best Managed status are recognized as industry leaders, demonstrating their commitment to long-term growth and sustainability.The 2024 cohort of Best Managed companies share common themes such as having a people-centric culture, targeting effective ESG strategies, and accelerating operational digitization.This year’s winners demonstrate exceptional commitment to drive growth in today’s competitive and dynamic business landscape,” says Blair Cowan, Executive Vice-President, Head of Commercial Banking. “CIBC is proud to sponsor a program that represents the best in Canadian business, as these privately owned companies continue to be the engine of our economic growth by creating jobs through strong leadership and innovation.”

mobileLIVE is a 2024 Winner of Canada’s Best Managed Platinum Club Designation

From Insights to Action: AI-powered Customer Experience

71% of consumers prefer brands that offer personalized experiences – and 76% get frustrated when that does not happen.The modern customer seeks a personalized experience, yet delivering it at scale is a constant challenge. In this webinar, learn beyond the foundational concepts on:Customer 360 View (with contact center data, social media analytics, and digital experience score) Discovering and Analyzing Customer Patterns (through contact channels to help decide the next best action) Personalizing Offerings and Actions (using real-time interaction management and Gen AI) Whether you’re a business leader, customer service professional, or AI enthusiast, by the end of this webinar, you will be equipped with the latest strategies, real-world examples, and industry use cases to drive customer satisfaction, engagement, and personalization.Watch now transform your customer interactions and excel in the rapidly evolving domain of customer service technology.

From Insights to Action: AI-powered Customer Experience


Design Thinking describes an approach used to solve problems in a creative and user-centric way.Sometimes, and frustratingly so, the term gets thrown around as a buzzword without an understanding of its true principles.At its core, the process is straightforward – considering your users, developing and refining ideas, seeking feedback and incorporating it into your product.In this round of “Ask a Designer,” we asked members of our design team how they navigate through the essential dos and don’ts of design thinking, and how it aids in coming up with creative solutions.Question 1How do you describe design thinking to stakeholders? Name: Viviam AlcaldeTitle: Product DesignerAnswer:A way to explain design thinking is through the initial processes of empathizing and defining before the design itself, prototyping, testing and implementation.We first need to understand the need for a solution through research and/or data, so we can identify the user pain points and then, we can try to solve those through design.It isn’t just a matter of “design this and that” only considering the initial requirements of a problem, but to understand what the users really need so we can grasp what is generating the problem. The design is just one part of a bigger process that comes after those findings.Finally, we need to continue researching to verify if the solution addresses the user needs and the problem, so we can improve or change it. If we “just design” without the other parts of the design thinking process, the time and money invested won’t be worth the effort because the problems will continue.Name: Pranavi LMKTitle: Associate Product DesignerAnswer:To ensure that stakeholders understand what Design thinking is, it is important to explain its value and potential impact on their projects or goals.Design thinking centers the problem-solving process around the end-user, producing more efficient and intuitive solutions.First, we need to understand the problem. We must put ourselves in the shoes of the user and empathize with the problem they face. This step is important to understand the user’s needs and perspectives, methods like interviews and surveys are used to gather insights.Once we understand the problem, we can define the problem statement and start coming up with ideas to solve it.The next step is to pick out the best ideas from your ideation phase and turn them into representations like wireframes, sketches, prototypes.Finally, you test your solutions with people who have the problem to see if they help. You listen to their feedback and iterate. Overall, the design thinking process will have better user satisfaction, space to innovate, and less chance to waste time and resources on creating products that do not resonate with user’s needs.Name: Carlos SalgueroTitle: Senior Product DesignerAnswer:Design thinking is a methodology that weaves empathy for the user, creativity in ideation, and rationality in systematizing the user’s needs into a viable business strategy. I describe it to stakeholders as a lens through which we view our product development process, ensuring that every feature, interaction, and design decision is made with the end-user’s experience in mind.It’s not just about aesthetics; it’s about creating solutions that are as functional and user-friendly as they are visually appealing.Name: Ram KumarasubramanianTitle: Senior UX ResearcherAnswer:Design thinking is a systematic way of solving problems. We can break down this problem-solving process roughly into two parts:Finding out what needs to be solved and for whom, and which are the bigger problems that need attention right away Among the different ways in which we could solve these problems, what approach or approaches could we take to solve the problem in a way that is meaningful for the end users and the business We do the first part by learning more about the problem and the audience through activities such as research, competitor analysis, and coming up with ‘How Might We’ questions that describe the problem in a general way without pointing to a specific solution.The second part is about brainstorming, ideation, prototyping concepts, and testing to ensure that the problems are solved in the most efficient and elegant way within the scope of the constraints present.Name: Dana MitchellTitle: Seniors Product DesignerAnswer:Designs are typically something that evolves and changes over the course of its lifecycle. Design thinking is the iterative problem-solving process that supports that growth.When I apply design thinking to a problem, my goal is to develop a deep understanding of a problem and to create solutions with that knowledge.To help facilitate this, there are an endless number of tools and methods available. From interviewing the stakeholders or users to gain a better insight into their goal and pain points, brainstorming in a Figjam session, to mapping flows and analyzing metrics and user feedback. All the tools we use allow us to approach each new problem or project knowing that we will understand the problem and iterate our way to the best solution possible.I would argue that so long as you are trying to understand your problem so you can create better solutions, you are employing design thinking (and by extension, designing) regardless of the tools you use.Question 2What do you appreciate the most within the design process? Name: Viviam AlcaldeTitle: Product DesignerAnswer:I mostly appreciate the challenge of finding a design solution from the findings we have had, because that challenge leads us to great things professionally and personally. The fact that the empathizing and defining phases structure the thinking of the design solution leads us to a different kind of art. In other types of art, we have a blank canvas (or artboard) and struggle to start – but any result could be appreciated in the end.In Product Design, many times we come up with different solutions for the same problem but not every of them will address the problem properly. The struggle is to get the best one right away, that’s why we need data and testing after we deliver our designs.Therefore, the challenge is what motivates me to explore more and question myself. It makes me humble but also proud when I can improve user experiences.Name: Pranavi LMKTitle: Associate Product DesignerAnswer:I really appreciate the process of knowing what we will be designing instead of jumping right into it. With the design process, I have a clear understanding of the user, problem and solution that I want to create.Personally, I really enjoy the ideate and prototype segment of the design process.By exploring various ideas, we can uncover unexpected insights and alternate approaches to the solution. It pushes us to think out of the box. Prototyping helps me visualize the solution I had in mind. This helps the stakeholder, client, users understand the solution better. It allows us to iterate and test giving us the best result by the end.Name: Carlos SalgueroTitle: Senior Product DesignerAnswer:What I most appreciate within the design process is the ideation phase. It’s an opportunity to diverge into a realm of creativity, brainstorming a myriad of possibilities without the constraints of feasibility, just yet.This freedom to explore often leads to innovative solutions that might not have been discovered through a linear approach. It’s a collaborative dance of creativity that, when followed by convergent phases of refinement and testing, leads to impactful designs that resonate with users.Name: Ram KumarasubramanianTitle: Senior UX ResearcherAnswer:I appreciate the challenge of fundamentally viewing problems with a beginner’s mindset in the design process – to be able to explore and understand how we could learn and address opportunities with a fresh lens and come up with different solutions depending on the context and the resources available at our disposal.The design process is, in its essence, iterative, which means there is an opportunity for improvement or change always round the corner.Name: Dana MitchellTitle: Senior Product DesignerAnswer:Within the overarching design thinking process, I appreciate how easy communication can be when everyone is on the same page. Creating and sharing project documents and knowledge keep the silo walls down.There is nothing so relieving as having a tricky flow mapped out during a conversation with stakeholders or developers, ensuring we all have the same understanding of the problem and/or solution.Question 3When shouldn’t design thinking be applied to a problem? Name: Viviam AlcaldeTitle: Product DesignerAnswer:When we already had had research and exploration with the same kind of users not long ago, or if something is “common sense” with a solution that is commonly successful.For example, we don’t need to “reinvent the wheel” and use completely new concepts of buttons or icons to refresh the page, minimize a window, expand a dropdown, among other known actions. The users in these cases are familiarized with certain icons and behaviours. That could also be applied to flows like sending a message or getting notified of a new message. We, the users in general, expect certain things from those types of experiences.Name: Pranavi LMKTitle: Associate Product DesignerAnswer:Design thinking is a great approach to problem solving, but it might not be necessary in problems that are not very complex. Design thinking requires a good amount of time and resources.If the problem you are looking to solve is small, need to sort quickly and You already know the answers to your key questions like who, what, why, you do not need to go through the entire process.Name: Carlos SalgueroTitle: Senior Product DesignerAnswer:Design thinking might not be the best approach when the problem at hand is well-defined and calls for a straightforward solution, or when there are time constraints that don’t allow for the iterative, explorative nature of the design thinking process.It’s also less suitable for situations where legal, regulatory, or safety constraints limit the scope for creativity and user-led design.Name: Ram KumarasubramanianTitle: Senior UX ResearcherAnswer:It is helpful to view design thinking through the team’s confidence about a problem and the value a feature or a product or a service might create for the end user and the business.Design thinking is often helpful in the context of meaty and complex problems, which, when solved, can improve parameters such as user satisfaction, delight and ease while contributing to the business’s bottom line.A lean research framework called ‘Sprint‘ is more relevant when design thinking needs to be applied to move the effort directionally in a short time, such as a week.Name: Dana MitchellTitle: Senior Product DesignerAnswer:I’ve literally used a design thinking mindset when I’m trying to make dinner. Have I made this dish in the past, if so, was it successful? How will I change the recipe this time? What do I want my dinner to taste like? Sure, it may only take me 5 minutes to solve the “problem”, but I’m still leveraging the iterative nature of design thinking.Question 4What is one of the biggest mistakes being made within the design thinking process? Name: Viviam AlcaldeTitle: Product DesignerAnswer:Thinking that when the design is delivered the work is done and the problem is solved.The feedback, data, and use of the solution will say if the work is done or not, and when it needs to change. Those are part of the design thinking process and when we forget about them, we aren’t doing proper design thinking.Sooner or later, we will need to change the solution because things always change requirements, problems, types of users or audiences, or even design trends.Name: Pranavi LMKTitle: Associate Product DesignerAnswer:One of the biggest mistakes that is made during the design thinking process is assuming you know the user and their needs well and jumping to the prototype/solution phase. Understanding the user and empathizing with them will help you stay relevant to the problem.Sometimes design thinking can be a long process with repetitive iterations and going around the circle over and over. You should plan out time and resources well to manage that. Empathize and define phases help you set up that plan, because you can identify the solution and can estimate the time needed to ideate, prototype and test.Name: Carlos SalgueroTitle: Senior Product DesignerAnswer:One of the biggest mistakes in the design thinking process is skipping the empathy stage and jumping straight to ideation and prototyping. Without a deep understanding of the user’s needs, pain points, and contexts, the solutions we create may be innovative but not necessarily effective or needed. It’s like trying to write a novel without knowing the main character – it results in a narrative that lacks depth and resonance.Name: Ram KumarasubramanianTitle: Senior UX ResearcherAnswer:Not involving the designers and researchers early in the process and including them only to test concepts or build designs based on ideas already set in stone. By failing to include those who might help develop a more comprehensive view of the problems that need to be solved early enough, organizations risk building things that need to be reworked.Name: Dana MitchellTitle: Senior Product DesignerAnswer:Honestly, thinking that design thinking is something that is only part of the “designer’s toolkit”. You can apply the mindset that design thinking fosters to so many different scenarios, both personally and professionally.From my work as a mentor, I would say that the biggest mistake I’ve seen is using design thinking as a specific process.It’s important to consider the why behind the tools and methods that we use, or we risk creating work that doesn’t actually help solve the problem. Not every project will need the same activities or workshops.I would argue that one of the marks of “senior-ship” in designers is being able to identify a problem and use the most appropriate tool for the job, while being able to explain why.Takeaway The insights shared by our design team members highlight the nuanced and holistic approach of design thinking.It’s evident that effective design thinking goes beyond mere aesthetics; it’s about deeply understanding user needs, empathizing with their experiences, and iterating solutions based on feedback and data. Stakeholders must grasp the value of this approach, recognizing its potential to yield efficient, user-centric solutions that resonate with end-users while aligning with business objectives.The dos and don’ts outlined underscore the importance of each phase in the design thinking process, from empathizing and defining the problem to ideating, prototyping, testing, and iterating. Skipping or rushing through any stage risks compromising the effectiveness of the solution.Moreover, design thinking shouldn’t be confined solely to designers; its principles can be applied across various domains, fostering innovation and problem-solving in diverse contexts.The discussions herein emphasize the iterative nature of design thinking and the necessity of continual refinement based on user feedback and evolving requirements. Overlooking this iterative aspect or treating design thinking as a rigid process can lead to missed opportunities and ineffective solutions.Ultimately, embracing a comprehensive understanding of design thinking as a collaborative, user-centered, and iterative approach is essential for addressing complex problems, fostering innovation, and delivering impactful solutions that meet both user needs and business objectives.Liked the insights shared in this article?Catch our previous Ask A Designer articles here: Ask A Designer: An Open Conversation with Product & UX DesignersAsk A Designer Round 2: Questions For Designers, From DevelopersAsk A Designer Round 3: Staying CuriousAsk A Designer Round 4: Considering Accessibility and Designing Inclusively

Ask A Designer Round 5: The Dos and Don’ts of Design Thinking

Leveraging AI and Analytics to Revolutionize the Customer Service Experience

63% consumers expect customer service agents to know their unique needs and expectations83% customers will switch to a competitor after a frustrating customer service experience79% customer service leaders plan to invest in more AI capabilities over the next two yearsWith the increasing number of customer-facing platforms, customer expectations are also growing. Today, understanding and solving customer needs heavily depends on leveraging customer interaction data and personalizing the customer service experience.In this webinar, learn how to proactively exceed customer expectations using AI and Analytics in Customer Service.By the end of this session, you will find yourself equipped withA Deep Understanding of how predictive analytics and AI anticipate customer needs Personalization Strategies to tailor customer interactions and enhance satisfaction Real-world Case Studies showcasing successful AI and Analytics implementation Integration Strategies to seamlessly integrate AI with existing customer service systems Emerging Trends to stay ahead and secure a competitive edge for your organizationJoin AI Practice Lead Inanc Cakiroglu in conversation with host Katy Unger and harness the full power of AI and Analytics to transform your customer service strategy.

Leveraging AI and Analytics to Revolutionize the Customer Service Experience

How Latest AI-Enablers Are Driving Business Impact

Keeping up with the speed of AI-Innovation is overwhelming, particularly given its profound impact on industries like Telecommunications, Banking and Financial Services, Retail, Agriculture, and Manufacturing.Tailored for decision-makers, senior executives, and business and technology leaders, in this webinar, AI Practice Lead Inanc Cakiroglu showcases the What, Why, and How of upcoming AI-Enablers through practical applications and multiple use cases of:Explainable AI Neurosymbolic AI Edge AI (Cloud and 5G) Computer Image Applicable AIJoin him in conversation with host Katy Unger as they discuss actionable insights on how you can drive AI adoption and create value for your organization.

How Latest AI-Enablers Are Driving Business Impact


As product designers and teams, we often face the challenge of finding new and imaginative design solutions or rethinking existing ones.Inspiration can come from anywhere; from brainstorming with colleagues to conducting user research, there are a variety of techniques you can use to generate and develop ideas.However, while the ideation process in design thinking is critical for solving problems creatively, it can often be more time-consuming, daunting, and frustrating than expected.For this reason, having a reliable AI-supported toolkit to draw upon can vastly speed up and improve creative problem-solving outcomes.In this blog post, we’ll explore three key tools that offer great capabilities and support for the process of ideation – allowing product designers and teams to connect ideas, identify patterns, develop prototypes as well as gain insights using data analysis – so you can unlock new pathways for innovative product design.How AI Tools Are Transforming the Way We Approach Research and Ideation in the Design Process Artificial intelligence (AI) has taken the world by storm, and the design industry is no exception.In recent years, we’ve seen the introduction of AI tools that are transforming the way we approach design research and ideation.By taking advantage of machine learning algorithms, natural language processing, and other AI techniques, designers and product teams are able to leverage massive amounts of data to generate insights, uncover trends, and make informed decisions.Let’s take a closer look at how AI tools are changing the way we do research and ideation in the design process:1. Enhancing User Research User research is a crucial aspect of designing products that effectively meet the needs of the target audience.Traditionally, this involved conducting focus groups, interviews, and surveys.However, AI tools are making this process more efficient and accurate. Machine learning algorithms can analyze large sets of data to identify patterns and trends in user behaviour.Tools like Google Analytics and Hotjar use AI to help designers understand how users navigate websites and products. This insight can help teams improve usability, identify pain points, and optimize user experience.2. Streamlining Idea Generation One of the biggest challenges in the design process is coming up with innovative ideas that meet user needs and solve business problems.AI tools can help teams generate and evaluate ideas more efficiently. Idea management software like IdeaScale and Spigit use AI to automate the idea generation process.These tools can quickly analyze large amounts of data to identify trends and suggest new ideas based on user feedback.3. Automating Prototyping Prototyping is a critical phase in the design process, as it allows teams to test and validate ideas before committing to development. But creating prototypes can be time-consuming and labor-intensive.AI tools can automate aspects of the prototyping process.For example, Sketch2Code is a Microsoft tool that uses AI to convert hand-drawn sketches into working prototypes. This eliminates the need for manual coding, saving time and money.4. Augmenting Designer Creativity While AI tools can automate many aspects of the design process, they’ll never replace human creativity. However, AI can help designers augment their creative abilities.Augmented creativity systems use AI to analyze patterns in user behaviour and provide designers with suggestions and recommendations for new design directions. This allows designers to create more targeted and effective designs that are more likely to resonate with users.5. Improving Decision-Making Finally, AI tools are helping teams make more informed decisions throughout the design process. AI-powered decision support systems use algorithms to analyze data and present designers with recommendations based on that analysis. For example, Attention Insight is a tool that uses AI to help teams identify which design changes will have the greatest impact on user engagement and conversion rates.By leveraging these insights, teams can make better-informed decisions about design changes and improvements. This demo shows exactly how you can leverage Attention Insight to make more efficient and accurate design choices: Optimizing the Design Experience with User Research using Attention InsightBy automating aspects of the process and providing designers with insights and recommendations, AI is making it easier to create effective, innovative products that meet user needs and solve business problems.While there’s still an important role for human creativity and intuition in the design process, AI is helping designers work more efficiently and effectively than ever before.For design teams and product designers, AI-powered tools are quickly becoming an essential part of the toolkit, and below are three top-rated tools that help teams collaborate and execute with success.3 Tools That Need To Be Part of Your Design Ideation Toolkit 1. Notion Notion is a popular collaboration tool used by many design teams.It’s an all-in-one workspace that allows for notes, to-do lists, databases, calendars, and more.For brainstorming and ideation, Notion’s flexible workspace provides a great platform for organizing user research, sketching ideas, and collaborating with colleagues.It comes with some great capabilities in the way of brainstorming that facilitate idea sharing. Some of the things you can do with Notion include:Experience seamless collaboration on a shared document, regardless of your location. Easily provide inline comments and tag teammates. Engage in asynchronous brainstorming sessions. Share ideas within the same space as your project management tools or team homepage. Notion also integrates with various tools like Figma, Slack, and Gmail, providing an effortless workflow for design teams.2. ChatGPT ChatGPT is a powerful AI language model that can generate text-based on the prompts provided. This tool is useful for ideation because it can generate ideas based on user questions, brainstorming prompts, or even real-time feedback.It’s particularly useful for remote teams that don’t have the luxury to brainstorm together in person.ChatGPT’s intelligent algorithm is trained on vast amounts of data, making it incredibly effective at generating creative solutions.In the way of brainstorming and ideation particularly for the design process, ChatGPT stands out amongst most AI tools due to its versatility.Amongst its many benefits are:It saves a lot of time by evaluating research information and deriving key insights from it. It does competitive analysis within the context of users’ likes and dislikes. It helps with things like content strategy, storyboarding, design documentation and general guidance when working on something. It helps you set a design direction and ideate when you begin working on something new. To understand these benefits through a use case, let’s look at this example where I used ChatGPT to improve the user experience of a fitness app.Using ChatGPT to Improve the User Experience My first step was to put in some data from user research to generate key insights:The prompt I used is one answer which a user gave when asked about their experience of using a fitness app.This is helpful when you have complex and extensive information to work with. ChatGPT generated key insights, which include the pain points as well as what the user liked.Next, I wanted to know which fitness applications out there don’t have the issues mentioned above, so I gave it the following prompt:The answer I got was a list of several different real-time apps that I could look into and use as an example to make design improvements on the app I was working on, making it an extremely handy software to use when it comes to analyzing what’s out there, do a quick competitive analysis, and extract funnelled information we can use ourselves.Another great thing about ChatGPT is that you can also put in product details and design goals to brainstorm and expand on the ideation process if you’re working on a new feature, potentially uncovering some novel approaches and solutions.For example, I wanted to create a gamified experience for an online fitness coaching feature.For this, I gave it the following prompt:Remarkably, ChatGPT gave me a long list of suggestions that can be incorporated in the feature when designing it:Achievement Badges: Award users badges for reaching specific milestones in their fitness journey. For example, a “30-day Streak” badge for consistent workouts, a “Newbie” badge for beginners, or a “Master of Yoga” badge for yoga enthusiasts. Points and XP System: Implement a point system where users earn points or experience points (XP) for completing workouts, attending live classes. or hitting fitness goals. These points can be used to unlock rewards or compete on leaderboards. Leaderboards: Create leaderboards that display users’ rankings based on their XP or points. Users can compete with friends, fellow class attendees, or the community to encourage friendly competition and motivation. Virtual Challenges: Introduce virtual challenges or quests that users can participate in. For example, a “Mountain Climbing Challenge” where users virtually climb mountains as they complete workouts, earning rewards upon completion. Avatar Customization: Allow users to create and customize their fitness avatars. As users earn XP, they can unlock new outfits, equipment, or accessories to personalize their avatars. Daily or Weekly Challenges: Offer daily or weekly challenges that push users to try different workouts, such as “Core Strength Monday” or “HIIT Challenge Friday.” Completing these challenges could yield extra points. Social Integration: Enable users to connect with friends or other app users. They can challenge each other, share achievements, and provide support, creating a sense of community. In-App Currency: Introduce an in-app currency that users can earn through workouts and use to purchase virtual goods, such as workout equipment, nutrition plans, or premium features. Progress Tracking: Provide detailed statistics on users’ progress, including calories burned, time spent working out, and improvements in strength or flexibility. Visualizing progress can be motivating. 10. Leveling Up: As users earn XP. allow them to level up within the app. Each level could come with increased benefits or virtual rewards. Mystery Rewards: Occasionally surprise users with mystery rewards or power-ups they can use during workouts. This adds an element of excitement. Narrative Storytelling: Create a fitness adventure by embedding a narrative into the app. Users can progress through a story as they complete workouts, making it feel like a game. Multiplayer Workouts: Offer multiplayer workout sessions where users can compete or collaborate with others in real-time. This can make workouts more interactive and engaging. Feedback and Coaching: Provide personalized feedback and coaching based on users’ performance, helping them improve and stay motivated. Virtual Events: Host virtual fitness events, such as themed challenges, live classes with fitness experts, or charity runs, where users can participate and earn rewards. With ChatGPT, I can also make different wireframes, prototype and test all of these different solutions and feature recommendations that it provided me with.To watch my full demo explaining in detail how I use ChatGPT for my design projects, be sure to tune into this video: *embed link*3. QoQo QoQo is Figma plugin that enables design teams to maximize their productivity and quality of output by quickly benefiting from research data. It helps them save precious time and effort in the user research and discovery stage. QoQo is designed specifically for UX design and is meant to serve as a companion that helps you get a broad and organized picture at the early stages of the design process.Based on your input, it generates cards to build a persona with user goals, needs, motivations, frustrations and tasks, or it can help you identify challenges, risks and key elements for your design brief.Final Takeaway In conclusion, the ideation process is critical for identifying creative solutions to complex problems. There are various tools and techniques that can help facilitate the process.Notion, ChatGPT, QoQo are some of the most popular and effective tools for the ideation stage.Whether you choose to use one or several of these tools, it’s essential to remember that ideation is a creative process.So don’t hesitate to try new things, experiment, and explore different perspectives with your team to develop the most innovative solutions.

AI Toolkit for Creative Problem-Solving: 3 Tools to Enhance Design Ideation


Designers are faced with numerous decisions when it comes to creating visual elements in the design process, such as the colour palette, typography, layout, and more.These design choices may seem trivial, but they hold immense power in determining the success or failure of a product; the tiniest design changes can influence user behaviour and increase conversion rates, which is the end-goal with any new design.That’s why it is so critical for designers to make design choices that are driven by user research – and for that, they can harness the capabilities of AI tools in order to make efficient, accurate, and informed design decisions.In this comprehensive blog post, we will delve into three remarkable tools: Attention Insight, Maze, and Hotjar – and explore how they assist design teams and product designers in making data-driven design decisions.By leveraging these tools, designers can gain valuable insights and optimise their design choices based on concrete user research and data rather than guesswork, leading to more impactful and successful outcomes.But first, let’s dive into a bit of a background of Design Thinking and the role of design decisions.Design Thinking and the Role of Design Decisions Design thinking offers a solution-centred approach that makes it an integral part of successful product development.It involves understanding the users’ needs, challenging assumptions, and redefining problems in an attempt to identify alternative solutions that might not be immediately apparent. To reach this understanding and to get your team on the same page, you can conduct various kinds of design thinking workshops as well.A pivotal part of this process is making design decisions, which involves selecting the most appropriate design elements that will deliver a superior user experience.And as it goes without saying, the lesser uncertainty there is in these design decisions, the higher are the chances of your design being a success.For a deeper understanding on how you can reduce these uncertainties, give this article a read: Reducing Uncertainties With Design Thinking: The 7 Uncertainty IndexDesign Decision-making Before AI In the early days, these decisions were primarily driven by designers’ intuition and experience.Without the assistance of AI, designers relied on their expertise and past knowledge to make informed choices about design elements.They would analyse user feedback, conduct usability tests, and iterate on their designs to improve the user experience.While this approach was effective to some extent, it often lacked the data-driven insights and predictive capabilities that AI brings to the table.Additionally, this approach left room for subjectivity and bias, leading to designs that may not effectively address user needs or business goals.Design Decisions With AI With the advent of digital technology and AI tools, the process of design decision-making has evolved significantly.With artificial intelligence, designers now have access to sophisticated algorithms and machine learning models that can analyse vast amounts of user data, identify patterns, and make data-informed design decisions.This integration of AI in the design process has revolutionised the way user research is done and, thus, how design decisions are made, allowing for more precise and optimised user experiences.Today, design decisions are more data-driven, relying on insights gathered from user behaviour and market trends.These informed decisions lead to designs that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also functional, user-friendly, and conversion-oriented.3AI T ools To Make User-focused Design Decisions Leveraging AI tools to make user-focused design decisions is becoming increasingly crucial in today’s digital landscape.By harnessing the power of artificial intelligence, designers can gain invaluable insights into user behaviour and preferences, enabling them to create intuitive and personalized experiences.These AI tools analyse vast amounts of data, uncovering patterns and trends that might otherwise go unnoticed.The following are some of the top AI tools that employ a data-driven approach that facilitates user research and empowers designers to make informed decisions, resulting in products and services that truly resonate with their target audience.As the field of AI continues to evolve, its potential to revolutionise user-focused design is only set to grow, and these 3 AI tools are playing a big role in that:Attention Insight At the top of the list of AI tools for design decision-making is Attention Insight, which uses AI and eye-tracking technology to predict how people will interact with a design.It helps designers understand what elements of their design will attract the most attention and what parts of the design will be ignored by the users.The tool works by analysing the visual hierarchy of a design, identifying the elements that are most likely to be noticed by the user.Designers can then use this data for user research and make improvements to their designs accordingly, eventually being better equipped to optimize them for better engagement.Attention Insight is a valuable tool for anything from website design to advertising, and is quickly being adopted by designers all around for its immensely crucial benefits:Time saved: Attention Insight provides quick results in less than 60 seconds, allowing users to efficiently analyse and make design decisions without wasting valuable time. Accuracy: With an impressive accuracy score ranging from 90% to 96%, Attention Insight ensures reliable and precise insights into users’ attention and focus areas, enabling designers to create highly effective designs. Compatibility: It seamlessly integrates with Figma, a popular design tool, making it convenient for designers to incorporate eye-tracking studies and heatmaps into their design workflow. User Insights: By utilizing eye-tracking studies and heatmaps, Attention Insight offers valuable insights into where users’ attention is directed within a design. This enables designers to optimize their designs and enhance user engagement. Validity: Attention Insight is backed by MIT scientists, ensuring its validity and credibility in providing accurate and scientifically validated data for design decision making. A/B Testing with Attention Insight Particularly for A/B testing, which is a very big part of design and helps us base our decisions on data while removing the guesswork, Attention Insight is a great tool that can quickly analyze A/B Testing results.To watch this tool in action, here’s a demo that will help you see exactly how it can be used to conduct A/B tests with far more efficiency, speed, and confidence than you’d be able to without it:Maze Maze is another tool that uses AI to generate design variations.All you need to do is upload a design to Maze, and it will generate multiple design options based on the inputs provided.The tool can also learn from user feedback and generate better designs over time. In essence, Maze helps designers to create a large number of design variations in a short amount of time.One of its biggest benefits is that it scales user insights through AI-powered user research based on prototype testing, website testing, interview studies, card sorting, and feedback surveys.By doing so, Maze helps product designers save time, and it can also inspire new design ideas that otherwise may not have been considered.Hotjar Hotjar is an AI tool that helps designers understand how users interact with their design and create designs with the target audience in mind.Hotjar captures user data such as mouse movements, clicks, and scrolls, and then generates heat maps showing where users spend the most time on a page. This data helps designers understand how users are interacting with their designs, identify areas of improvement, and make data-driven design decisions.Hotjar can also provide designers with insights into user behaviour, usability issues, and potential opportunities to improve the user experience.Some of its top advantages are that it provides unbiased feedback, provides compelling data to remove any room for opinions and guesswork, and ensures that any new design created with Hotjar hit the targets without ever compromosing the user experience.Final Takeaway AI addresses many of the challenges that visual designers face.Data-driven design decisions using AI can help designers make better decisions quickly and efficiently. The tools mentioned in this post, including Attention Insight, Maze, and Hotjar, are just a few examples of the vast potential that AI has to offer for design teams and designers.Check out all of these other tools that can be used at different stages of the design process and reap various benefits in this article: AI Tools For Designers: 5 Ways To AI-Power Your Design Process.With the help of AI, designers can create designs that are more engaging, lead to more conversions, and ultimately create better user experiences.Want to learn more about how you adopt AI for your design processes? Reach out and speak to our experts now!

3 AI Tools To Conduct User Research That Drives More Optimized Design Decisions


Any product team, or design team, knows the importance of properly documenting product requirements, but the process can often be time-consuming and tedious.User stories are a crucial component of this documentation, as they outline the needs and behaviours of the user in a simple, easy-to-understand format.And while everyone wants to create better user stories, not everyone may have the know-how to do so efficiently.As most product people would be able to relate to, coming up with these user stories can be challenging, especially when dealing with complex products and various stakeholders.Luckily, there are several AI tools available to us now that can help product designers with the way they create designs efficiently.In my opinion, out of multiple AI tools that I’ve experimented with, one of them has stood out when it comes to streamlining this process and making creating user stories a breeze – and that’s ChatGPT.Understanding ChatGPT and its Role in User Story Creation ChatGPT is a chatbot that uses artificial intelligence to understand natural language and generate relevant responses.Its user-friendly interface allows product managers and designers to quickly create user stories by simply conversing with the chatbot.For example, you can tell ChatGPT something like “I need a user story for a user who wants to order a pizza online,” and it will generate a user story that fits that description.ChatGPT is also great for collaboration among team members. As each team member adds their own user stories, ChatGPT learns from this input, becoming better at generating relevant responses over time. This means that the more you use ChatGPT, the more efficient and accurate it becomes.Another key benefit of ChatGPT is its ability to organize user stories.With ChatGPT, you can create different categories and tags, making it easy to group similar user stories together and find them when you need them. This can save time and reduce the likelihood of duplicate user stories being created.The process of creating user stories with ChatGPT is simple and straightforward. After interacting with the chatbot to generate a user story, you can review and edit it within the tool’s user-friendly interface. From there, you can easily export the user stories in a variety of formats, making it easy to share them with stakeholders and collaborate with your team.Why ChatGPT is a Class Apart From Other AI Tools As product managers, we often grapple with the challenge of creating comprehensive user stories.To simplify this task, we rely on AI tools such as ChatGPT, Notion, and Perplexity.Among these, ChatGPT stands out as a preferred choice due to its ability to generate user stories quickly and accurately.Additionally, through ChatGPT, we find that we’re able to:Accelerate the user story creation process Instead of manually writing each user story from scratch, Chatgpt can generate a list of potential user stories based on conversation with the project’s stakeholders.It can then be further tailored to match the exact specifications of the project.Additionally, Chatgpt helps users to identify potential problems or unanswered questions, as well as providing suggestions for improvement that could help accelerate the user story creation process.This allows teams to focus their energies on creating better solutions faster and accelerating the production cycle.Ensure a standardized and consistent format of the user stories Chatgpt ensures a standardized and consistent format for user stories by utilizing natural language processing (NLP) technology.NLP is a type of artificial intelligence (AI) that enables a computer to understand and interpret human language.With this technology, Chatgpt can process natural language input and produce output in a predefined format. This allows the system to provide users with a structured template that they can use when creating their own stories.Additionally, the system can make suggestions based on the content of the user’s story, helping them stay within the desired framework.This helps to ensure that all user stories are consistent in terms of style and structure, helping developers find user stories easier and use them more efficiently.Enhance clarity for development teams Writing user stories with ChatGPT helps enhance clarity for development teams by providing a more natural and intuitive way to describe the desired feature.By using natural language processing, chatgpt is able to analyze the input and generate a more detailed description of what needs to be done.This helps ensure that the development team understands exactly what needs to be accomplished in order to meet the customer’s needs. Additionally, this can help reduce ambiguity and misunderstanding between stakeholders, as they are all looking at the same story written in plain English.This also allows for quicker feedback loops, as developers can quickly make changes if needed without having to constantly refer back to technical documentation or business requirements documents.Ultimately, writing user stories with ChatGPT can provide development teams with a clear direction and help them deliver high-quality features faster.Stay more efficient and user-focused ChatGPT allows us to quickly and easily create detailed specifications for product features.Because the user stories are created using natural language, it is easier for product people and designers to quickly understand what users are expecting from a particular feature, since the language used is similar to what they would use in conversation with their customers.This allows product teams to focus on building the right product experience in the most efficient way possible, rather than spending too much time trying to interpret customer feedback or deciphering complicated technical requirements.Additionally, ChatGPT helps reduce friction in the design process by providing ready-made templates that help designers complete tasks faster, while ensuring that all user stories accurately reflect customer needs.How Does ChatGPT Improve the User Story Creation Process: Learning with an Example To dive into how each of the above outcomes can be achieved with ChatGPT, let’s take the following as a user story creation example:You’re a product manager tasked with developing a new feature for a mobile shopping app that enables users to create and share wish lists.With the help of ChatGPT, you can effortlessly generate the necessary user stories to build this functionality.You also have the flexibility to generate multiple user stories with all the required details simultaneously.This not only saves time but also enhances clarity for development teams. By streamlining the user story creation process, product managers can focus more on user-centric tasks and improve overall efficiency.To explain how ChatGPT accomplishes this, the following is a demo I’ve done to showcase how I used the tool to create a user story for a new feature for a hypothetical shopping app that allows users to create and share wish lists.*embed full video of demo*Going Beyond Story Writing: Acceptance Criteria, Risks, and Mitigation Strategies ChatGPT goes beyond just user story writing to also provide acceptance criteria, potential risks associated with the user story, and mitigation strategies to minimize those risks.This is a great thing for product designers because it allows them to clearly define what they expect from each user story and anticipate any potential problems before deploying the product.By including acceptance criteria, designers are able to identify specific requirements so that the product meets customer expectations.With potential risks identified in advance, designers can plan a strategy to mitigate those risks and make sure that the product remains stable and secure.In addition, if any unexpected issues arise during development, the mitigation strategies can be used as a reference in order to take corrective action.All of this helps designers create products that meet users’ needs while minimizing risk and increasing stability, which is why it’s so critical to nail the storyboarding process right from the beginning.For a quick refresher on exactly what user stories are, what all they encapsulate, why they’re essential, and how product designers go about creating them, be sure to check out this article: Storyboarding in UX Design: Learning the What, When, Why, and How.Final Thoughts In conclusion, ChatGPT is a game-changer as a user story creation tool.Its ability to generate relevant responses quickly, learn from team input, and organize user stories efficiently makes the process of documenting product requirements much more efficient and manageable.By using ChatGPT, product teams and design teams can save time and hassle while creating high-quality product documentation that accurately reflects user needs.Give ChatGPT a try and see how it transforms your user story creation process.Got any questions or want to discuss this further? Speak to our experts here!

Leveraging AI For Product Documentation: How ChatGPT Enhances User Story Writing


Take a minute and think about your favourite service that you interact with.When I say service, I’m referring to the journey or process of getting a task accomplished, not necessarily getting a good as the end product but achieving a desired task. Uber, Amazon Prime, Netflix are all examples of services that people like you and I regularly interact with.As per this definition, a lot of businesses we see today are at the middle of goods and services.The end outcome may be a physical product, but the journey of getting that product and all the interactions in between, whether they’re digital or physical, all come under the service.So, where does Service Design fit into this?A Background of Service DesignAccording to the Nielsen Norman Group, "Service design is the activity of planning and organizing a business's resources (people, props, and processes) in order to directly improve the employee's experience, and indirectly, the customer's experience."Primarily termed by a marketing executive back in 1982, Service Design initially came about as the idea that every service, every product, or everything that we’re building right now is a service.However, this interpretation of Service Design got lost in the midst of the Dot Com Bubble — in this era, everybody was all about digital design and product design, and usability became core to it all.The current world that we live in is an amalgamation of the physical and digital.And in the realm of the digital world, we often don’t get to see the people and processes that are working behind the scenes.That’s where Service Design comes in, encapsulating the entire process, end to end.What is Service Design?Service design is a relatively new discipline that has gained significant recognition in recent years, especially in the context of technology, user experience (UX), and customer experience (CX) design.Essentially, service design is the process of creating, optimizing, and innovating services that cater to the needs and expectations of customers and users alike.The goal of service design is simple, yet complex – to design and deliver services that are effective, efficient, engaging, and enjoyable for everyone involved.In this blog post, we’ll explore the fundamentals of service design, including its core components, scope, methods, and benefits.More specifically, we’ll discuss the three key components of service design – people, props, and processes – and how they interact to create a seamless service experience.We’ll also delve into the scope of service design, including the concept of frontstage and backstage operations.Service Design: The Fundamental ConceptService design, as mentioned earlier, is the process of designing or redesigning services to improve the overall user or customer experience.This process involves a deep understanding of the customers’ needs, preferences, pain points, and motivations.Service design is also about identifying and mapping the various touchpoints, interactions, and processes involved in delivering a service from start to finish.Service design is an iterative process that involves researching, ideating, testing, and refining various aspects of a service.For instance, a service designer may use various design thinking tools and techniques to identify and create personas, customer journey maps, service blueprints, and prototypes.The goal is to create a cohesive and comprehensive service experience that meets (or exceeds) the expectations of the customers.The Three Components of Service DesignAt a high level, Service Design is composed of three major components:People: Any person who creates, uses or interacts with the service or service ecosystem Props: Any physical or digital touchpoints, artifacts needed to execute the Service Process: Any workflows, procedures, or rituals performed by either the employee or the user throughout a service These three components interact with each other to create a seamless service experience for the customers.PeopleThe people component of service design refers to the customers, users, and staff involved in the service delivery. Service designers need to understand the needs and motivations of each stakeholder involved in the service journey to ensure that the overall experience is positive. This could involve interviewing customers, observing staff, or conducting surveys to gather insights.PropsThe props component of service design includes all of the physical and digital elements involved in delivering a service, such as the website, mobile app, signage, furniture, equipment, etc. These elements play a crucial role in shaping the user’s perception of the service and can greatly impact the overall experience. Service designers must ensure that all props are designed to be functional, aesthetically pleasing, and easy to use.ProcessesThe processes component of service design includes all of the steps involved in delivering a service, from the customer’s point of view. This could include the ordering process, the payment process, the delivery process, etc. Service designers must ensure that the service processes are easy to understand, efficient, and effective. They should also design processes that are flexible and can adapt to the changing needs of the customers.The Scope of Service DesignThe scope of service design can be divided into two broad categories – frontstage and backstage.Frontstage refers to all of the activities that the customers can see or experience directly, such as the website, the mobile app, the physical store, or the call center.Backstage, on the other hand, refers to all of the activities that are not visible to the customers, such as the inventory management, the logistics, or the administrative tasks.Service designers must take into account both the frontstage and backstage activities to create a cohesive service experience.They should design processes, systems, and strategies that enable effective coordination between the stakeholders involved in the service delivery. This can involve optimizing workflows, enhancing communication channels, and streamlining operations between different teams or departments.What is Service Blueprinting and Why You Need ItService blueprinting is a tool used by service designers to map out the various touchpoints, interactions, and processes involved in delivering a service. A service blueprint is essentially a visual representation of the service journey, from the customer’s perspective. It includes different layers that help service designers identify pain points, opportunities, and areas for improvement.Service blueprinting typically includes five key layers:The customer journey: This layer includes the different stages involved in the service journey, from the customer’s point of view.Frontstage actions: This layer includes all of the activities that the customers can see or experience directly, such as the website, the mobile app, or the physical store.Backstage actions: This layer includes all of the activities that are not visible to the customers, such as the inventory management, the logistics, or the administrative tasks.Support processes: This layer includes the supporting processes that enable service delivery, such as internal communication channels, workflows, and standard operating procedures.Physical evidence: This layer includes all of the physical and digital elements involved in delivering a service, such as signage, furniture, equipment, or branding materials.Service designers can use service blueprinting to identify areas where the service is falling short or where improvements can be made. This can lead to a better overall customer experience and more efficient service delivery.UX Vs. CX Vs. SDUX (user experience) and CX (customer experience) are two terms that are often used interchangeably with service design.While there are similarities between these disciplines, they are not the same thing.UX focuses on the user’s interaction with a particular product or service, whereas CX focuses on the customer’s overall perception of a brand or company.Service design, on the other hand, is focused on the end-to-end service experience, including all of the touchpoints, interactions, and processes involved in delivering a service.Service design can be seen as an umbrella term that encompasses both UX and CX. This is because service designers need to take into account both the user’s interaction with the service (UX) and the customer’s perception of the service (CX) to create a seamless service experience.Final TakeawayService design is a multidisciplinary and iterative process that involves deep research, ideation, testing, and refinement.By understanding the three key components of service design (people, props, processes), the scope of service design (from frontstage to backstage), and the basics of service blueprinting, service designers can create a service experience that is effective, efficient, engaging, and enjoyable for everyone involved.Service design is a highly collaborative and customer-oriented approach that can lead to increased customer satisfaction, retention, and loyalty, as well as reduced costs and improved efficiency for the service provider.As such, it’s a valuable tool that can benefit a wide range of industries, from healthcare to finance to retail.

The Fundamentals of Service Design: An Introductory Crash Course


As system management becomes increasingly complex, effective monitoring tools are more important than ever.Enter Prometheus and Grafana – a dynamic duo for anyone concerned with system observability.The combination of these popular tools offer a comprehensive ecosystem for monitoring, alerting, and data visualization, providing valuable insights into the health and performance of your systems.Prometheus is an open-source monitoring and alerting system that excels at collecting and storing time-series data, while Grafana is a powerful visualization and dashboarding tool.Together, they provide a comprehensive solution for monitoring, visualizing, and alerting on the performance and health of systems and applications.This guide will walk you through the process of integrating these tools into your system management strategy, offering practical solutions to commonly faced challenges like data overload, lack of real-time visibility, and complex system diagnostics.These crowd favorites form a powerhouse that can handle monitoring, alerting, and data visualization, truly serving as a lifeline to complex system management challenges.Armed with this guide, you'll gain the ability to detect issues swiftly and respond to them effectively, thereby enhancing the overall reliability of your systems.What is Prometheus?A Go-based open source monitoring programme called Prometheus gathers metrics data and saves it in a time series database. It was created by SoundCloud at the beginning in 2012, then in 2016 it joined the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF). PromQL, a potent query language, is used to query your time series data.Prometheus is a core technology for monitoring and observability of systems, but the term “Prometheus” can be confusing because it is used in different contexts. Understanding Prometheus basics, why it’s valuable for system observability, and how users use it in practice will both help you better understand it and help you use Grafana.Features of PrometheusData Model and Query Language Time-Series Database Data Collection Service Discovery Alerting and Notification Visualization and Dashboards Scalability and Federation Reliability and High Availability Pull and Push Models How PromQL HelpsThe functional query language known as PromQL, or Prometheus Query Language, enables you to choose and aggregate time series data. With its flexibility and strength, you can manipulate your data however you see fit.For example, if you want to retrieve CPU usage metric from a target named "my_app", you would use this:cpu_usage{job="my_app"}What is Grafana?Grafana is an open-source tool for executing data analytics with the aid of metrics that, when combined with scalable dashboards, provide us an understanding of the intricate infrastructure and vast amounts of data that our services handle.Every data source imaginable, including Graphite, Prometheus, Influx DB, ElasticSearch, MySQL, PostgreSQL, etc., is connected to by Grafana.As an alternative, we may create our own custom plugins to link with any data source of our choosing thanks to the open-source nature of the solution.Technically known as time series analytics, the technology aids in the study, analysis, and monitoring of data over a period of time.By providing pertinent data, it enables us to track user behavior, application behavior, the frequency of problems occurring in production, pre-production, or any other environment, the sort of faults occurring, and contextual settings.Features of GrafanaDashboard Templating Provisioning Annotations Kiosk mode and playlists Custom plugins Alerting and alert hooks Permissions and multiple teams SQL Databases Monitoring your monitoring AuthenticationUnderstanding the Grafana DashboardThe dashboards draw their information from connected data sources like Graphite, Prometheus, Influx DB, ElasticSearch, MySQL, PostgreSQL, etc. These are just a few of the numerous data sources that Grafana by default supports.The dashboards have a wide range of visualization options, including the many charts and graphs and geo maps, heat maps, histograms, and other visualizations that a business generally needs to analyze data.On the grid of the dashboard, there are numerous separate individual panels. There are many functionalities for each panel.Getting started with Prometheus and GrafanaAfter installing Prometheus and Grafana, you need to set Prometheus as the data source in Grafana and you can do that using the following steps:Click on the Grafana logo to open the sidebar. Click on “Data Sources” in the sidebar. Choose “Add New”. Select “Prometheus” as the data source. Set the Prometheus server URL Click “Add” to test the connection and to save the new data source. Why use Prometheus and Grafana?There are many reasons why the combination of Prometheus and Grafana can prove to be very powerful when integrated correctly into your systems.For starters, you have control over the metrics you want to report, their origin, and their destination when Prometheus and Grafana Agent are used together.Once the data is in Grafana, a Grafana Mimir database can be used to store it. The combination allows you to monitor and visualize the health and performance of your systems comprehensively, making it easier to detect issues and respond to them effectively.TakeawayOverall, Prometheus and Grafana are popular tools that provide a robust ecosystem for monitoring, alerting, and visualization, making them valuable assets in maintaining the reliability of your systems.The additional functionality of PromQL further enhances the value delivered by this combination, offering granular control over metrics and data.With the ability to accurately monitor health and performance, respond to issues effectively, and visualize data in an intuitive manner, these tools become instrumental in ensuring system reliability.Their power rests in their flexibility, scalability, and the profound insights they provide, making them a game-changer in the landscape of system administration and data analysis.

Mastering System Monitoring with Prometheus and Grafana: Your Handy Guide


In the midst of ever-increasing competition, the need to deliver high-quality products is now more critical than ever.And while product quality has always been an essential factor in any industry or field, the aftermath of the pandemic has led to shorter attention spans, meaning it only takes a split second for users to develop an opinion about a website and decide whether to wait or switch over to a competitor.Eventually, the responsibility falls on QA analysts’ shoulders: are they doing enough to achieve a seamless customer experience?The importance of product quality is not lost on us. But are test automation engineers — or anyone involved with QA — doing enough?As a way of improving the efficiency of manual testing, Intelligent Automation Testing came as the new (and quite popular) solution — and for the right reasons.Why Use Automation Testing? The reason why Automation Testing arose in popularity is evident: it saves time, costs, and the human effort to sift through multiple application screens and manually compare the results of various input combinations.On top of that, recording each result manually and conducting the tests repeatedly is a hassle that test automation engineers have gladly replaced with automation testing tools that do the work for them.To put it precisely, Test Automation is the means to achieve bigger, better, and faster QA. Watch this video on QA Test Automation to take a deeper dive into what automation testing can achieve.But all said and done, despite the benefits and opportunities that come with automation testing, it seems that there’s still a need for a better, even more intelligent solution.And the reason why is simple: Automation Testing hasn’t fully delivered on its promise to streamline modern software delivery.Instead, it comes with its own set of challenges, and even created more bottlenecks. Let’s see how.Challenges with Automation Testing Assume you’re working for a mid-sized company that’s still young and undergoing the designing phase of their processes and protocols.All while simultaneously trying to deliver a good quality product.Let’s say you’re hired to automate their regression suite to ensure nothing breaks during delivery. Test automation engineers will mostly be seen designing and writing programs that will run the automated tests on the software.So, you start writing the test cases and immediately identify the lack of best practices followed while developing the product (in this case, the test-ids).Now you have two options:Ask the team to update the code to include the test-ids (which we know will probably never happen), or Work with whatever you have. So you continue writing test cases that, from the get-go, are built to be flaky and possibly flawed.Fast forward, you have a few tests in the pipeline regularly failing — not due to the actual issues in the product but the use of highly dubious selectors.As a result, you end up putting in a lot of your effort, time and company resources into maintaining the tests and fixing them while you could’ve spent it trying to attain an ample percentage of test coverage.Whether you admit it or not, this is what all of us “Automation Testers” have experienced at least once in our careers. It changes our mindset and diverts us from writing a test that would rather ‘Pass’ than ‘Fail’ while finding an actual bug in the product.Clearly, the amount of maintenance effort required in automation testing takes up more time — and more importantly, distracts you from the true results you want to achieve.So, what can be done instead?Enter: Autonomous Testing.What is Autonomous Testing? To put it simply, Autonomous Testing is the next, enhanced version of automation testing.Think about the number of tests you’d have to write for testing each browser in a different OS setting and on many other devices (desktop, mobile, tablets), and then debugging the individual issues.Autonomous Testing removes the hassle and stress of maintenance so that you can focus on the single most important goal of QA testing automation: the ability to simply pass the test by writing one with ample test coverage, and identifying new bugs while you’re at it.As the name clearly suggests, if Autonomous Testing is adopted by test automation engineers, they’d be responsible for less manual work like maintenance and debugging (since testing tools provide the Root cause analysis of the bug, you don’t have to debug manually). This is a win-win situation for everyone involved.And how does Autonomous Testing offer this capability? It brings AI into test automation.How Can Artificial Intelligence Be Used in Automation Testing? AI-based visual test automation offers the ability to identify the root cause of a specific problem, pointing developers to the exact piece of code to be fixed.It introduces the autonomy that lets test engineers focus their attention and energy on attaining more test coverage rather than on writing hundreds of lines of code to validate just how the website visually looks.In the past, we have seen some solutions to overcome this bottleneck of visual testing in test automation. These came in the shape of Pixel and DOM differences validation.But still, there is a downside: both of these have some limitations that don’t translate well into the ideology of Autonomous Testing.This gap gave birth to Visual AI — and Visual Artificial Intelligence Testing.What is Visual Artificial Intelligence? Visual AI is simply artificial intelligence technology being able to see what humans see — and intelligently make visual understanding of what it sees to make decisions and carry out commands accordingly.And as far as web/app automation testing goes, this is a hugely revolutionizing facility for UI automation testing.What is Visual UI testing? In web development, visual UI testing works by running visual tests that detect, analyze, and compare various visual elements of a website or application. By doing so, it ensures that the look and feel of the page is as per the design, and whether or not the required element sections are displayed on the page.Many tools in the industry claim to be the ultimate solution offering visual UI testing, but in my opinion, Applitools and Percy are both at the top, owing to their easy-to-follow starter kits and sufficient documentation found on their websites to help get you started.In this tutorial, we’ll look at Applitools in motion, and you’ll learn how you can set it up and use it to implement intelligent automation testing on your websites/application for visual UI testing.Setting Up Visual AI For UI Automation Testing To conduct UI testing, be it for web or app automation testing, visual AI will prove to be an integral part of the process.To integrate AI in test automation, you want to use automation testing tools that can seamlessly adapt and work with your existing QA testing automation framework.In this tutorial, we’ll be using Applitools with Cypress.(Note: Applitools supports nearly every other popular front-end testing framework. You can find one that you prefer here).For the sake of this tutorial, we’ll be working with a Cypress framework, assuming you have it and know how it works. (If you don’t, let us know and we’ll help you set it up.)Let’s get right into it.Step 1 Install & setup Applitools using the following commands:Step 2 Add the global configuration for your visual tests in the root folder:applitools.config.jsStep 3 First, follow the steps to find your Applitools API key and set it as environment variable APPLITOOLS_API_KEY before running the visual test.There are two options: either set it through your IDE or use the following command:For Mac & Unix:For Windows:Step 4 Design your the URL in cy.visit() with your web-site/page.Step 5 Execute the sample test using the following command:After your tests run, you should see results in the Applitools Eyes Test Manager dashboard, which will look something like this:Command for executing the sample test in the visual AI test automation toolThe first highlighted column displays the status, and as this is the first build, there is nothing there to compare it with — hence the status “New”. The second column highlights all the devices and viewports we globally set for our visual tests in Step 2. In terms of setting up the visual artificial intelligence testing too, this is pretty much all of it.But let’s rerun the same test and see what happens.Execute the same “run” command again.This time, the dashboard will display this:Rerunning the tests. The automation testing dashboard now shows a 'Passed' status.The tests have the status ‘Passed’ because there is no visual change between the latest web page and the baseline saved in the last build.Now let’s see what happens in the case of a visual change.Add the following code to your test file after the cy.visit() command.Save and rerun the test. The dashboard will now look like this:Changes in the status when running the automation testing due to a visual change.This time, since there was a visual change, the initial status was ‘Unresolved’ as it wasn’t sure if the changes detected were expected. Therefore, it lets users decide for the first time whether to pass or fail the build.Based on your response, the baseline image will be updated. In addition to this, you can:View the root-cause analysis for the identified difference Create a bug Add a remark Toggle between baseline & current build Highlight the identified difference Specify a portion of the page that will be ignored and won’t be checked for any visual changes And the list continues..From this point onwards, it’s just about adding more and more layers to the AI-based test automation process based on your preferences; add the visual tests in your CI/CD pipeline or integrate Slack to get test results instantly — the world is your oyster.Takeaway While we do have cutting-edge ML/AI technologies weaving their way into the software testing and development process, independently, they’re still not enough.There is still a pressing need to implement best practices, introduce formulated processes, and educate the community accordingly to utilize and understand the real power of using AI in test automation.Revolutionary methods and approaches like Hyper-Automation (which also largely uses AI to automate multiple IT processes) are bound to be more beneficial than risky as we move into the future. To learn how you can overcome E2E complexity with Hyper-Automation, watch this video here.But what can be said with a lot of certainty is that Autonomous Testing is the future we’re looking at — and it only makes sense to start adapting these trends today that will be the new norms tomorrow.

Using Visual AI in Test Automation: A 5-Step Tutorial For Autonomous Testing


Being digitally native presents young companies with a predominant advantage over large corporations:Being able to quickly implement, scale and steer innovative technologies tomaximize profitability through experience, and minimize the time to market. With the advent of intelligent technologies, many startups have managed to leverage their overall growth through personalization strategies.This raises an alarming concern for large corporations:Will they ever be able to match up with digitally native companies in terms of speed of customer experience adaption and enhancement?To answer this question, we need to dive into how Hyper-Personalization in the customer experience strategy can be achieved for large-scale organizations.Evolution of Hyper-PersonalizationThe era of Industry 1.0 was all about mass production.Only quality and quantity mattered. Customer experience was the last priority when it came to budgeting activities.Then, things started to change: customers wanted differentiation and value addition on top of what they were paying for the product. This gave birth to branding.Brands started to market the value addition of their products and created unique propositions to attract customers. Factories started mass customization of products to facilitate various brands from the same assembly line. Some of the innovative companies started to invest heavily in categorizing customers based on their needs. This segmentation approach enabled the brands to customize products as desired by that customer segment.But this wasn’t enough.There were still several untapped customers whose needs were not being fulfilled through basic consumer categorization.In turn, micro-segmentation was born, which let companies tap into more variables related to consumer preferences, buying behavior and interests.With advancements towards the digital era, this approach saw further changes, to the extent that now, customers expect brands to know them at their very first interaction.Today, most customers prefer to purchase from brands that offer personalized experiences. And, more often than not, they will respond to the brand’s marketing messages only if they feel those messages are crafted to their needs.Personalization Vs Hyper-PersonalizationHyper-Personalization is personalization on steroids.In customer experience strategy, ‘personalization’ itself is technically based on contextual data that is used to tailor the experience as per the customer’s need through trend analysis of that particular customer (or the segment to which the customer belongs).On the other hand, hyper-personalization factors in real-time customer data, weighs fresh insights with historical data, and then tailors the experience as per customer preference — and that too in real-time.In essence, hyper-personalization is personalization powered with artificial intelligence to analyze, predict, and service the customer in real-time.Implementing Hyper-Personalization in Your Customer Experience StrategyAs simple as the idea sounds of offering the right experience to the right customer and adjusting according to the next predicted customer action, its actual implementation requires an entire ecosystem modernization.On the whole, the implementation of such a hyper-personalized customer experience strategy may seem like an impossible task, but adequate strategic evaluation of the transformation and prioritizing right will help achieve maximum value as you go about the complete overhaul.1. Evaluate existing digital ecosystemLarge-scale companies that have processes and systems working successfully for many years are least likely to swiftly energize the effort towards hyper-personalization.The biggest challenge is replacing legacy platforms to cloud-based ecosystems. Without the free flow of data in a scalable ecosystem, real-time customer insights cannot be fully utilized.However, from a strategic viewpoint, the long-term benefits of customer engagement (topline revenues, reduced churn, and low cost of superior customer servicing) outweigh the costs involved in the short-term.Just by experimenting with some hyper-personalized customer experience journeys, many organizations start to realize the need for advanced intelligent customer systems.Key Actions:Instead of considering the short-term business case for hyper-personalization in the customer experience strategy, evaluate the benefits for 3+ years. Evaluate the existing customer experience journey across multiple channels against the value garnered through intelligent automated servicing, personalized cross-selling, and marketing. 2. Centralized customer profilingCompanies with a diversified portfolio of products face challenges in sharing customer insights at scale.Such siloed insights are only useful for a particular product, leading to a nightmare for businesses that miss out on the cross-sell opportunities and customer servicing without a centralized customer system. An omnichannel customer experience strategy will just cover the needs of the customer experience journey and fail to predict the next action the customer is going to perform.Complete customer profiling can be achieved through both quantitative data (big data mining) and qualitative data (customer research) and can be combined to form powerful insights for your customer experience strategy.Customer interaction for research has to become a governed process that helps in capturing the emotional elements associated with a product and the brand. Through such a centralized customer profiling system, all channels can benefit from any of the products that the company can has to offer. This system can then be designed to make adjustments in customer profiles automatically through new data.Key Actions:Quantitative customer data alone is not enough. A combination with qualitative customer data will help develop the most impactful customer profile. Operations of such a centralized customer profiling system can become a costly nightmare. Design it to intelligently and automatically adjust profiles based on new events. 3. Using AI to Power Up the Customer Personalization StrategyPersonalization strategies get the companies to a point where they are able to offer the experience based on contextual data.With advancements in artificial intelligence, companies can now capture real-time customer behavior, mix it with the captured emotional state of the customer, and adapt to a serving, selling or retaining mode.There are many customer and channel-related use cases that the brand can use to maximize value by providing the desired customer experience and changing the experience focus in real-time:a) Customer action prediction: Gives the ability to assess the next action the customer is going to perform and display the right message on any particular channel.b) Channel attention prediction: Predicts the customer touchpoint traffic and process glitches, and automatically triggers a suitable response.c) Natural Language Processing: Enables real-time interaction analysis to extract the most relevant insights from any live interaction. Its use can range from gauging the emotional state of the customer through speech analytics to evaluating the propensity to churn through keyword extraction.d) Interaction Assist: Enables the company’s human resources to assist in creating a personalized and pleasant interaction in real-time.Keeping the customer interaction humanized and personalized with the backing of AI is itself an evolving process where interconnected systems like CRM, product catalog, complaint management system, order tracking and others work in harmony.Key Action:Initiate the implementation of your CX strategy by enabling AI to assist human resources by converting ambiguous data into useful insights during the customer interaction. Making this a part of the customer experience strategy will set the pace for the overall transformation. 4. Connected design systemsWhen large-scale organizations aggressively adapt to digital strategies, the design processes and repositories usually lie in silos across multiple divisions of the company.This creates an inherent challenge in reusability of design systems.Not only should these design systems be interconnected, but a free flow of information regarding design principles, libraries, practices and guidelines should be integrated at a cultural level across the organization.To attain maximum benefits from the customer experience strategy, the system should be sufficiently agile to quickly adapt to changing customer needs for both new and existing products.Key Actions:Strongly bind design systems to maintain experience harmony across the product portfolio. Structured flow of design information across the departments should be made a cultural value of the organization. 5. Hyper-personalized content strategyScattered product catalogs and content management systems are one of the biggest challenges of large-scale organizations, especially if the company offers a diversity in products.A centralized product and content catalog becomes the one and only true source of all product-related information to offer a personalized experience in terms of pricing, customer messaging, tailored content generation, and personalized promotions.This system is then actively utilized across all customer touchpoints and with predictive AI, it provides the opportunity to offer the right product at the right time to the right customer to maximize the chances of conversion.The importance of making this a part of the customer experience strategy is further realized by observing customer behaviours:Every 3 in 4 customers will get frustrated if they are shown products that are not relevant to them, and most expect the brands to only recommend products that are relevant to them.Key Action:Personalized product recommendation with the right key message across multiple channels is by far the most attractive experience for customers. Therefore, it should be made an integral part of the customer experience strategy. 6. Automate at scaleAs the AI ecosystem grows with more tools, it will consume more resources.Automation and simplicity of both quantitative and qualitative data collection should be made part of the transformation strategy. The ecosystem should be robust enough to self-correct itself by absorbing data from both internal and external sources.Additionally, automation can also be utilized for activities like content generation, product personalization and customer servicing that constitute an integral part of the overall customer experience strategy.Key Action:Make automation part of the AI transformation strategy. TakeawayFrom a strategic viewpoint, a hyper personalized customer experience strategy may seem like a complete overhaul of the existing ecosystem.In reality, organizations start by creating analytics-driven customer experience to maximize personalization opportunities.Once the practice of data-driven personalization is established, they start introducing bits of AI into facilitating the brand’s human resources towards preferred customer recommendations.Finally, they synergize automation, analytics, and AI in the overall customer experience strategy to offer a wholesome hyper-personalized, omnichannel customer experience at all touchpoints in both marketing and customer servicing.To achieve success in personalized customer experiences, hyper-personalization of your customer experience strategy serves as a revolution to the way large organizations analyze, understand and serve their customers in real-time.FAQsWhat is the hyper-personalization model?The hyper-personalization model uses AI, automation, and analytics to analyze, predict, and service the customer using real-time data on customer behaviours.What is the difference between personalization and customization?Personalization is when you analyze customer data to create a product or add modifications to it that meet your customers’ needs. Customization is what changes the customer makes to the product to meet their specific requirements.

Leveraging AI and Beyond: 6 Customer Experience Strategies For Hyper-Personalization


Unless you have been hiding under a rock, the odds are that you have heard about the fascinating world of Artificial Intelligence and the transformational impact it is going to have on our lives. Certain parts of the euphoria remind us of the dot-com bubble from the ‘90s – when the technology hype hit its peak. There seems to be intense excitement at all levels, from CEOs and analysts to grassroots developers; all are expecting Artificial Intelligence, or AI technology, to not only dramatically change our lives but the world. Well, we really can’t blame them, given all the excitement created by the billions of dollars being invested in the Artificial Intelligence domain. With all the stars perfectly aligned, perhaps it is best to “peel the onion” a little bit in hopes of gaining a better understanding of what AI really is, why now and why all the hype, and how AI technology and AI companies can dramatically change the Telecom Industry landscape, in particular.What is Artificial Intelligence and why the hype now? AI is essentially humans teaching machines how to learn and mimic their intellect.Quite like a toddler- who learns by experience, constantly absorbing information, decoding it and understanding patterns – we feed machines huge amounts of data that create their own algorithms and constantly tweak them to meet their objectives. Over time the program gets smarter and very human-like, i.e., less artificial and more intelligent.ICT & big dataDuring the past few years, some factors have led to AI technology coming closer to unleashing its true potential – mainly, a ton of data becoming available along with faster GPUs for processing it.With billions of things getting connected to the web, there is a tsunami of information being generated. Since the dawn of time until 2004, around 5 exabytes of information have been created and captured. To put that visually, try and imagine a stack of books that spans from earth all the way to Pluto and back 80 times over. Impressive, certainly, but over the last decade, the amount of data being captured has exploded with 90 percent of the world’s collective data reportedly being generated in the past two years alone. And now thanks to advances in processing speeds, computers can make sense of all this information faster and more efficiently.Because of this, tech giants and VCs are pumping the market with cash and new applications and investing into AI companies. China alone has already invested $109BN in this space, and the race between countries is heating up. The reason being that 15-20 percent of the global GDP is forecasted to be linked to AI-related industries by 2025! Mind numbing, isn’t it?IoT solutions1100+ New startups raised 1st equity since 2016, $15.2B Equity funding in 2017 alone, a 141% jump from the previous year, 300+ Companies entered incubations in 2017, 3x more than 2016. Source: CBInsights How is Artificial Intelligence different from Predictive Analytics and Big Data? Are there financial benefits of investing in all three? Often, people inquire what is the difference between Big Data, Predictive Analytics, and Machine Learning. They want to have the ability to differentiate between the three to ensure adequate allocation of resources and to set right expectations with all the stakeholders..Big Data: Collection of “data sets” which are large, complex, and difficult to process using on-hand database management tools.Predictive Analytics: Practice of extracting information from existing data sets in order to determine patterns and accurately predict future outcomes, trends, and behaviour.Machine Learning: Machines performing tasks that normally require human intelligence (visual perception, decision-making, learning, etc.). This takes into account the entire context of the situation.big data analysisIn a nutshell, creating Big Data lakes for gleaning insights and learning is the foundation in which all corporations must invest. Using Machine Learning, the self-learning engine to unlock value from the data, organizations can then extract insights, predict outcomes, and perform human-like tasks. Investment in all three, i.e., Big Data, Predictive Analytics, and Machine Learning is quickly being elevated to table stakes. Business and IT teams need to work “hand in glove” to prioritize the required output. On the inverse, we have found that working in isolation leads to converting the proverbial haystack into a bunch of needles rather than finding the one insight which is critical to business.Should we bet on AI and Robotic Process Automation (RPA)? Everyone seems to be deploying them, should we invest in them now? These, my dear Watson, are the wrong questions to be asking! The metaphorical cart is coming before the horse, if you would. The correct question should be, “How do I use technology to solve my business problem quickly and efficiently?”First, however, let’s dive into both RPA and AI to distinguish the two. The goal is to bridge the journey from Human to Digital labour in the most efficient way. Given the pressures on the bottom line, “Digital Labour” is no longer a consideration, rather, a mandate for most companies across the world. RPA and AI are the two unique sets of tools used to traverse the journey from one end of the spectrum to the other, i.e., Digital Labour = Cognitive Computing (AI) + RPA (Digital work).Robotic Process AutomationBasic RPA consists of automating entry-level transactional, rule-based and repeatable processes. It involves working with structured data and within well-defined parameters in order for the bots to complete the tasks autonomously. However, digital labour is automation driven by self-learning and adaptive technologies. It involves self-learning, digestion of super data sets, hypothesis generation, and evidence-based learning. All fun stuff!Most companies and businesses we speak to love the concept of AI and want to jump right into it. However, it is a journey of realization, meaning you need to ask yourself some questions first. What really are the use cases? Can you articulate the pain points? Can you clearly quantify benefits to help determine whether AI and/or automation is necessary? It is then that collectively decided on which is the best course of action and implementation.What are the telecom specific use cases of AI technology? What are the financial benefits? The telecom industry is at a crossroads. No other industry is driven as much by bits and bytes while at the same time faces disintermediating challenges for the same reasons. Business models are changing, customer expectations and behaviour are constantly evolving, legacy economics and paradigms are becoming untenable. This is why 2014 was the first year when the total global revenue of telcos had marginally negative growth. From then on, every investor relations call is bombarded with questions on increasing revenue, reducing OPEX and CAPEX, and here is where AI technology opens up an opportunity for AI companies.Capital Reduction ($10-12 BN savings over a decade)Between the three telcos in Canada, the collective annual capital spend is ~$10BN to grow and sustain their respective networks. Using this run rate would peg the capital spending over the next decade to be at ~$100BN, even when not taking into consideration a spike of an estimated 40 percent due to an increased spend on 5G and fibre deployments.Given that the lifecycle of technologies has reduced considerably – CDMA lasted 25 years, HSPA possibly 10, and LTE even less. It’s time to recuperate that investment cycle is reducing. In the meanwhile, cost of electronics has gone down, and most of the capital effort is spent on the optimization of networks and installation.At last count, 70 percent of capital cost to upgrade from one technology to another was spent on labour and infrastructure, and only 30 percent on the actual OEM related electronics. That would technically peg the telcos as infrastructure players, vis-à-vis, a pure play telco. However, AI and other combinatorial techs can be leveraged to reduce that labour cost for optimization significantly. A lot of the OEMs have started providing their own software for SON (Self Optimizing Networks), but that would really be akin to asking the wolves guard the sheep. Telcos need to have their POV and build on it over time, to ensure basic hygiene and best practices are kept in-house. Also, predicting usage of subscribers by geography and ensuring the network is dimensioned correctly will not be done on the side of the desk of engineers, rather, through deep scenario analysis and planning, considering all parameters. Lastly, optimization of spectrum auction pricing can be done using game theory and decision trees. Given the appetite of operators to spend billions on it, we expect a healthy dose of AI to be used to save thousands of consultant hours and save millions (if not billions) of dollars in the process.We estimate at least 10-15 percent ($10BN) of the capital envelope can be reduced using cognitive technologies holistically across the process.OPEX Reduction ($3-5BN savings over a decade)Predictive Maintenance: The ability to fix problems with telecom hardware (such as cell towers, power lines, etc) before they happen and by detecting signals that usually lead to failure. This significantly reduces downtime and dramatically improves Customer Experience and churn metrics.Video Analysis: Instead of sending field workers to check on-site hardware periodically, AT&T has invested heavily in drones and in AI to analyze video data captured, which proactively raises flags for the field team to go in and fix issues.Self-Driving Networks: In the future it’s likely that governments might ban humans from driving cars as it is a reckless or unnecessarily risky activity. Similarly, there is no reason why we shouldn’t be done away with the Network Engineers! A perfect world really would be where networks would run themselves; away from our grubby, inefficient hands. This provides an opportunity for cost-cutting and efficiency gains. Ideally, we should not need so much staff to manage operator networks. A lightly staffed network powered by an economical but sophisticated AI will look more desirable than ever. That is truly aspirational today, but something to work towards.Customer Service ChatBots: Every telco customer calls in four times a year at an average cost of $15/call for password resets, billing inquiries, or changing plan details. This OPEX of ~$2BN/year across the three operators can be dramatically slashed by using chatbots which are equipped to do the same. Automating 10-15 percent of the customer service inquiries, routing customers to the proper agent, and routing prospects with buying intent directly to salespeople will make a material impact on the bottom line! Further, leveraging NLP, sentiment analysis and text to speech virtual customer service agents could be used to replace humans, with the customer not being able to distinguish one from the other. That could be a tangible reality in 5-10 years’ time; taking the cost down from $15 to 15 cents per call.Speech and Voice Services for Customers: Allowing customers to browse, explore, and buy content by spoken word rather than remote control (e.g., DISH network and Amazon’s Alexa partnership).Security and Fraud: Detect fraudulent activity in credit-card transactions or identifying web traffic to the website and customers, looking to exploit network and infrastructure vulnerabilities.Revenue Enhancement I algorithms can help combine historic patterns, psychographic analysis and behaviour (plus “look-alike” patterns) with ongoing real-time engagement to provide relevant, targeted, contextual experiences for consumers. The outcome will be upselling recommendations and offers, helping improve the conversion rate of offers, and enabling incremental wallet share. The same algorithms could be potentially leveraged to predict subscribers willingness to pay a particular price for a product, estimate product price elasticities, and quantify sales leads likelihood to close.How do we tackle AI as an organization? How much investment is required? It is best to use a good framework to get the ball rolling organization-wide. Some frameworks that we have used in the past include:Cognitive strategyCognitive StrategyHost an innovative workshop that showcases the potential of cognitive discovery, With perceived value in the forefront, identify, and rank use cases, Who? How? What? Dive into the current state of the use cases while being sure to include areas for improvement (scale, errors, non-blue etc.), Present a finalized cognitive strategy to key stakeholders for approval based on prioritised use cases.Detailed AssesmentDetermine detailed use cases and a variety of scenarios, Establish concrete user personas of user on the cognitive automation platform, Define content source(s), type of content, system interactions and integrations required, and system of record, Determine what operational requirements are needed to support the solution (Operational Management, Operational Reporting etc.), For training and configuration purposes, identify all required attributes and level of content annotationsSizing and Investment CaseEstablish criteria to estimate the beneficial impact on the organization, Determine the size of this potential business benefit – both quantifiable and non-quantifiable, Establish a high-level solution concept overview, Estimate the required investment required, Detailed solution blueprint, Build and train, Deploy and maintain, Confirm and validate benefit of investment case with key stakeholders, Conclude investment case for approval and fundingWe understand that AI can be intimidating and complicated, which is why we encourage you to engage us for a better understanding of the foundational capabilities, needed to get an AI program up and running. From building use cases, decision-making paradigms, economic impact analysis, choosing governance model and platforms to be deployed, we have gone through the process a few times. Every business is unique; we look forward to learning more about your specific needs to determine how we can accelerate your digital transformation.

From Self-Driving Cars to Self-Driving Networks: Rise of AI in Telecom


The more enriched an experience, the more dopamine is released into our brain and more profound is the interactivity associated with it. The feel-good factor or the user experience (UX) of any product, platform or service is the quintessential key to deliver a prolonged and definitive image of the brand in the mind of the customer. But how we create that indelible mark in the user’s mind or what technological advancements will lead to enhance the effect, undoubtedly needs our attention as we progress towards the UX of tomorrow. Can artificial intelligence lead Chatbots distinctly be the buddies in changing the future of UX?Let me first take you through what is at the heart of past and present UX paradigms, what has made the UX of yesterday and today successful, and what technologies have been employed in realizing it.Cave drawings, tapestries and even written manuscripts provided a UX, wherein storytellers, oracles and poets would “hard-code” their messages. These technologies were to take a life of their own through the ages, with abstract content engaging its audience’s imagination through reflection and thought. Whether sculpted, drawn or written, its purpose was to convey an intended natural meaning, even when done so artificially in hindsight.Progressive Advancement in UX With the advent of modern computing in the 20th century, engineers attempted to “hard-code” computers to interact with users. It was limited and primitive by today’s standards, but it was something new! Even when projecting into a fictional future, HAL 9000 from Space Odyssey, the original Robocop, and Star Trek’s LCARS voice interface were deliberately designed to sound and feel mechanized. They meant to convey a sense of artificiality to the viewers of the 60’s through 90’s, and for a good reason. Human-machine interface grabbed attention of that era’s audience simply by the virtue of novelty; it needed to be dichotomized from human-human interaction.However, with the changing times, it is not the same today where the term “AI” is taken for granted. We have moved along in our expectations of what AI should be capable of. Today’s chatbots and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems – therefore – are not meant to sound or feel mechanized and boring. They actively engage users by sounding more “human.” And it will be far more interesting in the immediate future. That will be the time of ontology in its truest form, where intelligent systems will actively drive the user, and not the other way around!We are soon entering the age of evolved chatbot customer experience that will concurrently span a multitude of modalities – not (just) text. It will rely on voice interaction, mixed-reality graphics, gestures, and cybernetic interfaces, all topped by AI concurrently performing linguistic and behavioural analyses. Undoubtedly it would be a truly enriched and immersive user experience that will know how to grab the user’s attention at will.A Time of Multimode User Interaction Now that we are steadily stepping onto the time of ontology, with intelligent systems driving the user to take his/her decisions, it’s time to audit and learn how certain existing content presentation techniques, UI designs, and UX methods might stand the test of time. And the role advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented/Mixed Reality (AR/MR) will play in harnessing their true potential.Human language, when textualized, is just one mode of communication. Advances in Natural Language Processing (NLP) have made great strides within this modality. Supervised machine learning techniques, such as Support Vector Machines (SVMs) can now extract relevant information from text if trained to do so for a given set of contexts (domains.)By introducing Neural Networks and Deep Learning techniques, NLP systems can even be made to classify the intent more holistically – and in a limited fashion can readily uncover the underlying sentiment behind the textualized content as well.Deep Learning and natural language processingBody language, tone of voice and selective vocal emphasis are still additional modes of communication that needs consideration. These added modalities can provide far greater cues into the intent and meaning behind linguistic expression. Recently, two teams from Nanyang Technological University of Singapore, Carnegie Mellon University in the USA, and Instituto Politecnico Nacional de Mexico have independently published research papers validating the methods and practical efficacy of Multimodal Sentiment Analysis (MSA) by adding information from video and audio content along with established NLP techniques. And it is the author’s opinion that MSA will gain considerable traction in terms of the practical application of NLP in chatbots.NLP in chatbotsFurthermore, incorporating physiological biometrics to this analysis (e.g. either non-intrusively or using wearables) can make machine learning systems even more effective and efficient. For instance, adding heart rate, voice fluctuations, and posture can provide substantial information about the user’s intent. Adding these subtle modalities can propel an interactive AI much closer to realizing true ontology; to not just do what the user seemingly asked for, but what the user may actually have wanted or needed.An Era of On-Demand Mixed Reality Even in current times, people tend to own more than one device and can switch between them part-way through their task. Studies have shown that up to quarter of users can switch to a tablet from their smartphone and more than half switch to a laptop midway through any given activity. With the advent of new and more creative tools, it is only reasonable to expect that omnichannel UX will require absolute consistency in the age of multi-device use-cases.UX therefore will not be limited to a simple “flat 2D screen” interaction but rather involve AR/MR as is the case with devices such as Microsoft’s Hololens. AR/MR computing platforms will need to include any given device they identify, and interoperate with it at run time. Therefore, such platforms will have the capability to recognize and connect to environmental sensors when entering a room, or identify and interact at run time with smart outdoor cameras for enhancing the user’s perceptual UX. Individual applications will not need to re-implement any lower-level interfaces and would bring in a fine seamless interaction for the scenario of Microsoft HololensPhoto by Microsoft / CC BY 2.0 However, simply immersing a user into graphically rich, and detailed contextual content may not be enough to keep them engaged in the long haul. Can you quickly recall the mechanized voices of fictional AI’s of the 60’s-90’s? Agreed, they sound boring by today’s standards – but were novel and “hip” during their respective eras. The same may be the eventual aftermath of AR or MR once the “novelty honeymoon” is over. To ensure that the users truly benefit and remain engaged, humanizing the digital experience will be as necessary tomorrow as it is today for UX and UI, and more.Humankind’s initial experimentation with the art of myth and storytelling, though synthetic, is in fact the oldest known technique to share experiences through analogy. It is this technique, that remains at the heart of humanizing the digital UX. With the abundance of content existing on the web, being different will continue to be critical. Creating a story around a given product and inviting users to become a part of it might be the easiest way to engage them. Perhaps, in the era of MR/AR, such storytelling will be of vital importance to let the user immerse into the experience – thereby staying engaged throughout the UX.Conversational interfaces may also prove invaluable in engaging the user to intuitively access content and assist in decision making. Currently, such interfaces, or UI – though effective – are limited to text- or voice-based chatbots. However, conversational interaction for AR or MR will be fundamentally different due to the enriched content rendered within an arbitrary 3D space. Free from the confines of a 2D “flatland,” UX of the future will demand digital content to be more than what is currently accessed over the web. UX designers and engineers alike will need to prepare AI for verbal, as well as cues to interact with the users via augmented reality or mixed reality; not just by displaying audible or visual content, but by introducing key micro-interactions through evolutionary storyboarding that trigger the user’s active thought scenario of Microsoft HololensCombining conversational paradigms and on-demand storytelling to create engaging UX will require an abundance of information processing power and storage capacity, whether onboard an AR/MR device, or distributed across a network of devices and appliances. And certainly, it will require substantial content generated at run-time in addition to existing pre-processed and raw data. The key demand for businesses and social networks of the future will be in how to restructure and optimize their content and UI experiences so that it is served readily through AR/MR interfaces. It will not just be flat UI, image and text on a website; but disparate content and metadata that can be rendered on-demand in the form of virtual objects within an augmented voxel space as part of a storytelling experience through AR or MR.Artificial Intelligence Personified Let’s take a closer look at how content and data served through various AI led technologies will change the perspective of UX designers, budding technology entrepreneurs as well as mature technology professionals’ understanding of the UX and its future. We have already witnessed the explosion of chatbots and smart machines within the market due to their versatile applicability in implementing conversational AI. App fatigue may further fuel the growth of chatbot assistants – so as to delegate sifting through apps and content based on their utility for a user’s specific personality, needs, and habits. Additional drivers in favour of chatbots are top brands who are directly integrating them into their customer experience channels starting from direct marketing through customer service and support, to direct sales – thereby increasing efficiency.Business and social websites too publish their Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) collectively. Yet they also include chatbots to fetch the underlying content from a single source on demand structured data repository within a Content Management System (CMS). However, such hard-coded content may not necessarily connect with users in a way that a natural dialogue would. In an age, where we are rapidly advancing towards conversational commerce, businesses and individuals alike will need to ensure that they are ahead of the game in capturing their audience. This can only be achieved if they can repurpose abstract information to generate responses from raw data – not such that AI chatbots create their own language – but that they are capable of dialogue with their audience to connect at a personal scenario of Microsoft HololensHowever, such chatbots – might always be tainted with the perception of bias towards the business they are designed to generate. Instead of succumbing to the business of bots, users of tomorrow will demand independent aggregator assistant bots not linked to a single platform, but capable of automatically analyzing the user’s needs, all available products and services, their price and value, and act as an advisory assistant without vendor bias. Development and productizing of such “untethered” buddy chatbots are the next big opportunity for the start-ups and businesses of today.Enhancement of the resulting UX can be exponential if additional modalities are included within the user interaction. Consider that upcoming trends for UX point to the proliferation of AR/MR in the immediate future.Putting it all Together In the pursuit of advancement, we forget sometimes what really drives the technological continuum. As social beings, we do not really embrace technology for technology’s sake. We do so to enrich our interactivity and enhance our experiences. It is no secret therefore, that the more targeted and emotionally uplifting the UX and UI, the more rewarding is its perception by the human brain. Only then is it able to capture a user’s attention and imagination – irrespective of technology used to create that UX or UI design.In the coming years, it will become even more important for product and UX or UI designers to include the “human” element. In the next few years, conversations are the next layer of UX and user interaction. Chatbots in their current state might not be able to handle the required complexities arising from the expectations of today’s users. Advances in machine learning have certainly improved the adaptability of current chatbots in the UX. But the art of storytelling dependent heavily on contextual nuances and creativity are still very much beyond the scope of current technology. In the age of conversational commerce, it will become crucial to consider the dynamics of natural conversational dialogue, and impartiality of presented information to truly capture the attention of the artificial intelligence helps human robot interactionThe future of UX will indeed be extremely interesting for those of us who witness it in full swing. With a rich plethora of immersive content, interactive UI designs, and customized experiences available on-demand and with additional advances in human-machine interfaces to directly link the human brain to information access peripherals, such interactions can eventually become part of the user’s active thought process. But until a time, humans practically become cyborgs, “un-tethered” buddy chatbots rendered as human-like guides within AR/MR environments may act as the user’s “inner voice” so as to assist in decision-making – via conversational discourse as well as through micro interactions in the UX journey. Perhaps taking the form of the user’s own “mirror image” to look and sound familiar, or that of the user’s idol so as to be more convincing, such personifications of AI, with help from augmented reality or mixed reality, may be key to the UX of tomorrow.Want to learn more? Let’s talk

Buddy Chatbots, AR/MR, and UX: the User Experience of Tomorrow


Customer experience transformation is a multifaceted process that relies on various factors, including:Channel optimization, Systems/technology enhancement, and Customer journey transformation. By focusing on these key areas, businesses can create a holistic approach to improving customer experiences.In this comprehensive deep-dive article, we will delve into each of these elements, providing insightful details and practical strategies to help organizations drive meaningful changes in their customer experience initiatives.By understanding the importance of channel optimization, leveraging advanced systems and technology, and reimagining the customer journey, companies can unlock new opportunities for growth and establish a competitive edge in the market.Keep reading as we explore these crucial aspects and uncover the secrets to delivering exceptional customer experiences.A. Channel Transformation: Enhancing Customer Touchpoints1. Call CenterSmart Agent SchedulingEffective agent scheduling ensures the right agents with the appropriate skills are available to handle customer inquiries. By leveraging data analytics and forecasting algorithms, organizations can optimize agent schedules, minimize wait times, and improve customer satisfaction.Smart Agent RoutingSmart agent routing utilizes intelligent algorithms to route customer queries to the most suitable agent based on factors such as language proficiency, expertise, and customer history. This ensures customers are connected to the right resource, leading to faster resolutions and improved customer experience.Priority CallingImplementing priority calling mechanisms allows organizations to prioritize urgent or high-value customer calls. By assigning appropriate priority levels, critical issues can be addressed promptly, resulting in improved customer satisfaction and loyalty.First Touch ResolutionFirst touch resolution focuses on resolving customer issues during the initial interaction, eliminating the need for follow-up contacts. By empowering agents with comprehensive knowledge bases, streamlined processes, and decision support tools, organizations can enhance their ability to resolve issues promptly, minimizing customer effort and improving satisfaction.Call Center OutsourcingOutsourcing call center operations can be a strategic decision to enhance scalability, cost-efficiency, and expertise. Organizations can partner with specialized service providers to ensure round-the-clock availability, multilingual support, and access to advanced technologies.AHT Insights & OptimizationAverage Handling Time (AHT) insights and optimization involve analyzing and streamlining call center processes to reduce call duration while maintaining service quality. By leveraging analytics, organizations can identify bottlenecks, automate repetitive tasks, and enhance agent productivity, leading to shorter call durations and improved efficiency.Agent EmpowermentEmpowering agents with the right tools and resources is crucial for delivering exceptional customer experiences. Key components of agent empowerment include agent effort scoring.Agent Effort ScoringAgent effort scoring measures the effort required by agents to resolve customer issues. By assessing the complexity of tasks and providing relevant tools and training, organizations can reduce agent effort and improve their ability to deliver efficient and effective solutions.AI Fraud Detection & PreventionIntegrating AI-powered fraud detection systems within call centers helps identify and prevent fraudulent activities, protecting both customers and the organization. Advanced algorithms analyze patterns, detect anomalies, and provide real-time alerts to agents, enhancing security and trust.2. Self-careWeb & AppOffering intuitive web and mobile applications enables customers to access self-service options, manage their accounts, and resolve basic queries independently. User-friendly interfaces, personalized content, and seamless integration with backend systems contribute to an enhanced self-service experience.Digital IVRDigital Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems leverage natural language processing and speech recognition technologies to enable customers to interact with automated systems in a conversational manner. This streamlines self-service processes and reduces customer effort.Centralized Real Time Complaint Management SystemA centralized complaint management system consolidates customer complaints and requests, providing a unified view for agents and enabling effective tracking, resolution, and analysis of customer issues. This helps organizations identify recurring problems and implement targeted improvements.Digital Kiosks & VendingDigital kiosks and vending machines provide convenient self-service options in physical locations, such as retail stores or service centers. Customers can perform tasks like bill payments, SIM card issuance, and device troubleshooting independently, reducing queues and enhancing the overall in-store experience:Financial Self-ServeFinancial self-serve options enable customers to manage their account balances, make payments, and view transaction histories through self-service channels. This empowers customers with greater control over their financial interactions, reducing reliance on manual assistance.GSM Self-ServeGSM self-serve capabilities allow customers to perform SIM card-related tasks, such as activation, deactivation, and plan changes, through self-service channels. This reduces the need for customer care interventions and enhances convenience.SIM Issuance and ReplacementStreamlining the process of SIM card issuance and replacement through self-service kiosks or vending machines reduces wait times and improves the overall customer experience.3. Walk-InPhysical Experience ManagementPhysical experience management focuses on optimizing the in-store experience for customers. It includes factors such as store layout, signage, staff training, and wait-time management, ensuring a pleasant and efficient in-person interaction.Self-Serve ExperienceProviding self-service options in physical stores, such as self-checkout counters or information kiosks, allows customers to independently access information and perform transactions, reducing reliance on staff and enhancing convenience.4. IVRVoice BiometricsVoice biometrics enable secure customer authentication by analyzing unique voice patterns. This eliminates the need for customers to remember passwords or answer security questions, streamlining the IVR authentication process and enhancing security.Speech Recognition - Speech to TextSpeech recognition technology converts customer speech into text, enabling automated transcription and analysis of IVR interactions. This helps organizations identify customer sentiments, extract valuable insights, and identify areas for improvement.Personalized IVRPersonalized IVR experiences leverage customer data and preferences to tailor IVR menus and prompts according to individual needs. This minimizes customer effort, speeds up call routing, and improves overall satisfaction.5. Social MediaSocial Media ListeningSocial media listening involves monitoring social media channels to understand customer sentiment, identify emerging trends, and promptly respond to customer queries or concerns. This real-time feedback enables organizations to proactively address customer issues and engage in meaningful conversations.Smart Lead GenerationSocial media platforms provide opportunities for lead generation through targeted advertising, content marketing, and social engagement. By leveraging data analytics and machine learning algorithms, organizations can identify and engage with potential customers, driving business growth.Sentiment AnalysisSentiment analysis analyzes social media posts and comments to determine the sentiment associated with a brand, product, or service. This helps organizations gauge customer perceptions, identify areas for improvement, and develop effective strategies to enhance the overall customer experience.Social Media AutomationAutomation tools facilitate efficient management of social media interactions, including content scheduling, response automation, and sentiment tracking. These tools enable organizations to scale their social media presence and deliver timely and consistent customer engagement.6. Smart BotVirtual AssistanceVirtual assistants, powered by artificial intelligence and natural language processing, provide automated support to customers across multiple channels. They can handle routine queries, provide personalized recommendations, and guide customers through self-service processes, improving efficiency and convenience.AI-Powered Contextual ChatContextual chatbots use AI algorithms to understand customer intent, provide relevant responses, and engage in natural, context-aware conversations. This creates a more interactive and personalized customer experience, mimicking human-like interactions.Social OTT CentralizationSocial OTT (Over-The-Top) centralization integrates various messaging platforms, such as WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger, into a unified customer communication platform. This streamlines customer interactions, allowing agents to respond to messages from multiple platforms in a centralized manner.B. Systems Transformation: Enhancing Operational Efficiency1. Centralized Product CatalogA centralized product catalog consolidates product and service information, enabling consistent and accurate offerings across multiple channels. This simplifies product management, reduces errors, and ensures a seamless customer experience.2. Service Order ManagementService order management systems streamline the end-to-end process of fulfilling customer requests, from order placement to delivery and activation. This improves order accuracy, reduces processing times, and enhances the overall service experience.3. Connect Knowledge Management SystemA connect knowledge management system provides a centralized repository of product information, troubleshooting guides, and FAQs. This equips customer care agents with accurate and up-to-date knowledge, enabling efficient issue resolution and ensuring consistent customer support.4. Zero Touch Operations100% Auto Help Request Processing - Zero Touch HelpZero touch help aims to automate the handling of customer requests without requiring manual intervention. Through intelligent automation, organizations can enable self-healing systems, self-service options, and AI-powered resolutions, minimizing the need for human involvement.RPARobotic Process Automation (RPA) automates repetitive and rule-based tasks by utilizing software robots. By deploying RPA in backend processes, organizations can enhance operational efficiency, reduce errors, and accelerate response times.Smart Service UpdatesSmart service updates leverage machine learning and predictive analytics to proactively identify potential service disruptions or outages. This allows organizations to provide timely notifications to customers, manage expectations, and minimize the impact on the customer experience.5. IntegrationsNetworkIntegrating customer experience transformation initiatives with the network infrastructure enables proactive monitoring, self-healing capabilities, and personalized service delivery. This ensures a seamless experience for customers and reduces the likelihood of service disruptions.BSS - CRM, Charging Billing, Product Catalog, Order ManagementIntegration of these systems enables end-to-end visibility and process automation. This integration facilitates accurate billing, personalized offers, and seamless order fulfillment while enabling one-window view for the customer agents as well.6. Agent ProgramAgent TrainingComprehensive agent training programs equip customer care agents with the necessary skills, product knowledge, and communication techniques to deliver exceptional customer experiences. Continuous training and upskilling ensure agents stay updated with evolving customer expectations.Agent Screening & RecruitmentImplementing robust screening and recruitment processes helps identify candidates with the right aptitude and customer-centric mindset. By selecting agents who align with the organization's values and objectives, organizations can build a customer-centric workforce.Agent Target Setting and MeasurementSetting clear performance targets and measuring key metrics, such as average handling time, first contact resolution, and customer satisfaction, ensures accountability and enables continuous improvement. Regular performance evaluations and feedback sessions further drive agent excellence.Smart Real-Time NotificationsReal-time notifications provide agents with contextual information, updates, and relevant customer insights during interactions. This empowers agents to deliver personalized and informed responses, enhancing the overall customer experience.7. Crowdsourcing PlatformTestingCrowdsourcing testing initiatives involve leveraging a pool of external testers to validate new features, identify bugs, and provide feedback on the customer experience. This accelerates the testing process and ensures a robust and error-free product launch.Content GenerationCrowdsourcing content generation allows customers to contribute reviews, ratings, and user-generated content, such as tutorials or troubleshooting guides. This fosters a sense of community, provides authentic information, and enhances the overall customer experience.Innovation & IdeasCrowdsourcing innovation and ideas involve gathering suggestions and feedback from customers to drive product and service improvements. By involving customers in the innovation process, organizations can align their offerings with customer needs and preferences.Customer 2 Customer (C2C) ServicingCustomer 2 Customer (C2C) servicing leverages the power of the customer community to provide support and assistance to fellow customers. This peer-to-peer support network allows customers to share their knowledge, experiences, and solutions, fostering a sense of collaboration and empowering customers to help each other.8. Customer Profiling SystemUpsell AnalyticsA customer profiling system utilizes data analytics to identify opportunities for upselling and cross-selling. By analyzing customer behavior, preferences, and purchase history, organizations can personalize offers and recommendations, increasing revenue and customer satisfaction.Churn Prediction and ManagementChurn prediction models use historical data and predictive analytics to identify customers at risk of churn. By proactively targeting these customers with retention strategies, organizations can reduce churn rates and preserve valuable customer relationships.Next Best OfferNext best offer algorithms analyze customer data and preferences to determine the most relevant and personalized offers for each customer. This enables organizations to deliver targeted promotions and recommendations, increasing customer engagement and loyalty.Loyalty EngineA loyalty engine consolidates customer loyalty programs, rewards, and incentives into a unified platform. By implementing gamification elements, personalized offers, and tiered reward structures, organizations can foster customer loyalty and advocacy.9. One View/One WindowAgent Virtual AssistantAn agent virtual assistant provides real-time insights, recommendations, and suggested actions to support customer care agents during interactions. By leveraging AI and machine learning, agents can access relevant information and resources efficiently, improving their productivity and effectiveness.UI Design Revamp for AgentRevamping the user interface (UI) design for agent-facing systems ensures a seamless and intuitive experience for customer care agents. User-centric design principles, streamlined workflows, and easy access to information empower agents to deliver efficient and personalized customer support.KMS Driven Information ArchitectureA knowledge management system (KMS) driven information architecture organizes and structures information in a way that facilitates easy access and retrieval for both customers and agents. This ensures consistency, accuracy, and quick resolution of customer queries and issues.C. Customer Journey Transformation: Fostering End-to-End Experiences1. GovernanceVoice of Customer ForumA voice of customer forum serves as a platform for capturing customer feedback, suggestions, and insights. By actively listening to customer voices, organizations can identify pain points, prioritize improvements, and align their strategies with customer expectations.2. Omni-Channel Experience EnablementOmni-channel experience enablement focuses on providing consistent and seamless experiences across all customer touchpoints, whether digital or physical. By integrating channels and data, organizations can deliver personalized and contextually relevant interactions throughout the customer journey.3. Digital Channels Journey RevampRevamping digital channels involves optimizing websites, mobile apps, and other digital touchpoints to enhance usability, navigation, and overall user experience. This ensures a frictionless and engaging digital journey for customers.4. Physical Channels Journey RevampRevamping physical channels, such as retail stores or service centers, involves reimagining the customer journey, enhancing in-store experiences, and providing seamless transitions between digital and physical touchpoints. This creates a unified and consistent customer experience.5. Channel Servicing Analytics & InsightsChannel servicing analytics and insights involve leveraging data and analytics to understand customer behavior, preferences, and interactions across various channels. This enables organizations to optimize channel performance, personalize experiences, and drive customer satisfaction.6. Customer ResearchCustomer Integration LabA customer integration lab serves as a dedicated space to test and validate customer experience initiatives, prototypes, and new features. By involving customers in the design and development process, organizations can ensure that their offerings meet customer needs and expectations.Customer Integration ProcessThe customer integration process involves engaging customers in co-creation sessions, surveys, interviews, and feedback loops. This collaborative approach helps organizations gain valuable insights, validate ideas, and build customer-centric solutions.Customer RecruitmentStrategic customer recruitment ensures the inclusion of diverse customer segments and personas in research and testing activities. By representing the customer base accurately, organizations can gain comprehensive insights and design experiences that cater to different customer needs.Organization Design Thinking MindsetAdopting a design thinking mindset across the organization fosters a culture of innovation, empathy, and customer-centricity. This involves encouraging cross-functional collaboration, embracing iterative problem-solving, and valuing customer feedback throughout the organization.7. Auto CSAT, NPS Process & InsightsAutomating the customer satisfaction (CSAT) and Net Promoter Score (NPS) processes enables organizations to collect feedback, measure customer sentiment, and identify areas for improvement in real-time. By analyzing CSAT and NPS data, organizations can gain actionable insights and prioritize initiatives that enhance the customer experience.By focusing on these various dimensions of customer experience transformation, large enterprises can cultivate a customer-centric organizational culture, optimize operational efficiency, and deliver exceptional experiences at every touchpoint. Embracing these strategies and technologies will not only result in short-term benefits, such as improved customer satisfaction and increased revenues but also position organizations for long-term success by aligning with the evolving needs and expectations of their customers.8. Customer Journey AnalyticsCustomer journey analytics involves the systematic collection, analysis, and interpretation of data related to customer interactions and experiences across various touchpoints. By leveraging advanced analytics techniques, organizations can gain deep insights into customer behavior, preferences, pain points, and moments of truth throughout the customer journey.9. Journey MappingJourney mapping involves visually representing the end-to-end customer journey, capturing customer touchpoints, emotions, and key interactions. By mapping out the customer journey, organizations can identify opportunities for improvement, uncover pain points, and design targeted interventions to enhance the overall experience.Behavior AnalysisBehavior analysis focuses on understanding customer actions, such as website browsing patterns, app usage, purchase history, and interactions with customer support. By analyzing customer behavior, organizations can identify patterns, segment customers, and personalize experiences based on individual preferences.Predictive AnalyticsPredictive analytics utilizes historical data and machine learning algorithms to forecast future customer behavior and preferences. By predicting customer needs and anticipating their actions, organizations can proactively deliver personalized experiences and tailor their offerings to meet customer expectations.Sentiment AnalysisSentiment analysis involves analyzing customer feedback, social media mentions, and online reviews to gauge customer sentiment and perception. By monitoring sentiment, organizations can identify areas of dissatisfaction, address negative sentiment promptly, and amplify positive experiences.Real-time Journey OrchestrationReal-time journey orchestration combines data analytics, automation, and decision-making capabilities to deliver personalized experiences in real-time. By dynamically adjusting interactions based on customer context and preferences, organizations can create seamless, relevant, and engaging journeys for customers.10. Voice of Customer AnalyticsVoice of customer analytics involves analyzing unstructured customer feedback, such as survey responses, call transcripts, and chat logs, to extract actionable insights. By understanding the voice of the customer, organizations can identify emerging trends, uncover hidden issues, and make data-driven decisions to improve the customer experience.By harnessing the power of customer journey analytics, organizations can gain a holistic understanding of the customer experience, identify areas of improvement, and take proactive steps to deliver personalized and seamless journeys. This data-driven approach enables organizations to continuously optimize the customer experience and stay ahead of evolving customer expectations.Final TakeawayCustomer experience is a pivotal business driver that organizations must prioritize.Particularly so in today's competitive landscape, achieving excellence in customer experience is paramount.This comprehensive article has laid a roadmap for you to prioritize your channel, systems, and customer journey transformation to drive CX excellence and master it.By embracing strategies like smart agent routing, AI-powered chatbots, omni-channel experiences, and predictive analytics, businesses can not only enhance immediate customer satisfaction but also foster long-term loyalty.As the digital landscape evolves, it's imperative for organizations to proactively adapt and align with their customers' changing needs. By implementing these strategies, businesses can position themselves at the forefront of customer-centric innovation, ensuring sustainable growth and success.

Mastering CX Part 2: The ‘How’ of Customer Experience Excellence


In today's cloud-centric world, managing infrastructure has become increasingly complex.As organizations strive for scalable, flexible, and cost-effective solutions, cloud providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS) have gained immense popularity.However, setting up and managing AWS resources can be daunting — this is where Terraform, an open-source infrastructure as code (IaC) tool, comes into play.Why Use Terraform on AWS?Terraform enables you to define and provision infrastructure resources across multiple cloud providers, including AWS, in a declarative and consistent manner. By treating your infrastructure as code, you can automate the creation, modification, and destruction of resources.In this blog, we won’t just understand the power of Terraform; in fact, we will go through an in-depth exploration of Terraform integration with AWS, providing you with a comprehensive guide to creating and managing your AWS infrastructure using Terraform.Whether you are new to Terraform or an experienced user, this blog will equip you with the knowledge and practical examples needed to accelerate your infrastructure provisioning and management processes.How Does Terraform Integrate with AWS?Terraform, developed by HashiCorp, stands at the forefront of infrastructure as code tools, revolutionizing the way organizations provision and manage their infrastructure resources.With Terraform, infrastructure configurations are defined declaratively, enabling teams to treat infrastructure as code and apply software engineering practices to their infrastructure management.This powerful tool offers multi-cloud support, allowing users to provision and manage resources across various cloud providers, and provides a unified workflow for infrastructure automation and scalability.With Terraform, organizations can achieve consistent, reproducible, and efficient infrastructure management, simplifying the process of building and scaling modern cloud architectures.Getting Started with AWSCreate an AWS Account:Visit the AWS website ( and click on the "Create an AWS Account" button. Follow the instructions to set up your account by providing necessary information such as your email address, payment details, and contact information. Install AWS CLI:Visit the official AWS CLI installation documentation ( to find instructions specific to your operating system. AWS CLI supports Windows, macOS, and Linux. Follow the installation guide to install AWS CLI on your machine. Configure AWS Credentials:To access your AWS resources, you need to configure your AWS credentials. Run the following command in the terminal or command prompt: `aws configure` You will be prompted to enter your AWS Access Key ID, Secret Access Key, default region, and output format. Obtain your AWS Access Key ID and Secret Access Key from the AWS Management Console by following the AWS documentation on accessing and managing your security credentials. How do you Create AWS Resources using Terraform?Terraform resources are created using JSON or the HashiCorp language, popularly known as HCL.Terraform's supplier is HashiCorp, and their native tongue is simple to write and read. Use the Visual Studio Code editor with Terraform plugin. It assists with input availability, autocompletion, and other things.We'll be using the HashiCorp language, which has the ".tf" extension, in this blog. To build the infrastructure, Terraform uses these files.By naming providers and resources, you define the infrastructure. We want to communicate with the providers, and on that provider, we want to build or manage resources.Provider:You list the provider block and a few arguments that are used to authenticate with the provider in the provider block.1. Create the file:Create a new file named `` in your Terraform project directory. Open the file in a text editor. 2. Configure the Azure Provider:Inside the `` file, add the following code to configure the AWS provider:Resources:You describe what you wish to build in your provider in the resources blocks. Each resource block has its own set of necessary and, for the most part, recommended parameters.The fact that the parameters don't overlap between suppliers is crucial to understand.The code for AWS resources differs from the code for Azure resources as a result. Following is an example of how to create a resource in AWS using Terraform:1. Create the file:Create a new file named `` in your Terraform project directory. Open the file in a text editor. 2. Define the Azure Resource:After adding an AWS provider, add the following code to define an AWS resource in the file. For example, let's create an AWS S3 Bucket Resource:In here you can see we want to make a resource with the type “aws_s3_bucket” and with the name “example_bucket”. In the block we give the information that is needed to create such a resource.Working with TerraformTerraform has three main commands which are used to initialize, plan and apply resources.Once you have created your infrastructure according to your requirements, you will have to run these commands to create resources in Azure.These commands are called:Terraform init Terraform plan Terraform apply Terraform Init:Initializes a Terraform project in the current directory. Downloads the necessary provider plugins and sets up the backend. This command should be run once when setting up a new Terraform project or when making changes to the provider or backend configurations. Terraform Plan:Generates an execution plan based on the current Terraform configuration and state. Shows a preview of the changes that Terraform will make to the infrastructure. Helps you identify any issues or potential problems before applying changes. Terraform Apply:Applies the changes defined in the Terraform configuration to the infrastructure. Creates, modifies, or deletes resources according to the desired state. Terraform will prompt for confirmation before making any changes. TakeawayTerraform makes it feasible to use a single Infrastructure-as-Code tool to develop, manage, and apply infrastructure across several platforms.The infrastructure layer is another area where Terraform clearly focuses.This indicates that it offers skills like the ability to display updates, manage provider development, and manage your on-premises and cloud infrastructure in a single language.

Creating and Managing Amazon Web Services (AWS) with Terraform: A Hands-on Guide


When you hear the term "Customer Experience" (CX), do you instinctively relate it to UX design or customer care?Well then you need to hear this too: that’s not the case!In its truest essence, the full breadth of customer experience extends far beyond the responsibilities of UX designers and customer care teams.Crafting an extraordinary customer journey necessitates a holistic, well-integrated, organization-wide approach.And for large enterprises seeking sustainable business growth and a competitive edge, integrating customer journeys across channels, processes, and tools is not just beneficial, but essential.Cultivating a Customer-Centric Organizational Culture: Embedding CX into the Company’s DNAIn the grand scheme of enterprise operations, customer satisfaction must not be viewed as just another department.Instead, it should be regarded as a foundational aspect of the company's culture.Customer experience needs to be a strategic priority championed by everyone in the organization, from top-level executives to frontline employees.The successful execution of CX strategies demands a shared vision, a sense of collective responsibility, and an unwavering commitment across all departments.It is about creating a work culture that continually seeks to align actions and initiatives with customer needs and preferences.From marketing campaigns to sales processes, product development initiatives, technology implementations, and operational procedures – each facet of the business plays a pivotal role in shaping the overall customer experience.This necessitates an end-to-end commitment, with all departments contributing to a holistic, superior customer experience, for all the right reasons.The following encapsulate all the ways that user experience strategies, including those aimed at customer engagement and customer journey mapping, can not just be integrated but made optimal use of in large enterprises.Ownership and AlignmentCustomer experience is a strategic priority that should be owned and driven by the entire organization, from top-level executives to frontline employees.It requires a shared vision and commitment across departments to align their efforts towards delivering exceptional customer experiences.End-to-End Customer JourneyCustomer experience encompasses every touchpoint and interaction a customer has with the organization, from pre-purchase to post-purchase stages.It goes beyond the design of user interfaces and customer service interactions. It involves product development and marketing, sales, technology, operations, and more.Each department plays a vital role in shaping the overall customer experience and bringing together their insights for various areas of the customer journey mapping effort, as well as for customer-focused marketing and customer lifetime value.Consistency and ContinuityCustomers expect a consistent and seamless experience across all channels and interactions.It is crucial for organizations to integrate their systems, processes, and data to ensure a unified and frictionless customer journey.A wide range of functional expertise is required to gather customer insights, identify real pain points, and innovate solutions.Various departments can contribute their unique perspectives and expertise to uncover valuable customer insights and drive innovation in products, services, and processes.Organizational CultureShifting the organizational mindset towards customer-centricity is critical for successful customer experience transformation.It requires a cultural shift top-down, that values customer satisfaction and puts the customer at the center of decision-making.This cultural change must permeate throughout the organization, driven by leadership and reinforced through training, incentives, and performance metrics.For a more in depth understanding of integrating a more agile culture within your people, tools, and processes, be sure to read this article: Explore the Neglected Side of Agile Insights and Innovation.The Strategic Payoff: Short-Term and Long-Term Benefits of Customer Experience TransformationCustomer experience transformation yields both short-term and long-term benefits for large enterprises.Understanding these benefits can help organizations prioritize and invest in customer experience initiatives.The potential rewards of such a transformation are significant, spanning from immediate gains to long-term profitability:Short-Term Gains: Immediate Returns on InvestmentHeightened Customer Satisfaction: Enhancing various customer touchpoints can lead to a significant improvement in customer satisfaction levels. Happier customers are more likely to remain loyal, make repeat purchases, and advocate for the brand, resulting in increased customer retention and acquisition. Boost in Average Revenue per User (ARPU): Satisfied customers are more likely to upgrade their services, purchase additional products, or opt for premium features, thereby contributing to an increase in ARPU. Incremental Growth: Delivering exceptional customer experiences can stimulate positive word-of-mouth and encourage customer advocacy, attracting new customers and driving incremental revenues. Long-Term Rewards: Driving Sustainable and Scalable GrowthCustomer Loyalty and Retention: Superior customer experiences foster loyalty and ensure long-term customer engagement. This reduces customer churn and contributes to stable, recurring revenues. Increased Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV): Focusing on enhancing customer experience can significantly augment CLTV, as satisfied customers tend to have longer relationships with the organization and make repeat purchases. Deep Understanding of Customer Needs: By engaging in CX transformation, organizations can delve deeper into their customers' preferences and pain points. This rich understanding can guide the development of customer-centric products, services, and strategies, offering a strong competitive advantage. Competitive Differentiation: In today's fiercely competitive market, CX can be a potent differentiator. Organizations that excel in customer experience are more likely to stand out from the competition, attract new customers, and retain existing ones. Customer-Centric Innovation: A customer-focused approach encourages innovation that aligns with customer needs and preferences. By incorporating customer feedback and insights into the innovation process, organizations can develop new products, services, and experiences that truly resonate with customers and create value. TakeawayIn conclusion, customer experience transformation goes beyond the responsibilities of just the UX designers and customer care teams.It demands an organization-wide strategic commitment to deliver an exceptional customer journey.By adopting a comprehensive approach and involving various functional areas, organizations can realize a wide range of benefits, from improved customer satisfaction and revenue growth in the short term to customer loyalty, differentiation, and customer-centric innovation in the long term.The strategic power of customer experience, therefore, is an indispensable asset for large enterprises in today's customer-centric business landscape.

Mastering CX Excellence Part 1: The Strategic Significance of Customer Experience For Large Enterprises


When you search for the term “infrastructure-as-code” (or IaC), you’ll quickly find a list of the most popular IaC tools out there:ChefPuppetAnsiblePulumiCloudFormationTerraformHeatAnd while each tool has its own benefits, the difficult part is determining which one to use.All of these tools are capable of managing infrastructure as code, in addition to sharing other commonalities:They are all open-source, have large contributor communities, and work with various cloud providers (except for CloudFormation, which is closed-source and AWS-only). They all provide enterprise support. They are all well-documented in both official documentation and community resources like blog posts and StackOverflow questions. So, how do you make a decision?For us, we do have a top pick: Terraform.In this article, while we will talk about all of these IaC tools, we’ll also find how Terraform compares with the rest and reveal why we prefer it over others.Terraform vs OthersThere’s another challenge when choosing the best IaC tool.Most online comparisons between these tools do little more than list the general properties of each tool, making it sound like you could be equally successful with any of them.While technically correct, this is not helpful; it's a little like telling a programming newbie that you could build a website just as well with PHP, C, or Assembly — a technically correct statement, but one that leaves out a lot of information that would be extremely helpful in making a good decision.In this article, we'll go over the specific reasons why Terraform is our top pick over other IaC tools.Why Terraform: The Trade-OffsAs with all technological decisions, it comes down to trade-offs and priorities.And while your priorities may differ from ours, we hope that sharing our thought process will assist you in making your own decision.The following are the main trade-offs we considered:Configuration Management vs Provisioning Mutable Infrastructure vs Immutable Infrastructure Procedural vs Declarative General-purpose Language vs Domain-specific Language Master vs Masterless Agent vs Agentless Paid vs Free Offering Large Community vs Small Community Mature vs Cutting Edge Using Multiple Tools Together Configuration Management vs ProvisioningChef, Puppet, and Ansible are all configuration management tools, meaning they are intended to deploy and manage software on existing servers.CloudFormation, Heat, Pulumi, and Terraform are provisioning tools, which means they are meant to supply servers (along with the rest of your infrastructure, such as load balancers, databases, networking setup, and so on), leaving the chore of configuring those servers to other tools.But, if you are not utilizing server templating tools, a configuration management and provisioning solution combined is an excellent option.For example, using Terraform to provide your servers and Ansible to set up each one is a popular combo.Mutable Infrastructure vs Immutable InfrastructureMutable infrastructures allow regular updates and changes after the software is deployed, while immutable infrastructures do not allow changes after the software is deployed.Procedural vs DeclarativeChef and Ansible support a procedural approach in which you write code that explains how to attain a desired end state step by step.Terraform, CloudFormation, Pulumi, Heat, and Puppet all support a more declarative approach, in which you write code that defines your intended end state, and the IaC tool determines how to attain that state.General-purpose Language vs Domain-specific LanguageChef and Pulumi enable you to manage infrastructure like code by using a general-purpose programming language (GPL): Pulumi supports a broad range of GPLs, including JavaScript, TypeScript, Python, Go, C#, Java, and others, whereas Chef supports Ruby.To manage infrastructure as code, Terraform, Puppet, Ansible, CloudFormation, and OpenStack Heat all employ a domain-specific language (DSL): Terraform makes use of HCL; Puppet makes use of Puppet Language; and Ansible, CloudFormation, and OpenStack Heat make use of YAML (CloudFormation also supports JSON).DSLs have some benefits over GPLs:That is simpler to learn More concise and clear Greater consistency GPLs offer some benefits over DSLs as well:Sometimes there is no need to learn anything new More sophisticated toolset and a larger ecosystem Greater strength Master vs MasterlessChef and Puppet, by default, require you to maintain a master server for preserving the state of your infrastructure and distributing changes.By default, Ansible, CloudFormation, Heat, Terraform, and Pulumi are all masterless.To be more specific, some of them rely on a master server, but it's already a part of the infrastructure you're utilizing and not an extra component you have to maintain.For example, Terraform interfaces with cloud providers via their APIs; therefore, the API servers are similar to master servers in certain ways, except that they don't require any additional infrastructure or authentication processes.Agent vs AgentlessChef and Puppet require the installation of agent software (e.g., Chef Client, Puppet Agent) on each server to be configured.There are some challenges that come with this:Bootstrapping Maintenance Security Ansible, CloudFormation, Heat, Terraform, and Pulumi do not require any additional agents to be installed.To be more specific, some of them necessitate the use of agents, which are often already deployed as part of the infrastructure you're utilizing. Amazon, Azure, Google Cloud, and all other cloud providers, for example, install, manage, and authenticate agent software on each of their physical servers.You don't have to worry about any of that as a Terraform user: you simply give instructions, and the cloud provider's agents execute them on all of your servers.Ansible requires that your servers execute the SSH daemon, which is standard on most servers.Paid vs Free OfferingCloudFormation and OpenStack Heat are absolutely free: the resources you deploy with those tools may be expensive, but you don't have to pay anything to utilize them.Terraform, Chef, Puppet, Ansible, and Pulumi all have free and commercial versions: for example, you may use Terraform's free and open-source version by itself, or you can combine it with HashiCorp's premium product, Terraform Cloud.Large Community vs Small CommunityWhen you select a technology, you are also selecting a community. It's tough to make an exact comparison between localities.The table below compares popular IaC tools based on data I gathered in June 2022, including whether the IaC tool is open source or closed source, what cloud providers it supports, the total number of contributors and stars on GitHub, how many open source libraries are available for the tool, and the number of Stack Overflow questions listed for that tool.(Note: The data on contributors and stars comes from the open source repositories for each tool, but as CloudFormation is closed source, this information is unavailable).Mature vs Cutting EdgeAnother vital thing to consider when selecting a technology is maturity.The table below displays the first release dates, current version numbers (as of June 2022), and my subjective assessment of each IaC tool's maturity.Pulumi is the most recent IaC tool in some comparisons and, arguably, the least mature: this becomes clear when searching for documentation, best practices, community modules, and so on.Terraform is a bit more mature these days: the tooling has improved, best practices are better understood, there are far more learning resources available, and it is a far more stable and reliable tool now that it has reached the 1.0.0 milestone than it was when the first and second editions of Terraform: Up & Running were released.Chef and Puppet are the most mature and oldest tools.Using Multiple Tools TogetherDespite the fact that I've been comparing IaC tools throughout this article, the reality is that you'll most likely need to use a combination of tools to build your infrastructure.The sections that follow show three common combinations that I've seen work well at a variety of companies.Provisioning plus configuration management Provisioning plus server templating Provisioning plus server templating plus orchestration Provisioning plus configuration managementAs an example, consider Terraform and Ansible.Terraform deploys all underlying infrastructure, such as network topology (e.g., virtual private clouds, subnets, route tables), data stores (e.g., MySQL, Redis), load balancers, and servers.You then use Ansible to deploy your apps on top of those servers.This is a simple strategy to begin with because no additional infrastructure is required (Terraform and Ansible are both client-only programmes), and there are several ways to enable Ansible and Terraform to operate together.Provisioning plus server templatingTerraform and Packer are two examples.Packer is used to package your apps as VM images.Terraform is then used to deploy servers with these VM images, as well as the rest of your infrastructure, such as network topology (i.e., VPCs, subnets, route tables), data stores (e.g., MySQL, Redis), and load balancers.This is also a simple technique to begin with because no additional infrastructure is required (Terraform and Packer are both client-only programmes).Furthermore, because this is an immutable infrastructure solution, maintenance is simplified.Provisioning plus server templating plus orchestrationTerraform, Packer, Docker, and Kubernetes are a few examples. Packer is used to produce a VM image that includes Docker and Kubernetes agents.Terraform is then used to deploy a cluster of servers, each of which runs this VM image as well as the rest of your infrastructure, such as the network topology (i.e., VPCs, subnets, route tables), data stores (e.g., MySQL, Redis), and load balancers.Finally, when the server cluster powers up, a Kubernetes cluster is formed, which you can use to execute and manage your Dockerized apps.The benefit of this strategy is that Docker images develop rapidly, you can run and test them on your local computer, and you can use all of Kubernetes' built-in capabilities, such as multiple deployment strategies, auto-healing, auto-scaling, and so on.The disadvantage is the added complexity, both in terms of extra infrastructure to run (Kubernetes clusters are difficult and expensive to deploy and operate, though most major cloud providers now provide managed Kubernetes services, which can offload some of this work) and several extra layers of abstraction to learn, manage, and debug (Kubernetes, Docker, Packer).Final TakeawayConsidering everything, the table below compares the most popular IaC tools, depicting the most common or default configuration of the various tools.However, it’s important to note that, as discussed earlier, these IaC tools are flexible enough to be used in other configurations as well (e.g., you can use Chef without a master, you can use Puppet to do immutable infrastructure, etc.).Want more expert insights into what an ideal DevOps culture looks like and how it can help? Check out this article: 6 Reasons Why You Should Adopt a DevOps Culture in Your Business

Managing Infrastructure As Code: Terraform Explained

Ask A Designer Round 4

As a team, we recognize the importance of designing good experiences for everyone.And as the world becomes more and more impacted by advancements in technology and the evolution of digital experiences, our design team decided to actively play a responsibility in ensuring everyone is accounted for.Making it a priority during the first quarter of this year, our designers have been taking a course on Digital Accessibility from the W3C to learn the ins and outs of digital accessibility and how we can adopt it to design inclusive experiences.This fourth round of the Ask A Designer series is dedicated to shedding light on these learnings, as our designers answer questions that help us understand how Accessibility can be adopted.Question 1What does digital accessibility mean to you?Name: Grace XuTitle: Sr Graphic DesignerResponse:Digital accessibility is not just a nice to have, but a must have. It is mandatory for some but beneficial to everyone.Equal access to digital information has to be something that every designer strives for, and it goes beyond meeting federal or even international laws and policies on this matter.This is a basic human right and these accessibility practices empower my ability to empathize and understand others who use and experience our digital products from a different angle, one that we often don’t consider but absolutely should.Name: Usman KhanTitle: Product DesignerResponse:Digital accessibility is the important practice of designing and developing digital content and technologies that are accessible to all people, including those with disabilities.This includes making sure that digital content, including websites, mobile applications, electronic documents, and multimedia, is accessible to and intelligible by all users, regardless of their abilities or limitations.The use of technology that can be accessed by assistive devices like screen readers and the provision of clear, easy-to-read text are a few examples of how this is done.Another is the provision of text replacements for non-text information (such as photos or videos).All things considered, It is very important because it ensures that all individuals have equal access to digital content and technology, which can help to promote inclusion, independence, and participation in society.Name: Pranavi LMKTitle: Associate Product DesignerResponse:Digital accessibility ensures that everyone has equal access to information: every website and application must be built with this in mind.Digital accessibility is essential because it empowers one and makes them independent in this digital world.Designing a website that is accessible to everyone makes them feel included and is a professional moral to follow.Making a website/app accessible means adding interactive elements like buttons/controls that lets users access the information through clicking, scrolling, voice commands etc.Accessibility exists on a large scale.When it comes to using digital products, users have a wide range of requirements and preferences, so there is no one-size-fits-all accessibility definition.But as designers, It is our responsibility to try and assist as many people as possible.Name: Usama JavedTitle: Product DesignerResponse:Accessibility is all about people. It is about ensuring all users can access the same information, regardless of the impairments they may have.Whether a visually-impaired person uses a screen reader to access a webpage or someone has a cognitive disability that requires straightforward content and navigation, there are many reasons to make your digital presence accessible.Digital accessibility is when technology has been designed in a way so that it can be accessed by all types of people.This includes electronic documents, websites, software, hardware, video, audio, and other digital assets.Question 2What kinds of tools do you use to check for accessibility?Name: Grace XuResponse:The WAVE Evaluation Tool is pretty robust for most web cases, the contrast checker is the one I use the most! However I also want to shift the focus away from tools and more on how we need to keep in mind that tools won’t give you all the answers on how to make something accessible. For example, a tool can inform us that a piece of alternative text is missing from an image, but it can’t tell us if in the case there is alt text, that what it has displayed is actually appropriate or helpful for users who need it. We need to use manual testing as well to fully see if our work is actually compliant and always consider it in every step of the design process.Name: Usman KhanResponse:The WAVE tool is pretty good and it can help to identify a wide range of accessibility issues, including missing alt text for images, low contrast text, missing form labels, and more.It can improve the overall checking of accessibility in several ways:Easy to understand results: The WAVE tool provides a detailed report of all accessibility errors, warnings, and features. This report is color-coded to make it easy to understand which issues need to be addressed first and provides clear guidance on how to fix each issue. Real-time testing: The WAVE tool allows you to test web pages in real time, so you can see accessibility issues as you make changes to your website. This makes it easy to test and fix accessibility issues as you work on your website.Overall, the WAVE tool is a powerful tool that can help improve the accessibility of the website. By using it to identify and address accessibility issues, I can ensure that the website is accessible to all users, regardless of their disabilities. Name: Pranavi LMKResponse:I use and to check color contrast.Webaim has other articles, checklists and resources to check your design accessibility. It has resources that lets you do manual testing even for screen readers.Name: Usama JavedResponse:One tool I use is Getstark, which is a tool that helps ensure that my designs are accessible to users with visual impairments. This tool checks for issues like color contrast, font size, and other factors that can impact how easily users can read and understand your content.Another tool is Contrast Checker, which helps with color contrast.This tool enables you to check whether your text and background colors meet accessibility standards, which is particularly important for users with visual impairments.Last but not the least, There is the Lighthouse tool. It is built into Google Chrome that can help you test the accessibility of your site.It provides a comprehensive report that includes accessibility, performance, and SEO metrics.Question 3How do you integrate accessibility into your work?Name: Grace XuResponse:One thing I’ve committed to memory are the most common forms of assistive technologies and how people use it to interact with digital products.I try to imagine what they would do and if there is a production link to our product then open up one of these tools and try it myself.I also think that you never stop learning as some things come with experience; overlook a part of your design’s accessibility and once that’s pointed out as being inaccessible, you won’t forget the second time.Thankfully there are always multiple checks along the way, and no digital product would get released without evaluation from devs, POs, content, and even an organization accessibility champion in our case.Name: Pranavi LMKResponse:I always make sure I do not forget the basic principles, like the size of the text, button, elements and color contrast. These are the general guidelines to start with making a design universal. I try to put myself in the shoes of the user and see if the design is accessible or not. It is good to review the accessibility beforehand with the team and developers which will save time and give more insights. I cross check my design with the web accessibility checker.Name: Usman KhanResponse:I always make sure that along with normal people, there will be people with disabilities who can use my product.Here is a quick example on how I keep track of accessibility while I am working on a website by:Using proper heading tags (h1, h2, h3, etc.) to create a clear and logical content hierarchy. Ensuring that all images have alt text that describes their content and function. Ensuring that all forms are labeled correctly and are accessible to screen readers. Using high-contrast colors and fonts that are easy to read for people with visual impairments. Name: Usama JavedResponse:Good question! I always ensure that I follow basic guidelines and principles of accessibility to ensure that designs meet the accessibility requirements. There are some other important key things which i follow while creating designs for products:I use proper color contrasts because it is very important to ensure that there is sufficient contrast between text and background colors.I provide alternative text for images.It allows me to understand the context of images and other visual elements.I understand the needs of the users with disabilities throughout the design process, from ideation to implementation.Question 4What was eye opening for you in your training?Name: Grace XuResponse:“Good design makes a website, application, or any other product or service, one that we all want to use – it just works better.” Having teams of people who care about digital accessibility will create products that are better for everyone who experiences it. The course showed many types of differently abled people and how they use assistive technology or omit certain technologies we commonly use to achieve the same goals that you and I would. It made me poke around my frequented digital websites, apps, tools more and see where the gaps are and notice how often many of these accessibility issues are simple to solve.Name: Pranavi LMKResponse:The training undoubtedly showcased various disabilities and the assistive technologies that are available to enhance their access to the digital world. Screen readers, motion tracking software, screen magnifiers, and braille display are new technologies that I got to know of. I learnt that accessible products help in boosting businesses by increasing SEO, Customers. There are laws that protect and demand digital products to be accessible for the differently abled.Name: Usama JavedResponse: The training emphasized the importance of good design in creating products that are user-friendly for everyone. By having a team of people who prioritize digital accessibility, businesses can create products that work better for all the users. During the training, I was introduced to many different abled individuals and how they use assistive technology to achieve their goals. This made me more aware of the accessibility gaps in the digital products I use regularly and how simple solutions can make a big difference.Overall, the training emphasized the importance of creating accessible products that are usable for everyone. By understanding the needs of differently abled individuals and incorporating digital accessibility into the design process, businesses can create products that are better for everyone.Name: Usman KhanResponse: This training helps me understand the importance of website design that is accessible to everyone, regardless of their abilities. By designing accessible websites, I can now create a better user experience for everyone, including people with disabilities, and help organizations reach a broader audience. Additionally, the course teaches about accessibility standards and guidelines, helping organizations avoid legal and financial consequences associated with non-compliance. I can now confidently become an advocate for web accessibility and promote its importance across my circle.

Ask A Designer Round 4: Considering Accessibility and Designing Inclusively

Design Thinking

Design Thinking is not new.It started thousands of years ago when our ancestors were looking for answers from the open world by observing it, interpreting it, bit by bit adapting to it, and quickly pivoting when a critical threat is observed by their sensory knowledge.Because of the Design Thinking approach, we survived extreme weather conditions and the deadliest of predators, and equipped ourselves with the right tools and ways of survival.We transitioned from hunter-gathering, to growing crops and into creating industries and digitizing them.From a cosmological viewpoint, we are merely designers, experimenters, and doers who proceed with caution.Design Thinking helps surface the uncertainties that have some level of doubt attached to them, and then we address those uncertainties through an iterative way of proceeding with caution.We shouldn’t forget, however, that design thinking has also been the buzzword for a decade now where small to enterprise-level organizations are continuously dedicated to establishing design thinking as a panacea.But when organizations fail to realize the situational application of Design Thinking, they generate waste in the name of experimentation.Shall Design Thinking Be Used in Every Situation?Instead of using Design Thinking in every situation, there is a way to identify which situations require Design Thinking.This can be achieved through the ‘Uncertainty Index’ for a given requirement.Instead of using Design as a buzzword for showing some level of upskilling within the organization, these can be used selectively and more efficiently to solve the right problem for the right people.Otherwise, it can become devastating if not used for the right problem.The conceptual understanding of Design Thinking has been improving, where Product Managers and Designers have started to factor in different uncertainties to make it an effective method of solving customer problems.What Are These Uncertainties?At mobileLive, we believe in adopting the most effective approach to address uncertainties while minimizing waste, by identifying and researching our customers' and clients' true needs.To achieve this, we suggest selectively using a set of uncertainties that can be applied to any given problem or need.Progressive companies typically consider multiple uncertainties to ensure that design thinking is only used where it can uncover real needs.If the company has relevant historical data, research, or expert opinions on the problem at hand, they assign an uncertainty threshold to determine whether the problem falls below the threshold and can be solved using a tried and tested approach to product development.This approach saves time and cost while still achieving the same level of product development as a design thinking process.With the ‘Uncertainty Index’, uncertainties of all kinds associated with a problem, a product, or service can be mapped in a singular view.This helps us to be able to gauge better if the problem at hand warrants a design thinking approach to solving the problem, or if conventional methods need to be used for better outcomes.The Seven Uncertainty IndexThe following are the seven types of uncertainties for which a quantitative or qualitative threshold can be defined and practiced across the Products cross-functionally:1. Customer PreferenceInsufficient or inaccurate data on customer preferences, such as incomplete or outdated market research or survey results Limited understanding of customer needs and pain points can result in misaligned products and services that do not meet customer expectations Rapidly changing customer preferences due to shifts in consumer behavior or the emergence of new technologies or trends Inconsistent or unreliable customer feedback and satisfaction data that can lead to inaccurate conclusions about customer preferences Lack of clarity or articulation of customer expectations, which can make it difficult to develop effective marketing strategies and product roadmaps If there is minimal uncertainty related to customer preferences, it may indicate that a design thinking approach is not necessary.Instead, product strategists can focus their efforts on leveraging existing data and research to inform their product development decisions.This can help to optimize resources and ensure that solutions are aligned with the needs and preferences of the target customer base.2. Market VolatilityRapid changes in consumer demand and supply due to changing market conditions Shifting consumer preferences and behaviors, including emerging trends and fads Technological advancements and disruptive innovations that can quickly change the competitive landscape Intense competition and pricing pressures, including the emergence of new competitors or business models Economic and financial instability, including changes in interest rates, exchange rates, and other macroeconomic factors that can impact market dynamics If there is a low level of uncertainty related to market volatility, it may be an indication that the market is relatively stable and well-understood.In such cases, design thinking may not be the most appropriate approach to use, as the focus should be on leveraging existing knowledge and data to drive product strategy and decision-making.However, even in relatively stable markets, there may still be opportunities to innovate and differentiate, and a design thinking approach can still be valuable in identifying and capitalizing on these opportunities.It is important to assess the level of uncertainty related to market volatility on a case-by-case basis and to use a range of tools and approaches to identify and minimize these uncertainties.3. Regulatory AmbiguityAmbiguity in regulatory requirements and compliance standards Lack of clarity in legal frameworks and guidelines Uncertainty about how regulatory bodies will interpret and enforce regulations Compliance costs and risks associated with regulatory non-compliance Potential reputational risks associated with regulatory violations In cases where the regulatory landscape is relatively stable and clear, design thinking may not be necessary as existing regulations can guide decision-making.Similarly, in situations where the regulatory requirements are well-defined and leave little room for interpretation, other methodologies such as legal or compliance-focused approaches may be more appropriate.However, if there is significant uncertainty surrounding regulatory requirements, design thinking can be useful in exploring potential solutions and identifying areas where further regulatory guidance may be needed.It's important to assess the level of regulatory ambiguity and determine whether design thinking is the most suitable approach for addressing the specific challenges and opportunities at hand.4. Technological UncertaintyRapid pace of technological change, which can make it difficult to keep up with new developments and trends Uncertainty around the commercial viability of emerging technologies, including questions around market demand, scalability, and return on investment Complexity of emerging technologies, which may require specialized skills and expertise that may not be readily available in-house Risk of technological disruption that can create new threats to established business models and markets Potential for emerging technologies to create new opportunities and business models, including the potential to improve operational efficiency, enhance customer experiences, and create new revenue streams When faced with uncertainties related to technological disruptions, it's important to assess the level of uncertainty and the potential impact on the product.If the uncertainties are conventional and there are proven solutions or approaches that have been successful in the industry or by the organization, then design thinking may not be necessary as product strategists can rely on conventional methods.However, if the uncertainties are more complex and disruptive, with no clear examples of successful solutions or approaches, then design thinking can be a valuable tool to help product strategists explore alternative solutions and develop more innovative products that can better meet the needs and preferences of their target customers.5. Channel UncertaintyIncomplete understanding of customer behavior and preferences across various channels, which can lead to suboptimal channel selection and poor customer experience Uncertainty around the most effective methods to reach and engage customers through different channels, which can lead to inefficient use of resources and missed opportunities Limited knowledge about the costs, benefits, and risks associated with different channels, which can make it difficult to optimize channel selection and ROI Uncertainty about how different channels will evolve and their future viability, which can make it difficult to develop a long-term channel strategy Lack of clarity about the potential impact of emerging channels on existing channel strategy, which can make it difficult to effectively allocate resources and adapt to changes in the market If there is minimal uncertainty with the channels, using design thinking as the default approach may result in unnecessary time and resource waste trying to reinvent the wheel.However, with the rapid introduction and expansion of digital channels, it is crucial to remain present and relevant while exercising caution. In such cases, applying design thinking can help to identify opportunities for innovation and differentiation, ensuring that your organization stays ahead of the curve and delivers value to customers in new and impactful ways.6. Financial ViabilityLimited understanding of the lifetime value of customers and the impact of customer acquisition costs on profitability Uncertainty about the scalability of the product and its ability to generate sufficient revenue to cover development costs and sustain the business over the long term Limited knowledge of the market size and growth potential for the product, and the potential impact of competitors or substitute products Uncertainty about the financial impact of potential legal or regulatory challenges, such as patent infringement lawsuits or regulatory hurdles Limited understanding of the financial implications of potential product failures or recalls, including the costs of customer refunds or compensation, legal fees, and damage to the brand's reputation If there is minimal uncertainty related to financial viability, it may not be necessary to use a design thinking approach and instead bank on the existing financial models and data.7. Organizational AbilityLack of organizational agility and ability to adapt to changing market conditions and customer needs Limited capability to attract and retain top talent with the necessary skills and expertise Insufficient investment in training and development programs to build necessary competencies and capabilities Inability to effectively manage and integrate acquisitions or partnerships Limited ability to implement and execute strategic initiatives and goals due to siloed or bureaucratic organizational structures If the uncertainty related to organizational ability is low, then it may not be necessary to use a design thinking approach as product strategists may already possess the necessary skills and expertise to develop and execute the product strategy effectively.However, if there is a higher level of uncertainty in this area, it may be critical to adopt a design thinking approach to identify the right organizational skillset needed and to develop strategies to retain top talent possessing those skills to ensure successful product development and execution. The main aim remains to deliver with certainty.Reducing Uncertainties Through the Uncertainty IndexThe uncertainty score can be determined by going through each of the five uncertainties listed under the seven main uncertainty categories.Any organization can set a rule of thumb to kickstart the design thinking process when an uncertainty score of a category is found to be above the uncertainty threshold.Once uncertainty is mapped, the goal is to reduce it through research, rapid prototyping, and pivoting.Analyzing uncertainties with the scope of the ‘uncertainty index’ requires domain expertise and cross-functional collaboration, but rest assured, it will save a lot of wasted efforts in terms of time and money later in the product development and launch cycle.This example below definitely calls for sophisticated data elicitation and research using design thinking principles.Final TakeawayIn conclusion, the uncertain business environment makes it challenging for organizations to make strategic decisions.Design thinking can be an effective approach to navigating uncertainty and creating customer-centric solutions.However, it is important to assess the level of uncertainty associated with the problem at hand before deciding to use design thinking.The uncertainty index can be a useful tool in this regard, helping organizations to evaluate various uncertainties such as customer preferences, market volatility, including uneven competitive landscape, emerging technologies, channel uncertainty, regulatory ambiguity, financial viability, and organizational ability.By carefully considering these uncertainties and using design thinking where appropriate, organizations can make more informed decisions and better position themselves for success in the marketplace.FAQsIs design thinking a panacea for all kinds of problems?No, design thinking is not a one-size-fits-all solution for every problem. It is a framework that is best suited for complex, open-ended problems that require creative solutions.Can design thinking be misused as a buzzword to create the illusion of innovation?Yes, it is possible to misuse design thinking as a buzzword without actually achieving any tangible results. It is important to approach design thinking with a genuine intention to solve problems and create value.Are there situations where design thinking may not be appropriate?Yes, there may be situations where design thinking may not be appropriate. Those problems with low levels of uncertainty usually don’t require the design thinking approach such as when the problem is well-defined and has a clear solution, or when time and resources are strictly limited.Can design thinking be used as a substitute for domain expertise?No, design thinking is not a substitute for domain expertise. It is a complementary approach that can be used in conjunction with the domain expertise to generate innovative solutions.Is it important to involve stakeholders in the design thinking process?Yes, involving stakeholders in the design thinking process is critical to ensuring that the solutions generated are relevant and meet the needs of the end users and all entities in between. The associated uncertainties spread across different disciplines within an organization to be well understood, followed up and reduced.Is it important to evaluate the problem for uncertainties before using design thinking?Yes, it's very important to evaluate the problem for uncertainties as it helps in identifying potential challenges and opportunities that may affect the outcome of the process. This evaluation can also help in adjusting the process to accommodate any unforeseen obstacles.Is it important to evaluate the success of design thinking initiatives?Yes, it is important to evaluate the success of design thinking initiatives to determine their effectiveness and identify areas for improvement.

Reducing Uncertainties With Design Thinking: The 7 Uncertainty Index


Toronto, ON, May 9th, mobileLIVE, a Toronto-based technology services company, achieved Platinum Club status with Canada’s Best Managed Companies program by retaining its Best Managed designation for seven consecutive years or more.Celebrating its 30th anniversary, Canada’s Best Managed Companies program awards excellence in private Canadian-owned companies. To attain the designation, companies are evaluated on their leadership in the areas of strategy, culture and commitment, capabilities, innovation, governance, and financial performance.“It has become increasingly important for businesses to foster collaborative workplaces where employees are empowered to make valuable contributions to their organizations,” said Derrick Dempster, Partner, Deloitte Private and Co-Leader, Canada’s Best Managed Companies program. “This year’s Best Managed winners, including mobileLIVE, embrace a people-first mentality, enabling employees to cultivate important capabilities and integrating diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives into their core strategy. By prioritizing employee wellbeing and championing professional development, these companies are harnessing their talent pool’s fullest potential and in a stronger position to attract the talents needed to embrace the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.”Canada’s Best Managed Companies is one of the country’s leading business awards programs recognizing innovative and world-class businesses. Every year, hundreds of entrepreneurial companies compete for this designation in a rigorous and independent evaluation process. Applicants are evaluated by an independent panel of judges with representation from program sponsors and special guests.“We are thrilled to be named a Best Managed Platinum Club member,” said Jahan Ali, CEO and founder at mobileLIVE. “This win is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our team, the success of our business philosophy, and our commitment to excellence in every aspect of our business.”The Best Managed assessment process is rigorous and comprehensive, evaluating a company’s overall performance and practices in areas such as strategy, leadership, innovation, culture, governance, and financials. Companies that achieve Best Managed status are recognized as industry leaders, demonstrating their commitment to long-term growth and sustainability. The 2023 cohort of Best Managed companies share common themes such as having a people-centric culture, targeting effective ESG strategies, and accelerating operational digitization.“CIBC is proud to sponsor Canada’s Best Managed Companies, a program that has been celebrating leading organizations that are working towards building a better future, for the past thirty years,” said Blair Cowan, Executive Vice-President, Head of Commercial Banking and Real Estate CIBC. “Companies such as mobileLIVE, which successfully deliver innovative solutions for longer-term growth and investments, are a testament to our country’s high standards of excellence.”

mobileLIVE is now the Best Managed Platinum Club Member


First brought into practice by a team at Google Ventures, the idea of “sprints” came about as a quick solution to solve the problems of startups that they invested in.They particularly needed “quick” solutions and wanted to be able to solve these problems in a short time because of challenges like:High stakes: The solutions require a lot of money and time, which most startups lack. Limited time: There’s often a deadline and the solution needs to be presented fast. As the word “sprint” suggests, teams need to work quickly and efficiently towards attaining a workable solution. Feeling stuck: If there’s a deadlock in the creative process, a design sprint acts as a catalyst that can pull teams through such situations and give them a creative boost. These were just the challenges that the team who invented “sprints” faced, and today, sprints are adopted across the globe amongst teams in various industries.In the design industry, in particular, design sprints are adopted to solve complexities quickly, and in this article, we’ll break down design sprints into a 5-stage holistic process.What is a Design Sprint?The “sprint” is an effective method of solving complex problems, prototyping ideas and testing them with users.This method can also be used to test new ideas in a product and see what the customer acceptance would look like.Product teams can improve their product development process and create successful solutions in a short amount of time with design sprints.The Process: 5 Phases of a Design SprintTo look at it from a holistic angle, the design sprint process is divided into five different phases:Phase 01: Understand the problem Phase 02: Sketch all possible solutions Phase 03: Decide on the most optimal solution Phase 04: Create a usable prototype Phase 05: Test the prototype with users and gather insights Phase 01The first phase is structured around discussions to create a path for the sprint week and to create a map of the challenge being faced.A long term goal needs to be set for the product.This will act as an anchor point for a mindset towards solving the problems that are preventing the team from achieving that goal.All the key stakeholders (designers, developers, business, project managers, etc.) need to be a part of the team because you need people with different skill sets and experiences to examine the problem — everyone brings something unique to the table.The map represents the user going through your product to achieve the intended goal.All the touchpoints that get the user closer to the goal are noted.Along with visualizing all the steps that the user takes, the map also helps identify if there’s friction between the touchpoints and provides a structure for our sketches & prototype.Now imagine that the goal is achieved.Can we identify any issue that the user might face while going through this journey?These will be put in the form of “How Might We questions (HMW)” instead of simply jotting down the statement e.g. How might we educate the user about this new feature?Put the questions within the respective journey phase (discovery, learning, using).The last part of this phase involves prioritizing the HMW questions and targeting a user.The example shown above has only one user, but in case there are multiple user personas involved, the key stakeholders in the team have to decide which user to focus on for the current sprint.This can be done using dot voting. Phase 02After defining the challenge in detail, the next step is to come up with solutions.The first thing to look out for is if there are other similar products out there and look for inspiration.Afterwards, the team members can ideate upon the solutions by creating sketches and flows.When everyone is done, all the team members can present their solution.Phase 03After everyone explains their solution, its time to choose the most optimal one.This can be done by discussions, which can become very exhaustive because team members will have to critique each other's solution, but it's important to get this right.An optimal solution would be something that most efficiently solves the problem and is also viable for the design and dev team to create.Image credit: Sprint - By Jake KnappA storyboard needs to be created around the chosen solution. This will help us set the mood for prototyping.The storyboard will essentially cover the user journey from discovery of the product to the exploration and usage of the new feature, which is the intended goal.Think of this as a more detailed map (from phase 1), which covers all the touchpoints, hence creating a clear roadmap for the prototype.Phase 04A prototype will be created based on the storyboard that should be realistic enough for testing, such that during the testing phase, the user should be able to properly interact with the prototype without any hiccups.The prototype shouldn’t be very high fidelity because the solution may not work. Extra time, therefore, shouldn’t be spent over something that has a high chance of disposal/changes.Phase 05The final phase of the design sprint is intended for testing the prototype.The format of the interview boils down to this:A friendly welcome and some open ended questions to learn more about the user Introduction to the prototype Detailed task that would require the user to start from the beginning and interact with the prototype till the end A debrief to capture the user’s impressions regarding the prototype Use this feedback to make any amends in the prototype, if required.Final ThoughtsIn the design sprint methodology, research is given very little time.Great products are a result of extensive research, and therefore I’ve tweaked the design sprint approach such that the research in phase 1 and 2 is given much more time.The design sprint is no doubt a high energy task where everyone is excited and ready to roll.But once it's completed and action points are drawn from it, oftentimes there’s a gap that remains till execution.The decision maker (a part of the sprint team) may lose power to allocate teams and budgets for the new project.There may also be structural changes in an organization, or outsourced execution, which means that the team that conducted the sprint are not the ones who develop the whole thing.The design sprint, therefore, needs to be optimized for large companies, in a way that the execution gap is accounted for within the sprint plan.To learn more about how you can integrate design sprints into your design workshops, be sure to give this article a read: Design Thinking Workshops: Choosing the Right One For Your Team

Solving Complexity in Sprints: A 5-Step Breakdown of Design Sprints


Owing to its recent rise in popularity, you've likely heard of design tokens.As a concept, understanding design tokens is quite simple: A design token is a code-based way to maintain how design systems look.For a designer, that means:Faster design changes Improved communication Reduced documentation headache More cross-platform consistency Easier handoffs to developers And while, for the right teams, design tokens can do wonders, it would be a mistake to get into it and try to implement design tokens without the right knowledge or practices.What Are Design Tokens?In essence, design tokens are variables.Think X = Y, where ‘X’ is a design attribute and ‘Y’ is the value.It’s important to note that there is much more to these values than reducing them down to “variables”, but for the sake of understanding design tokens better, this analogy will work for our purposes.For example: ‘borderWidth = 8px’ means that a border’s width will be, you guessed it, 8 pixels. (Pixels are what we see on our devices. These words you are reading right now are being displayed as pixels by your device.)These variables or “design tokens” can help to speed up the design and development process by automating updates, removing guess work, improving documentation, and documenting design decisions.For the right teams it can boost productivity and efficiency by removing some of the tedium that comes from maintaining design systems and documentation.Why Use Design TokensI’m sure you can already see how design tokens can improve your design system:Rapid design changes: Designers and developers can quickly change the look of the design by manipulating the token’s values. Consistency across platforms: Design tokens help ensure consistent design elements across platforms, reducing the need for back-and-forth between designers and developers. Reduced documentation headaches: Documentation can be updated automatically with design token changes, reducing the likelihood of errors and inconsistencies. Future-proofing your design system: Design tokens provide a flexible, modular foundation for your design system that can be easily updated and adapted over time. Additionally, design tokens are gaining in popularity.As I am writing this, there is a W3C community group working to establish a set of standards for the industry to use.The W3C or The World Wide Web Consortium is responsible for creating and maintaining the standards for the world wide web. It’s thanks to them that teams no longer need to spend hours ensuring web apps appear the same across web platforms.This is something that you are going to want to consider with your design systems.Developer Hand-offAh, the joys of handing off design tokens to development!While design tokens offer immense benefits to the design process, communicating and implementing them across platforms can be a daunting task.The first challenge is understanding and communication.Designers and developers need to be on the same page when it comes to naming conventions and values to ensure consistency in design. Here’s an interesting video to understand how design systems help improve and speed up the development process.Secondly, implementing design tokens across platforms can be tricky. Different platforms may require different formats, and converting design tokens can result in discrepancies in values.And if that wasn't enough, managing design token changes can be a headache.With multiple stakeholders involved in the process, keeping track of changes and ensuring everyone is using the most up-to-date design tokens can feel like a game of whack-a-mole.But fear not, there are ways to overcome these challenges and streamline the handoff process.For a deeper dive into how designers and developers collaborate, be sure to catch this insightful conversation between our developers and design teams: Ask A Designer Round 2: Questions For Designers, From Developers.How To Navigate the Challenges of Design TokensHold a workshopResearch! Learn about how design tokens were created and how organizations are adapting them to their needs. Look into the W3C Design tokens community group to understand the standards that are currently being developed. Bring together your stakeholders, developers, designers, and other key personnel Ensure that everyone understands the goals and intent behind adding design tokens to a design system. Make sure to document your decisions! Discuss a naming convention. This step is trickier than you may think. Designers and Developers need to create a common language for discussing the project. If thats not a common practice already, it will take some time to get everyone on the same page. Document. Your. Decisions. Agree on an implementation plan, start small and with a few components to work out any process gaps. It is easier to adjust 3 variables than it is to adjust an entire design system. Consider the future of the project as well, the work you do will have a direct impact on the results in the future. Again, make sure you are documenting this work. DocumentationDocumenting the decisions that build the foundation of your design system is ALWAYS the prudent thing to do.After all, who hates leaving a meeting and realizing you cannot remember key decisions?This opens the team up for misinformation to creep in and disrupt the flow. Were we using a 8pt system or 10pt system? Designer A says 8pt, Developer 1 says 10pt. It's anarchy!Make it easier with documentation tokensWhen it comes to documentation, Design Tokens for Figma can expedite the style documentation thanks to its handy documentation tokens.But what it cannot document is the reasoning and structures that go into creating the style guide.Adding design tokens to your system gives you and your team an opportunity to look at what is currently serving your design practice and determine if it is still serving you.Best Practices To Introduce Design Tokens To Your Design SystemIn order to offer the best chance at organizational adoption, here are a few best practices that will help navigate the nuances of design tokens:Create and enforce clear naming conventionsEstablishing a common language between all involved in a product isn’t always an easy feat. Even in the design community, you hear different terms for the same design patterns: Modal aka pop-up, overlay, or ********dialogue box. Consider the experience a new team member will have onboarding into this system. Use naming conventions that are intuitive and that work for your team. Avoid abbreviations and again, document the decisions that went into it. Be kind when reminding someone of correct naming conventions. Habits are hard to break, so as you start implementing design tokens don’t expect 100% adherence from the start. Maintain a centralized Design Token LibraryConsider using a cloud-based 3rd-party platform such as Storybook as a repository for your design components. This will allow team members to access the design system components from anywhere increasing visual design consistency. Create clear guidelines for how design tokens should be organized within the library to ensure naming and organization consistency. This can also help stakeholders and developers navigate through Figma using wayfinding. Regularly update and review design tokensSet a regular review schedule to ensure that design tokens are regularly audited and updated as needed. Solicit feedback from team members and stakeholders to identify areas where design tokens may need to be updated or added. Document any changes made to design tokens to ensure that all team members are aware of updates and can access the most current version. If you find that you aren’t making much headway with design token adoption, I find it helpful to take a step back and ask “why”.Sometimes you will need to tweak your approach or perhaps your organization lacks the design maturity to support design tokens.Once you have a clearer understanding of the underlying issues, you can begin to address them.When NOT to use Design TokensWhile design tokens can be a valuable tool for maintaining consistency and efficiency in the design process, they're not always necessary.If you're working on a small project, a project with constantly changing requirements, or a project with highly unique visual elements, it may not be worth the effort to create a full library of design tokens.In those cases, it may be more efficient to define visual elements on a case-by-case basis.The key is to evaluate each project on a case-by-case basis and determine if design tokens are the right choice.Real-World Examples of Design Token ImplementationDesign tokens are the secret sauce that many companies are using to create consistent and cohesive design experiences across their products and platforms.From IBM's design language to Salesforce's Lightning Design System, these tokens are being implemented in a wide range of products and services to streamline the design process and ensure visual consistency.Even companies like Shopify and Airbnb have jumped on the design token bandwagon, using these powerful tools to create a consistent look and feel across their websites and mobile apps.So if you want to stay ahead of the design curve and ensure a consistent user experience, it's time to start incorporating design tokens into your design system.TakeawayLet's wrap up this informative piece on design tokens.Design tokens are like the MVPs of the design world, enabling rapid design changes, consistency across platforms, and future-proofing your design system.However, implementing design tokens can have its challenges, such as communicating and implementing them across platforms and managing design token changes.To overcome these challenges, hold workshops, document decisions, establish clear naming conventions, and maintain a centralized design token library.So, start implementing design tokens like a pro today!

Design Tokens: Creating a Single Source of Truth for Your Design System


Developers know that the more they test their code, the better their chances are of developing high-quality software.And with Test-Driven Development, or TDD, they’re not only able to validate their code but also automate their testing process in order to keep the code simple, clean, and bug-free.But even though TDD has been around for several years, there is one big misconception about what TDD is actually about.Is TDD just about testing code?We’ll uncover the answer to this question, the true essence of TDD, and how you can use it to improve the quality of what you develop in this article.What is TDD and What it is NotContrary to popular belief, it’s not a method, but more of a mindset toward designing or developing your code.Before getting into how TDD works and what process is used to implement it, it’s crucial to break some of the misconceptions around what TDD is:TDD is NOT just another method of testing code or a QA replacement Writing unit testing is a method of practicing TDD For each function, you write code to validate your expected flows TDD will increase your development cycle Most people think TDD is about testing code, whereas in reality, TDD goes far beyond simply testing code.Usually, when we think about testing, the process goes that we write the code first and then test it. TDD offers a whole different approach to software development.In TDD, the cycle is reversed: you don’t write the code first, but instead, you write your tests.TDD is about driving development by test. “Life is a highway, I wanna ride it all night long.”What does Rascal Flatts have to do with TDD?You write code, and when it fails, you keep writing until it eventually passes; your code is your highway.So, as the name suggests, TDD is about driving development by test, where you write your test first and then write your code instead of the other way around.If anything, this further strengthens the concept that TDD is not about testing the code, but rather it’s about an approach to software development where the main focus is ensuring that our code is doing what we expect it to do.TDD is a way to verify everything you create. All dev activities are organized around the need to verify what it is that we create. In TDD, therefore, the primary focus is to be able to verify that whatever we create is of good quality and that it can provide the intended results. The essence of TDD is to work incrementally on your design The Value of TDDCode is weird, unusual, complex, and fragile. One tiny error can invalidate the result.Even the strongest developers make mistakes – after all, they’re only human, and minor mistakes can happen by anyone.It’s also interesting to note that the very nature of TDD is to iterate and improve. Step by step, TDD makes it easy to introduce new features incrementally, and in each iteration, we can catch and resolve the defects found during testing. Researchers have found that most problems found in production are caused by simple programming mistakes.“Approx. 60% of all the issues found in production are due to trivial mistakes.”A simple mistake can cause entire systems to fail.A study of 198 production failures found that 58% of the failures were due to trivial mistakes that could've been caught before deploying to production. This means that if we checked that our code actually did what we thought it did, we'd improve our reliability by over 50% - substantial cost savings and, most importantly, improved user satisfactionAnd while we do have tools that catch some mistakes, and our IDE will give us great feedback that is fast and efficient and maybe highlight some errors, the IDE won’t catch all kinds of issues.In software development, TDD is a huge step forward because of this very reason: it ensures that we catch the issues that the IDE could not catch earlier.How TDD worksThere’s a lot that TDD has to offer, and understanding its most significant benefits requires a look into the way it works. The following is a summed-up version of the workings of TDD and what happens at each stage:Writing and checking that the test failsWe can check the mini specification by executing before writing the behavior and checking that it fails. Before even writing the behavior, the focus should be to write the test and to make sure that the test fails. Of course, the first time, the test will fail because there’s no code.If it fails, that’s a good sign – it means we wrote something useful, so now our next focus can be fixing the test. Improving quality with each iterationWhen we fix the test, what we really want to do is implement our behavior. But then, in the very first iteration, we won't be trying any fancy things or getting creative with the code. At this stage, we just do the bare minimum to pass the test, and once it has passed and we’re good with it, then in the second iteration is where we can bring in our creativity. This is where we can add more quality, improve our code with every iteration, and, most importantly, ensure it fulfills our intent. Writing code to fulfil the intentNext, we write some code to fulfill that intent, and we write just enough code to get to the passing test with that failing specification – the bare minimum to meet that mini specification. Run test again to confirm it passesNext, we run our test again to confirm it passes. Now we are in a stable state. All our specifications are passing. Safety checkOnce we run our test, we have the safety check that guarantees that if anyone tries to change the code or wants to modify it, we can run it and still be able to catch any issues with our approach. This safety check guarantees that our test will detect any issues before it goes to production. The open “code” road is ahead of us to express our intent in the form of test mini specification, and here’s where we divide and conquer: we test mini specifications for one behavior, and then we test another one. Following this, we accumulate and record all the requirements we intend to implement. TDD gives us an independent path verification that the coding actions matched our intent. It offers a way to verify that what we have coded matches and implements our intent.Evolving Your CodeNow, we have more time to improve our code and bring more quality and refinement to the code. This is true since we have our tests embedded in the CI/CD pipeline and ready to catch any defects that could have been introduced by the changeTo make our tests/ code more expressive, we can start changing and modifying it to make it more general, readable, and simpler. And to do so requires a three-step process known as the Red-Green-Refactor cycle.The Red-Green-Refactor CycleWhat is the Red-Green-Refactor CycleIn the Red-Green-Refactor cycle, the process of TDD is broken down into three stages:Red: Write a test that failsGreen: Write code and see it passRefactor: Make the code greatWhy use Red-Green-RefactorThrough the cycle Red-Green-Refactor cycle, we try to improve the quality of the code to reach a stage where the code is:Easy to read Easy to change Workable Testable Easy to maintain in the future Simple and efficient And also to achieve the following attributes of good code:Modular Loosely Coupled Cohesive Separation Of Concerns Information Hiding TakeawayWith TDD, it has become easier to achieve the attributes of good code, as mentioned above.When we try to refactor our code to achieve these attributes, TDD gives us the assurance that we have already tested any changes that we want to make, and if any issues arise with our code, they will be detected before production.The outcome of the TDD approach is a unique test, and these unique tests can be integrated into the continuous Integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) process. With this integration, what we want to achieve – and what TDD helps us achieve – is that whenever someone changes the code, the process of TDD will run. As part of that, we can find any defects or issues before the code goes into the QA environment and, of course, before it goes into production.In software development, TDD is one of the top approaches to tackling complex development and ending up with clean, workable code. To learn more about other methods and what is best suited for your business, this article about TDD, BDD, and DDD is not one to miss!

Test-Driven Development: Improving Efficiency with a Mindset Change


When was the last time you were tasked with test automation but ended up spending more time and effort on maintenance?If you’re reading this article, chances are you’re familiar with test automation and may have even conducted it yourself. In case you’re not, this article on The What, When, and Why of Test Automation will give you a quick refresher on what it is and why/when you should use it.However, if you’re like other newbies, you may have managed to design a framework, but then you’d spend a lot of time, effort, and resources on simply maintaining it.That right there is what happens when you do test automation without knowledge of the best test automation tools and practices.And if you read further, you’ll find precisely what the best practices for test automation are and how they can get any beginner started with test automation in the most efficient way.Framework SelectionTest automation is heavily dependent on tools, low-code or no-code.Therefore, selecting the right tool is essential for high ROI with test automation. Here are a few points you should consider while choosing a test automation tool:Scope of testing: Will you be testing web-based applications or mobile-based applications? Or both. In order to test only web-based applications, there are several tools like Selenium or Cypress that are pretty powerful. In contrast, for mobile-based applications, Appium is still considered the go-to tool. Available support: Whenever opting for a test automation tool, one should always consider the level of documentation and the degree of support you can get from the respective community, if you ever need it. Since Selenium and Cypress have been the favorite tools among the testing community for quite some time, the level of support you can get from the community is incredible. Tech stack: Another factor to consider while selecting the automation tool is the tech stack your dev team uses to develop the application under test. Since you’d want to keep and execute your E2E tests in the same repo and environment, respectively, it only makes sense to use a tool that uses the same stack. For example, if your application is being developed using Angular, you might want to use Protractor, which was developed specifically for testing Angular applications. Open Source or not: Depending on budget constraints, one may choose to use open-source tools such as Selenium or Appium for automation purposes. However, it is important to remember that all open-source tools are not inferior to their commercially available counterparts. Available Features: While choosing the tool, you should check if the automated testing tool supports record-and-playback test creation as well as manual creation of automated tests. Does it include features for implementing checkpoints to verify values, databases, or key functionality of your application? Does your tool integrate with your CI/CD pipeline, such as Jenkins or Azure? Or a source control such as Git? Does the tool have the ability to test enterprise applications? Does your tool offer out-of-the-box support to test packaged applications like SAP, Oracle, and Salesforce? Selecting the Right SelectorsUsing the right kind of selectors to get your elements for your automated tests is the only solution for flaky tests. If you select un-reliable or generic selectors, your tests are destined to fail. For example, using Xpaths or generic class names as selectors will result in flaky tests and a lot of maintenance for the test suite, as they’ll be invalid whenever there is some change in the UI of the page under test. In my personal experience, I’ve found the CSS & JQuery selectors more reliable and effective.Let’s assume we want to get the following element:Which of the following selectors do you think is more reliable?Xpath: //*[@id="container"]/a[1]CSS: a[href="]Which Tests Should You Automate?It is impractical to automate all testing, so it is vital to determine what test cases should be automated first. Good test cases for automation are ones that are run frequently and require large amounts of data to perform the same action.You can get the most benefit out of your automated testing efforts by automating the following:Repetitive tests that run for multiple builds Tests that tend to cause human error Tests that require multiple data sets Frequently used functionality that introduces high-risk conditions Tests that run on several different hardware or software platforms and configurations Tests that take a lot of effort and time when manual testing Test Cases that touch a key piece of functionality and should be run before release Test CoverageHere we’ll not be talking about test coverage in terms of unit testing but the different types of testing you should cover as part of your automation test suite even if it weren't required. Here are a few that, in my personal opinion, should be covered as part of best practices implementation:Accessibility Testing: Without going into too many details about accessibility testing, as in what it is or why it is important, the borderline is your application will perform better if it follows the WCAG guidelines, and while it should be part of development itself, nonetheless it should be part of your automation testing. With tools like the AXE engine, it is very easy to integrate the accessibility test cases within your existing test suite. API Calls: Even though APIs are tested separately by the QA and the development teams, it is always better to check the API calls on runtime while they’re being made from the application. For example: If you need to test a login page, sometimes the errors on the FE are very generic, and they’ll not tell you more than ‘Something went wrong.’ Still, as a tester, while you need to observe if something goes wrong, you also need to identify why it did. In this scenario, if you’re inspecting that API call made on clicking the login button, you’ll get the exact response and status code back and can quickly identify what exactly happened based on it. Client-side Performance: While server-side performance is important and is covered extensively during testing, client-side performance is equally essential and, most of the time, is left untested. A general client-side performance audit will tell you things like the FCP and LCP, which is the time your application takes to load the first item versus the page's main content. The easiest way to implement this is by using Google’s lighthouse integration. Visual Testing: I’ve covered this topic in detail in my other article on Visual AI and Autonomous Testing, but just for introductory purposes, with modern AI/ML tools available like Applitools and Percy, it doesn’t make sense to keep validating your application’s look and feel via coding assertions. Implementing Visual AI testing in your automation suite will save much of your time and resources, especially with maintenance. Test Structure & StrategyWhile designing your test automation suite, you must take into account the importance of a good test structure and strategy that can benefit not only the live development but also its maintenance. Following are a few points that have helped us in the past:Test suites: Structure your tests in the form of test suites that can be independently configured and executed. If each test case represents a piece of a scenario, such as the elements that simulate completing a transaction, use a test suite. Self-contained /Independent: While writing your tests, make sure they’re self-contained, meaning that they should not depend on their successor tests to pass in order for them to pass. We’ve seen many examples where teams build their tests to run in a sequential order while it's opposite to what the automated test suite is supposed to be: flexible, agile, etc. Data-driven: Always make sure your tests are data-driven in order to ensure the reusability of the work that has already been done. By using a data-driven approach, you can generate test cases just by changing the data stored in external files. Page Object Model: In some cases, when your application under test is prone to frequent UI changes, it is a good idea to implement POM for your automated tests. It not only ensures the reusability of the component but also helps in the readability and maintenance of the test code. Dedicated Automation EnvironmentThis might not be possible for each team or project. Still, since we’re talking about the best practices, I have to mention Dedicated Automation Environment, as having one will only increase the productivity and overall efficiency of your automation framework and hence the crucial time and resources of your team.It has been observed many times before, more than I hate to admit, that tests frequently fail due to unannounced changes deployed to the environment in which the tests were executed, especially when multiple teams are working with the same dev or test environment. Therefore, having a dedicated environment that is up to date with the latest changes that are supposed to go live in the next release is essential for non-flaky tests.Testing Cross-platform and On Real DevicesMore often than not, it is observed that testers design their tests to execute only on a single platform. It could be a platform like a desktop against mobile or in terms of a browser like Chrome vs. Firefox, while as a best practice, your tests should be designed in a way that they can be executed against multiple platforms, and they should.To have ample test coverage for a web application, you should ensure you execute your tests against all the popular browsers and on all the popular devices such as desktops, tablets, and mobile. Moreover, if you require more realistic results, your tests should run on real devices instead of emulators or simulators. This task can be humongous and expensive if done manually or even using local resources hence making use of cloud platforms such as Browserstack or SauceLabs can be beneficial.ExecutionThis is where all your preparation and work come to life. This is also the most critical step to automate, which most of the testers fail to do. It is often understood that integrating the E2E tests into the existing CI/CD pipelines is a DevOps job that is somewhat true but not always. I like to do it myself, as it gives you more control and ownership of your tests. Anyhow, whoever does it, ultimately, it should be done, and the following are a few points to remember while making doing so:Parallelize the automated test cases that are independent. For example, if a test suite contains 5 tests that are self-contained, none of them should wait for the previous test to finish before starting. Use multiple machines and servers to run your tests in parallel. It can decrease your execution time from ~25 to ~5 minutes. To increase the speed of your release while maintaining the quality, configure your tests to run on each pull request from a child branch to the main branch. This will ensure that none of the new changes are breaking any existing functionality and that the code is safe to merge. If your team doesn't push out frequent releases, it might be a good idea to execute your test cases based on a cron-job to ensure nothing unexpected breaks the application. For example: Run the tests every other day at noon or every first Monday of the month. ReportingFinally, in the last step, if there is no thought-out plan for effectively collecting and analyzing the test results, the automation effort can be all in vain. Therefore, a well-defined process will save teams from many conflicts and resources in refining the application.Automation should serve to reduce the amount of time QA teams have to spend verifying test results. Set up adequate reporting infrastructure using the tools that will generate high-quality test reports after each cycle. If possible, assign your tests different but relevant tags to group and filter them out easily in the reports. A good test summary report should be created after each cycle and shared with all the stakeholders via multiple mediums, such as Email & Slack.TakeawayEach application of any complexity will likely have its own combination of testing requirements, and none of the discussed points together will ever be in play.It is still essential to know the best practices for making the right decisions early on. Study these practices, and implement them in a way that best suits your software, business, and users.If you want to take your application of test automation a step further to practice better, faster QA, this 30-minute video will give you all you need!

Best Practices for Test Automation: Framework Selection, Test Coverage, and more


UX, UI and Product Designers work within a space of continuous learning. The very nature of what we do is iteration!In a highly competitive field, good designers look to expand their knowledge and keep up with the latest tools in order to best serve their users.So I asked designers from our team about how they stay sharp and what methods have worked best in their experience.Question 1What suggestions would you give to keep up with the latest knowledge and advancements in technology?Name: Adriano RenziTitle: UX ResearcherResponse:I try to check how technology may evolve by attending scientific conferences and reading scientific journals and being part of discussion panels related to interaction, information architecture and AI. Many presented researches anticipate by 2 to 5 years what will come in the future.Name: Rahul JacobTitle: Product DesignerResponse:As the tech industry evolves rapidly, attending conferences, tech events, and joining online or in-person communities can help with gaining knowledge and adapting to new technologies. It is also important to spend some time every day following news from technology focused publications and online tech news sites. Connect with tech Influencers, tech companies devoted to technology and emerging trends through social media.Name: Osama NadeemTitle: Product DesignerResponse:I have subscribed to many designers/content creators on youtube, blogs and I follow tech leaders on platforms like linkedin where I get many updates regarding what’s happening in the tech industry.Name: Umer FarooqTitle: Principal DesignerResponse:I used to look around articles especially on IDF and try to find if it’s timeless. Trends come and go but there are certain workflows, behaviors you can learn by participating in communities. I can relate to Figma as I lost the train because of my too much involvement with Adobe XD. A lesson well learnt and now catching up well with Figma, the best design tool.Name: Dana MitchellTitle: Sr. Product DesignerResponse:Step one would be to identify what technology you want to keep up with. Go with what you are passionate about or technologies that pique your interest. Step two is figuring out how you want to keep up to date. I leverage videos, audiobooks, and podcasts for my learning. Lastly, step three, use that knowledge. Write articles, design flows, edit a video, whatever format it takes! By using your new knowledge you will anchor it in your mind and create a personal design process that is dynamic and designed to grow with you.Name: Cordelia FongTitle: Sr. UX DesignerResponse:I tend to actively keep up and devote time to reading the tech news daily. Attending conferences and workshops, networking with designers are also a priority, following great leaders and participating in online communities.Question 2Are there design leaders or blogs you regularly follow?Name: Adriano RenziTitle: UX ResearcherResponse:I like to check what is happening in projects from Ben Schneiderman, Floridi, Resmini, Benyon, Agner, Nigel Cross and Resú. They are usually very active in continuous publications on technology. I do not look for design blogs because they usually present no reference of their facts.Name: Rahul JacobTitle: Product DesignerResponse:I consider Don Norman to be one of the most influential design leaders when it comes to user experience and usability research. In addition, I find John Maeda to be a true inspiration since he is the pioneering voice of simplicity that encourages people to use technology to simplify their daily lives rather than complicate them.Dribbble, UX Collective, Medium, Smashing Magazine are all excellent resources for finding great articles, stories, content, inspiration, research, as well as for thinking critically.Name: Osama NadeemTitle: Product DesignerResponse:Among many designers that I follow, I admire Don Norman, Anudeep Ayyagari, Eric Keneddy and Joe Natoli. I like how Don Norman has a very simple yet effective way of explaining things, Anudeep Ayyagari has a rather funny tone which is also pretty interesting. Eric Keneddy’s UI course that I took a couple of years ago was very impactful and is still very relevant and Joe Natoli has a very unfiltered and impactful way of explaining things.Name: Umer FarooqTitle: Principal DesignerResponse:My all time favorites are Normans, Nick Babich, Mark Hassenzaal, Frank Spillers. The guys are so expressive and communicate ideas in a seamless fashion that you don’t feel burdened.Name: Dana MitchellTitle: Sr. Product DesignerResponse:Not a blog but podcasts! While not specific to emerging technologies in design, there are a lot of podcasts, like The Way of Product Design, Design Better Podcast, 99% Invisible, etc. have helped me to build a better design practice. Hearing design leaders speak about their problems or projects and the solutions that came with them helped to expand my knowledge of what is possible in product design.Name: Cordelia FongTitle: Sr. UX DesignerResponse:My favorite design leaders are Luke Wroblewski (Mobile First), Steve Krug, Don Norman and Kim Goodwin. I followed a few blogs when I started as a UX designer: CareerFoundry, JustinMind, UX Mastery, UX Matters. They provided such great depth of information on UX careers.Question 3What are your main sources for continuous learning?Name: Adriano RenziTitle: UX ResearcherResponse:Conferences (HCII, AHFE, SPGD, FTC), Journals (Ergodesign Journal, Philosophy and technology, Design de Informação), Theses (Esdi, PUC-Rio), Books (Mihaly Csikszenntmihalyi, Resmini, Nielsen, Rosenfeld, Morville),Name: Rahul JacobResponse:Every once in a while, I check if there are any tech-related crash courses, webinars, online tutorials, and networking events occurring. In addition, I reach out to my friends, coworkers, and colleagues who have the most knowledge on a topic for recommendations: articles, books, lectures, or other resources.Name: Osama NadeemTitle: Product DesignerResponse:I consume lots of content on youtube and I’ve subscribed to many design specific channels there. I also read articles on medium and have followed people on linkedin who post useful design learning resources. Whenever I come across some content and I don’t have the time to skim over it right then, I save it in my Notion workspace and revisit it later. I also try reading books, but that doesn’t happen too often.Name: Umer FarooqTitle: Principal DesignerResponse:I prefer watching rather than reading. There are many channels out there to follow and everyone is doing some seriously amazing work.A recent addition was a guy from Canada called Faheem.Name: Dana MitchellTitle: Senior Product DesignerResponse:My source changes based on my intent. I find that, as a designer, any social media algorithm will eventually serve me design-focused content. You like one of Zander Whitehurst’s “Supafast” videos and the algorithm will serve you more like it. This is a fantastic way to take small “sips” of new knowledge, which makes learning more approachable. However, I do have a more targeted approach when it comes to learning specific skills and I will seek out anything that can help me achieve my goals. Articles, tutorials, videos, documentation, whatever!Name: Cordelia FongTitle: Sr. UX DesignerResponse:LinkedIn learning, courses, books, blogs and attending events.Question 4What design books do you recommend?Name: Adriano RenziTitle: UX ResearcherResponse:Information Architecture by Rosenfeld, Pervasive Information Architecture by Resmine and Rosatti, Arquitetura Pervasiva by Luiz Agner, Lean UX by Gohelf, Seiden, Flow by Csikszenntmihalyi, Les Technologies de l'intelligence by Lévy, Designing Interactions by Moggridge.Name: Rahul JacobTitle: Product DesignerResponse:The Laws of Simplicity by John Maeda, The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman, 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People by Susan Weinschenk, and Start With Why by Simon Sinek.Name: Osama NadeemTitle: Product DesignerResponse:The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman, Just Enough Research by Erika Hall, Giving A Damn about Accessibility by Sheri Byrne Haber, Don't Make Me Think by Steve Krug, and Refactoring UI by Adam Wathan & Steve Schoger.Name: Umer FarooqTitle: Principal DesignerResponse:Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug and The Design of Everyday Things.Name: Dana MitchellTitle: Sr. Product DesignerResponse:Inspired by Marty Cagan, The Mom Test by Rob Fitzpatrick, Stories That Stick by Kindra Hall, Think Again by Adam Grant, Actionable Gamification by Yu-kai Chou, and Atomic Habits by James Clear.Name: Cordelia FongTitle: Sr. UX DesignerResponse:Many of you may have known these books, but these are still my top 3: 1) The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman 2) Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability by Steve Krug 3) The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web and Beyond by Jesse James GarrettQuestion 5Do you find your personal interests influence your professional space? What inspires you as a designer?Name: Adriano RenziTitle: UX ResearcherResponse:Not really. But I find my enthusiasm and learning interest to influence people around me.Name: Rahul JacobTitle: Product DesignerResponse:Looking back at my childhood, I’m glad I was exposed to Music and Art because it taught me valuable lessons that I don’t believe I would have learned otherwise. Through music and art, I learned how to think outside the box, discover better ways of doing things, boost confidence, productivity, self-esteem, and well-being.Name: Osama NadeemTitle: Product DesignerResponse:I’ve always been fascinated about how things work, that mindset has enabled me to look at problems keenly and that is always my approach when it comes to design. My personal interests such as music and gaming always keep my brain creative because both of them allow me to think outside the box and be creative. These two are among the attributes that keep me motivated as a designer.Name: Umer FarooqTitle: Principal DesignerResponse:I prefer to spend time watching seasons especially with the backdrop of WW2 and keenly observing the culture, the food, the language and how people use to behave in certain circumstances etc. A good designer can always get inspired from whatever content he digests every day.Name: Dana MitchellTitle: Sr. Product DesignerResponse:My inspiration as a designer is to creatively solve problems to improve the lives of people. With my personal interests being balanced between mentoring new designers and expanding my skills as a novice potter, I find that these interests feed directly into my professional work. Mentoring has improved my ability to speak about design and to convey my ideas more effectively while pottery has taught me to let go of my work and accept that not everything is going to make it out of the kiln how I want it to.Name: Cordelia FongTitle: Sr. UX DesignerResponse:Curiosity and finding your passion. I tried things that interested me. Find out what I am good at, and I experimented with Illustration, Sketching, Painting, Interior Design, Fashion Design, Jewellery Design, Advertising Design, Website Design, and which led me to where I am

Ask A Designer Round 3: Staying Curious


When was the last time you considered “team happiness” as a KPI for yourself?As a manager, it’s vital to be very aware and conscious of how your team feels at work. Are they happy with what they’re doing? Do they have enough opportunities to grow and develop their skill set?Having a culture of open and transparent communication within any team can have very positive effects on its function.Open communication helps foster trust among team members by creating a safe environment where they can share their thoughts and ideas.It can also boost the team’s productivity, creativity, and innovation. Above all, if practiced regularly, this can create a continuous feedback loop that can help the team to improve, leading to better decision-making and smoother achievement of their goals. Combined with values of honesty and support, this can enable managers to build hyper-successful teams.Then again, it is important to understand that communication is a two-way street, and sometimes, growing teams and managers fail to look at it that way. The team lead, or the manager would always be the one to provide feedback and consider it to be sufficient.Instead, managers should engage in open dialogue and actively seek feedback for communication with their team members. This will help them understand how they are perceived and identify any concerns their team members have.Not only will this activity make them more effective in their roles, but when each teammate feels that they have a say in how the team is run and that their opinions are valued, their motivation and commitment to the team will increase massively.Open collaboration is not just limited to the team and the manager, but it should also be encouraged amongst all stakeholders involved to ensure success of any project. To achieve this, be sure to check out this article on DesignOps.Focus Areas For ManagersFor managers, we can identify the following areas upon which they can measure their perception within their teams and seek improvement:Team Happiness: Do their team members enjoy working together under their management? Growth & Upskilling: Do managers provide enough opportunities for growth and development for their team members? Leading through an example: Do managers manifest the qualities in themself that they expect of their team members? Support: Do managers provide the right support to their team members in their work? Open to feedback: How open are the managers about their shortcomings or listening to their team members about their own mistakes? Transparency: Do the managers communicate proactively and transparently? Culture: Does the manager create an inclusive culture for everyone in their team to thrive? Recognition: Does the manager put an effort to recognize their team members when they do good work or just focus on the criticism? A lot of answers to the above questions can be found by simply maintaining open communication with your team, like in this candid conversation with designers.Feedback Form TemplateNow to put these in practical terms, here is how someone can use the following template to get feedback from their team members.Instructions for the respondents:Keep the survey confidential and anonymous, so people can comfortably respond. Illustrate the intent of the survey, which is to get feedback from people for self-improvement. Don't confine the responses to p options or a grading system. Keep the answers open and let people express their sentiments. Here is an example:The QuestionnaireFor the questions of the feedback survey, it is a good idea to give examples of positives and negatives that can help the team members understand better what they should be looking for in terms of support from their managers. It is also a good idea to enable the shuffle option in the questionnaire if possible to randomly sort questions to remove fatigue bias for some questions.Are you happy or proud to be a member of your squad/ team? Do you feel connected with your peers? Does <> provide you with enough opportunities for growth and advancement in your career? Examples can be discussion around opportunities or asking you to practice certain things that can improve you as a professional. If this has happened, highlight something that you disliked or liked about this. Does <> inspire or motivate you to do your best work? If yes, How? Example: Either by his example or sharing inspirations or talking with you or something else. How would you describe the level of support offered by <>? Example: Does <> support you in your well-being, work challenges, work-life balance challenges, growth challenges, etc.? You can also mention areas where you may have felt a lack of support from <> and would like that to improve. How comfortable do you feel in giving feedback to <> or sharing anything that you don't feel good about? What is <>'s general response when you have shared something difficult with him before? Do you feel that you are treated fairly without bias? How would you rate transparency in terms of messaging, policy sharing, and general communication from <>? What could be improved? Describe your squad's culture in fewer than 20 words. You can also mention if you don't see any culture or a culture you would like the team to strive for. Are you encouraged to lend others a helping hand if they are stuck with some task or take help from others and be comfortable about it? How strongly do you feel valued at work? Does <> recognize your good work or exclusively focus on criticizing? How likely would you recommend a close friend, family member, or someone you care about to work in the <>'s team? [BONUS Question] What is something <> can start doing, do more of, or stop doing to support you to continue doing great work? TakeawayConstructive criticism that doesn’t discourage, but in fact motivates team members effectively will always prove to be a successful method.And as great as achieving effective communication can prove to be, it’s vital to make conscious and tangible efforts in the way of doing so.With the feedback form template and questionnaire provided above, you should find it easier to actively contribute towards improving communication and collaboration within your team.For a more in-depth guide on how you can enhance the growth and performance of your design teams, read this detailed article on Designer Career Ladders.

Empowering Your Team through Feedback: A Manager’s Guide For Effective Communication in the Workplace


Many product development teams often face one very common yet very significant challenge; scaling unified experiences across multiple channels, and accomplishing that without significantly reinventing the software itself.The main culprit behind this problem? Usually, a lack of reusability maturity across the organization. In the initial phases, most startups are heavily focused on shipping out the first version of their digital product as early as possible and collecting feedback early on in the process. While this is understandable, given that startups often have tighter timelines (and budgets!) compared to an enterprise-level business, it does impact the product itself.Usually, as a direct result of focusing too much on a fast rollout, many important architectural decisions can (and do) take a lower priority than shipping out the product itself. And to make matters worse, these gaps continue to compound and become harder to deal with the longer they stay on the back burner.It is important to note that the engineering teams (in most cases) are not to blame for this situation or the problems that subsequently arise from it. Regardless of the extent of their competence, a product’s architecture is directly impacted by decisions taken very early in the development process, especially where there is very little foresight available into the future.However, before a product can truly enter its growth stage, it could prove prudent to take a step back and address the underlying issues that could be impeding the needs associated with the growth stage of the product’s lifecycle.What makes reusability so important? Accelerating time-to-market When leveraged correctly, reusing components can create space for faster development and save product development teams more time since many of the necessary building blocks will already be available to them, making the need to build everything from scratch redundant.Centralized maintenance Any software periodically requires updates to function optimally. With reusability in the mix, any time a piece of software needs updating, developers need only to update it in the centralized master component, instead of manually updating each section of the software. This allows not just for easier maintenance but also speeds up the process in parallel.Lower operational costs One of the most important long-term benefits of reusability is that it allows development teams to increase their efficiency, helping them save time both in terms of development work as well as eliminating redundancies and duplication.New business lines Reusability at the system level can help firms discover new business lines. For example, with the exposure of the existing system functionality to new customers, especially those that live outside of the eco-system e.g. API integrations, SDKs, etc.Reusability maturity frameworks From a product developer’s perspective, there can be several suitable reusability frameworks and models. However, choosing the right one is crucial to product success. Based on my professional experience, two such frameworks can prove very helpful in a broad range of situations.First, the reusability framework pioneered by Koltun and Hudson (1991). This framework evaluates reusability maturity on an organizational mindset level. It does so primarily by taking into account the various processes and internal practices that the development teams within the organization tend to follow.The second framework that I have found to be very effective solely focuses on the assessment of reusability maturity in the context of the software itself. These assessments can include:Level 0️ – No reusability: Cut and paste. Manual update at all instances.Level 1️ – Object & Function Reuse: Small-scale software components that implement a single well-defined object or function may be reused.Level 2️ – Component Reuse: Components of an application from sub-systems to single objects may be reused.Level 3️ – Application Reuse: An application may be reused either by incorporating it without change into others or by developing application families.Level 4️ – System Reuse: Complete systems, which may include several application programs.Software Reusability Maturity modelMoving up the reusability maturity curve The impact of leveraging the assessments of a reusability maturity framework is to determine where you stand on the reusability maturity curve. From that point, the next logical step is to try and move up the curve. One way to do this is to establish a roadmap and identify the next necessary steps along this roadmap. It is important to remember that, regardless of your position on the curve, the phrase “build once, reuse everywhere” should be a north start for development teams.For example, in the second framework examined above, moving between Level 0 and Level 2 would primarily require teams to consistently adopt and adhere to better programming practices. In this case, product managers could consider using a design system as a possible solution in promoting the reuse of components across different areas of the application.A design system can help to create a comprehensive library of components, allowing product teams to efficiently and consistently deliver a unique brand experience through a single application.Levels 3 and 4, however, may need more sophistication in key decisions, especially at the architectural level. Products may require you to make certain changes to the tech stack or move towards complex cross-platform options, based on what would best meet your requirements.The correct architecture would then allow product teams to collate various application components and then republish them separately as SDKs or separate platform services.Microservices architecture can enable product development teams to build specialized APIs which can also be reused outside of the core application. This, in turn, could help to create entirely new business channels, for example, by exposing the existing service to 3rd parties for integrations.Final Thoughts This blog does not mean to imply that achieving reusability maturity is the solution to all product problems. In fact, working with reusable software code can prove somewhat challenging for many developers. But there is the fact that with software components reused across different sections of the same app or multiple apps, you can create additional space to consider and test out different scenarios for each release, minimizing the impact on the rest of the modules in the software.Therefore, moving up the ladder of the reusability maturity curve is more likely to help with product sustainability through the growth and maturity stages in its life-cycle.

Understanding Reusability Maturity Assessments


If you’re someone who thinks of frameworks as a scam — you’re not alone.Many people have come to associate product frameworks with trouble rather than a solution to real world challenges — a conception that has formed over the past few years.Unfolding the Stigma Around Product FrameworksThe stigma around product frameworks stems from companies and individuals that offer “frameworks” only as a means to lure users towards their products — a mere stepping stone in their marketing efforts.As a result, what we’re left with is a wide variety of frameworks — for every topic, and in every industry — with little knowledge on how to actually use them.And today, it seems the situation has gotten quite out of hand; I recently came across a framework for relationship counseling that contained “metrics” to track all violations caused by your partner. And of course, these would be discussed in weekly review sessions.So, it was inevitable that frameworks, originally meant to provide a well-organized structure to any process, are now more often than not looked at in a negative light, especially in the product community.Most aspiring product managers have fallen prey to the facade of flashy frameworks that only cause more trouble than offer any viable solutions.But we’re not here to completely discredit product frameworks! After all, at its core, the true purpose of a product framework is to offer a template of practices you can follow to bring structure to any process.However, without certain measures of caution, using your product framework would always be a gamble.4 Things To Consider When Using Product FrameworksThe success of your product framework will always depend on certain factors. And being cautious about each of them will significantly improve your chances of success with your frameworks.1. Find the right framework for your productNot every framework you come across will be suitable for you and your product.As a standard practice, it is critical to perform your due diligence in seeking out the framework that best suits your needs and fits your product well.In your research for the right product framework, you’ll also likely come across two frameworks with contradicting guidance on how to use them.This doesn’t necessarily indicate that either one of the two is a scam; they just might not be relevant to your situation.A good way to identify the right frameworks is to watch out for non-credible sources and seek out frameworks that have actually been tried and tested by others with similar use cases.2. Get appropriate and authentic trainingProduct frameworks are far from being straight-forward and easy to adopt right away.Most frameworks you find will require some level of familiarizing and training.There are some complex product frameworks for which you’ll find dedicated training programs online as well. But even this is being exploited and turned into a scamming business, so it’s important to be wary of what you’re getting yourself into.I’d like to emphasize here that there is no need for any paid certification to get started with using a product framework. In today’s world, most of the information and guidance you’ll need is already available out there — free of cost.All you need to meticulously do is filter out the authentic ones from the rubble of unreliable ones.The best way to do this is to:Get a sound understanding of any framework you pick for your use-case. Understand the limitations of your chosen framework, where it is most effective, and where it fails Review all original material available about the concept wherever possible (look for the original author of the information to check its authenticity). Connect with other community members and learn from their experience of the product framework: what worked for them? What didn’t? 3. Avoid getting blindsidedNo framework you find out there will be 100% perfect!Product frameworks are meant to be an aid to your process — not a stringent rulebook that is rigid and impedes the progress of your product team.Anyone that considers product frameworks as the “absolute truth” would be a fool.For every product, every team, and every circumstance, there will be different and distinct requirements. There’s no guarantee that what worked for companies like Google, Facebook, or Amazon will work for you — so it’s best not to get too excited and try implementing it on your own use-case.It’s good to trust your gut and base your decision on what the framework actually brings with it, what it recommends, and whether or not it aligns with your fundamental principles.Before getting started with a product framework, make the effort to truly understand what you can modify about your process in accordance with the guidelines and what cannot be changed for your specific framework.4. Don’t over-rely on frameworksAlways remember: there’s no critical need to use frameworks — and using them just for the sake of having a framework in place is possibly one of the worst reasons to invest your time and effort into getting a framework.The end goal in product management is always to solve customer problems, and do so effectively. Whether or not you have any particular framework in place holds no importance to the customer.If, for example, you already have a prioritization method or product prioritization framework that works for you better than MoSCoW or RICE, it’s completely fine to continue using that.Product frameworks are very helpful when it comes to adding an overall clarity to your process and approach, and even more so for newcomers who need concrete and clear guidelines before handling any abstract task.TakeawayProduct managers want to solve customer problems, and product frameworks are tools that help you solve problems in pretty much every situation.For any process, and at any given point in time, there will always be multiple tools that you can choose from and use. But the important thing here is to identify and choose the right tool that works well with you and your product and actually helps you execute your processes more efficiently.As with any tool, it’s important to know how to use the framework effectively before getting started.Product frameworks are created to address pre-defined problems, but in the real-world, your situation will always be unique and the tools you use may require adjustment in accordance with your circumstance.Finally, there’s absolutely no obligation to continue with an existing tool. If you have another method that does the job better, don’t take the added burden of additional costs to use the tool.Learn what works, gauge your own limitations, and apply methods and product frameworks that actually align with your needs.

4 Things To Get Right When Using A Product Framework


To build and manage a product in the digital world today heavily relies on data and analytics.With data guiding important decisions, there remains no doubt that data-driven decision making will continue to dominate as the modus operandi for digital businesses.In this article, we’ll cover three techniques that can help you make data-driven decisions.But first, let’s understand why using data to make decisions is such an important part for successful product companies.Why are data-driven decisions important?While data has always been integral to any business in any form, never has it been more important to extract, collate, and analyze this data efficiently.With massive amounts of data now generated on a daily basis, there are several reasons successful organizations play such close attention to user data analytics:1. InnovationCompanies that recognize the importance of data-driven decisions don’t just look at it as a digital “trend”. They treat it as an essential asset for the business; with data guiding important decisions, digital insights are seen as an opportunity to seek more knowledge and drive a culture of innovation within the organization.2. CompetitivenessWith a higher dependency on data, you gain the ability to evolve your business in accordance to emerging trends.Not only does this increase the adaptability of your organization to keep up with the latest patterns in the industry, but such adeptness also helps you use data to make better decisions that ensure you stay ahead of your competition.3. Improved communicationWorking with key insights and user data analytics is a great way to keep your organization aligned with important KPIs that contribute towards business growth.By being on the same page, your organization can perform as one cohesive unit that never loses sight of what needs to be achieved and which kind of user data is needed for it.4. Consistent growth and opportunitiesOne of the prime benefits to businesses that leverage user data analytics is that of consistent growth and discovering fresh new opportunities.Being able to consistently make data-driven decisions empowers your organization to narrow down on key insights, performance metrics, and actionable benchmarks that keep you ahead of the curve by continually encouraging growth.What is an example of a data-driven decision?To understand how businesses have come to recognize the importance of data and user data analytics, let’s take the example of a business with a large base of millions of active users.Netflix, a giant in the content streaming industry, leverages user data to achieve consistent customer retention.Despite increasing competition in the industry, Netflix has found ways to prioritize the user experience by studying their behaviors, preferences, and watch patterns.With such deep insights, the streaming service is able to recommend relevant and accurate content suggestions to each user, significantly improving their experience on the platform, which keeps customers coming back for more.What are some key factors when making data driven decisions?With a good understanding of all the ways user data analytics can help in your business, it’s vital to keep the following factors in mind for data-driven decision making:Organize your data effectively Format your collected data properly, before jumping into the analysis. Remove outdated information or irrelevant data that is not aligned with your goals, and get rid of duplicated data to remove confusion and arrange the data systematically.Overcome your biases Keeping yourself aware of factual data will limit your bias and help you make more informed decisions that aren’t based on guesswork. It is one of the best practices in data-driven decision making to collaborate with colleagues and consider other perspectives by seeking out more conflicting information.Ensure data literacy Only educating yourself on data won’t suffice; you should ensure that every stakeholder that contributes towards important business decisions is well-versed in working with data. This can be done by making your data more user-friendly and easily understandable, and also by analyzing who in your organization has the capability of working with data.For more tips on how you can effectively manage data, read about our 3-tiered approach in this article on The What, Why, and How of Data Management In the Age of Digital.3 Techniques To Make Data-driven DecisionsNow, let’s walk through some of the most useful techniques that are great for making data-driven decisions.There are several other techniques to drive better decision-making with user data analytics, but the following are found to be most effective:Funnel analysis Cohort analysis Event-based tracking Funnel analysisA funnel analysis is a technique for figuring out how many people proceed through each phase in order to reach a particular outcome on a product.The series of phases is known as a "funnel" because the standard shape used to visualize the movement of users resembles a kitchen or garage funnel.There are some great benefits of using a funnel analysis:Identify the exit pages with a significant volume of visitors Figure out the sources of your best visitors Aid in decision-making for team members and stakeholders Let me share an example of a funnel analysis done where we are looking how many customers started the session on the app, then viewed the ingredients and submitted the review.In the image above, we can see that around four people started the session and 85% of the customers viewed the ingredients.This further dropped until the write review step, showing that there’s an overall 62% conversion rate from session start until the “write review” step.This is how funnels help to understand the drop, on which you can further do different analyses to understand what’s causing the drop and how you can mitigate that.Cohort analysisHow do you analyze your user base to study various types of users when not every user feels the same way about your account?Cohorts are a means to divide up users into subsets based on a shared trait.Let's take the simple example of a blog website.To begin with, imagine a scenario where every person who visited the account for the first time is compared to how they behaved the next time they visited and interacted with it.Then, we evaluate this user behavior at two distinct times, testing for the same characteristic, which is first-time users, as you continuously push out updates, and analyze how various update types affect first-time user behavior.Now, let's say you published some extremely interesting material in January and February and noticed a rise in interaction.But in March, you added some pretty awful, enormous graphics to the landing page, and noticed a decline in retention.First-time user study is useful in such situations because it helps eliminate the prejudices of customers who have some brand loyalty and will continue to use the product despite poor UX.The goal here is to compare behavior and responses to various activities performed using the first-time experience.Cohorts become important in this situation.You need to compare KPIs as you push out new features, factoring in the KPIs you are measuring first. Conversions and retention are the KPIs that individuals most frequently consider when discussing cohorts.In other words, are your users turning into paying clients or are they only returning to your product itself? You can determine what features and KPIs are driving behavior in this way.Event-based trackingLet's look at event-based tracking now.This is the technique I would emphasize the most on because it’s the one that businesses do the least.By examining each and every interaction a user has with your product or your screen without clicking, you can now get into the mind of the user. And using instrumentation is the only way you'll be able to gather this data.Instrumentation should be a consideration for your engineers when they design your product. It's a difficult process because you're adding a lot of instrumentation in addition to writing code and releasing a new feature.But bear in mind: you're not being an effective product manager if you have to do this after launch. The post-launch process is highly expensive, and you've already lost a lot of really important data.Event-based tracking enables you to dissect particular elements of the user experience. How many times, for instance, was a picture loaded? How many times did the same error message appear, or how many characters were entered?This type of analysis enables you to guarantee that your customer experience is excellent. Consider what the client is doing when you create your instrumentation and how you want to instrument it. And some of these are actually rather difficult; it's not always simple to perform.I collaborate with a few of our customization teams, and a lot of these initiatives involve technology hurdles you need to consider right away. Consider your technology choices before moving on with the project.TakeawayIn this article, we explored the many ways data-driven decision making can drive incredible benefits for your business, both externally and internally.On the external front, user data is definitely something to be leveraged if you want to remain competitive in your industry and become a giant, like in the example we saw.Within the organization, staying on top of user data analytics will help keep your teams aligned and focused towards clear, common business goals and place benchmarks and KPIs that all contribute towards your journey to success.If you want to learn more about data-driven product management and which stages of the product life cycle can benefit from the use of user data analytics, don’t skip this article here: Do Products Drive Data or Does Data Drive the Product?Meta description:Data is vital, but useless if you don’t know how to use it right. These 3 effective techniques improve how data is used to drive better decisions for your business.Excerpt:In a world of cut-throat competition in every industry where businesses operate in the digital space, missing out on key user insights and relying on guesswork can prove to be fatal for your business. Leaving things to chance when it comes to understanding what your users really want from their experience with your product can be detrimental. On the other hand, carefully studying your users, their behaviors, and their interactions has endless benefits — both on the outside and within your organization. In this article, Associate Product Manager Ali Ayub Khan reveals three of the most effective techniques that help you drive better data-driven decisions every single day.

3 Techniques To Make Data-Driven Decisions with User Data Analytics


For any organization where design is a core part of the service portfolio, building a design team is a gargantuan task.While filling in the designer roles and laying down designer responsibilities is one big part of it, there lies another immense responsibility on the organization: to provide promising designer career paths for its people.This means building something strong from the ground up, but at the same time, creating a solution that is flexible to your organization’s distinct needs and goals.What is the Career Path for a Designer?When deciding the career path for a designer, the first step is to start by building a career ladder for all designer roles within the organization.At this stage, your objective should be to make sure that the ladder answers the following questions:How do we offer our designers opportunities to grow as individual contributors and people managers? How do we make sure that our titles are standard with the best practices in the industry? How do we ensure consistent titles across all designer roles? In the search for answers to these questions, we came up with the following career ladder:The Dual-Lane Designer Career LadderAlong the product and design career ladder, there are multiple elements and steps that the designers go through.And understanding the hierarchy of these designer roles and their impact is step one.What is the hierarchy in designer roles?Every designer starts as an associate, learning and growing their way to mid and senior levels.After the senior level, designers can decide to pursue either the individual contributor or the leadership path as both offer very different levels of designer responsibilities and role expectations.Of course, designers can opt to switch their paths: An individual contributor can always become a manager and a manager can go on to become an individual contributor at any time of their career.But, with that being said, this usually comes with a big change in their day-to-day responsibilities — and that’s what’s important for designers to understand.Transparent role expectations and designer responsibilitiesNext, it’s important to give designers the tools they would need to succeed in their current roles and help managers have better conversations with designers around the subject of growth and development.In our quest to learn from some of the best standards and examples from the design community and defined clear role expectations for every role.For each designer role’s expectation, we tried to include a good mix of hard and people skills.Below is an example of our product design role expectations.Annual assessmentsNow to add accountability and dialogue to the mix, we’ve seen that running skill assessments once a year is a good way to take first-hand input from every designer, key designated client-side stakeholders, and the team leads. This feedback is then assessed against the designers’ role expectations, and key designer KPIs.We also have the designers fill out the same skill assessment for their own selves when they join the team.In these assessments, we urge designers to be as honest as possible:Ranking as ”Improving” (low) anywhere is seen as an opportunity for growth and not as a sign of weakness.This is the same principle you can follow when discussing the results of yearly assessments that are done from clients and other stakeholders.For the rating of each skill, we use the following grading system that we learned from our amazing friends at Salesforce.The word scale makes a lot more sense than the number scale and reduces subjectivity when it comes to rating designer skills.The assessment results from different stakeholders are received, aggregated, and shared with each designer and their design leads. This process end-to-end is duly managed expertly by our Design Ops team.The leads then engage in conversations with designers to help them better understand the expectations of their designer roles.It helps to break the expectations into achievable goals and help the team members get better at what they do in their designer roles.The leads are also responsible for creating opportunities for designers to help them polish their skills in areas where client-side opportunities are not sufficient.This conversation is carried over to the weekly one-on-ones between the designer and their lead and they both work together for the designer’s career growth.Above is a hypothetical example of what a designer assessment result looks like. Different colors represent scores from different stakeholders.The further a point is from the center of the radar determines the level of proficiency in each skill. 0 in the graph is mapped to Non-Scoring, 1 is improving, 2 is achieving and 3 on the graph is excelling.In the above chart, the designer is perceived to be excelling in visual design by one stakeholder and perceived to be achieving in visual design by their other stakeholders.Looking at the assessments, we commend the designers for being great at so many things.Then, for the following year’s learning and development program, we start by focusing on areas where we see our designers not excelling or fully achieving expectations and define priorities from there.Seeing designers excelling at multiple ends also gives us an indication that the designer has started to outgrow their current role.For example, in the above evaluation, we would want to work with the designer on their Product Thinking, Mentorship, Culture, Design Thinking and Facilitation skills as starters and then move on to strengthening their other skills.One of our key learnings when we implemented this at our organization in recent years has been that transparency and good communication are the key to any initiative’s success. With these assessments, we also try to create an opportunity for open and clear conversations.Case in point: Here is a recent communication that I shared with my team on how they can make the best of their assessments in a very positive way and use this information to their advantage.TakeawayDeveloping such processes within the organization is an achievement in itself:It feels amazing to look back at all that is achieved along the way, and while this is by no means complete, it’s an opportunity to always take feedback from people all over the organization and use it to improve our processes.For us, the next step is replicating the same model for other roles of Designer, Research, and many more across the Product-Design career ladder. This is also an opportunity to build a model where designers can give feedback on the leaders of their team, thus maintaining a healthy atmosphere built on constructive criticism and focused towards design success.

Designer Career Ladders: Enhancing the Performance and Growth of Design Teams


For frontend developers, the ease and simplicity of the development process has a significant impact on the quality of their output.And, while in a simple UI layout, either vertical or horizontal arrangements of cells are easily created with the UICollectionViewFlowLayout, which is the default layout for UICollectionView, there remains one very pressing challenge for frontend development:As times passes, the layouts are getting much more difficult to implement as the UICollectionViewFlowLayout lacks some important functionality, thus forcing developers to create custom layouts to achieve those functionalities in an enhanced way.What can developers do to keep up with the growing heterogeneity of layouts and build custom layouts with ease?Fortunately, we do have a successor to the old UICollectionViewFlowLayout, as introduced by Apple in WWDC 2019!Here’s a solution that moves away from the delegate approach and uses a much simpler closure-based approach.But before that, let’s try to wrap our heads around the UICollectionViewFlowLayout.What is UICollectionViewFlowLayout?Look at UICollectionView as the foundation of a lot of apps.The UICollectionView is used to arrange cells/ UI views in Scrollable Content inside it, and the given layout determines how the elements will be arranged. By default, the UICollectionView Flow Layout is either in horizontal or vertical scrolling, which is the most widely used layout.The UICollectionViewFlowLayout object organizes items from a simple layout into a grid, and for each section, it accounts for optional header and foot views. You are required to provide an estimated height and width for the cell, otherwise the cells will use auto-layout and the end result is not the best, in most cases.The biggest plus point of the UICollectionView over the UITableView is the capability of horizontal scrolling, as well how multiple cells can be arranged in a column, unlike UITableView.But, like we saw earlier, it comes with a catch: The UICollectionFlowLayout works quite well with simple layouts, but with designs becoming more heterogeneous, there needs to be a solution that supports building custom layouts — without the challenges that come with it.Boilerplate code and problems of self-sizing cells are just a couple of issues that make building complex and advanced designs an uphill task.UICollectionViewFlowLayout and its DrawbacksThe default layout for UICollectionView is sufficient for designing a simple layout, but it has the following drawbacks:The Layout Scroll can either be Horizontal or Vertical The UI Flow uses Delegates as a datasource, which is an outdated method of implementation It only provides animation for Inserting or Deleting a single item at a time The object has to be fetched using IndexPath, which can cause the application to crash in case of out-of-bound access The selected object has to be casted It is only suitable for simple UI Designs Switching layouts with animation is not possible Cells cannot encapsulate their layout variations programmatically One of the most pressing challenges of the Default UI Flow is that it is only limited to Continuous Scroll or Paging Scroll behaviour.In the UICollectionView, if you want to achieve paged central scrolling behaviour or scroll with cell hugging behaviour, a third-party custom layout has to be used. Either this, or you would have to implement your own solution, which, in most cases, might crash if not written properly.If you want to achieve Horizontal Scroll View within a Vertical Scroll View, there is a way to embed UICollectionView in UI Table Cell and use UITableView. We’ll learn exactly how a little further into the article, but before we get into that, let’s quickly refresh our knowledge of the main difference between UICollectionViewFlowLayout and UICollectionViewCompositionalLayout.What is the Difference Between UICollectionViewFlowLayout and UICollectionViewCompositionalLayout?The UICollectionViewCompositionalLayout is essentially a more advanced and enhanced version of its predecessor, the UICollectionViewFlowLayout.In a UICollectionViewCompositionalLayout, data is presented in a static manner in multiple rows arranged in a single group, up and down, and the sections are composed of single and multiple groups.Depending on the user interface you want to achieve, you can see for yourself and decide which layout of the two suits you more: for simple layouts, for example a list of items that don’t need any designs, a UITableView would work just fine.However, if you’re looking for more ability to customize within each cell, the UICollectionView is what you should use.To put it in the simplest way possible, the UICollectionView organizes the collection of data/ views, presenting it in layouts that come with the customizability that is missing in UITableView.In the UICollectionViewFlowLayout, embedding the UICollectionView in the UI Table Cell and using the UITableView as the top most view will help achieve the Horizontal Scroll View within a Vertical Scroll View.And while this may sound easy to accomplish, there are certain things you must look out for when doing so:You have to conform to Delegates for both UITableView and the UICollectionView, which will make the code very messy It is memory-intensive and might cause memory leaks It’s hard to contain the complete code in a Controller The MVVM paradigm may need to be modified Gladly, during WWDC 2019, Apple introduced compositional layouts with the goal to simplify the development process of complex layouts in our applications.Here’s where the solution from Apple comes in and saves the day. Meet the Compositional Layout.What is the UICollectionViewCompositionalLayout?During WWDC 2019, Apple introduced a new, more modern and advanced way to implement more complex layout in simpler ways.This was known as the Compositional Layout, which was released with the purpose of simplifying the development process of complex layouts in the UI for iOS applications.Compositional layouts are a type of collection view layout that are designed to be flexible, composable, and significantly faster so as to allow you to build whatever visual arrangement you want.It lets you combine, or composite, each of the smaller components of the design into a full layout.The Compositional Layout comprises one or more sections that compartmentalize your layout into distinct visual groups. Each section is composed of groups of individual items, the smallest unit of data you want to present. A group might lay out its items in a horizontal row, a vertical column, or a custom arrangement.How Compositional View Solves the Challenges of the Default UI FlowThe Compositional Layout for iOS design comes as a solution owing to the multitude of advantages that it boasts over the older UICollectionView for iOS layoutIt is declarative in nature It supports both Delegates (older approach) as well as the new Diffable Datasource New Complex animations come out of the box using Diffable Datasource Snapshots Item can safely be retrieved directly for diffable datasource and doesn't need to be casted Layout variations can be encapsulated within the cell programmatically Easier on device hardware performance and supported by Apple itself Support layout switch with animations TakeawaySome of the biggest enhancements that the Compositional View offers for frontend UI development, particularly to overcome the challenges of UICollectionView for iOS, include:It supports both Horizontal as well as a Vertical scroll at the same time It achieves this by adding new Groups in each section, making code much more readable, easier to understand, and cleaner It supports 6 types of scrolling behaviours out of box, including Central Scroll (suitable for Carousel View). Considering the importance of breaking down the frontend UI development process to make it simpler, more efficient, and most importantly, flexible and adaptive to increasingly advanced iOS designs, there remains no doubt that the Compositional View offers benefits that can go a long way to improve life for frontend developers. Want to learn more about MicroFrontends and Microservices? Read this article here!

How Compositional Layouts for iOS Design Revolutionized Frontend Development


What do small businesses with small teams need during their product’s life cycle?Scaling their teams and operations is undoubtedly one of the biggest aims for startups. But scaling using the legacy Agile Scrum frameworks that these small-sized teams are so used to can make scaling an uphill battle.When it comes to a small business scaling up, the Agile Scrum framework will fail as the business endeavors to add more resources to the team. The Agile Scrum framework is designed for small teams, and a lot of startups end up making the mistake of adding more resources while using the same Scrum framework, resulting in agility loss.What, then, can startups do to bring about agile and digital transformation without slowing down their operations?How Do You Transition From Company to Agile?Often at the growth stage, one of the biggest problems teams run into is organizing and structuring their processes. This leads to a number of problems that end up significantly slowing a team down.As they consider business agility transformation, it is crucial for product owners and managers to try out different agile frameworks meant for larger teams so they can ensure the same agility when they are scaling.Scaled Agile frameworks aim to solve these structuring and organization problems by introducing processes meant for multiple small teams working towards a common goal. This helps teams manage their backlog and also stay agile enough to adapt to changing customer needs.At times, however, in hopes to adopt agile transformation, teams slow themselves down by jumping on one scaled agile framework without knowing what works for their team and what doesn’t. This leads to a lot of frustration that, in my opinion, can easily be avoided.If you’re a small business scaling up that is used to the legacy Scrum framework then what exactly are the best options out there for agile and digital transformation?The answer to this question largely depends on what works best for your team, but it helps to look at the best, most popular, and well-reviewed Scaled Agile frameworks.In this article, let’s explore our top three popular frameworks and what teams should focus on while scaling Agile transformation.3 Popular Scaled Agile Frameworks For Digital TransformationSAFe FrameworkThe Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®) is a framework for implementing AGILE operations at an enterprise level.SAFe lays out a set of organizational and workflow patterns that are needed to implement agile practices at an enterprise scale. The SAFe framework offers structured guidelines on how to plan and manage work, the roles and responsibilities of everyone involved, and the values that must be upheld.The framework is based on creating structure, roles, and processes around multiple scrum teams working together. These teams are called Agile Release Trains (ART) and come with extra roles and responsibilities that need to be filled. The teams coordinate on delegating epics, features, and user stories among themselves and complete work in time-boxed sprints along with all required sprint ceremonies. These sprint ceremonies are quite the same as the legacy scrum framework e.g. Sprint Planning, Retrospective, Backlog Grooming, etc. Teams are also free to use either Kanban or Scrum to finish work in their sprints and every team maintains its own backlog of work.SAFe is also the most widely used framework for big corporations' developing and shipping software.If you are looking to scale your organizational processes and structure, SAFe really is the best option. It doesn’t only focus on building multiple teams working on a single product, but rather on building the key organizational principles, values, and roles that help companies scale and build lean product portfolios. Read this article to learn how to implement SAFe as a Scalable Agile Framework.LeSS Agile FrameworkAnother popular framework is LeSS, also known as Large Scale Scrum, which follows the “do more with less” philosophy.The LeSS framework focuses on scaling existing scrum procedures, always starting with one small scrum team and then scaling to multiple teams working on the same product backlog.Less is considered much more lightweight than SAFe because it comes with fewer roles, which makes it a much easier process to adopt for agile transformation than SAFe.The LeSS framework focuses on legacy scrum practices but applies it to multiple teams working on the same product.Unlike SAFe, in LeSS there is a singular product backlog rather than a team backlog and just one Product Owner. All teams plan and pick their items in Sprint Planning 1 where work is presented to the dev teams. This is followed by Sprint Planning 2, where dev teams discuss development strategies for features and integration of their development into a single product during release time.Contrary to SAFe, in the LeSS Agile framework, inter-team coordination is also a responsibility of the teams rather than a role dedicated solely to it. This framework is often referred to as barely sufficient by some while it works great for some teams.LeSS really is a great choice when it comes to affordability due to its lower implementation cost. For some teams, a single Product Owner really proves to be an efficient link between business and tech because they understand the framework, challenges, and product vision and strategy.Scrum of ScrumsScrum of Scrums is a framework that focuses on divide and conquer.It helps organizations take a large workforce and create teams of four to five people working towards a common goal. The framework believes in smaller teams as it helps to build practical and personal relationships, which in turn results in velocity.Scrum of Scrums also has separate product owners for each team and the ceremonies are exactly the same as Scrum. The framework also comes with extra roles to ensure coordination between different teams. These roles are Chief Product Owner and Scrum of Scrum Master, who solely works on coordination in daily 15 minutes scrum meetings.The Scrum of Scrums framework is quite lean but does not undermine the importance of coordination roles.The framework is also quite flexible, allowing you to quickly discuss and switch up processes for greater efficiency. The coordination roles constantly discuss impediments daily and try to resolve and change processes, which allows for open discussion on problems and their solutions, unlike in other frameworks.Which Agile Frameworks Are Right For My Team?There really is no one size fits all solution here: what works for one company will not work for other companies, simply because of different cultures and mindsets.Usually, a lot of research, trial, and testing is required to create and pick the processes that work for you. Sticking with one framework religiously will slow you down. These frameworks focus on delivery & outcomes, which is great for larger enterprises and teams and help establish predictable outcomes and clear goals.However, for small businesses scaling up, the recipe for success is delivering value to customers as fast as possible.Most popular frameworks also come with their own set of frustrations and problems, which people openly talk about.For example, we talked about the SAFe framework and how it works but one of the biggest problems that people report with the framework is the unnecessary roles and complex processes. People who have worked in this framework often report that it is a waterfall method in disguise and the delivery of actual work and value to customers is quite low. The jargon and processes are so complex that teams spend more time organizing themselves rather than actually working, let alone being able to work with agility.On the contrary, the LeSS framework is regarded as barely sufficient as it is a simple and lean framework and relies on fewer roles. If the team dev leads are not used to communicating and coordinating, then the absence of a team's product owner can be very difficult on everyone.LeSS is also quite notorious for not solving developer problems as it often is not the focus of the single product owner; sometimes product owners are just swamped with a lot of challenges that demand their attention, and the developer challenges are neglected.Scrum of Scrums focuses on building smaller teams but it often leads to an imbalance of resources. Finding the perfect performing squads can also be quite a hit-and-miss.This just proves that no digital transformation framework alone is perfect and in order to achieve efficiency, teams need to invest time into discussion and trial.What are the Steps to Scale a Small Business?For all the challenges that come with the aforementioned Scaled Agile Frameworks, what exactly should then growing startups focus on instead of jumping to adopt a Scaled Agile framework?I really believe that before scaling, product teams really need to look at themselves and ask whether they are agile enough to scale.Scaling with what is right for your squadWorking on your single scrum team is very important as the first team really is a brand ambassador of your values and culture.Agility is a mindset and your team is like a car engine. Every person is a crucial component of this engine and to perform well, the team needs to have the right mindset. After that, the team will scale efficiently no matter what.It is also quite important to develop practices that help to build the foundational work ethic for your squad.For example, how efficient are devs in communicating on tickets? Does your team document a lot of stuff? What onboarding processes do you have for new team members? These processes are important baselines for establishing success in adopting frameworks.Every team has its own pace and comfort in which they perform best, so it is important for teams to continuously discuss and monitor their performance to make adjustments. Continuous discussion around process improvement is key and all stakeholders should be able to voice their opinions.If you’re still not sure if you’re ready for Agile transformation with Scaled Agile Frameworks, use this Agile Culture Checklist to keep your team grounded and efficient as you scale up.Agile Culture Checklist1. Customer/User obsessionWe’re all here for our users and customers, developing products for them.Successful companies are always obsessed with making their customer/user experience the best there can be.Customer obsession is a valuable principle that is quite common in all frameworks and it helps squads develop better features, which in turn helps the product grow.2. Looking out for each otherA great agile squad is like a well-oiled engine and in order to keep this engine running smoothly, one thing teams need to do is always look out for each other.Building personal relationships within your squad will help keep your velocity always high.A great example of this is sick or parental leaves. Whenever a squad member has to take time off work, unprepared teams will struggle.However, a team with the right agile mindset will share the work and responsibility of the team member not present. This helps the team to always move forward and take charge when they need to.3. Always flexibleFlexibility is one of the core principles agile teams need to practice.Today’s markets have gotten increasingly competitive and startups always need to be delivering value fast, as changing market scenarios can make or break businesses.Teams who are flexible constantly innovate and stay ahead of the curve by adapting to any situation they are faced with.I believe teams that fully practice these principles should consider adopting frameworks while always staying true to these principles.All said and done, let's see how mixing and matching processes from different frameworks can really be the best way to scale for companies.Takeaway: Mix, Match, and Perfect!There is no hard and fast rule to adopt a single framework and stick to it. Studying the different processes and roles within different agile and digital frameworks can give you the best insights into what can work for you.If you’re a small business looking to scale, you can start with small teams like in Scrum of Scrums as then the teams can focus on building better personal and practical relationships. Having product owners for every squad might not be feasible for you, so try splitting the responsibilities to two or three central product owners.There are several principles that are common within these frameworks, and hence mixing and matching processes works as many things are interchangeable.Teams can also experiment to empower their developers so they can also be better at managing work, allowing for less reliance on coordination roles as your tech leads will then be comfortable communicating with stakeholders.All these experiments and trials can happen within the sprint cycle and you can even monitor two squads simultaneously with different processes to see what is working better for you. You can also add or remove meetings you think the squads need. Creating a feedback channel for all processes and meetings will help validate your experiments.Finally, it really does not matter if you adopt a popular framework because, with the knowledge and resources available, teams can literally invent their own new frameworks.Using this approach of mixing and matching while staying true to your agile values is the foundation of success when scaling your operations, structures and processes. Agility is a mindset and that is what you should be preaching across your business. To learn more about how an Agile culture can be adopted across the organization, you’ll find a lot of value in this article that discusses the role of People in Agile.

Scaling Agile Operations: 3 Agile Frameworks for Digital Transformation


In the product development life cycle, user experience research plays a significant role.But knowing how and when it should be implemented for the best results in any new product development process is a very critical piece of the puzzle.How Does UX Research Fit into the Development of a Product?User experience is central to every brand.Even more so than your product itself, the experience that your users have at every touchpoint and interaction will define whether or not you can not only capture their attention but also convert and retain them as happy customers.To deliver the highest level of customer satisfaction, it’s vital to know who your customers are, what are their preferences, their wants and needs, and what could potentially convert them (or drive them away). This is where the UX research process kicks in.When Should User Research Be Included in Product Development?Ideally, user experience research (or UX research) should be utilized very early on in product development.With that said, it can also be useful at later stages of the project and for upcoming releases.To best understand the true impact of user experience research in the product life cycle, it helps to consider each of the four stages of the product life cycle separately and learn the exact UX research methods that can be used at each stage, along with the outcome that the UX researcher will achieve by implementing these methods.What are the Stages of a New Product Development Process?Whenever you’re faced with any new product development process, it will comprise four main stages:Research and Discover Ideate and Design Build and Test Deploy and Measure At each stage of the process, it’s important to really focus on your end users and adopt a customer-centric approach to product development. Here are 4 Customer Research Methods for Customer-Focused Product Development.We will be looking at each stage of the product life cycle in terms of how UX contributes towards them and what methods should be used to achieve certain outcomes at each of these stages, both pre and post-release of your product.UX Contribution in the Pre-Release StagesStage 1: Research and DiscoverResearch is always the first step in discovering and comprehending the End User.Whenever you’re looking at a new product development process, the first step is to establish a core team, learn and align on the company's objectives, and always empathize with the customers. This will assist teams in comprehending the customer's perspective, pain points, and actions.The following are a few approaches taken by professionals in user experience design to help businesses avoid mistakes in the early stages of the product life cycle:UX research This includes things like in-depth interviews, surveys, focus groups, and field studies. After conducting research, designers create personas, experience maps, user scenarios, etc. through a data modeling approach. These procedures can aid businesses in better comprehending their target audience of users and the issues they face. This will make it simple to address them in the final product.Workshops for brainstorming The attendees of these workshops come from various departments.The confrontation of various points of view encourages discussion and provides the ideal setting for challenging existing concepts and coming up with new ones. This, in turn, may help in aligning everyone on the vision for the project.Competitive research When you examine the products of your rivals in terms of user experience, you could seek out potential areas for enhancement. Stakeholders will be able to gain an advantage in solving customers' problems and ensure that their product will not be a duplicate of an existing app by conducting competitive research in the product design process.Stage 2: Ideate and DesignIn this stage, the entire product team works together to make sure the product is of the highest possible quality at the best possible time for marketing.Designs are developed that represent a solution that UX researchers and teams have arrived at after brainstorming and ideation.Some of the practices that UX designers can follow to help deliver the highest quality of experience include:Map out the user flows and information architecture It is necessary to develop a well-thought-out structure, navigation, and user flows (a user's path to completing a task). By doing this in the product design process, designers can ensure that end users can easily navigate the features and contents of the product.Create wireframes Before any visual design is applied, the interface of the app is laid out in wireframes as a skeleton. Wireframes are a quick way for UX designers to convey their thoughts and ideas in the form of an interface because they require less time to produce (especially low-fidelity sketch versions).Create high-fidelity and test prototypes Additionally, wireframes can be transformed into functional prototypes, allowing designers to evaluate their concepts prior to beginning UI design work. By doing so, businesses can avoid wasting time on bad ideas, and designers can begin working on high-fidelity designs as soon as the results of the prototypes are clear.In the next step, we’ll come to actually delivering the product to your customers after the strategy has been established and everyone has a clear understanding of what the product will be and who it will serve.Stage 3: Build and TestAt this stage, designers are expected to collaborate closely with the development team to release a customer-focused solution that drives value and creates an unforgettable experience.This is when the high-fidelity designs are in place and the designers are prepared to “hand off”:Handoff between Designer and Developer! The Developer, Designer & Tester huddle together where the designer walks everyone through the Design Features and Their Planned Functionalities from the Element Level to the Component Level, describing Their Expected Behavior.Sharing the designs through UI slicings is one of the suggested practices to accomplish this, which essentially entails annotating each component and element to convey it smoothly to other stakeholders involved.For more insights into how Designers and Developers collaborate, check out our latest Ask A Designer segment, where developers question designers on things they’ve always wanted to know!UX Contribution in the Post-Release StagesStage 4: Deploy and MeasureDuring this phase, the entire team works together to implement a user-focused solution where they learn, iterate and deploy in a sprint cycle to achieve a customer-centric product that delivers value and satisfaction.After the product has been introduced to the market is when you come to the final stage of the product development life cycle, where you will Observe & Validate whether the product is a good fit for the market.The following are some of the actions that can be taken to enhance the user experience of a product:Perform a UX audit Performing a product audit can prove to be the best course of action for a business that wants to go a step further to enhance their product experience. By doing this, designers can offer advice on a product's accessibility and usability issues, which could boost conversion rates and other crucial business metrics.Build new features with feedback from actual users Another great part at this stage is that you can use the information and data you have gathered about a product's performance whenever you want to improve on it to meet your users’ needs.Even if a product is just an MVP, it may be easier to identify usability issues. You can get real-world feedback on your product through user testing, which is sometimes impossible to get through even past mockup testing.Additionally, you can also gain insights that will assist you in designing additional product features.TakeawayUser experience research can be advantageous for businesses of all sizes, digital and physical products, and at all phases of a product life cycle.The earlier in the product development life cycle you can introduce UX research, the more benefits you will reap.“UX comes into play as a Prerequisite & Not as a Peripheral when you speak about Focusing on End Users!”With that said, this action can always be taken at any time; it’s never too late!If you’re still considering the value of incorporating the expertise of a design specialist for your next product development process, here’s a detailed introduction to Enhancing the Product Life Cycle With Great User Experience.

Implementing User Experience Research in the Product Life Cycle


mobileLIVE is proud to celebrate another solid win this year! Our company has been officially included in the 2022 Best Workplaces in Ontario. mobileLIVE received this honor after a thorough and independent analysis conducted by Great Place to Work®.The list is based on direct feedback from employees of the hundreds of organizations that were surveyed by Great Place to Work®. To be eligible for this list, organizations must be Great Place to Work-Certified™ and have exceptionally high scores from employees on the Trust Index survey.mobileLIVE is humbled and honored to have scored high on the Trust Index. This score proves our approach is in the right direction: empowering employees, valuing diversity, and nurturing innovation throughout our workforce. At mobileLIVE, our people are the real drivers behind success, and this is a win for each of our valued employees.About Great Place to Work® Great Place to Work® is the global authority on high-trust, high-performance workplace cultures. A global research and consulting firm, Great Place to Work® provides the benchmarks and expertise needed to create, sustain, and recognize outstanding workplace cultures. In Canada, Great Place to Work® produces both industry and demographic-specific Best Workplace™ lists and represents the voices of 500,000 employees across industries. This is part of the world’s largest annual workplace study, recognizing the world’s Best Workplaces in a series of national lists including those published by The Globe and Mail (Canada) and Fortune Magazine (USA). Visit us at

mobileLIVE recognized among the Best Workplaces in Ontario® 2022


A big part of any organization’s growth now relies on providing a great user experience.And hence, some of the biggest product development companies now focus a great deal on user experience design. In the product life cycle, UX design provides multiple benefits, making it easy to see why and how good user experience design should be an integral part of the process.What is a Product Life Cycle?The product life cycle refers to the set of strategies that are used at different stages during the product’s development for purposes of sales and marketing.If we look at the product life cycle through an abstract lens, we find five distinct stages in the product life cycle:Conceptualization and Technology Development Product Development Market Introduction Market Acceptance Growth Normal Market Cycle Apart from this, the product life cycle can also otherwise be defined as amount of time that a product spends from being introduced into the market until the time it is taken off the shelves.The product life cycle assumes that most products have different life spans, and therefore, at each stage of the cycle, the business faces a different set of advantages and disadvantages.This is why, when working on any product, it’s crucial to be a critical thinker to identify all edge cases that you could face during future processes of new product development.There needs to be a lot of focus on the current and future consequences of the product, and to overcome such situations, businesses can adopt different processes and strategies to approach design, development, and marketing.What is User Experience Design?User experience design (or UX design) is simply the experience of your customers during their interaction with your product or service. How easily users can navigate through this experience and how simple (or complicated) it is for them to achieve what they want is all a part of user experience design.The user experience can make or break your customer experience — and hence be a deciding factor when the question arises of whether your customer will want to stick with your product or move on to the next best option.So, when it comes to achieving great user experience design, it's important to make this consideration throughout the product life cycle to improve product growth and increase revenue streams.How the Best Design Performers Increase Revenues in the Product Life CycleIf we refer to extensive research from McKinsey on the subject, companies with top-quartile design scores outperformed the industry-benchmark growth by a ratio of as much as two to one.You will be amazed after looking at the graph below about how shareholders got the revenue after implementing the design into their businesses.(Image reference taken from McKinsey)Why is UI/UX Design Important in the Product Life Cycle?The potential for design-driven growth is enormous in both product and service-based organizations.Customers can feed opinions back to the companies in real-time, allowing the design to be measured by customers themselves — whether or not companies want to listen.(Image reference taken from McKinsey)Although UX requires a lot of work and time, there are several techniques that play an important role in the product life cycle.Without UX, most teams end up facing several issues and difficulties after the product is released. This is where UX comes in, helping with not only avoiding any issues but also ensuring you identify them during the product life cycle and not after release.What Does the User Experience Design Thinking Process Look Like?As UX affects every aspect of the product being built, the UX or Experience Designer is involved throughout the product life cycle.Essentially, the UX designer designs the end-to-end experience of the product, which includes the complete design thinking process depending on the nature of the product.The design thinking process always varies from product to product. Your process could change if you are working on an existing product and you want to add some new features.The UX designer’s task is to be aware of all the problems and pain points with viable solutions, and convey those results to any and every element with which it is associated within the product life cycle.Working as a UX designer is really important in the product lifecycle to understand why we need to define the problem, discover pain points, ask important questions like the whys and whats, and conduct user research before getting into the design phase.Sometimes, there might also be the need to convince other stakeholders about why conducting user research is important for your product. The trickiest part is how you do it; there could be a lot of challenges such as:How to discover and understand the actual problem statement? How can we manage time constraints? What if people find the experience difficult or useless? What will the consequences be?User experience design starts by conducting user research. Moderated and unmoderated usability tests are conducted to validate design assumptions specified in the requirements defined at project kick off.User research helps the team identify their target audience and create a user persona to represent their users in order to validate design decisions throughout the product life cycle.Next, they design the user journeys in order to gather feedback and optimize their designs around that feedback. They keep refining their designs even after product delivery to make sure that the product is user-friendly.How To Practice Good User Experience Design in the Product Life CycleGood user experience design means that from UX research to launch and till the time the product life cycle ends, the customer is kept at the center and considered at every stage for the product design.If we consider the problem above, user experience design contributes largely towards overcoming it.UX research helps in identifying the pain points earlier so that you can solve any problem you may run into.In turn, designers can start at the beginning of the product life cycle with research and can focus on the end user of the product. It helps designers to reveal customer issues and narrow down on how the product solves them.By conducting UX research with your target audience through a set of interviews and more, you can design user personas, journey maps, user scenarios, prototypes, and simplify the overall user experience process. Here’s another article that will give you a clearer understanding of Why Ignoring UX Research Is A Mistake.Good user experience design plays an important role in the product life cycle when designers approach it with the actual pain points of the users, support it with user research, brainstorm the ideas together as a team, and create seamless flows.Takeaway: Key Benefits of Integrating UX in Product Life cycleIncorporating user experience design into your process is always beneficial, whether you're launching a startup, developing a product, or questioning the performance of an existing one.In most cases, the sooner you incorporate the expertise of a design specialist into your project, the better your chances will be of achieving effective and agile UX product development.“UX comes into play as a Prerequisite & Not as a Peripheral when you speak about Focusing on End Users!”Using the right UX methods and principles at all stages of a product's life cycle can reap many benefits for product development companies. Some of the most valuable benefits evident to us across the product development life cycle include:UX research helps stakeholders to understand their target audience and problems, making it easier to address them in the finished product. User experience design allows much better work engagement and lets product managers plan ahead of time. The UX designer gets a better perspective of how the product is, enabling them to stay consistent across the product features. Implementing the UX process into products increases the sales, user engagement, and adoption rates. It also increases the customer’s emotional bond to a company or a product. It will always be beneficial for a product development company to bring in a UX expert into the product development life cycle so that UX design can be involved into the product process early on. Take your User Experience Design a step further by designing cross-channel experiences for your customers with these 9 UX Design Heuristics!

Enhancing the Product Life Cycle With Great User Experience Design


Designers and developers have very different roles, but in most cases, their paths cross while working on the same project.For example, if a website needs to be created, a designer is tasked with delivering the visual impact that the user interface will have on the viewers. On the other side, the developer will be managing all the backend capabilities and ensuring that the designs and wireframes are materialized.And while this shows us that the relationship between designers and developers is key, oftentimes their processes aren’t as collaborative as should be.So, in an effort to improve communication and bring down some of the barriers that hinder collaboration between design and development teams, in this Ask A Designer feature, we invited our developers to put our designers on the hot seat — asking them things that developers want to know about designers!Question 1How is your experience communicating with developers?Response 1:Most of the projects I work on will involve developers in some way – either in setting up a new page in Contentful, or creating/modifying components.— Véronique Janosy, Senior Product DesignerResponse 2:In my experience, collaboration, open-mindedness, inclusion, proactiveness, and a healthy relationship between design and development are key essential characteristics required to ensure that the design details are correctly translated into the code for a successful, visually appealing, and functional product development.For a pixel perfect design, every detail including measurements of canvas sizes, margins, paddings, hover and focus states, no-data or error states needs to be communicated or annotated to the development team for smooth coding.At the end of the day, both designers and developers are working towards achieving the same goal.— Rahul Jacob, Product DesignerResponse 3:Given that the design requires a collaborative environment within multidisciplinary teams, and in particular, an efficient communication between Product designers and Developers, it is always considered that communication is the key value in succeeding in any product’s project. In my collaborative design projects from the beginning, I always tended to build a good relationship with my team members, especially the developers, to improve the process of the design of the product. In my experiences throughout the years, I tried to learn the basic programming terms and on top of that learned the developers’ concerns regarding creating a new design to be able to provide feasible ideas that they could also be able to create.— Ella Rabiei, Senior Product DesignerResponse 4:Developers and I work closely with each other; often communicating on Slack or via daily standups and scrum meetings. We discuss ux issues such as error handlings or variants of a component like having different states of buttons and behaviors in the Design System and talk about problems and solutions. I deliver ux clarifications includings scenarios in the form of design patterns and guidelines and support developers where needed. It’s all about collaboration and teamwork.— Rebecca Kim, Lead Product DesignerQuestion 2When tasked with a new feature, do you research the feature(s) while keeping the developer and standard libraries like Angular / React Material, PrimeNG/PrimeReact, Angular/React Bootstrap, etc. in mind?Response 1:I don’t research features available in any libraries, but I always engage developers whenever developing something that I’m not certain about, since they are the experts in the field. A lot of actions and features we use have already been used on the site, so I don’t need to verify those, but I will set up a call or start a conversation about a feature if I’m not sure. I also want to make sure that when I write tech specs I include any information that will be essential for the dev team. After handing over a new or modified component spec sheet, there is always a walkthrough with developers, at which point we can discuss any questions or concerns that have not already been addressed prior.— Véronique Janosy, Senior Product DesignerResponse 2:When it comes to new features, I always take the less is more approach. As a product designer, I am always empathic with the users, as they rely on their products to be intuitive, functional, reliable, and usable for their needs to be met quickly and effortlessly.Any time I start working on a new feature, I use existing libraries as a starting point. It is always important for me to design components that are practical and long-lasting so that they can be reused or managed in the future. As a result, the design is easier to maintain on the backend while looking good on the frontend, which increases its longevity.It’s a win-win for everyone!— Rahul Jacob, Product DesignerResponse 3:Yes, but not the library source in particular. When it comes to design of a new feature, I would talk to the developers to learn about developing and coding restrictions and the alternatives that I can use of; there are always multiple new features that need to be created, and it would be hard for the designer to go through all the libraries in person to see if it would work for them, that is why the direct collaboration with developers can help the designer to process the feature and make the decisions correctly regarding that.— Ella Rabiei, Senior Product DesignerResponse 4:Yes, I do research the features, prioritizations, IA, design approaches, and page layouts focusing on synthesizing and communicating high-level strategic insights. Developers are highly-skilled and knowledgeable and may offer new and different perspectives that could unlock unrealized potential. For example I ask developers' thoughts how the sophisticated backend system works that is captured in information architecture and workflow in ux.With the collected information, I adopt user research methods and conduct Usability Testing, User Interviews, or Focus Group for ux findings. With the ux findings, I look into the Design System in terms of the UI component quality like a complex form and table, so it allows me to reduce the risk of any variation between products.— Rebecca Kim, Lead Product DesignerQuestion 3Is the web app multi-themed, responsive, and/or multilingual? How many layouts do you share with the developers, and what format (XD, Figma, etc.)?Response 1:The work I do is aimed at one theme (brand). All the components I build are designed to be responsive, and I provide mockups and tech specs for 4 breakpoints, which handles the majority of the scenarios. My client works with Sketch for design, and Abstract for version control, so I share out Abstract links to the developers, which allows them to inspect each component fully.— Véronique Janosy, Senior Product DesignerResponse 2:Each project I work on incorporates responsive design to adapt to the viewports of these devices: desktops, tablets, and mobile.I work primarily with an app called Abstract that lets me import Sketch files and create a centralized repository for the team's most up-to-date design work and supporting documentation. Developers can seamlessly transition from design to development with this app. It allows developers to compare changes, view measurements, specs, inspect, and download assets through a link or directly from the app.— Rahul Jacob, Product DesignerResponse 3:Yes, the process of the designing a product requires designers to create/build responsive designs which would follow the guidelines and rules; it is very important to evaluate and test the design on different platforms to see if the message of that specific product is clear without any distortion, failing to do so, would cause a confusion and difficulty to the developing team and as a result the product would fail. The number of layouts highly depends on the number of scenarios in a particular product project, in general we as designers would provide all the potential scenarios for developers. In each design team, there are a variety of applications that product teams could use to work together. In my current work, we use the Abstract and the Sketch apps to communicate our ideation and designs; there have been some situations where we had lost our access to either of these apps and I would provide developers with exported versions of the design, such as SVG, PDF and PNG to move forward with our process.— Ella Rabiei, Senior Product DesignerResponse 4:Yes or No, it depends on the context, constraints, business requirements, and user needs. If yes,define the layouts based on responsive breakpoints (Desktop, Tablet, Mobile) in Design System including with light and dark themes in Figma. share with the developers UI elements and functions including documentations around the look and usage of each component in the component library. support multilingual languages. For example, when translating English into French or Spanish, the translation will generally be about 15 % to 30 % longer than the original. I will make sure if it suits the copy in different languages. If the translations break the design layout, that requires discussions to come up with solutions such as adjusting font sizes, text truncate ellipsis, or alignment and text placement. — Rebecca Kim, Lead Product DesignerQuestion 4Do you keep accessibility in mind before designing features?Response 1:Yes, it’s a must! I do think that more education is needed around accessibility, across other areas of the business. It does seem that while design and dev are aligned on the importance of accessibility, stakeholders need to be educated so that they value it as well. At the end of the day, with certain businesses, design can always be overridden by stakeholders.— Véronique Janosy, Senior Product DesignerResponse 2:I always incorporate accessibility into my design process so that every user has access to the same information, regardless of their visual, auditory, cognitive, or motor impairments. As a result of keeping accessibility in mind, it expands the potential audience, improves usability, and meets accessibility standards. “Always build with accessibility in mind.”— Rahul Jacob, Product DesignerResponse 3:Yes! Absolutely. The accessibility is one of the most important features in product design and it is considered as one of the main reasons why a product would reach the public approval or it would easily fail.— Ella Rabiei, Senior Product DesignerResponse 4:Yes, I keep accessibility considerations in mind before designing and while designing features. The accessibility considerations are:Design simple experiences Interaction models (eg. is the functionality a link or a button) Color contrast and complementary colors and visual cues Create distinct and recognizable UI elements with familiar design patterns Work with content team and developers to communicate my design decisions and intent Test with real people early and often — Rebecca Kim, Lead Product DesignerQuestion 5What is your approach in dealing with accessibility?Response 1:Luckily, in design system work, our base components, colours, typography and interactions have already passed accessibility tests and been approved by our Accessibility team lead, so design needs to focus mostly on experiences and making sure those meet accessibility standards. By reusing existing components and sticking to the design system as much as possible, you can ensure a good base.— Véronique Janosy, Senior Product DesignerResponse 2:Often, accessibility is misunderstood as being primarily for those with disabilities. However, this is not the case. To benefit all users, designers must approach all projects with an accessibility-first mindset.Here are a few key areas to consider before designing your next feature or project:Color Selection and contrast Typography, font size and spacing Page structure, layout, and hierarchy Focus states, hover states and indicators Use of labels or instructions with form fields and inputs Descriptive text alternatives for images and videos to understand context — Rahul Jacob, Product DesignerResponse 3:If I would be asked to work on a completely new product without any developed design system, I would personally check the colors, typographies, layouts, and different component dimensions on different platforms by using accessibility tests tools and other design methodologies, such as observation method and secondary research method to create a feasible product for the product’s intended customers. In my current design team, we work with a design system platform which has already been developed and is also going through the accessibility checking processes over and over to make sure all the components are following the most recent guidelines and could result in products’ success.— Ella Rabiei, Senior Product DesignerResponse 4:Accessibility should be considered before the project starts. When I do my design research, here are some practices I use:consider accessibility, annotate, and document my decisions for an inclusive experience. Work with developers to refine decisions further. Ask myself: Are the needs of people with disabilities being met in the business requirements? Have I annotated my designs to clearly communicate to developers how a design is to be built? — Rebecca Kim, Lead Product DesignerSpecial thanks to developers Kashif Ullah, Waqas Niazi, Shahid Ullah Khan, and Talha Gillani for participating with these questions to ask our design team.TakeawayIn an age where so much relies on the interconnectivity of multiple functions working in unison to ultimately create the best user experiences, smooth communication and collaboration proves to be a valuable asset.Recognizing the importance of bridging the gap in communication between designers and developers, we brought both together and let the conversation flow, not only till our developers got all the answers they wanted, but going beyond and deepening this vital relationship!

Ask A Designer Round 2: Questions For Designers, From Developers


If there’s one big transformation we’ve witnessed with the onset of the digital era, it’s that user experience design has come a long way.The late 80s and early 90s saw a much-needed shift from the traditional way of designing objects to the idea of interfaces as design artifacts, accredited to acclaimed designer Gui Bonsiepe (1995). One of the first to see interfaces as a communication object, Bonsiepe saw interfaces as a “bridge” between humans, the product, and the objective.Ten years later, with faster microcomputers integrated into cell phones, cars, cameras, houses, appliances, etc., capable of communicating with other devices through not just one touchpoint of the customer journey but diverse technological possibilities of connections, it became clear that the “bridge” in user experience design goes far beyond interfaces.What are Cross-Channel Journeys?Cross-channel journeys refer to the experience a customer has on not just a single customer touchpoint but across a combination of multiple different channels.The human-computer interaction evolved into human-information interaction, and multi-channel interactions are increasingly transforming into a cross-channel customer journey.In the cross-channel customer experience, the user experience as a narrative journey involves actions in the physical and digital worlds pervading through many different digital devices, all linked together by a dynamic system ecology.In the digital customer journey experience, these connections, across multiple touchpoints in the customer journey, bring together short narratives into one whole story.What is Cross-Channel Journey Optimization?Cross-channel journey optimization is where the customer journey map is integrated with various techniques and tactics to cater to the customer via every channel on which they’re present.Usually, usability evaluations concentrate on the experience of users interacting with a single system.However, the whole experience, especially now in today’s digital world, trespasses the system and includes moments that are both precedent and subsequent to the direct interaction with the system.To truly optimize this cross-channel journey, user experience research and design will determine the quality of the customer experience you can offer to your users.What is Cross-Channel User Experience (UX) Design?From a UX design perspective, products and services must go beyond the good usability of systems and understand the users’ complete journey.Storyboarding is one method in UX design that helps UX teams align on the vision for the design they work on, with the single end goal of mapping out the user journey. To learn all about the What, When, Why, and How of Storyboarding in UX Design, read this article here.Businesses must understand the whole journey to plan customer touchpoints and create a service/product experience that is available on various different channels — a pervasive cross-channel experience.To achieve this cross-channel customer experience, user experience research plays a critical role in the UX design process.How to Conduct UX/UI Research and Why It Matters?UI/UX research is conducted through a variety of both quantitative and qualitative user experience research methods.When it comes to digital customer journeys, user experience research is one of the most integral parts of the UX process because it helps extract critical insights from early adopters. Understanding how users will perceive your product/service can be an aid when it comes to decreasing the learning curve for users and identifying opportunities for improvement. Learn more about why User Experience Research matters and what it can do for you here.Why UX Research is Essential To Plan Better Cross-Channel ExperiencesDifferent from a multi-channel experience, where users can connect to a product/service through different channels, the cross-channel experience will pervasively cross through channels and physical ambiance to create one experience.Connecting the dotsCross-channel contexts take the user experience to new amplitudes, and it is imperative to adapt usability principles to a narrative experience scenario, as the technological evolution and users’ interaction with devices and environment have been gradually changing and are expected to evolve to an even more integrated cross-channel experience with the metaverse.Although usability tests and measurements focus primarily on interactions with isolated devices, several user experience research methods can surface information about users that help understand their mental model, interaction needs, and cultural-interaction references to better comprehend their journey of experience and map contexts that could take users to interact with your product. Through generative research methods, UX strategists can connect these dots, build experience mapping and prepare a project with multiple possibilities of interaction.Planning for a better user experienceThe journey of your user will start well before they connect with your product/service, with several contextual scenarios leading them to your product.Mapping possible precedent actions and contexts of use can help understand what triggers the full journey of users and direct your product/service to be there when they most need it.Vague assumptions based on intuition have little role in the digital industry and can lead you down the wrong path, wasting precious time and resources.This is where user experience research comes in as the key to gathering the knowledge necessary to project a cross-channel experience:Knowing who the audience is for your product. Many times, this varies far from the initial assumptions. Thinking outside digital devices. Interaction with isolated devices is a very narrow perspective of the full scenario. Understanding the context of use that led people to use your product. What are the precedents that ignite interest? Planning how your product can help and create value for users. The product needs to be an ally, not a difficult step to reach a goal. Continuing the UX journey beyond your product. Plan for a smooth transition and a positive impact on the customer. Users will reach your system through diverse devices, and so the interaction must be planned in a way that offers a smooth journey with many touch points, blending the spaces in one full experience.Understanding this full experience will enable a better connection with not just service design strategies, but business strategies as well.UX Design Heuristics: Guidelines for Cross-Channel Customer ExperienceHeuristic evaluation in UX has always been centered around the user; how easy and user-friendly your interface is for the target customer contributes largely toward customer satisfaction, and even more so in the presence of cross-channel experiences.Therefore, the following set of UX heuristics (or guidelines) aims to help guide products for a better integrated, UX-pervasive experience. These are guidelines that can, and should, be applied to any service system that intends to provide an experience with interoperability between devices and systems:1. Place-makingPlace-making refers to the self-localization of users when using the system during their customer experience journey. Visual interaction, hierarchical layout, and structure, as well as physical environment, should facilitate the users’ understanding of where they are in the journey and where they can go from there.2. ConsistencyThe system must present visual, typographic, information, action, and interaction consistency. If a user utilizes different devices to execute partial actions of the whole experience, each touchpoint access must present the same rules and responses to the actions.3. ResilienceThe flexibility of the interaction flow and touchpoints should be adequate for different users and different journey and search strategies from different contexts of use.4. ReductionEven if the back end of the system is complex in its structure, the options and the contents must be presented to the users in an objective way and with simple usage, providing reduced interactive actions and minimum cognitive workload in their journey.5. CorrelationThe system must help users find information and content naturally. There must be a correlation of data between distinct points of interaction and devices. When users move from one device to another, the interoperability of information must be in unison.6. Equivalency to cultural conventionsIt is important to understand users’ references regarding technology, processes, functionality comprehension, and interactions — all of these can be used as a base in the development of a new system.7. Visual intuitive contentUsers must recognize functionalities, steps, hierarchy, pathways, and information with minimal memory load – this means making objects, actions, and options easy to recognize and understand by the user.8. Natural, intuitive, and direct interactionsAny touch point of interaction with the system should be as intuitive as possible, by direct gestural manipulation or simple vocal commands.9. Contextual ergonomicsPhysical environments, contexts of use within the journey of experience, and human physical limitations should be considered while projecting touchpoints of interaction with the system.TakeawayUndoubtedly, the digital landscape has evolved to a point where we can all safely agree that user experience has taken center stage in nearly every industry.But does the evolution of digital experiences stop here?From what we can witness today, business interactions in the digital world are constantly evolving, pushing the boundaries of user experience design.The onus is on UX researchers and strategists to respond and adapt well to these changes, integrating user experience research methods and journey optimization techniques to offer a complete cross-channel experience — meeting the customer where they are.

9 UX Heuristics For Cross-Channel User Experience Design

Customer-Focused Product Development

Across any industry in today’s digital age, what is the single most important differentiator that sets apart market leaders from other businesses?Many will answer that with “customer experience”. And they would be right.Experience has always been the key differentiator in identifying the right market leader in any industry. An enhanced customer experience has a proven potential of a 200% increase in conversion rate for the business. Concurrently, 89% of customers switch to a rival business as a result of a poor experience with a brand.But how do enterprises account for the customer experience in the product development cycle?Before we dive into that, it’s important to know what stages constitute the entire Product Development Cycle.What are the Stages of the Product Development Cycle?From ideation to commercialization, the product development cycle goes through multiple stages as the product matures. Broadly, the product development cycle constitutes 5 major stages:Ideation Research Planning Prototyping Release In this article, we aim to understand how a customer-focused product development approach can be integrated at each stage of the cycle, what customer data analytics need to be tracked, and what research techniques can be adopted to gather these customer insights.What is Customer-Focused Product Development?In the product life cycle, there’s a common perception that as soon as a product is launched, the product development cycle is concluded.But the lifecycle of product development doesn’t culminate with the release.Instead, there's a lot of work that needs to be conducted in the way of customer journey research to ensure that a customer-focused strategy is truly implemented in the process.What Factors are Important in Customer-focused Product Development?“Research is creating new knowledge.” - Neil ArmstrongCustomer wants and needs are prone to constantly changing as the market gains maturity.A great product is one that continues to evolve as it matures with the customer at the center.To implement a customer-focused product development approach, the co-existence of product delivery and customer research is vital — something that should be leveraged not just during but also after the shipment of the product or feature.Designing for the Right Reasons with Customer ResearchDuring a flight, before the plane takes off, an airline assistant always demonstrates the security protocols, even though every passenger receives a separate leaflet with the same details.This is a classic example of how observing an aware frequent flyer using the safety jacket reveals undocumented context.The same concept applies in product development that uses customer journey research to follow a truly customer-focused strategy.How Many Types of Consumer Research Are There?There are four different types of research that can be leveraged in the product development cycle.Each type of customer research comes with its own set of distinct benefits at specific stages of the cycle:1. Exploratory researchWith varying customer needs that evolve with each passing day, oftentimes product teams can end up with unique problems — as well as the demand to understand the problem first to decide on the best approach with which to move forward.Such situations require a very quick response and a clear segregation of what is known and what still needs to be learned.Why do it:Exploratory customer research helps product teams be aware and mindful of the challenges that a particular industry faces.Learning from both successful and failed launches can be identified early via exploratory research, which helps build empathy with clients and customers alike. With empathy at the core, a product can be designed well for an organization as well as customers.When to do it:Exploratory customer research is done at the very beginning, before the product life cycle is kicked off. This can be when there’s aNew domain (a new market/customer group sharing a common problem or need that needs to be addressed) New client (with unique business objectives along with new ideas to mature) Pre-sales initiative (by reaching out to an existing client base with ideas to implement with respect to emerging customer needs or technological advancements) Exploratory research may kick off the following activities:Industry benchmarking Competitive analysis Portfolio overview (Internal Competitive analysis) Evaluate across a 2×2 diagram to define maturity and usefulness Stakeholder interviews 2. Generative researchAn important contributor in the product life cycle, generative customer research paves the way for new ideas, new understandings, and new directions.For teams focusing on a single problem, particularly while designing UX, generative research helps explore many possible solutions and approaches. This mindset can lead product teams into many different directions, as it should. That being said, it is essential to have defined KPIs for success where each activity is tracked for its progress with clear success metrics.Why do it:Generative customer research helps strengthen relationships with clients by engaging in their core business problems.Two prime benefits include defining the success of the product and relationship building activities, as well as collaborating in upfront research.When to do it:Post major release Following a workshop It may kick off the following activities:Design sprint Suitable when there is flexibility in budget, scope, and timeline Often involves process changes outside the software Facilitated workshops Focussed collaborations involving the entire team Frequency should be once a month to collaborate on product direction and function Contextual inquiry Context is critical Requires a seasoned practitioner Ideally should be an environment where the product is going to be used/ or being used Output should be a well-defined service blueprint Card sorting Helps in discovering how people categorize information 3. Formative researchFormative research brings a bigger perspective to the table by analyzing both the qualitative and quantitative aspects together.Why do it:Formative research in UX helps evaluate the current state of the product, finding areas for improvement (e.g., building a new product or feature enhancement) and designing actionable output in the form of roadmap planning.Formative research can be carried out in the form of following activities:Heuristic evaluation: Expert reviews to check how the usability of an existing product holds up against a set of predetermined design principles. User interviews: Under expert guidance, you can conduct one-on-one user interviews to garner direct insights of the customer, highlighting the existing pain points or ideal journeys. Prototyping: An early sample, model, or release of a product built to test a concept or process, following the Rules of Prototyping: Build quickly, make many, and provide only essential details. Prototyping can be done in the form of Storyboards, Role-plays, Walk-Throughs, and Touchpoints. Some synthesis techniques for formative customer research can include:Personas Journey Maps Diagrams 2 x 2 Matrix Finally, the outcome analysis is done by asking six questions:Is it useful? Why/why not? Is it desirable? Why/why not? Is it easy to use? Why/why not? Is it functional? Why/why not? Is it sustainable? Why/why not? How does it compare to the alternatives? 4. Summative researchSummative customer research focuses on the evolution of the market and the respective product offerings. It helps identify failures at the early stages as well the adaptation measures needed, both with clients and users.Summative research comprises the following techniques:Usability testing Testing in development environments (anything before the production) Analytics review (to review metrics that can help in the evaluation of the forecast vs the performance of the product Out of all 4 of the customer research techniques discussed above, Formative and Summative research are the two types that are most crucial for designing a successful product from both a delivery and inception perspective — how the product works and whether it works as intended.With all said and done, for a deeper understanding of how user research contributes to the success of a product, read this article on Why Ignoring User Experience Research is a Mistake.Takeaway: Building Better Products with the Right Customer ResearchProduct experience plays a critical role in helping brands retain customers and build strong relationships, leading to a loyal customer base. Knowing how to incorporate customer feedback into the product development phases can be critical in helping product teams come together on the right unified goal of having a real impact in the life of their targeted customers.Being able to feel and realize this impact will prove integral to creating a better product experience for all stakeholders involved.To learn more about how you can take personalization a step further in your customer experience strategy, read this article on 6 Hyper-Personalization techniques that large enterprises can adopt for a much more enhanced customer experience!

Customer-Focused Product Development – with 4 Types of Customer Research


Toronto, ON—October 4th, 2022 – mobileLIVE, one of Canada’s fastest-growing IT services companies has been awarded the prestigious Great Place to Work – Canada® 2022 certification. This is the second consecutive year the company has been recognized for its people-driven culture.“Our second consecutive GPTW certification reflects our continued commitment to prioritizing employee physical and mental well-being, collaboration, and development. It is an honor to be recognized as a great workplace, by both the good people at GPTW as well as our talented and diverse workforce” said Jahan Ali, CEO & Founder.Each year, the Great Place to Work Institute® Canada conducts a thorough, independent, and extensive analysis, including anonymous surveys and employee feedback. The certification is awarded to Canadian businesses that are considered fair, unbiased, and inclusive among the majority of their workforce.Since its inception in 2010, the culture at mobileLIVE has nurtured talent and inclusivity across its workforce. With 400+ employees from varying ethnicities, cultures, and social backgrounds, the company continues to empower its workforce through empathy, collaboration, and development.About Great Place to Work®: Great Place to Work is the global authority on high-trust, high-performance workplace cultures.Through proprietary assessment tools, advisory services, and certification programs, Great Place to Work recognizes Canada’s Best Workplaces in a series of national lists including those published by The Globe & Mail (Canada) and Fortune magazine (USA). It offers benchmarks, frameworks, and expertise needed to create, sustain, and recognize outstanding workplace cultures. Visit at or find them on Twitter at @GPTW_Canada.

mobileLIVE gets its second consecutive Great Place To Work® certification


The buzz about data-driven product management is something we’re very familiar with.Long gone are the days when you could only rely on intuition — data is now everyone’s friend, and product managers have spent a considerable amount of time operating in a data-driven manner.This has also contributed towards the rise of big data analytics tools and other product data management systems and strategies.Having said that, while the importance of data and how it is used in product management is not lost on us, there is one big question to be answered:Where does this data come from?What Drives Product Data Management?What specific data do you need to drive your product?Product and data are both drivers in product management; we get data from the product and the same data helps product managers make the right decisions for that product.Understanding that the relation between product and data runs two ways is the first step in product data management.We know where data comes from and how it plays a key role for your product, but what are the most significant stages where data is the key for decision-making?Data-Important Stages in the Product Life CycleData plays a part at nearly every stage of product management.Specifically, there are three main stages in the product management life cycle where data should be central to making key decisions for the product:Acquisition Retention Expansion 1. AcquisitionAcquisition is one of the first few steps in product management.In order to achieve better acquisition for your product, it’s essential to track the right metrics.There are several acquisition metrics that are useful in data management for products, but some of the most important ones you’ll need are listed below:Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)We are all aware that acquiring new customers is much more expensive than keeping the ones you already have.So, how much does it cost you to bring in a new customer? And what is a reasonable cost per new customer for your company?Calculating client acquisition cost, a crucial parameter that enables you to enhance your marketing initiatives and increase overall sales, will help you find the answers to these concerns.The formula to calculate this metric of customer acquisition data is as follows:(Sales Cost + Marketing Cost) / Total new customersCustomer Lifetime Value (CLTV)At times, a customer may stick around for a few years, buying more of your product until they no longer require it or they switch to a different business.How much revenue will a customer generate while they remain a client?The formula to find this metric is as follows:Average total sale x Sales over time x Average customer lifespanConversion RateNot every visitor to your business will make a purchase.They might look around your website or app, but they may not buy anything.You want to make it more likely for people to buy something, sign up for your mailing list, or do anything else you want them to do.The formula to use to gauge how many of your visitors actually convert into buyers is as follows:Number of conversions / Total visitors2. RetentionThe first step in developing long-term consumer loyalty is typically customer retention.Customer retention refers to the ability of a company to convert new consumers into recurring customers.Retention is critical to the success of your product; and to achieve it, cultivating loyalty amongst your consumers will always cost less than acquiring new customers.According to Harvard Business Review, acquiring new customers will cost your business 5 to 25 times more than retaining current customers.Therefore, for the best chance at achieving and improving retention, the top metrics you should consider are:Customer Retention RateThis is the easiest metric to use to gauge customer loyalty and the volume of recurring business you are bringing in.There are a number of additional indicators alongside customer retention rate that you can track to get a more comprehensive picture of how your product is doing.Customer retention is calculated for a specific period of time. Depending on your specific needs, it can be calculated for weeks, months, or years.It is usually reflected as a percentage, and the formula for calculating customer retention is as follows:(Customers at end of defined period - Total new customers during defined period) / Customers at start of defined period * 100Customer churnThe rate at which customers discontinue using your products or services is known as your customer churn rate.This can typically happen when a customer decides not to renew their subscription, stops doing business with you, or ends up doing something else instead of continuing with your product.Much like customer retention rate, customer churn is also calculated for a specific period of time, again, totally dependent on your needs.The formula for it is as follows:(Existing customers at start of defined period - Existing customers at end of defined period) / Existing customers at start of defined periodNet Promoter Score(NPS)A measure of customer satisfaction called Net Promoter Score (NPS) quantifies how probable it is for customers to recommend your product to others.This value shows how satisfied and devoted a customer is to your brand.Although a high NPS can't ensure customer growth and retention, it can help identify product advocates that are most likely to generate referrals.Low customer satisfaction is reflected in a low NPS, which may suggest that some sort of intervention is required to improve things. Here’s the formula for NPS:Percentage of Promoters - Percentage of Detractors3. ExpansionAs with any product manager, your aim will also be to keep clients loyal and coming back for more business throughout the growth stage of the customer lifecycle.To keep your customers satisfied and engaged with you — and in turn making them a profitable customer — you would upsell, cross-sell, and offer expert services, training, and whatever else you can think of.In an ideal world, you'd also like to see them become brand ambassadors for your product. If they are incredibly pleased with your product, they will assist in spreading the news and provide you with some priceless word-of-mouth advertising.Expansion is majorly based on the results that you get from retention metrics.But there are a couple of key metrics that help with the expansion phase:Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR)Undoubtedly one of the most crucial levers for long-term growth is expansion revenue.This indicator, also known as expansion monthly recurring revenue (MRR), counts the money gained from repeat business through upsells, add-ons, and cross-sells.ProfitWell recommends that at least 30% of your revenue should come from expansion for a healthy product.According to the Product-Led Growth Flywheel framework, expansion revenue corresponds to the user journey's adoration stage, when your loyal customers start exploring new applications for your product.Net Revenue ChurnSimply put, some of your customers will stop using your product.And so, you will regrettably almost always need to disclose some churn.When you do that, the net churn is a better indicator of your product's health than gross churn rate, since it provides a more holistic picture.Customer churn is generally a less effective metric for growth than revenue churn. This is because, as much as we try denying it, losing your most profitable customer hurts much more than losing your favorite one.Owing to this, if you only use one churn figure, it should be the net revenue churn, which represents the sum of money lost after deducting any new, expanded, or reactivated revenue. The formula to calculate this is:(Revenue lost in defined period - New & Expansion Revenue) / Revenue at the beginning of defined periodTakeawayData management is a huge part of product management that can be approached in multiple ways and requires a deep understanding of the what, why, and how of data, data collection, data management, and big data.Across the entire product life cycle, and particularly at the most vital stages, product data management will define the quality of decisions made pertaining to your product.In doing so, to avoid getting stuck in the web of massive amounts of data, it’s best to know exactly which data you need that will have the most impact on your product.FAQsHow do you acquire customer data?There are several ways to collect data for product data management. Direct observation of customer behavior and preferences, focus groups, surveys, interviews are all the most commonly used methods. Once the customer data is collected, there are multiple ways to assess that data; exploratory data analysis, qualitative data analysis, predictive analysis, etc. are all methods that can be used to further analyze the data.What is the main focus of product management?The core focus in product management is to provide the most value to the customers while also generating value for the business. It combines product vision, strategy, and a deep understanding of the target market and customers to align on a product roadmap. Product management is a function that provides direction throughout the product life cycle — from developing the product to customer acquisition, retention, and expansion.What is the difference between qualitative and quantitative data?Qualitative data is information that is not represented in numeric values, but rather in descriptive terms. Quantitative data, on the other hand, is quantifiable information that can be measured and represented in numeric terms. While qualitative data is more about gauging factors like customer motivation and intent, quantitative data collects vast amounts of information through questionnaires, polls, surveys, etc.What are the three components of CLV?The Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) measures a customer’s average revenue over the period of their relationship with a company. The three components that make up the CLV are: 1) continuous margin after deduction of costs like retention spending, 2) constant probability of retention per time period, and 3) discount rate.

Do Products Drive Data or Does Data Drive the Product?


DISCOVERY & SOLUTIONING WORKSHOP FOR USER-CENTRIC TRAINING DOCUMENTATION An eGuide OVERVIEW In product development, ignoring the digital customer onboarding process can become one of the biggest reasons that drives your customers away. After all, no matter how great your product is, if your customers don’t know how to use it — or find it difficult to — they’ll quickly move on to the next best option. Despite that, while most companies will claim they spend time to create training documentation and support for the digital customer onboarding process, they often go at it with a waterfall approach that can have significant costs involved, including time lost due to delays that can otherwise be avoided. So, as a digital onboarding solution, we realized that an agile approach is necessary to create user-centric training documentation that is accessible, easy to understand, and best serves the customers’ needs. Training Documentation eGUIDE 1In this eGuide, we‘ve revealed a way to kickstart the process of creating user-centric training documentation alongside product development rather than after it. You’ll learn a 10-step process of how to approach the initial stages of discovery and solutioning in a more structured manner and in a way that aligns all stakeholders on how the training documentation should be created. Training Documentation eGUIDE 2 WHAT’S IN THIS EGUIDE HOW TO USE THIS TRAINING DOCUMENTATION GUIDE This eGuide can be used to organize a three to three-and-a-half hour workshop for the initial stages of Discovery and Solutioning to create Training Documentation. The workshop can be conducted in person or remotely on Miro. To synthesize insights from the workshop, we have also provided a template for an Output Report that you can use to present as a summary report to the audience after the workshop. The template for this report as well as other resources are provided at the end of this eGuide. Training Documentation eGUIDE 3TRAINING DOCUMENTATION WORKSHOP FROM PLANNING TO EXECUTION IN 10 STEPS Step 1: Finding the Right Team Step 2: Preparing for the Workshop Step 3: Orientation and Introductions Step 4: Familiarizing with Miro Step 5: Workshop Questions and Goals Step 6: Identifying Stakeholders and Steps in Training Journey Step 7: Mapping Stakeholder Needs in Training Journey Step 8: Lightning Demos, Presentation and Voting Step 9: Overview, Suggestions and Voting for Documentation Formats Step 10: Conclusion and Discussion Training Documentation eGUIDE 4 STEP 1 FINDING THE RIGHT TEAM Identify key participants for your workshop. You should include people from the Product, Marketing, Support & Success, Operations, and Learning & Development teams (if available). Training Documentation eGUIDE 5STEP 2 PREPARING FOR THE WORKSHOP STEP 2 Learn about the product/application for which you have been tasked to create training documentation. Do a quick industry research and competitor analysis to understand other perspectives. Then, shortlist some training documentation formats that can be used for the product. Schedule the workshop for 3 and a half hours (breaks included) and send invites upfront. Training Documentation eGUIDE 6STEP 3 ORIENTATION AND INTRODUCTIONS Initiate the workshop with a quick intro of the hosts and what the workshop is meant for. Lay down the goal of the workshop and align participants on why everyone is there. Ask a representative from the Product team to quickly describe the vision and strategy of the product to refresh everyone's memory. This will serve as the North Star throughout this exercise. Training Documentation eGUIDE 7STEP 4 Let everyone add some details about themselves on the Miro board, so that they can not only introduce themselves but also get acquainted with Miro in the process. FAMILIARIZING WITH MIRO Training Documentation eGUIDE 8STEP 5 WORKSHOP QUESTIONS AND GOALS In this section, we try to understand the vision of this exercise and identify the risks in achieving that goal. Training Documentation eGUIDE 9STEP 6 IDENTIFYING STAKEHOLDERS AND STEPS IN THE USER JOURNEY Ask the team to list down all the stakeholders (both internal and external) who will be consuming the training documentation. Get the team to map down all the steps in the training user journey, like: ● Before launch, ● At the time of launch, ● Post launch, ● Pre-purchase, etc. Training Documentation eGUIDE 10By this point, your team could probably use a breather, so this is the perfect time for a 10-minute break. You can use this time to map the information (Stakeholders, Training Stages) from the previous section on to the board.STEP 7 MAPPING STAKEHOLDER NEEDS IN TRAINING JOURNEY Ask the team to identify and list down the training needs of all stakeholders at each stage of the training journey. Training Documentation eGUIDE 11STEP 8 LIGHTING DEMOS, PRESENTATION AND VOTING At this stage, ask everyone to browse the Internet and research to find other examples and ideas (at least 3 per person) of Training Documentation. Encourage them to go beyond their immediate industry. Identify "BIG IDEAS" that can inspire. Put a sticky note beside it to sum up the idea. At the end, ask everyone to present their ideas and conduct a voting exercise to shortlist ideas (in the next step). Training Documentation eGUIDE 12Take another breather here before the workshop moves into the final stages of overview, other suggestions, and final voting. A 10-minute pause here will help participants reorganize their thoughts before going into the concluding discussions.STEP 9 OVERVIEW, SUGGESTIONS AND VOTING FOR DOCUMENTATION FORMATS Present some popular and relevant training documentation formats to the team based on your research before the workshop. Present pros and cons for each format. Ask the team for any additional ideas not covered previously and add them to the list. Lastly, vote on the formats. Training Documentation eGUIDE 13STEP 10 CONCLUSION AND DISCUSSION Review the content covered in the workshop and give everyone some time to share anything they would like to add that was not already covered. Thank everyone for their time and conclude the workshop. Training Documentation eGUIDE 14POST-WORKSHOP RECOMMENDATIONS REPORT Use the "Recommendations Report" template (provided on the Miro link at the end of this guide) to summarize and synthesize your workshop insights and to propose recommendations for the Training Documentation formats. Training Documentation eGUIDE 15HELPFUL LINKS This eGuide covers only the Discovery and Solutioning stages of the entire process of creating Training Documentation. Here’s the link to the Miro template you can use when you conduct the workshop: Discovery and Solutioning are only the initial two steps of our 5-step Process of Creating User-Centric Training Documentation for Effective Digital Onboarding. To learn more on our 5-step process to create user-centric training documentation, please refer to this article: ning-documentation-for-effective-digital-onboarding Training Documentation eGUIDE 16ABOUT MOBILELIVE We’re your full-service digital team obsessed with helping you make smart investments and reduce time-to-launch. Our team of experts specializes in designing experiences, building products, and scaling technology with flexible engagement models, outside-in views, bespoke solutions, and a succession of early wins while never losing sight of the big picture. 100% client retention since day one 40+ iconic & Fortune 500 clients 20+ industry awards & distinctions Training Documentation eGUIDE 17

Discovery and Solutioning Workshop for User-Centric Training Documentation


With the wave of Digital Transformation every business is trying to ride, how do you keep up with the wave of users that comes with it?Online and self-serve systems have seen a massive rise with the growth of digital platforms, and an even bigger push with the COVID pandemic. These systems became the need of the hour to limit human interaction, and so technology evolved to a point where providing a seamless and swift digital experience became a standard.But despite that, many corporations still can’t take full advantage of these new technologies and often end up losing potential customers simply because their legacy systems can’t keep up.The Challenge of Adopting New Technologies For Large EnterprisesDue to a dependency on mission-critical legacy systems — predominantly owing to high replacement costs — enterprises are forced to build digital systems on top of the existing legacy systems. This results in two architecture layers with different service-level agreements (SLAs).But while digital APIs deployed on the cloud can scale automatically to sustain any workload, these legacy systems would eventually crash under heavy load, causing loss of business opportunities.In this article, we’re diving into a real-world application of the Command Query Responsibility Segregation (CQRS) design pattern and event sourcing to prevent this issue of overloaded legacy systems.CQRS Pattern to the RescueLet’s dissect the problem stated in the previous section.As we understand it more deeply, we find the root cause behind the need for CQRS and event sourcing patterns: modern digital APIs have the ability to produce a much higher volume of transactions than legacy systems can support.Can we have an architecture where the legacy system is required to process only a subset instead of all the transactions?The CQRS software architecture pattern offers a good solution.The command query responsibility segregation separates the write and read transactions in such a way that digital APIs can commit to one system and query from another.The diagram below shows how the CQRS pattern changes the architecture to send a subset of transactions, "write actions", which usually represent a tiny portion of all the transactions generated by a digital system.Usually, the CQRS pattern is coupled with event sourcing patterns that facilitate data synchronization between the source operational data store and the target read-only data cache in near real-time.The data cache is a high performing database that is located close to the digital APIs to reduce latency. The data model is designed to maximize read performance instead of data integrity since this is a read-only data store.Once the changes above have been implemented, we notice a huge performance increase in the read transaction. We can also observe that the backend systems were able to cope with the seasonal spikes in volume.Implementation Strategy for the CQRS PatternGiven the complexity of the CQRS design pattern, it is preferable to implement it in phases, focusing on the most critical APIs first.When we were using the CQRS pattern, my team had an urgency to fix the issue completely. Hence, the phased approach was rolled out.We’ve realized it works well, and using it for every single API that the digital systems use is found to deliver a reliable experience.But as with any new technology, there can be challenges with the implementation of the CQRS pattern.Two Challenges with CQRS ImplementationThe CQRS pattern has its benefits, but it also comes with many challenges that we need to take into consideration before making a decision to implement it.The two biggest challenges we faced while implementing command query responsibility segregation with event sourcing pertained to:Testing Race Conditions Challenge #1: TestingThe CQRS pattern impacts the most valuable corporate asset in the digital world: customer data.Any defects that are not detected and fixed in a non-production environment may have a drastic impact on customers. For instance, a CQRS defect can result in a privacy issue where a customer gets access to some other customer data.In order to avoid such issues, testing in non-production environments alone is not sufficient.For our project, we went with the traditional approach of testing in non-production and allowing for a period of business readiness testing in production. Then, we launched the system to the customers.As a result, there were many corner cases and special data that we never accounted for that caused some serious issues in production.Solution:A better approach would have been to run the old and new system side by side for some period of time and automatically validate the output from both systems for the same requests in production. The diagram below outlines this approach.Challenge #2: Race conditionsThe operational data store is the source of truth and is updated by many systems, amongst which is the digital system itself.When the update happens from the digital system, the customer expects the new information to reflect on all the views immediately.With the CQRS implementation, this may not be feasible since there could be a delay in updating the data cache and hence the digital APIs would still read the old data.Solution:To get around this race condition, the write transactions that are initiated from the digital system had to also mark the data in the cache as stale and save parts of the write transaction response that can be used for temporarily presenting the latest version of the data on the user interface.TakeawayDespite the challenges that came with it, when we implemented the CQRS pattern, the benefits were evident:An enhanced user experience An increased system availability during the transaction spike period However, with that said, the CQRS pattern is still relatively nascent.While it may seem to be a disruptive solution for a very pressing issue in legacy-based systems, implementing the CQRS pattern should always be taken on a case-by-case basis and with preparedness for the challenges that could arise with it.FAQsIs GraphQL a CQRS?CQRS is a design pattern used in programming that treats data in queries and commands separately. While GraphQL also defines input and output object types separately, aligning with the concepts of CQRS design patterns, CQRS GraphQL is a query language that standardizes data queries.Is CQRS an architecture or pattern?CQRS is a design pattern that can be applied in software architecture. It is an architectural pattern that separates commands and queries in the application architecture.What is the difference between CQRS and event sourcing?The implementation of CQRS happens through a segregation of commands and queries. On the other hand, for implementing event sourcing, the sequence of the events is used to track any changes in data. Event sourcing is a practice to store domain events.How do you implement CQRS?The implementation of CQRS lies in the segregation of commands and queries, meaning it is executed using separate models for read and write. It’s best to implement CQRS in phases and coupled with event sourcing patterns.

Surviving User Overload: How CQRS pattern helps build digital APIs on legacy systems


Have you ever ended up abandoning a product because it forced you into multiple, seemingly unnecessary security layers?Let’s take an example of what I’m talking about. In fact, I’ll share four examples of how security layers meant to “enhance security” can cause more harm than good.Product Security Layers That Do Not WorkComplex Password PolicyBack in my college days, this is what the password policy of our IT department looked like:A default password was set up for every student, which looked something like this: Press@123 All students were required to change this password every month This was a classic example, and not the only one, of a complex password policy that both required symbols, numbers, upper and lower case letters, and also required the users to reset the passwords at an interval of every few days.As a result of this, most users would end up using the same passwords across various websites and, in worse cases, saving their passwords in unencrypted notes.This wasn’t the only consequence of the complex password policy adopted by my college IT department:A massive worldwide online hack took place during those days, due to which a staggering 8 billion login passwords were leaked.I, along with some friends, downloaded and analyzed this dump of account login passwords. A key observation we made while analyzing these passwords, which belonged to university students, professors, and even cyber security experts, was that every time these users were asked to reset their passwords, they would only increment the last number in the password.If this event proved anything, it was how user behavior could easily render such complex security measures redundant and useless.No ‘Show Password’ OptionApple users, in particular, will be able to relate to this issue the most.The unavailability of a ‘show password’ option often results in users opting for other, non-secure ways to avoid typing errors when inserting their passwords. Oftentimes, users are more likely to simply copy and paste their passwords from other non-encrypted places where they've written down these passwords, mostly their notes.Another consequence of a missing ‘show password’ option is that users end up creating short, less complex passwords that are easy to remember as well as type out without mistakes.Fortunately, to prevent such counter-productivity, many platforms have equipped users with the capability to ‘show password’, which is enabled as a default feature so as to minimize errors and enhance the user experience without compromising on the security of their passwords.Frequent LogoutsIn efforts to prevent misuse of account information, a lot of applications and platforms frequently log out the users after a certain time of inactivity (or, as per their own respective policies, even every week or month, etc.).While the need for such policies is evident in sensitive cases like banking and finance apps, these measures can hamper the user experience and end up being an overkill for other use-cases, like HR software or other internal applications.Thankfully, as a solution to this dilemma, we have technologies of Face and Touch IDs to deal with such concerns as they don’t compromise on the user experience while keeping security intact.Prohibited Multi-device LoginsThere are also some applications that will automatically log you out from one place if you try to log in from another device or IP address.This, again, hampers the usability of the application and can be off-putting for users.A better implementation of this, rather than automatically expiring the user sessions, is where users are allowed to add and remember any new device that they log in from. Once they go through the verification for the new device, they can simply ‘remember’ that device, so they don’t have to log in every single time.Product Security and User Experience: Finding the BalanceThe dilemma of choosing between amping up product security versus accounting for better usability and an improved overall user experience is one that we often face in our daily work.According to Avi Douglen, founder and CEO of Bounce Security, AviD’s Rule of Usability posits that:“Security at the expense of usability comes at the expense of security.”The Pessimists Vs. the OptimistsThere are two sides to this dilemma that stems from product security and usability:The Pessimists:These are the Security and IT teams whose belief lies with Murphy’s Law, meaning that what can happen will happen. So, being preemptive, the Pessimists will want to ensure Government-level security for all apps.The Optimists:On the other hand, there are The Optimists. These are the Design, CX, and Sales teams whose primary job is building products that engage the customers and are easy for them to use rather than adding more barriers and complications for the user.Which of these two sides comes out at the top?Neither, because both of them have weight, and both are (usually) valid in their own ways.Is the Minimum Viable Secure Product (MVSP) Worth It?For Product Managers, the most vital thing they need to achieve is to find a balance between usability of the product and its security. This sweet spot between the two is what has come to be known as the Minimum Viable Security Product.Exactly where this balance is achieved will always vary according to the situation and circumstance at hand.For example, some products involve Personally Identifiable Information (PII) or other data that is of high sensitivity. In this case, a product manager may need to lean more towards The Pessimists and adopt a layered security model, endpoint security controls, or another stringent product security framework.With that said, what is of utmost importance here is to not ignore either side of the coin.Often, finding this balance between product security and usability may require you to adopt measures that are costlier.From personal experience, and having learnt the hard way, I’ve found that identifying and choosing such a solution that does the job of keeping both usability and security intact is often worth the added cost.I’ve also found that oftentimes security teams can get lax and suggest a security measure that damages the user experience, while better alternatives do exist that can at least come close to achieving similar levels of security.All that would be required to achieve the latter rather than the former is some added effort (e.g., HTTPS, local storage encryption, app bundle encryption, etc.).TakeawayIn the presence of so many innovative solutions that product teams now have at their disposal, balancing product security with product usability is not the impossible, gargantuan task that it was previously believed to be.In some cases, you might need to encourage and challenge design teams to innovate for an enhanced user experience amidst security constraints. It’s safe to say that seeing how long we have come with technological advancements, solutions like Passwordless logins, Face IDs, Touch IDs, MFA, SSO, and more have made it possible to achieve the right balance between security and usability.FAQsWhat is the Minimum Viable Secure Product (MVSP)?Minimum Viable Security Product (MVSP) is the baseline of the minimum security measures and checks that a product must meet to ensure security. Much like the need has grown from simply providing an MVP to instead creating a Minimum Viable Experience, so has Minimum Viable Security become more relevant and required.What is the Minimum Viable Secure Product checklist?For any software, application, or enterprise-ready products and services, a Minimum Viable Secure Product checklist is a baseline for security measures that can be implemented at various stages of the product and sales cycle. These security controls help manage the security levels for things like requests for proposals, self-assessments, third-party security, vendor compliance, licensing, etc.

Minimum Viable Security: Balancing Product Security and Usability


If there's one thing all UX designers, product designers, and anyone working with design can relate to, it's the plethora of questions that they have to deal with on a daily basis.And our designers were no exception to this.So, in an open conversation with no holds barred, we decided to sit with five designers from our design team to discover:what these questions tend to look like, how designers deal with these queries regularly, and the uniquely distinct perspectives of each UI/UX designer in the field of user experience design. For the sake of this article, we chose three questions to ask each of our five designers:Question 1: What is the most common question you are asked by clients?Question 2: How do you negotiate deadlines with product owners and stakeholders?Question 3: What is your approach when presenting your work?Question 1What is the most common question you are asked by clients?Response 1:Would you recommend this approach based on UX? What is your UX opinion if we do this particular thing? Can we do A/B testing to make a final decision? How can we improve this particular journey based on UX? Can you provide some feedback on the current pages and let us know your thoughts on improvements? What is the best practice for serviceability check for user experience? — Ella Rabiei Senior Product DesignerResponse 2:"Typically, the most common question designers run into is, "When will this be ready for review?""I find that there are generally 2 kinds of questions that a client will ask; "What is the cost? (in time, funds, effort, or stress)" or "Can you explain your thinking?". While these questions may seem like an oversimplification (as it probably is), understanding the underlying intent of these questions helps me, as a designer, ensure I'm providing answers that are effective and concise.Being pedantic and looking at my typical question above, that boils down to "How much time with this cost the project". And why not? Time is as finite a resource as a budget is."— Dana Mitchell Senior Product DesignerResponse 3:"When can you have this done?"This raises an important point, which is that often the emphasis is placed on quantity/output rather than quality. It also highlights the client's lack of understanding of the UX designer's role, which is a weak link in the chain of product design."— Véronique Janosy Senior Product DesignerResponse 4:"How fast can you finish? Will it be quick? Can you do it sooner?"— Carlos Salguero Senior Product DesignerResponse 5:We want to do a redesign. Where do we start? We want to add a new feature to this page. Can you implement this solution? We have these requirements, and we are looking for this solution. When can you deliver this? "Clients need help to uncover problems. Like most humans, they are very good at communicating solutions. My job is to help them find the best solution by first identifying the problems. This is called problem-solution fit. A solution must fit a problem. If the solution does not fit a problem, it is not worth doing it. Furthermore, the solution must be appropriate and not perfect."— Amir Abura Lead Product DesignerQuestion 2How do you discuss and deal with deadlines while working with Product Owners (POs) and stakeholders? If the requested deadline is too tight, how do you negotiate?Response 1:"The POs mostly set a deadline and try to adjust it with the designer's capacity. Depending on the situation, there are several ways to deal with it:If the deadline is for "Tomorrow morning" and it is mid-day already, it depends on the task's value. If it is a small design request, like updating a specific page, I would do it while working on other tasks. If the task is a major design request, I'd let my manager know that I need to pause some of the work to deliver the task, and I would try to see how I can expedite the design process and, if possible, use some of the currently designed pages as my placeholders. To negotiate, I always try to look at the big picture and see how I can accommodate the client's request and my current capacity; I'd also ask to see if there is any possibility of pushing the deadline to some days in the future to avoid the conflict between the deliveries. I'd also ask POs what goals they are trying to achieve with the requested design and try to deliver it in semi-high fidelity mocks instead of high fid versions." — Ella Rabiei Senior Product DesignerResponse 2:"For myself, the easiest way to prioritize is to directly ask what the priorities are. When I have several tasks on the table and not nearly enough time, I start by giving each task a rough time estimate and lay out what I will be able to accomplish in the given time frame.Armed with this knowledge, the PO or stakeholders are better able to understand what my current workload is and decide what the focus will be, hence setting the expectations for the deadline and ensuring that everyone is on the same page.Alternatively, it could be agreed to reduce the amount of work involved; instead of creating a high-fidelity design, a wireframe could be produced instead. Concessions like this allow for the work to begin and start the iterative design process on its merry way."— Dana Mitchell Senior Product DesignerResponse 3:"I'm very up-front about it. If it hasn't been mentioned during the brief, I'll always bring it up; this helps me to prioritize and also to avoid nasty surprises later. More often than not, somebody's got some kind of date in mind–whether it's a hard date that developers need assets by or a more general one, like "sometime during Q2"– and that's a good starting point. Knowing the timeline helps me field questions like "when can you have this done?", since I already know what the projected timeline is. If a timeline is too short, I voice my concern to the PO, and then we work together to reprioritize whatever's on my plate. I always try to remember that there are only so many hours in a workday, and I try to be as honest as possible when it comes to my workload and capacity. When stakeholders are up-front about deadlines, then I can be better prepared to manage expectations."— Véronique Janosy Senior Product DesignerResponse 4:"I explain the intricacies of the work and only negotiate if PO is being reasonable and understanding. Otherwise, UX requires a minimum of 2 weeks and a couple of grooming sessions to consider a wireframe "ready for sprint"."— Carlos Salguero Senior Product DesignerResponse 5:"There is no perfect solution. There is only an appropriate solution given the time and resources available. This is how I negotiate. What can we do now with the time given and resources available? And more importantly, is it worth it? Is there a problem-solution fit? My job is to provide this analysis, so the PO has more info to make a decision: let's do this now and iterate after or let's not do this now and spend more time on the problem."— Amir Abura Lead Product DesignerQuestion 3What is your approach when presenting your work?Response 1:"This question is a bit general when it comes to the audience; I'd try to respond in different scenarios:In General: I'd prepare a fictional or real scenario that includes the research data based on the actual product/design subject and gather the most common/potential pain points plus the written ideation on how to resolve the problems or create a better environment to avoid the potential problems. Then I'd prepare the low-fidelity mockup to discuss the user journey and the product's process path. And once I showcased it, I'd prepare the high-fid mocks to present the finalized idea with showing the details for the solved/improved path, and at the end, I'd present it to the client, including POs, Stakeholders, marketing executives, etc. To the POs and the Dev team: After updating the mocks on Abstract, I'd share my screen in our review session to present the changes/ ideas/ new outcomes on fictional scenarios. I would receive the feedback and comments and will apply them to the design before presenting to the stakeholders. To Stakeholders: mostly happens after the [presentation to PO's] session, once everything is updated, the POs would proceed with presenting the design." — Ella Rabiei Senior Product DesignerResponse 2:"Whenever presenting my work, the first thing I do is prepare myself for feedback. Feedback is a vital part of any design process, but it's not always easy to swallow. I prepare myself to stay grounded and receptive.Next, I consider the audience to whom I am presenting. The goals of each team within a project, myself included, will be different; the artifacts created will be used differently by each team, and I try to keep that under consideration. At the end of the day, my goal is to help set clear expectations to ensure that everyone knows what we are driving towards."— Dana Mitchell Senior Product DesignerResponse 3:"In my job, I don't have to do any kind of formal presentation. I'll usually present what I have to the PO, who will then bring back my work to marketing. The PO acts as a buffer between design and marketing because the interactions can get pretty intense. So when presenting to the PO, I pretty much just tour the component, noting where the design followed or deviated from the original requirements and explaining why. I may have a few different options to present, and the PO and I will usually discuss which one we align with.When presenting to developers, I start by introducing the purpose of the component (if it's a net-new component) or, if it's just a variant, I'll be sure to lead with that. I then talk about the various technical aspects of the component and how it may be similar to or different from either its parent component or a similar one. I then open the floor for questions."— Véronique Janosy Senior Product DesignerResponse 4:"I put myself in my audience's shoes. How can I make this easy for anyone to understand? I make flows, add arrows, include annotations, and, if time allows, create a prototype with all possibilities."— Carlos Salguero Senior Product DesignerResponse 5:"Present the problem, evidence, explorations, and the best solution that fits the problem with the time and resources available. Again there is no perfect solution. Only an appropriate solution that benefits the customer and the business in the present moment with the resources, technology, and time available."— Amir Abura Lead Product DesignerTakeawayAs with any designer, I, as a lead designer myself, have always been at the receiving end of the aforementioned questions, amongst many others.Therefore, this effort was made to not just bring these questions to light but to truly get to discover the perspectives and thoughts of other product and UX designers as well.After all, it's a designer who can best understand another designer, and this candid discussion with my design team provided an opportunity to uncover their unique, creative personalities that make them so good at what they do.FAQsWhat does a UX designer do day to day?In their daily lives, UX designers often work with Product Owners (POs) and other stakeholders to capture the project requirements, conduct research, ideate, design, and demonstrate how a new feature or product is going to work and why any design changes would be required.Does UX design require graphic design?Graphic design is one of the many aspects of UI and Product Design. Having a foundational understanding of graphic design is what drives good interfaces: understanding visual hierarchy, good typography, understanding how to use color, etc.Is UX design in demand?While it is a relatively nascent field, UX design is very much in demand with an exceptional career outlook. In fact, the demand for UX designers continues to grow, leading to the field of UX design being included in one of the 50 best jobs in 2022, according to Glassdoor, amongst other similar rankings.Is UX design coding?Coding is not required, but understanding HTML/CSS code is an asset as a UX/UI or Product Designer. It helps in communicating with developers to speak their language.

Ask A Designer: An Open Conversation with Product & UX Designers

Enterprises Multi-Cloud

Since the start of this decade, large-scale transformations in business strategy and technology have become standard features across industries and business models. Over the past two years, a significantly large (and rising) number of enterprises have begun adopting a Multi-Cloud strategy.IBM's 2021 global study on cloud transformation also confirms this rapid change. The study found that the use of single-cloud systems declined to a mere 2% in 2021, compared to 29% in 2019. Most companies are either already running Multi-Cloud architecture or will be moving there within the next few years. So it seems fairly obvious that in the years ahead, hybrid or Multi-Cloud will remain the most dominant type of IT infrastructure across industries and business models.In this blog, I aim to discuss what keeps driving organizations to the Multi-Cloud strategy and what challenges they face during this transformation. But before we dive into further details there, let's first examine what we mean by Multi-Cloud.What is a Multi-Cloud Strategy?At its most basic, I would say a Multi-Cloud strategy is simply utilizing two or more public or private clouds. For example, a company utilizing AWS or GCP, or Azure and AWS, can be said to be adopting a Multi-Cloud strategy.Is this strategy applicable to any type of enterprise? Not exactly.I would say a Multi-Cloud strategy is usually a better fit for larger enterprises. Particularly because of the significant costs and complexity involved in running and maintaining the architecture. For small to medium organizations, I would typically recommend Hybrid Cloud as a more appropriate solution option.What Does Hybrid Cloud Mean?Picture a business running a local data center. This business could also be extending some services or replicating its local data center services into a public cloud in parallel. This is precisely what you call a Hybrid cloud model. But there can be further segmentations in the terminology involved. For example, a hybrid strategy where there is a local data center as well as more than two or three public clouds. The combination of these is called Hybrid-Multi Cloud.Why Are More Businesses Turning to Multi-Cloud?Many businesses already have a dual cloud vendor strategy because they want to be more competitive while keeping the cost down. It may sound like a generic motivator, but that does not invalidate the fact that it keeps driving so many enterprises in that direction.FlexibilityThere are also several more specific drivers for organizations to adopt Multi-Cloud strategies. From my perspective, I really feel it's the flexibility to pick services that different vendors offer compared to others that adds to the eagerness to shift.SecurityAnother key aspect, I would say, is from the security standpoint. Cyberattacks continue to be a huge concern for businesses anywhere, causing companies to lose billions in terms of data breaches, confidential information, and reputational damage. It is significantly difficult to bring down a Multi-Cloud environment using a denial-of-service attack or DDOS attack, in my experience. Therefore, the added security would most definitely prove a key motivator for businesses to shift in that direction.Data RecoveryThe third aspect I'd say is data recovery or disaster recovery. Businesses need only to slip up once to become the victims of a significant data breach. So it makes a lot of sense to have contingencies that protect against that. A multi-cloud strategy lets you can create one of the most reliable architectures, which, in turn, can mitigate the fallout from a single-point failure in parallel.In a nutshell: the ability to do best of breed, improved security, disaster recovery, and data availability all contribute to the rapid rise of Multi-Cloud adoption across industries.The Top Challenges When Implementing a Multi-Cloud StrategyWith any new technology and its adoption, there are almost always some challenges. This is no different when it comes to Multi-Cloud. As a technology, it is safe to say that it's still evolving, and organizations are already invested in it. The biggest hurdles they currently face include:A Lack of Industry StandardsOne of the key challenges that many companies face is that there is no industry standard that regulates architecture guidelines, principles, or best practices that need to be implemented.A Lack of Holistic ToolsIn addition, there aren't many tools in the market that can help support or monitor a Multi-Cloud environment. Also, when it comes to provisioning, deploying, and testing the technology, you often don't see too many tools either.Problems with Identity BrokeringLet me use an example for this one. Say you are running an application in a local data center that has typically been authenticated by an active directory. This has to stay in contact with or receive some information from your AWS file system, for instance. AWS, on the other hand, uses an IM service or identity management that authenticates any request that is coming in before it is executed. Translating an AD token or AD authentication to authenticate automatically in AWS is called identity brokering.From an application standpoint, identity brokering is a big challenge in the Multi-cloud environment because each service provider might end up using their application to identify the request and response.Recommendations to Enterprises Implementing a Multi-Cloud StrategyIn my line of work, I can see in the industry there is a new adoption called "infrastructure as code" or IaC. This is one of the ways that you can address admin tasks, from provisioning to deploying, like:Configuring, Testing the virtual machines, Creating containers, Deploying containers, Creating serviceless functions, etc. All of that can be automated by IaC, and this code can then be run by virtually anybody. What this results in is an automated CI/CD pipeline spanned across a Multi-Cloud environment. So, to see more success when implementing Multi-Cloud, I would recommend every business leverages IaC.Specialized Tools for Multi-Cloud ManagementI've already talked about how there aren't a lot of tools that assist in managing and monitoring Multi-Cloud. But I have come across a select few that can help with Multicloud monitoring.The most useful ones are Flexera and Embotics. They are fairly closer than other comparable ones when it comes to managing Multi-Cloud environments. IBM Cloudpark is another fairly good choice, and it sees a lot of use for data insights.For certain use cases, you can also combine tools. Terraform combined with Ensemble, for example, can act as a powerful IT automation tool. This can automate many IT tasks in the context of public and private cloud environments.But, from experience, I would still say I have observed a significant demand from enterprises for a holistic platform that can be used to allocate workload strategy and manage business containers in a hybrid Multi-Cloud environment. Unfortunately, we have yet to see a comprehensive tool that can act as a unified management platform.TakeawayThere is no question about the benefits a Multi-Cloud or Hybrid Multi-Cloud environment brings to a business. The real hurdle is the need for a unified infrastructure management tool. That's what we really need to comprehensively and holistically manage these environments. While there isn't a tool that can claim that title yet, I would say it is only a matter of time before we witness a major cloud provider getting around to releasing it. After all, why not, right?I have come across many companies and vendors trying to get there. There are several third-party tools that are already in development. Azure and AWS have already implemented tools to aid with Hybrid Cloud management. In essence, nothing is really stopping them from making a Multi-Cloud management platform as well. Or to go a step further and create a unified infrastructure management platform. Once that happens, that tool could prove a significant game changer in overcoming challenges to implementing and managing Multi-Cloud architectures. Who knows, maybe that could be a watershed moment right around the corner!

What’s Driving Large Enterprises to Multi-Cloud?

User Engagement Strategy

Holding your customer’s attention when they have no time is a big challenge.Particularly in today’s digital age, with average attention spans that only last a few seconds, driving business outcomes now relies heavily on employing the right user engagement strategy.But before jumping into the various types of user engagement strategies used for improving customer experience and retention, let’s quickly understand exactly what a user engagement strategy entails.What is a User Engagement Strategy?A user engagement strategy is a plan to:Grab your customers’ attention, Improve their experience of using your product, and Make them engage with the product offering on a regular basis. Such engagement tools enable us to not only increase customer loyalty and lifetime values, but also optimize the customer experience and boost customer retention for the long term.User Engagement StrategiesThere are many ways to hold your customers’ attention and engage them long enough to make sure they have a great time using your product.The user engagement strategies highlighted in this article are ideal for growth marketing and product success, and are proven ways to garner customer loyalty and retention:Customer Journey Mapping Hyper-Personalisation Integrating Analytics Rewards and Customer Loyalty Program Chatbot 1. Map Your Customer JourneyTo effectively develop and implement a user engagement strategy, it is crucial to understand who your target audience is and how they use your product.A good way to do this is through customer journey mapping.In this user engagement strategy, you map out your product’s customer journey and understand all the different ways a customer can interact with your digital platform or app. This allows you to unravel any challenges the user may face and discover more about your users’ needs and behavior, which is instrumental in identifying opportunities for engagement.Illustration 1.1: Common touch points surrounding a customer journey map that a visitor takes to start the buyer journey process.Additionally, analyzing your customers’ behavior will allow you to segment your target base and create customer personas. Collecting this knowledge is the first step in creating a tailored user engagement strategy to interact with each persona according to their distinct preferences.2. Create Hyper-Personalized OfferingsIn today’s day and age, providing personalized experiences has become an essential user engagement strategy. And it makes sense why – customers have grown to want products that are tailored to their needs.Personalization can be something as simple as showing customers a location-based ad or using their first name in an email.It could also become something much more complex, by applying nascent technologies such as machine learning and AI to offer hyper-relevant services.A good example of personalisation in the Telecommunication industry is when a customer who regularly purchases data add-ons to meet his monthly needs is offered an exclusive package to upgrade their plan at a discount. Usage behavior, interests, location, device information, etc. could be used to create a unique offer for each customer that best meets their needs.Push notifications are also essential when it comes to a successful user engagement strategy and plan. Using these notifications effectively can help improve awareness and usage for your product features. Location-based notifications or offers can allow you to give the users of your product a contextual experience that would be hard to match.3. Track Business AnalyticsThere is no way of knowing whether your customer engagement strategies are working or not if you don’t have specific success metrics in place and aren’t tracking them on a regular basis.Therefore, it is essential to close the customer loop by listening to their feedback and incorporating it into improving your product offering.Data driven decision-making can allow you to identify behavioral trends and understand how the customers use your product in order to address their needs.Tracking your daily active users (DAU) as a % of your monthly active users (MAU) can give you an estimate on the number of days your customers use your product in each month.Segmentation and analytics play a pivotal role in driving the marketing strategy for an organization. Quantitative insights can help build your brand persona and also help identify the USPs of your product. This can be used to create acquisition and retention campaigns to increase usage.Understanding the onboarding process for your platform and the use of conversion funnels to identify the relevant drop-offs can also play a crucial role in helping uncover design or product level issues that might be hampering your overall user engagement.The use of analytics tools can significantly impact the growth of engagement on your platform. Using these tools can enable you to segment your user audience based on multiple attributes i.e. age, location, interests. These segments can then be targeted with the use of available communication channels or push notifications, thus generating not only interest but also customer retention and loyalty to your offering.4. Design a Customer Loyalty ProgramAnother effective user engagement strategy is to engage your customer through a customer loyalty program that rewards them with points, discounts and gifts in return for frequently engaging with your platform.These programs can prove to be very effective as they not only improve customer retention, but also increase customer switching costs by boosting customer loyalty. Having a loyal customer base can generate word of mouth and referrals for your product, which can attract the desired audience to your platform.Illustration 1.2: Customer loyalty programs improve customer engagement and boost retention rates.5. Implement a ChatbotChatbots are a proven tool to increase conversion rates, especially when it comes to digital platforms.An AI-powered chatbot has the ability to analyze data and appropriately reply to users based on preprogrammed recommendations. The program can also be engineered to trigger specific messages based on customer attributes such as location, time, or engagement levels.Bots can also help users choose products they like, answer FAQs, or even act as a trouble-shooter to decrease churn rates.Additionally, another key advantage of using chatbots as part of your user engagement strategy is their ability to offer minimum service levels even during after-hours when a call center representative is not available. This helps create an additional channel through which key customer information can be collected so that they can be contacted later.TakeawayThere’s no doubt that the digital age of today has transformed the way businesses operate and seek out customers.Therefore, in efforts to keep up with such transformation, it is now more crucial than ever to adopt smart approaches and strategies that put the customer at the center of your engagements with them.User engagement strategies like the ones discussed above all help you hold your ideal customers’ attention, improve their experience using your product, and keep them coming back for more.Remember, the right user engagement strategy will pave the way for transforming your target audience into loyal customers that stick with you for the long haul.FAQsHow to optimize user engagement?There are many user engagement strategies that help optimize user engagement for your product, digital platform, or app. Some great ways to do this include customer journey mapping, hyper-personalization, integrating analytics, customer loyalty programs, rewards, and chatbots.How do you increase product engagement?Product engagement can be increased by incentivising customers (e.g. through loyalty programs and rewards), using and studying user data to create personalized notifications and offers, and streamlining and optimizing the overall user experience through customer journey mapping.

Improving Customer Experience with the Right User Engagement Strategy

Design Thinking Workshops

What do you do when you need people to come together and be on the same page for a new concept at your organization?Some back and forth via emails? Putting in requests for meetings where the conversations are driven by PowerPoint pitches? Having one discussion at a time, and that too only led by the extroverts or people with titles and power?What about the value that the rest of the individuals at your organization can bring into these discussions? How do you cultivate an environment for brainstorming and a healthy exchange of ideas where every individual is a part of the conversation and contributing towards a purpose?Contrary to the conventional ways of doing business that organizations have ingrained as common practice, there is a better solution. The latest research around creativity and innovation offers a much better way of aligning everyone on a shared goal: Design Thinking Workshops.Design Thinking WorkshopsDesign Thinking Workshops help organizations combine the power of individual thinking with the cross-pollination of ideas and critical thinking. These workshops can truly accelerate innovation by transforming the way teams collaborate during design ideation to design and redesign products and services for their customers.The design thinking workshop framework acts as a catalyst, bringing out the best ideas to light and speeding up innovation in the design thinking process.Design thinking workshops are much more advanced than simply encouraging participants to talk about what needs to happen. Instead, they steer participants on HOW to do it.Simply put, these workshops take design thinking ideation a step above and actually help you get things done - quickly and more effectively.Which brings us to our next question: What do different kinds of design thinking workshops achieve, and which is the right one for you? Let’s help you choose the best one for you in the next section.Types of Design Thinking WorkshopsThe type of design thinking workshop you need for your project is contingent on several factors:Why you need it to happen Who are the participants What is your end goal Depending on your situation, here’s a quick comparison of all the workshops before we jump into each one in detail:Now, let’s try to understand each workshop, its requirements, and outcomes in detail so you can pick the design thinking workshop you need:Discovery WorkshopBest suited for the early stages of a project, a Discovery Workshop is a customized design thinking workshop designed to frame the problem from the end user’s perspective.During this workshop, the focus is on the business goals, target user personas, their needs, journey maps of these users and opportunities for improvements in these journeys.Who should attendBusiness & Sales Team Leads Product/Marketing Team Lead Solution Architects All other stakeholders critical to defining the problem Why should we do itDiscoveryDiscovery workshops help uncover users’ problems, pain points, and needs through curated activities; developing user personas and mapping the current user journey helps identify and uncover any pain points along the way. ContextA deeper dive into the problem space provides context and a better understanding of the backend processes within the organization. Understanding the context more clearly also helps define the business success metrics. Solving the RIGHT ProblemsThis kind of design thinking workshop builds a shared vision and identifies the root causes of the problem. It also helps reframe the problems into opportunities to serve customers better. Through discovery workshops, you can prioritize the opportunities that are best aligned to the business and users’ goals. Defining ways to help validate ideas and concepts before committing time and budget to them saves resources. Quite often, these workshops help reframe the problem by shifting the focus from the solution to the problem. It is vital to spend sufficient time understanding the problem and gauge if that is the right problem to be solved. If we solve it, will it result in achieving the business goals? How is it doneDiscovery workshops are conducted through customized workshops and a set of activities that fit your needs and schedule.What do we get out of itA common definition of project goals, success criteria, target users, and their journey of interaction with your products or services A short document detailing the workshop findings and possible next steps for engagement Often these workshops result in a defined scope for the project and can be followed up with a proposal for engagement Designed forSmall-medium size organizations Small groups of key decision-makers Developing new products and services Kickstarting and setting the scope for a large engagement Aligning stakeholders Creating alignment around the problem trying to be solved Typical durationA few hours to a full day (depending on the complexity of the problem)Ideation WorkshopIf you have already understood the problem and defined the success criteria of the project, it never hurts to have a second opinion on the approach to solve it. Ideation jams with customers can be a fun way to creatively solve the problems at hand.An Ideation Workshop is a collaborative and rapid idea generation session intended to create as many ideas as possible to address the challenges at hand by empowering participants to think creatively.Who should attendStakeholders Business System Analysts Product Managers Designers Solution/Tech Architects Why should we do itCo-creationIdeation workshops help bring a diverse range of insights and minds to generate as many ideas as possible. Fresh IdeasInspiration is taken from solutions in the same problem space and adjacent areas to spark creativity. Subject matter experts and those from your organization are invited for TED-style keynotes, which bring everyone up to speed and provoke the thought process in that direction. To explore ideas and make informed decisionsIdeas are not only proposed by participants, but they are also evaluated by them in order to narrow down on the most impactful solutions. How is it doneIdeation workshops comprise a disciplined framework that uses the best practices of ideation and innovation by providing time for individual brainstorming, building on top of ideas, connecting dots — then intelligently voting to shortlist the best ideas to move forward with.What do we get out of itUnderstanding and exploration of the problem space Explore multiple solutions to address the challenge Established set of ideas that can be explored and refined to find solutions Set of experiments that can be conducted as next steps Designed forThose looking for an outside-in view or second opinion on solving technology product, people, or process challenges Solving problems that demand creative and critical thinking Problems that are easy to lose focus on Establishing common ground amongst stakeholders Typical durationA few hours to a full day (depending on the complexity of the problem)Future WorkshopsDesigned to explore the “art of the possible,” Future Workshops help align key stakeholders around the future vision of the company by taking a wide view of what’s already established in the market and what are the trends.Working our way back, this vision is then translated into a high-level roadmap, for the present, for what’s next, and for the future.Who should attendC-Level or Decision Makers Key Management Business and Sales leads (VPs) Why should we do itUncover & DiscoverAssessing the current issues of customers and the business, future workshops aim to uncover problems, pain points and needs from both sides and create a shared vision of the future for your organization. Alignment & Buy-InSuch design thinking workshops help align all stakeholders’ understanding of the vision and garner buy-in. Ideate, Evaluate & EnvisionThey help generate solution ideas according to the timeline, evaluating them based on feasibility and user and business values for establishing a product roadmap. How is it doneCollaboration is the vehicle that sparks the discussion on design ideation for user experience to the table through activities and diverse team effort.What do we get out of itA shared vision of the future and what’s possible A detailed description of the short, mid, and long-term goals to get to the future vision A document detailing all the workshop findings and the next possible steps for exploration Designed forOrganizations/functional units interested in a long term roadmap and strategy for transforming business Exploring what major trends are in the market, what has worked so far in the industry and what hasn’t Determining what the ideal future looks like and what is the first steps to get there Planning to add new features or functionalities on an existing product(s) Typical duration2 to 4 hoursDesign SprintThis engagement takes you through the complete design cycle from problem defining and framing, solution brainstorming, solution defining and visualizing, solution viewing and visualizing of concept-solution in a rapid sprint spread over a week or two.Who should attendDesigners Developers Product Owner VP of Product Actual users (if possible) Why should we do itDay 1: To UnderstandMap out the problem space and create a shared vision. Day 2: To Ideate/sketchGenerate a broad range of ideas and narrow down on possible solutions. Day 3: To DecideDetermine what to prototype to answer sprint questions. Day 4: To PrototypeBuild one to two prototypes required to validate the idea. Day 5: To Validate or deliver the finalized solution (e.g. artifacts) and relevant documentsTest with five target users or review with the client to get valuable feedback. Deliver the finalized solutions, including a concept brief, prototype, and a process document. Design Sprints are aimed at understanding the context, validating ideas and releasing an MVP quickly in the market. These workshops also cater to helping everyone on the team understand the value other team members can bring as well as the struggles they face.How is it doneWe take you through joint daily sessions (outlined above) to move from the problem to the solution stage; providing direction, review, feedback, and ideation along the wayWhat do we get out of itAbstract to Concrete: Turning abstract concepts and ideas into tangible prototypes (digital or physical experience) with user feedback Business goals and objectives Personas & Journeys: User personas and journeys documenting pain points, challenges, and opportunities for improvement Wireframes and mockups for digital experience Development/Implementation estimates with a +/- 50% confidence Designed forStartups Small business or a smaller team Client or business who a relatively simple problem Client or business who has a clear direction for the solution Client or business that needs to test and validate ideas for MVP quickly Typical duration1 to 3-week engagementShape It UpShape It Up is a complete end-to-end engagement that takes you through the entire design cycle, from discovery to user experience design, technical solution design and hand-over to development.This engagement allows us to work with product owners and business heads throughout the entire cycle leading you along the way and ensuring any outcome is aligned with your business goals and meets user needs.Who should attendEveryone who is related to the project, affected by issues or outcomes, and diverse teams are encouraged to participate:Designers Developers Business Analysts C-level executives Management, Product management Sales, customer services Even real users Why should we do itThis is the most comprehensive engagement and is highly effective in producing the best solutions based on defining the right problem, understanding the customer and business needs, as well as other realistic factors that need to be considered before making a huge investment. Understanding that stakeholders at your organization manage multiple projects at any given time and it may not be feasible to bring everyone together for a dedicated design sprint in a short time frame, this engagement adopts a mixed model approach. It consists of a few workshops and deep-dive sessions with relevant stakeholders. This vision is then translated into a solution that is reasonably “shaped up,” and development teams can be engaged for implementation and rapid rollout. How is it doneShape It Up workshops and regular joint working sessions to assess, gather, and frame the right problem and solution collaboratively as well as deliver the concept, MVP and a product roadmap along with a technology solution documentation.What do we get out of itProject documentation containing the process, findings, research, concept designs, and technical development Personas, experience and journey maps, mockups and interactive prototypes Solution system architecture, a product roadmap, other technical documents that are required for product development and management Designed forBusiness at any scale A complex solution that requires customer interfaces, middleware or backend systems integrations B2B, B2C, B2B2C solutions or products Typical duration1 to 2 months (depending on the complexity of the problem)Remote WorkshopsRemote workshops are meant for dispersed teams located in remote locations and time zones. For stakeholders and team members in such situations, there are several frameworks for remote collaboration that can be used. These help facilitate remote design workshops using virtual tools that provide a great deal of value, but at the same time are not bound by physical or geographical limitations.You’ll find a deeper understanding of remote workshops in this article, which will provide you with all you need to know to conduct them, what virtual tools and processes you’ll need, and how to make the most out of remote workshops while working from home.TakeawayWhile design thinking workshops can prove to be largely impactful for alignment, they’re not the end-all solution.The real value from design thinking workshops is in their implementation and facilitation. Without applying the frameworks of these design thinking workshops in their true sense, you would simply end up having just another “meeting” — wasting time, energy, and resources.To successfully experience a workshop, there needs to be a willingness to participate, the effort to prepare, and the dedication to follow through with the outcomes.The design thinking workshops we covered in this article are designed to take you from the abstract to the concrete. Within a few hours, instead of taking weeks to materialize ideas in traditional ways of working, these workshops will help facilitate your team to ideate design thinking and draw focus on the present, bringing to light important information, ideas, and actionable next steps. This is the “concrete” foundation that will serve as the stepping stone to move out of the problem and into the solution space.FAQsWhat is the design process in UX?The process of design ideation for user experience comprises multiple, distinct steps that include user research, testing, validation, implementation, etc.What is human centered design thinking?Human-centered design thinking accounts for the humanistic approach to design via a deep sense of empathy for the target users. It uses the everyday emotions, thoughts, and behaviours of the people using the design as the North Star to creatively approach situations and find the best solutions to the problem at hand.What are the steps of the design thinking process?The design thinking process is an end-to-end journey that covers every step from ideation to implementation. It covers problem identification, UX research, design ideation, solutioning, prototyping, testing, and improving iteratively.What does design thinking work for?Design thinking is used to identify and solve problems creatively and iteratively. The approach prioritizes the end users’ need, above everything else, by observing their interactions, everyday behaviours, thoughts, and emotions to truly empathize and innovate for the best solutions.Meta description:In a jump from traditional ways of working, design thinking workshops offer a creative way to build solutions. But which is the right one for you? Find out here.

Design Thinking Workshops: Choosing the Right One For Your Team

User Experience Research

How much time do you dedicate to your UX research process?When it comes to approaching any project, there’s no doubt that UX and Product Designers are fully aware of how critical it is to conduct research in order to put the user experience at the forefront.But the issue arises when clients or other stakeholders in the project are not on the same page.One of the first things stakeholders will do when a project comes in is to propose an idea and a solution, and concisely put it as, “Our mandate is X”. When this happens, the rest of the team is expected to focus all their attention towards the proposed solution, rather than actually spending time to fully understand the problem at hand. At this stage, instead of assuming they know what the user wants because they themselves are the user, it’s more crucial to ask questions like:Why are we doing this?What is the root problem?The design process we follow may be unclear to the client, but as UX and Product Designers, there are certain things we can do to share our knowledge and perspective with others so they can better understand the value of UX research to be done at the beginning of a project.The Consequences of Insufficient UX ResearchInsufficient UX research is where the quality of a project is compromised.No matter how much time you spend on creating great visuals, if your users are going to struggle with using your designs, instead of solving your users’ problems, you’re going to end up creating new ones:Increasing the learning curve for usersIgnoring the user experience research means you're making no effort to truly understand your users or even the scope of work. Without proper UX research, it’s difficult to familiarize yourself with what your target audience struggles with. You're more likely to end up increasing the learning curve for your users and driving them away.Losing key insights from early adoptersA lack of UX design research can impair the ability to find early adopters. Early adopters are a vital part of the project as they can lend a lot of critical insights about the usability of a feature and provide you with an accurate picture of the pain points — and gain points — of your target customer.Difficulty in identifying opportunityAnother element most clients/stakeholders don’t take into consideration when allocating time and resources to UX research is that of opportunity. Identifying and evaluating your competitors helps UX teams understand what already exists in the market and where there is space for improvement and innovation. Without such competitor insights, you could risk losing out on opportunities to enhance your business strategy and have an edge in the market.The Value of Investing in the UX Research ProcessThe UX research process can include both quantitative and qualitative UX research methods that can take up several forms, like:Card sorting, Focus groups, Interviews, Competitive analysis, etc. These are all useful UX research tools that help shape the strategy and define the goal(s) of a project. Having the correct data accessible to the team will pave the way for making solid decisions and ensuring you are focused on the appropriate users for your design.Without this user experience research, your team is in danger of leaping to assumptions instead of solving actual problems for the target users. You could also be putting yourself at risk of scope creep when discoveries arise later down the road.Knowing all the benefits of investing in UX design research, stakeholders may still lack the design maturity needed to carve out the required time and resources for the UX research process. This is where you should start thinking about controlling the risks.Risk Control With Limited Resources For UX ResearchAll too often, UX research gets sacrificed due to time or budget.That being said, if you find yourself in such a situation, there are certain methods you can employ to mitigate the risks that come with not allocating enough resources for user experience research:Using available dataTake whatever data you do have available. Analyze what you have and make your best guesses.Post-launch plan to track metricsIf you can’t validate your hypotheses now, build a post-launch plan so you can test and track metrics.Creating proto-personasBuild proto-personas based on your best guesses to get a shared understanding of what you do know about your users. It will help identify critical tasks and create a focused project scope.Mini-interviews with small groupsConduct mini-interviews on the down low, if possible. This is an informal method to test ideas and could be done within 10 minutes among a small group of users (around 10 people).While these methods may have some drawbacks, they’re still quite helpful in terms of providing a fair amount of guidance for your project if you’re in a pinch.Educating Clients and Stakeholders on the Value of UX ResearchFor many organizations, there might be a lot of difficulty in trying to change or update their process. At the same time, there might be others who believe they're already operating well. Some might even prefer sticking to the practices they're accustomed to, relying on analytics tools to retrieve data.Whichever kind of situation you’re in, there’s no doubt that any kind of change will be faced with some degree of concern and resistance. But, whether as a UX or product designer, you can go the extra mile to demonstrate to your client or stakeholder how research is an integral part of the process – one which serves as a means to understand the users’ problems and goals.UX research also helps define the scope of work so that teams are able to plan their MVP and the proceeding phases. Cutting UX research tools and techniques out of the project can have a detrimental impact on the quality of the final product.Investing in user experience research equips you better to validate your hypotheses and ideas so you may better understand your users’ needs.TakeawayIt’s essential to convey to stakeholders how assumptions about the users are causing more harm than good to their overall UX design process. The current bias found in most organizations needs to be put aside: business goals are NOT the same as user goals, and managers, project owners, and designers are NOT the end users. The end users are the people outside of your organization who will use the product - your actual customers.So what you need to ask yourself is: Are you building the right product for your user?Without knowing who your user is, you will fail to answer this question. Without knowing what works and what doesn’t, you’ll fail to build the right product.Fortunately, user experience research is a solution that gives us not statistics but valuable and vital insights that will prevent you from compromising on the quality of your product.And while you won't see this shift to more investment into UX research happening overnight, leading the discussion on the benefits of UX research can surely be a starting point for any project.FAQsWhat is the role of a UX researcher?A UX researcher's role is to study and find key insights about target users, like user behaviours, wants and needs, challenges, and motivations. Using both quantitative and qualitative UX research methods, a UX researcher will thoroughly research what users expect from products, services, applications, and websites and convey these insights to UX designers so they can design experiences that are more user-friendly.Why is UX research important?UX research is an integral part of the UX design process as it helps give a direction to your strategy as well as better define the goal(s) of a project that is more aligned with the users' wants and expectations. UX design research is a way to ensure that your designs aren't just based on your assumptions about what the user wants but accurate insights about what the users' actual problems and goals are.What does the UX research process include?The UX research process includes both quantitative and qualitative UX methods and various UX research tools to study the users and be able to extract the required insights about their behaviours, wants, needs, challenges, and expectations.What is the value of UX research?The value of UX research to the overall UX design process is most significant when it comes to addressing vital questions about the project, like what the goals are, what is the true challenge for users that we are trying to solve, and what users expect from the solution, etc. User experience research helps UX teams design solutions that are well-aligned with the actual situation of the end user rather than simply relying on assumptions about the users.

Why Ignoring User Experience Research is a Mistake

Minimum Viable Product

Is the MVP approach becoming irrelevant? The Minimum Viable Product approach (or MVP approach) for launching and scaling products has long been used by companies. But these days, you’ll see more MVPs failing to deliver on their promise.And that happens because the core focus is still on the minimum viable PRODUCT and not the minimum viable EXPERIENCE of the customer or user.That’s not to discredit the benefits of building an MVP lean product. The approach still:Is the quickest way to get feedback on your product idea and iterate to scale Helps minimize the risk of effort when compared to a product with all the intended features Aims to maximize the feedback from the customers with the LEAST effort. So what’s wrong with it?Why is the Minimum Viable Product NOT Viable Anymore?The usual approach for most companies is to work backward from their grand product vision by delivering a major part of the desired product. However, this minimum viable product approach doesn’t work anymore and is becoming irrelevant due to several factors:Saturated Competition in Most MarketsWhether it is the food delivery space or the ride-hailing market, competition is tough. Customers are more willing — and quicker — to switch for a better feature or customer experience. A great example of this is how a new player in the ride-hailing market called ‘InDriver’ has been able to capture the majority share by offering users the ability to negotiate a fare with the driver. Competitors like this make it tough for companies to stand out from the crowd and acquire customers.Customers’ Patience is DiminishingFor digital products, it is much easier to build and get your product in the hands of customers as the distribution costs are extremely low and acquiring customers is easy. However, the problem with this approach is that you can also lose customers just as fast. Customers these days are switching to faster and better competition for a better user experience than they currently have.Preference for Experience Over FeaturesIt is getting trickier to succeed with the minimum viable product approach as customers are less willing to stick around for just the functionalities and features of a product alone — and that is all the MVP focuses on. The MVP approach revolves around building a great product with the least features, but to make MVPs succeed, a lot more is needed to be packaged with the product to make customers stay, like complete customer journey mapping for one of the features being used, or a full-blown product catalog. MVPs generally succeed when they have an engaged user base that is willing to live with a satisfactory user experience and missing features in order to have a clear roadmap of improvement and feature launches that they want from your MVP.Failure to Build Desirable Brand ExperiencesThe minimum viable product approach is also failing these days as most MVPs that are being pushed into the market generally have a degraded brand experience. Tech companies, for example, focus on putting out innovative features faster so they can keep their targeted user base of early adopters engaged. In doing so, they often fail in acquiring early and late majority users because they fall short in building a desirable brand experience around their products, since their core focus is always on shipping the features.Enter: The Minimum Viable Experience (MVE)Where the MVP fails to account for the user experience, building a Minimum Viable Experience comes in.The MVE approach focuses on the whole customer experience. At its core, MVE looks at the experience of your users/customers, either with a replacement or with an existing product. It asks the very important question of “what is the minimum experience we can deliver that will still satisfy our customers?”Creating a minimum viable experience revolves around an end-to-end experience that resonates with the customer. It is akin to a full-stack effort: all elements like brand position, marketing, and design experience are in place to give early customers a great reason to try the product and get excited about it.The following chart explains the key elements of creating a successful Minimum Viable Experience, capturing the augmented emotional value as the experience matures:Minimum Viable Product Vs Minimum Viable ExperienceIn the minimum viable product approach, the product is launched faster and iterations are super fast as well.But customers want products that specifically fulfill their personalized needs — and this is the driving factor when engaging with early adopters, who will essentially convert into influencers for your brand. That’s why the Minimum Viable Experience vs traditional MVP argument is gaining so much traction these days.It’s not like product managers following the MVP approach don’t try to address all possible customer touchpoints. The problem is that all these touchpoints typically reside within the product. Therefore, the experience that a user gains from the product is limited to only one channel: the product, which itself is already at its minimum viability. However, this may not prove enough to satisfy the unique needs of modern users, which will ultimately impact the experience they derive from the product.To acquire early adopters and offer an experience that transforms them into advocates, these touchpoints need to extend beyond the main channel (or product). For example, leveraging social media channels, apps, helpdesks, and so forth to address a user’s product queries is a more effective way to address their need than a silo of information within the product.This is where the MVE approach proves most effective. It can not only meet user needs, but also help to capture useful metrics, analytics, behavior, and use it to keep evaluating the product and improving MVE.MVE In ActionIf we take a look at recent successful start-ups, one thing a lot of them will have in common is a core focus on the customer experience. A significant instance of this can be seen in the fintech space, where new companies are focusing on building a great customer experience around handling money by introducing convenient features that customers have been looking for all this time.The international money transfer app, Wise, which has a target market for freelancers earning foreign currency or remote workers, is a good minimum viable experience vs minimum viable product example. Customers can avail special exchange rates and minimal transaction fees as well as the ability to have an official account number or routing number in any country they want. This kind of experience has helped Wise quickly rise to the top of the international money transfer app market because it focused on the core needs of its target market and on offering a good customer experience around that.Their winning strategy? A deep focus on building the experience around essential money transfer features; instead of shipping the most features required for a money transfer app, they focused on creating a USP by doing the essential features in the best way.TakeawayIn the age of digital startups, if you lose focus from your customers and fail to understand their preferences and expectations from digital experiences, this article should be enough to show you how you’re missing out by not giving them the seamless user experience they wish to see.Fortunately, the MVE approach serves as a tool that you can use to understand your customers better and focus on building features that matter most to the customers, and the successful companies of today are doing just that.Amongst the biggest companies that have adopted and succeeded with the MVE approach is Apple, which is well-known for introducing features quite later than the competition but always providing augmented value to their customers solely through user experience.Have you tried building products using the MVE approach yet? If not, now’s a better time than any to get started because your customers will continue to put the user experience above the actual functionality of the product.Get in touch today to learn more about building the perfect MVE.Frequently Asked QuestionsWhat is the purpose of a minimum viable product?A product built around the MVP approach is intended to validate the product idea and attract early adopters very early in the product life cycle.What is MVP in product management?MVPs are designed with enough features and functionality to attract users before launching the full-scale product, offering a better idea of product success early on.What is a good minimum viable product example?Jeff Bezos initially founded Amazon as an online bookstore, which helped to validate the e-commerce purpose before it began transforming into the e-commerce giant it is today.Why do MVPs fail?Sub-par UX, ineffective pricing, addressing the wrong problem, and the presence of competing products can lead to MVP failure.What is an MVE?The MVE approach prioritizes user experience over functionality, aiming to create advocates among early adopters.Is MVP, MVE, or MAP the best approach?MVP, MVE, and MAP (Minimum Awesome Product) are all lean development approaches. MVP places a greater emphasis on features, while MVE gives more weight to user experience. MAP borrows elements from both MVP and MVE to create products that customers will refer to as “awesome”.

Is the Minimum Viable Product Irrelevant?

Digital Onboarding

Would you be surprised to find that product companies lose over HALF of their users (52% to be exact, according to one study) during the first 90 days of their digital onboarding?While that is an alarmingly large number, I wasn’t surprised.That’s because I (and many others who design products) know this is often purely the result of poor digital onboarding, customer engagement, and support experience.And that begs the question…Why Is User Onboarding the Most Important Part of the Customer Journey?Digital onboarding, or user onboarding, is when your customers interact with your product or service and become more proficient in using it. This digital customer onboarding process is where users begin to familiarize themselves with your product, gauge whether or not it's easy to use, and decide if they want to adopt or abandon it. Product documentation can, quite literally, make or break this part of the customer journey.Each year, product teams spend millions of hours building new features that are never adopted by the majority of users, hence leading to very poor user adoption rates.Each year, support and success teams also spend thousands of hours creating product documentation that no one reads.In this article, you will learn how to create user-centric product training and support documentation in five steps using our learnings from Design Thinking so that you can help onboard new and support existing users efficiently.Challenges When Creating Effective Documentation for Digital OnboardingIn most companies, oftentimes teams will wait for the finalization of the features, screens, user journey, and the product itself before they begin the documentation work.There are several challenges when using this waterfall approach, such as:Delays in the readiness of the product training and support documentation. Greater risk of lack of due diligence from the team before creating the product training and support documentation Overlooking last-minute changes in the product training documentation, with the usually large volume of work pending the final stages. Greater risk of duplicated or redundant information as teams may not be in-sync so late in the process. Increased difficulty in tracking/communicating information scattered and buried across various tools (confluence, JIRA stories, release notes, Slack/Teams, etc.). Long-form documentation is harder to retain and not very effective for onboarding and supporting busy end-users. Information retention decreases with larger volumes. With an average attention span of less than 8 seconds, users retain information better when delivered in bite-sized chunks and through more engaging formats. Creating documentation that is ineffective. As a result of skipping the pre-work step, the documentation may not meet or support the requirements of the end-users. In certain cases, the product and support teams may end up creating documentation that delivers poor customer adoption rates because of a reduced focus on the user’s requirements. This can impair product performance, uptake, and ultimately, the success of new rollouts. Our 5-Step Process of Creating Training and Support Documentation for Digital OnboardingMany teams consider the training documentation to be separate from the product, which, based on my experience, is the first mistake they make.Just as digital onboarding is not isolated from the user experience, product documentation cannot be treated in isolation from your product.Product Training Documentation, or Product Documentation (as it should be properly addressed) is, and should always be, considered a key part and feature of the product.Just like any other feature, product documentation has an important role to play in the overall Product Mission, Strategy, and Goals. Therefore, any product documentation should always:Be developed keeping the needs of the end users in mind Have its own KPIs and metrics to measure its success and adapt as needed using data-driven decisions Follow all the stages of product development (see Figure 1).Figure 1. 5-step process to creating successful product training and support documentation.In the next few sections, we will cover all these stages in the context of developing product (training and support) documentation to support better user onboarding outcomes.DiscoverIn his famous book, INSPIRED, Marty Cagan talks about the four big risks in product development:Value risk Usability risk Feasibility risk Business viability risk The first step to building successful products is all about minimizing these risks. And creating training and support documentation that delivers more efficient digital onboarding is no different.In order to do that, it is imperative to first understand the problem your product is solving (the what) and for whom. The how is what you intend to create as an end result. We take a top-down approach to achieve that end result (see Figure 2).Figure 2. Product Documentation, like any other feature, has a part to play in the overall Product Mission, Strategy, and Goals and should be prepared in alignment with the overall Product Strategy.By aligning your approach with the product strategy, the documentation you end up creating can play its part in helping you achieve your product goals.Take, for example, PackageX, which solves the last yard delivery problem with the goal of making the mailroom operations more efficient. One of the key KPIs, when I was managing the product, was to reduce the end-to-end time it took for a mailroom supervisor to process mail. With this in mind, we spent most of our efforts training the users on more efficient workflows rather than simpler/more intuitive workflows to achieve the same result.In essence, along with the specific documentation KPIs, the product goals should remain the north stars throughout the digital customer onboarding process.Identifying What to Include in Product TrainingUnderstanding your target users is the most important consideration you have to make during this step. Most of the steps you’d need to take here are the same as in a standard user research exercise for a product (and you can definitely reuse some of the existing information already available from the product discovery stage). But you might want to extend the scope of your target audience to both internal and external stakeholders.While the main users of your product are often limited to the ones who are interfacing with the product on a day-to-day basis, the product documentation caters to a more diverse audience.In the case of most B2B products, it has a key role to play during the purchase cycle to help the key stakeholders make the buying decision in comparison to other available options.On the other hand, it also caters to the needs of the internal team to consult as needed during the team onboarding and query resolution process.Understanding the training needs of all the different stakeholders at each step of the training journey allows you to get a holistic view of the requirements that should feed into your plan (see Figure 3).Figure 3. Training Journey Needs Matrix captures the training needs of all the product stakeholders (both internal and external) along their digital onboarding and usage journey.Design and SolutioningIn light of the needs of all the stakeholders captured above, at this step we move forward to find the solution to solve for success. Designing the training and support experience for a product is often constrained by a number of factors and will vary from product to product. There is no one-size-fits-all solution in this case.For example, if you feel that your product’s features can easily be copied by your competitors, you often don’t want to make your training guides public to everyone. In such cases, the entire digital onboarding and training experience is usually designed for in-person interactions with your user (e.g. on-call or in-person demos) or accessible only through a secure login (e.g. a private knowledgebase).Combining the needs with the constraints at each stage of the training journey will help you design an experience that is valuable for your users, as well as feasible.In this stage, you may also need to define the different formats and mediums of training and tools to be used at each step of the training user journey (see Figure 4) during their digital onboarding. For example, a user looking to purchase a product subscription will have very different needs versus a user who has already been using a product for a year. The training needs can be different at each step, so each step demands its own full attention.Figure 4. Training Formats Canvas builds from the Training Journey Needs Matrix and establishes how each product documentation format will play its part in covering the user needs at each training stage.While it’s very tempting to propose different formats/mediums for each step or need, it can very quickly become unsustainable for your teams to keep all the different formats updated and in sync with the latest product updates.Therefore, finding the right balance between reusability and specialized solutions for each need is absolutely crucial.In the case of multiple formats and mediums, duplication can become a valid concern. However, designing a master content reusability architecture that allows asset sharing between different formats will play a huge role in avoiding duplication of work by your teams. This can further improve the digital onboarding experience for customers.It is also important to choose the right documentation tools to develop and distribute the content to your users at each step of the training journey. The combination of the right tool, the right architectural decisions in content creation, and the right digital onboarding solution will enable you to manage future updates to your content efficiently.Develop and TestHow many times did you have to delay the launch of a feature because the support content was not ready or released a feature with the support content getting pushed separately?Most companies create training documentation for digital onboarding in a traditional waterfall manner, where a feature is developed first by the development teams, and the documentation work begins after that, or very late in the process.This approach is often preferred by teams who fear duplication of work because of changes along the way. But the downside is that it often causes communication slippages, resulting in delays in documentation readiness as too much work is left towards the end.This goes back to the root cause of the product teams not considering training and support documentation as another feature of the product but only as an after-thought.Product documentation should therefore be developed in a truly agile manner, in sync with the product development (see Figure 5). The team preparing the product training documentation (usually the support and success team) should be embedded into all the development teams’ scrum ceremonies to collect first-hand information, starting with the backlog grooming and sprint planning sessions to generate their own documentation and sprint backlog.The day-to-day changes in the sprint plan are captured through a presence in the daily standups and weekly demos to ensure that the final draft of the documentation sprint is in perfect sync with the development release.Figure 5. Agile documentation generation in sync with the development stream.Before initiating mass content development for digital onboarding, it is important to structure the document hierarchy and establish documentation guidelines to follow throughout the process to ensure consistency between different team members.On a broader level, the guidelines for an effective digital onboarding solution should at least cover the following areas:Content templates and structure to follow for each type of format (including sections and components to use, and for what specific purpose) Style guidelines (fonts, colors, etc.) Language and accessibility best practices Naming and versioning conventions Content reuse strategy (often starting from the more comprehensive format to the lesser one) Content archiving plan Role differentiation Glossary - system terms to use Content localization plan Review process Publishing checklists During the development process, in addition to the peer reviews and proofreading stages, I have found usability testing of the documentation to be really helpful. Getting early feedback from the actual users often helps identify blind spots early in the process.Sample Test Scenario 1As a user, you want to learn about X topic. Without using the search option, can you find the relevant section of the documentation?This often helps identify the issues in the documentation hierarchy. If the user ends up taking a lot of time navigating to the right section, then you probably need to reorganize your sections so that it is more intuitive to locate relevant information.Sample Test Scenario 2As a user, you are facing a problem Y and you land on article Z. How long does it take you to find the answer you are looking for?I often frame such questions to test the templates, identify any clutter and improve the signal-to-noise ratio.Other tests include verifying the verbiage and system terms used in the documentation. These tests can be carried out as early as the Design and Solutioning stage.ReleaseAs it always happens in startups launching MVPs, while working with one of my previous teams, we launched a product with very minimal training documentation. The idea was to handhold the initial users until there was enough bandwidth available for that work.However, as many friends with startup experience can relate, when you push an item down the backlog queue, it, more often than not, stays buried under the pile.In our case, it wasn’t until another six months before we were able to publish it for our users. When it was launched, it took us considerable effort to create awareness and promote adoption and ensure the digital onboarding went smoothly.Here are some of my learnings from that experience:Readiness: Ensure that your training documentation is ready from Day 1. After that, it will be very hard to inculcate the self-serve habit in your users if they have been spoonfed too much in the beginning. Visibility: If the training content is hosted on a separate URL, make sure that it has some visibility inside the application as well, e.g. Help icon redirect. Communication: Whenever possible, ensure recurring communications are sent out to new and existing users on all communication channels (push notifications, emails, text, social media, website, etc.) with self-serve links. Reinforcement: The sales and support teams should be trained to reinforce the adoption of the product documentation by pointing the user to relevant resources during their digital onboarding journey instead of sharing answer excerpts directly. Evaluate and IterateAs the famous saying goes, you can only improve what you measure.Like any other product feature, product documentation should have its own KPIs and be evaluated regularly to determine ways to improve its efficacy for digital onboarding.Below are some key metrics that often come built-in with most online tools and can help you evaluate and improve the performance of your product training documentation as well as the product:Adoption and Awareness: No matter how much visibility you ensure for your help content, there will always be users who would say they never knew about it. A bi-annual survey to evaluate the awareness of the product documentation can be useful to gauge where you stand. Engagement: This is primarily dependent on the choice of your formats and tools. Most online knowledgebase tools provide insights into article views, time spent on each article, clicks, videos played, etc. However, better engagement (views) doesn’t necessarily signify better content. It might often be the case that a poorly written article on a very common challenge in the application gets a lot of views but doesn’t help anyone with the resolution. Therefore, it is essential to interpret the engagement metrics in combination with the effectiveness metrics. Effectiveness: To actually understand the effectiveness of a particular content piece, the most reliable metric is often the reduction in support tickets related to that category. You can also collect immediate contextual feedback from the users on each content piece in the form of upvotes or ratings (also supported by most online tools).Moreover, oftentimes the terms used in the help content do not resonate with your users. While the search engine often helps to an extent by extending search results based on synonymous terms, it is entirely possible that the users don’t get the information they are looking for during their digital onboarding, even if it is already there. Even worse, it is also possible that you and your team had a blind spot and overlooked a particular help topic entirely. In such cases, it is helpful to observe the data of search terms coming from your users and evaluate them against the number of responses or the clickthrough rate on the responses.In addition to the quantitative metrics, digital onboarding can further be optimized by getting qualitative feedback from the users every now and then and adapting the content for the digital onboarding process with an aim to improve the above metrics.Moreover, training documentation can also be used as a tool to improve other product KPIs. For example, you can leverage application usage analytics to identify problem areas during digital onboarding, where the users are getting stuck, or where the users need more help and use the training documentation to overcome these issues by creating more awareness about them.In the same manner, the analytics from the training documentation and digital onboarding process can also feed back into the product. For example, if there is a particular article or section of the help documentation that is getting high engagement, maybe it’s time to relook at the UX or the journey in the application itself.The feedback and evaluation from this stage should feed into the documentation stream backlog and be used in retrospective and planning sessions to update the content strategy, the writing procedures, and, of course, the content itself for smoother digital onboarding.TakeawayFor any new product or feature you launch, digital onboarding will undoubtedly define how well your customers respond to what you’re offering. As we discussed above, product training plays a critical role in ensuring that this digital onboarding journey of the user is efficient and boosts the customer adoption rate rather than leading to abandonment.Let’s summarize the five steps we used to create user-centric product training documentation in an agile manner:Discover Design and solutioning Develop and Test Release Evaluate Our approach borrows from design thinking concepts to create this documentation, keeping all types of users in consideration and user understanding and adoption as the focal point during the whole process. The best kind of product training documentation for digital onboarding is that which addresses the users directly using your product as well as those who are looking for your product, so it’s vital to approach documentation with this lens, understanding the different needs of your users.The next time your team gets into product development, instead of overlooking the digital onboarding and training experience and following traditional methods of documentation that won’t help users understand your product, use our agile five-step approach instead to engage with customers.

User-centric Training Documentation For Effective Digital Onboarding


Whenever you’re tasked with a new project, what’s the first thing you do?Surely, whether you’re a UX designer, a manager, or a stakeholder in the project, your first step would almost always comprise the ideation phase.But while most companies will follow through with the ideation process, there’s one very important step they’ll often skip – and in my opinion, it’s definitely NOT something to miss out on if you want to get a clear direction for the project right at the beginning.I’m talking about storyboarding for user experience design, and in this article, you’ll learn exactly what a UX storyboard is, how to build one, and why it is essential to create a logical story that has:a strong plot a structured narrative a focus on the main goal you’re trying to achieve What is Storyboarding in UX Design?A storyboard is a powerful visual communications tool to improve user stories by making them more authentic, emotional, simple, and clear. The underlying philosophy being that visual representations offer a far easier way to see elements making up the “big picture” than a text-based document.First used in the early 1930s by filmmakers and animators at Walt Disney, a visual storyboard served as a means to graphically represent scenarios that contain a sequence of a few events. IN UX design, storyboards are therefore a natural fit when it comes to representations of user interfaces, user events, new features, etc.One of the first storyboards used by Walt Disney in the 1930sSource: Disneyparks.disney.go.comStorytelling and Storyboarding in UX DesignA UX storyboard helps strengthen your research phase by exploring and visually predicting the user experience and interaction with a product over time, giving designers a clear sense of the user’s priorities and goals even before the product or service is launched.Storyboarding is a quick way to demonstrate how someone might interact with a future service or product. Through visual storytelling, you can easily set the ground for the whole team to come together and quickly grasp the essential aspects of the project – like the target audience, the occasion, and the goal.A storyboard starts off with a simple rough sketch and ideally includes not more than four to six scenes to show the story – that’s what makes it so easy to work with and what makes it important to carry out right in the early stages of the ideation phase so that the entire team can get a direction for the project from the very beginning.Besides having a strong visual presence that boosts engagement within the team and helps store information in the brain long term through visual elements, storyboarding in UX design also breeds an emotional connect and appeal. This equips team members better to put themselves in their target audience’s shoes and visualize the user experience.It’s important to note here that storytelling and storyboarding in UX design is not the same as mapping out user journeys:What is the difference between user journey and storyboards?The most important distinction between a user journey and a UX storyboard lies in their content; while storyboarding in UX design comprises visual representations of the main events of a scenario, user journeys are far more detailed and contain complex, textual information about the process that your customer will be going through in order to achieve a goal.To understand this distinction more simply, look at a UX storyboard as a tool that captures a fragment of the entire user journey.A UX storyboard is, most of the time, a rough, informal illustration to set the context of the project by providing a scenario (story) visually so that the whole team can get the right direction of the project from the get-go before getting into action.A user journey, on the other hand, doesn’t just draw on high-level emotions or ideas of one particular situation but, in fact, extensively details the insights from various stages of the user’s journey of experiencing the product/ service till the time they achieve their goal with it.When and Why You Would Need To Use Storyboarding in UX DesignStoryboarding in design thinking is done early in the design process, typically during the ideation or discovery phase. The main reason for early storyboarding is to gather insights from the team and see if everyone is striving towards the same goal while ensuring that the user needs are being considered explicitly. Storyboarding in UX design, in turn, creates a way for teams to collaborate and find new solutions for users by staying aligned on a shared thinking and vision about the user experience.That answers WHEN storyboarding should take place, but what about WHY it’s even needed?Here are some of the biggest reasons why storyboarding in UX design can be the most vital step in your ideation process:Human-centered Design ApproachWhile storyboarding in UX design, the people are central to the design process. Stories put a human face to user data, analytics, and research findings.User FlowDesigners always think about their users and put themselves in their shoes to see how users interact with the product. This approach enables the designers to fully understand any existing interaction scenarios as well as test predictions about potential new ones.‘Pitch and Critique’ MethodSince storyboarding in UX design is a collaborative effort, it provides everyone a chance to contribute to the activity. This results in a clearer picture of what should be developed and promoted as new design concepts. Each scene of the UX storyboard should be analyzed to allow team players to leave their reviews and create insights.Iterative ApproachStoryboarding is heavily reliant on an iterative approach; sketching out a UX storyboard helps designers experiment with a variety of things with very little or no cost at all when it comes to testing multiple design ideas simultaneously. Since these sketches are so quick and rough, nobody gets too attached or connected to the ideas that are generated.How Do You Create A UX Storyboard?While it’s mostly an informal activity, you can still structure your storyboard in a way that helps you and your team fully reap its benefits.Structure of a StoryboardBefore you start directing your storyboard, you will need to ensure that you understand all the basics of the story.Understanding the story in its entirety and then breaking it up into pieces can help you approach it in the best and most convincing way possible. For a story to be considered well-structured, it should have a comprehensive beginning, middle, and ending, in addition to the main elements that every storyboard must comprise.A UX Design Storyboard illustrated in 4 scenes to showcase each stepMain elements of a UX storyboardThe CharacterYour character – or the persona – is the central figure or hero of your story. Everything associated with your persona is very crucial, for example, behavior, feelings, expectations, and decisions made by the focal person. It is also essential to reveal the mindset of your character completely in order to illustrate the situation best. Address questions like:What is the problem faced by the main person? How is the problem resolved? What are the needs/wants of the main character? What are the goals/clear outcomes to be achieved from the whole scenario? The SceneYou will need to have a realistic, recognizable, and relevant environment for your persona to live and thrive in this scenario. The scene is the space that the character finds himself or herself in.The Plot and NarrativeThe plot needs to be highly convincing, simplistic, and realistic in nature. The narration of the story must be focused on the goal of the character in the plot.Your plot should start with an event and end with a benefit or a solution to the problem that the persona will be facing in the scenario There must be a clear conclusion to the persona’s journey so that lessons are learned and assimilated by the project team.To structure your plot better, you can use Freytag’s Pyramid, which shows the following five acts:Exposition Rising Action Climax Falling Action (or final suspense and resolution) and Denouement (Conclusion) Freytag’s Pyramid TemplateFreytag’s Pyramid Template indicating all steps in beginning, middle, and end stagesTakeawayIn this entire article, we discussed what a UX storyboard is, when you would need a visual storyboard, how storytelling and storyboarding in UX design are carried out, and why storyboarding is needed.To sum up this entire lesson on storyboarding in UX design, here are some key takeaways to keep in mind before you get into your next project:A UX storyboard assists in getting a good understanding of the people you’re designing for. One cannot understand good design if they do not understand people. Storyboarding in UX design is an outstanding visual tool for designers to bring conceptual ideas to life before they start ideating with their team. Designers put themselves in the user’s shoes, visualize their product journey, and address the pain points through visual communications tools such as a UX storyboard.

Storyboarding in UX Design: Learning the What, When, Why, and How


The Quick Starter Guide to GraphQLNeed a better query language for APIs? If you're a developer or a professional associated with the field, chances are you've heard of the term "API".And while it’s one of the most frequently used words in the world of development these days, most individuals, despite coming across it or using it, won’t be familiar with exactly what an API is.What is an API?API stands for Application Programming Interface. As the name implies, it is an interface via which developers, users, and consumers can interact with data.To understand how an API works, try comparing it to a bartender: You order a drink from the bartender, they locate the right liquor, ice, and other ingredients, and prepare it for you. No big deal about that, right?Building an API hasn't been as difficult as it sounds since the dawn of the contemporary web. However, learning and comprehending APIs, on the other hand, has always been a challenge.Developers form the majority of individuals who will use your API to build something or merely consume data. Therefore, your API should be as simple and straightforward as possible, if you want them to remain feasible.A well-designed API is simple to use and understand. It is also user-friendly, which is something to keep in mind when you get started with creating your API.REST Vs. GraphQL APIsFor a long time, REST has been used to create APIs.But with using REST APIs – and the reason that has ignited the REST vs. GraphQL APIs comparisons – comes the slew of issues that come with it.While using the REST design to create an API, you’re very likely to run into hurdles like:1) Too many endpoints 2) Information repeatedly being over and under-fetched 3) Increased difficulty for developers to learn and understand your APITo address these issues, Facebook designed GraphQL, which, in my opinion, is the greatest method to design APIs these days.In this article, you'll not only learn what a GraphQL API is and why you should begin learning GraphQL right away, but also how to use GraphQL to develop a well-designed, efficient, and powerful API.What is GraphQL?GraphQL, or "Graph Query Language," is a query language for APIs, as the name implies. It allows the client (frontend) to request data from an API.Since GraphQL is open-source, it has garnered a large community of users and is being adopted quickly by people and businesses.In fact, that's probably why you've heard of it as well – due to the open-source GraphQL APIs. The earlier you learn how GraphQL works, the sooner you'll be able to experience the beauty of practicing it.Getting Started: How GraphQL WorksOur first goal with this GraphQL starter guide is not to teach you how to set up a GraphQL server but to learn how GraphQL works in practice.So for that, we'll use GraphPack, a zero-configuration GraphQL server.To begin our project, we'll make a new folder, which you can name whatever you wish. For the sake of this guide, let's name it "Graphql-server".Type the following into your terminal:mkdir graphql-serverYour system should now have npm or yarn installed. If you’re unfamiliar with these, npm and yarn are package managers for the JavaScript programming language. The default package manager for Node.js is npm.Next, type the following command within your newly created folder:npm init -yor you can use yarn:yarn initNpm will generate a package.json file for you, containing all of the dependencies you installed as well as your commands.Now, we'll install the one and only dependency that we'll be using.Graphpack allows you to quickly set up a GraphQL server with no setup required. Since we're just getting started with GraphQL, this will make it much easier for us to continue learning how GraphQL works without having to worry about server configuration.Install it like this in your console, within your root folder:npm install --save-dev graphpackAfter you've installed Graphpack, browse to the package.json file and add the following code to the scripts section:"scripts": { "start:dev": "graphpack", "start:build": "graphpack build" }We're going to make a folder called src, which will be the sole folder on our entire server.Create a folder called src, and then create only three files within that folder.Make a file called schema.graphql in the src folder, and put the following code into the first file:type Query { hello: String }Our full GraphQL schema will now be stored in this schema.graphql file, and I'll explain what that is later.Create a second file in the src folder now. Create a new file called resolvers.js and paste the following code into it:import { users } from "./db";const resolvers = { Query: { hello: () => "Hello World!" } };export default resolvers;The instructions for converting a GraphQL operation into data will be provided in this resolvers.js file.Finally, make a third file inside your src folder. Name this db.js and paste the following code into the third file:export let users = [ { id: 1, name: "Adil Sikandar", email: "", age: 28 }, { id: 2, name: "Shahid ullah khan", email: "", age: 29 } ];Since, in this tutorial, we’re not using a real-world database, this db.js file will simulate a database we can use for the purpose of learning GraphQL.Now our src folder should look like this:src |--db.js |--resolvers.js |--schema.graphqlYou should be able to see this output in your terminal if you run the command npm run start:dev or, if you're using yarn, yarn start:dev.Now, you can access localhost:4000 – this means we're ready to begin creating our first GraphQL queries and mutations, but before jumping into those, let’s quickly address some commonly used terms associated with GraphQL.GraphQL SchemaGraphQL has its own set of languages for writing schemas. The Schema Definition Language is a human-readable schema syntax (SDL). No matter what technology you use, the SDL will remain the same, and you can use it with whatever language or framework you wish.This schema language is quite useful since it makes it very clear what types of APIs will be offered, which you can figure out by simply looking at it.Types: Learning How to Use GraphQLOne of the most vital characteristics of GraphQL is types.Types are unique objects that represent the look and feel of your API. If you're creating a social media app, your API should have types like Posts, Users, Likes, and Groups.There are fields that exist in these types, and each field returns a certain type of data. For example, if we're going to make a User type, we'll need fields for name, email, and age.Type fields can be anything, but they must always return a data type such as Int, Float, String, Boolean, ID, a List of Object Types, or Custom Object Types.Let’s construct our first Type. Open your schema.graphql file and replace the existing type Query with the following:type User { id: ID! name: String! email: String! age: Int }This is where the primary principles in GraphQL will kick in, and you’ll learn about them next.Queries & MutationsThe way you acquire data from the server is through queries.And the method through which you’ll be able to modify data on the server and receive updated data (create, update, delete) is known as mutations.QueriesTo put it another way, queries in GraphQL are the means through which you can obtain data.One of the most appealing qualities of GraphQL queries is that you will only receive the data you require – not more, not less.This has a big impact on our API in terms of avoiding the issue of over-fetching or under-fetching data like what would happen with REST APIs.In GraphQL APIs, we define our first type Query. This is where all of our questions will end up.To begin with this, we'll create a new type called Query in our schema.graphql file.type Query { users: [User!]! }Understanding this is fairly straightforward: the users query returns an array of one or more Users. Because we used the “!”, it will not return null, indicating that it is a non-nullable query, and meaning it should always provide a response.We might, however, retrieve a specific user.To do so, we'll construct a new query called user. Put the following code within the Query type:user(id: ID!): User!type Query { users: [User!]! user(id: ID!): User! }As you can see, we can pass arguments with GraphQL requests. In this scenario, we'll use the ID to search for a specific user.By this point, you might be questioning how GraphQL knows where to acquire the data. This is why we need a resolvers.js file, which instructs GraphQL on how and where to obtain data.To get started with that, open the resolvers.js file and import the db.js file that we just built. Your resolvers.js file should look like the following:import { users } from "./db";const resolvers = { Query: { hello: () => "Hello World!" } };export default resolvers;Now, we’re going to make our first query.import { users } from "./db";const resolvers = { Query: { user: (parent, { id }, context, info) => { return users.find(user => === id); }, users: (parent, args, context, info) => { return users; } } };export default resolvers;To see if the queries are working properly, go to localhost:4000, type in your address, and paste the following code into it:query { users { id name email age } }All of the users should be returned to you.Alternatively, if you wish to return a specific user, type:query { user(id: 1) { id name email age } }MutationsOnce you’ve got a good understanding of GraphQL queries, mutations come as the next step.Mutations are the technique used to edit data on the server and update data back in GraphQL.In GraphQL, we'll make our initial type mutation, and all subsequent alterations will be contained within this type.To begin, open the schema.graphql file and add a new type called mutation:type Mutation { createUser(id: ID!, name: String!, email: String!, age: Int): User! updateUser(id: ID!, name: String, email: String, age: Int): User! deleteUser(id: ID!): User! }Create a new mutation object like this in the resolvers.js file, below the Query object:Mutation: { createUser: (parent, { id, name, email, age }, context, info) => { const newUser = { id, name, email, age };users.push(newUser);return newUser; }, updateUser: (parent, { id, name, email, age }, context, info) => { let newUser = users.find(user => === id); = name; = email; newUser.age = age;return newUser; }, deleteUser: (parent, { id }, context, info) => { const userIndex = users.findIndex(user => === id);if (userIndex === -1) throw new Error("User not found.");const deletedUsers = users.splice(userIndex, 1);return deletedUsers[0]; } }Our resolvers.js file should now look something like this:import { users } from "./db";const resolvers = { Query: { user: (parent, { id }, context, info) => { return users.find(user => === id); }, users: (parent, args, context, info) => { return users; } }, Mutation: { createUser: (parent, { id, name, email, age }, context, info) => { const newUser = { id, name, email, age };users.push(newUser);return newUser; }, updateUser: (parent, { id, name, email, age }, context, info) => { let newUser = users.find(user => === id); = name; = email; newUser.age = age;return newUser; }, deleteUser: (parent, { id }, context, info) => { const userIndex = users.findIndex(user => === id);if (userIndex === -1) throw new Error("User not found.");const deletedUsers = users.splice(userIndex, 1);return deletedUsers[0]; } } };export default resolvers;Next we'll see if our mutations are operating properly. Go to localhost:4000 and type in your address, then paste the following code into it:mutation { createUser(id: 3, name: "Adil", email: "", age: 28) { id name email age } }With that, it should give you a new user. If you wish to experiment with novel mutations, I recommend that you do so! To see if it's still working, try deleting the same user you created.TakeawayAs you’ve probably learned by now, GraphQL is a relatively new yet extremely powerful technology.Exceeding far beyond the traditional REST API model, GraphQL offers the ability to create better and more well-designed APIs, disrupting the existing API economy and changing the game for developers at large.With a landscape as volatile as what we’ve been witnessing with the progress in development and technology, learning GraphQL and how it works is the only way to prepare ourselves for when, eventually, REST APIs are replaced by GraphQL.Meta Description:Building APIs has long been done on REST, but that doesn’t come without its challenges. That’s why we need GraphQL, and here you’ll learn all about the GraphQL API.Excerpt:Developers may have heard of GraphQL, but traditionally, it’s been a long-standing practice to use REST when it comes to building APIs. While REST has been widely used, the pace at which GraphQL is being adopted by people and businesses is telling of the benefits of GraphQL over REST and how this powerful technology solves the biggest shortcomings of traditional API models. In this quick starter guide, you’ll learn how GraphQL works, what is a GraphQL API, and how you can get started with using GraphQL right away.

GraphQL- The Quick Starter Guide


“Hi Kelly! Can we do an early beta launch of our product? Let’s move up the timelines by two weeks and launch it! This way we can call it more Agile too.”Peter, an eager and driven manager with a lot of experience in managing teams of product managers and scrum masters, expected to engage Kelly in a discussion on being more Agile.However, Kelly doesn’t fully agree, neither with the approach nor with terming it as being more “agile”.“Peter, I’m sure you wouldn't want to give your customers a product with incomplete user journeys. We prioritized just these three features for the launch and completing these will be the bare minimum we can achieve from our products. Shipping products with bad experiences will make the LEAST Agile sense.”, Kelly retaliated at Peter's suggestion for reducing timelines.Kelly is a seasoned product manager who, since joining the company four years ago, has expanded her portfolio to be the major contributor to company revenues. Working on this project for the last eight months, she has been trying desperately to upskill the cross-functional team to be more Agile.In theory, this is the same direction that Peter and his organization are moving towards in efforts to increase innovation and experimentation. Peter, with his diverse experience, has successfully delivered multiple programs in both conventional and digital products for the company over the years.But as far as this product launch is concerned, Kelly and Peter are on two very different pages about what Agile practice actually looks like:“Kelly, this is not the Agile thinking the management is trying to preach. You’re talking about the same old waterfall mindset. Agile means, quick, very quick, and in doing so if things get a bit dirty, it shouldn't matter. We already researched the product in depth and now I feel you are not confident about it anymore.”, replied Peter.Kelly argues that the research has established the product need, but if shipped with incomplete information and journeys, they risk running into the first mover disadvantage. Trying to explain this to Peter, she responds that two weeks is not going to make a major difference. “I am not encouraging perfect and flawless products but at the least we should offer complete user journeys to our customers.”By this point, Peter has already lost his patience. “Okay, here’s the deal. I have already promised the management that we will deliver the product earlier than planned. Either you commit to this or I can ask for someone else to deliver it.”, he threatens.This whole situation sums up what the ’Agile Paradox’ looks like, and it’s not just Peter and Kelly who have fallen victim to it – this is exactly the dilemma that many organizations undergoing Agile Transformation face. Organizations, while being deeply focused on Agile processes, roadmaps, strategies and efficiency, tend to ignore the behavioral, softer side of Agile: The People.And while companies think they’re practicing Agile, in reality, they’re far from understanding what Agile actually is, and what it is not.What Agile Is NotIn principle, Agile is NOT the organizational ability to practice, but rather, it is the dire need of organizations to reduce uncertainty pertaining to customer preferences, technological innovations, changing market dynamics, regulatory dissonance, and, most importantly, the organizational ability & skillset to deliver in a less risky environment.To enable organizations to deliver the most certain and viable product, the product is shipped in bits and pieces that are complete in themselves in serving one or more customers’ needs.What Must Businesses do for a Successful Agile Transformation Strategy?Agile shouldn’t just be undertaken as a strategic stint to overcome the ever-increasing costs of product development. It should be taken as an iterative approach where changes in processes are accommodated as you design the culture or the organizations, deriving behaviors that are consistent with agile practices, and defining structures that help with ‘Kaizen’s continuous improvement’ – or in other words, ‘Investing in People’. How do lean-thinking people and Agile teams enable organizational agility?Simply put, organizational agility can be achieved by taking these steps:Breaking down a large problem into smaller ones Then, through ‘Service Design’, identifying the most impactful ones to be solved for the customer Then using ‘System Design’ to identify the most impactful ones for the business Finally, delivering those smaller problems in an iterative manner, and continuously improving the ones already delivered in parallel to the newly identified ones.Agile People Over ProcessesWithout investing in your people, you might be able to somehow implement Agile through process enforcement, but you won’t be practicing it in essence, and hence your Agile transformation strategy would not be sustainable.Understanding that Agile is not just about Agile processes, but in fact it is about Agile people over processes, is the first step in the right direction if your organization is building an agile business strategy. But how do you truly implement and practice the Agile strategy framework within your culture and people?These interconnected soft elements are the very basis for building a truly Agile organization:Autonomy Unsolicited collaboration Strategic alignment Clarity in roles and communication TrustAutonomyThe core focus of an Agile strategy framework should be on giving autonomy to your people.Your Agile adoption strategy can only be successful when smaller connected groups of people at the execution level of the organization are able to take decisions with just the right amount of strategic guidance. This includes all decisions pertaining to product design, research and development. So, while the managers still play the lead role, this role is principally to provide directions and guidelines and to check the work of the people – the executioners – by shifting accountability on them.Hence, in a truly Agile set-up, the decision-making would be based on the expertise of the people, and regardless of the strategic ambition of your Agile work processes, this autonomy has to be given, in one way or another, to the people who are actually executing the job.Unsolicited CollaborationMany organizations that have successfully created guilds, tribes, and squads in efforts to enrich their culture with a more “collaborative” spirit are actually failing at sustaining these formal and informal groups.The reason behind this is the lack of an environment to facilitate purpose-driven collaboration with autonomy in the hands of the people doing the work. Most of these organizations will create forums where people are tasked with sharing the same functional expertise at least once a month, but most of the time this doesn’t work unless there is a major push from the leaders.If these collaboration forums, instead, become the center of cross-functional or functional value-addition, they’re much more likely to sustain and perform without a formal process dictating these interactions.In the Agile way of working, such unsolicited collaboration that is others-driven rather than process-driven, will serve as a constant source of learning, equipping your people with the ability to make adjustments to their work as they carry out their tasks. Strategic AlignmentIt is important to understand that Agile is not just the measure of the organizational capability to act fast, but also a primary driver for achieving strategic ambitions through innovation and experimentation. While keeping the main focus on strategic enablers, organizations can work swiftly towards validating and invalidating uncertainties to make sure the strategic objectives at the end of the day are crisp and clear.When devising an agile strategy, all elements that are necessary to the success of the organization should be considered a part of the strategy. If we consider the element of collaboration discussed above, in an Agile framework, these collaborative forums would actually be showcasing how people are achieving business success and strategic goals of the organization at large, not simply chasing the assigned KPIs by their managers.This is what makes your Agile transformation strategy sustainable, and such strategic alignment is what every organization must strive to implement within their teams.Clarity in Roles and CommunicationCommunication in Agile teams is vital, especially when providing clarity across the roles, defining the responsibilities of the people, and ensuring that the people who are actually doing the job are well aware of their KPIs, their practices, and get enough time to work on their tasks.Agile processes are focused towards removing impediments in processes – like duplication of efforts and siloism – while bringing clarity in the roles for each individual.Such clarity can only be achieved autonomously through establishing a culture that is visited and evaluated unbiasedly at regular intervals. This Agile practice improves the use of communication channels for various organizational needs, focusing on the training and development of people and redefining formal and informal communication mediums and organizational structures to strengthen the agile-based culture. TrustTrust is an outcome of all the four variables discussed above, and it is definitely not built by top-down directions.In fact, trust is built through collaboration that is unsolicited in nature, complimented by autonomy and clarity in the roles of the people towards the strategic ambitions of the organization. Once this trust is instilled and ingrained in the organization at different levels, agility is established.TakeawayWhile most organizations focus on Agile processes, tools, and education, there is another world of soft elements of Agile that focuses on people, their behaviors, communication formalities, trust, and servant leadership.The leaders of the organization cannot ignore their people, and without instilling the right culture and values across your people, you cannot establish or implement a sustainable Agile transformation strategy. Trust is built when your people are not accountable to serve the leadership, but rather the overarching strategy of the business – and It is only when you set up such a high-trust team that you can truly be self-sustaining.So, let’s be Agile, but not at the cost of people.

Explore the Neglected Side of Agile


Unlock the Hidden Features of Bootstrap 5 (and How To Use Them)ALT text: Unlock the best Bootstrap 5 new features and how to use themOne of the most widely used open-source frameworks – and a very popular tool amongst web developers – Bootstrap launched its much-awaited fifth version with the intention of creating a more "future-friendly" tool, according to the official launch announcement from Bootstrap.Does Bootstrap 5 live up to the expectations of frontend developers and designers?Before answering that question, let's take a quick refresher on Bootstrap 5.What is Bootstrap 5? Bootstrap 5 is the latest major release from Bootstrap, which is an open-source framework for HTML, Javascript, and CSS. In a massive leap from previous versions, Bootstrap 5 can also be used with SCSS – a more advanced version of CSS-Cascading Style Sheets.In simple words, the framework helps create responsive websites and applications, and Bootstrap 5 takes it up a notch by:Helping create websites that are more appealing from a UX perspective, Catering to accessibility standards, and Automating the process of development, making it much faster, easier, and cleaner. When was Bootstrap 5 Released? After several alpha and beta versions released prior to the stable rollout, Bootstrap 5 was officially launched on May 5, 2021.Unlocking the Hidden Features of Bootstrap 5 This latest and major version of the free frontend framework came with a lot of new exciting features; some of these were instantly recognized by frontend developers and designers – but those weren’t all.In this article, we're not looking at the most evident features that Bootstrap 5 offers but rather the hidden, lesser-known capabilities that most developers may not be aware of.Automatically Set Foreground Color according to Background While developing a website or an application, there is an accessibility requirement that a good contrast is needed between the color of the text and the background color that the text is written on.The latest accessibility standards, as set out by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), require a minimum contrast ratio of 4.5:1 for any text that comes over a background on a website.To meet these accessibility standards, you would need to set the foreground colors based on the background. Without Bootstrap 5, developers would have to monitor and determine the best contrast ratio manually using the color contrast function. That changed with Bootstrap 5 because developers now have the capability to automatically set the foreground color (dark or light) based on the W3 contrast ratio.This is quite the handy feature for developers as it not only automates their manual effort but also frees them from worrying about contrast errors while manually setting up the foreground colors.Most importantly, at the end of the day, with this capability, developers and designers can ensure compliance with global accessibility standards.Let’s watch this feature used in action. Consider that we are creating a card that can have a background color from any of these theme colors:$theme-colors: ("primary": $primary,"secondary": $secondary,"success": $success,"info": $info,"warning": $warning,"danger": $danger,"light": $light,"dark": $dark);Note: This is the standard Bootstrap way of storing values in an Object in the form of key-value pair: $variable : ( “key” : value ).ALT text: Black/white text with blue, yellow, red, and green backgroundIn order to set the foreground color (black or white) as per the contrast ratio (set using the min-contrast ratio variable), we’ll use the following function (from function.scss).$min-contrast-ratio: 4.5;@function color-contrast($background, $color-contrast-dark: $color-contrast-dark, $color-contrast-light: $color-contrast-light, $min-contrast-ratio: $min-contrast-ratio) {$foregrounds: $color-contrast-light, $color-contrast-dark, $white, $black;$max-ratio: 0;$max-ratio-color: null;@each $color in $foregrounds {$contrast-ratio: contrast-ratio($background, $color);@if $contrast-ratio > $min-contrast-ratio {@return $color;} @else if $contrast-ratio > $max-ratio {$max-ratio: $contrast-ratio;$max-ratio-color: $color;}}@warn "Found no color leading to #{$min-contrast-ratio}:1 contrast ratio against #{$background}...";@return $max-ratio-color;}Note: This function is present in the function.scss file and is derived from the W3C community of formulas.For our card styling, we’ll use this function to set the foreground color simply by using the background color value in the argument:@each $color, $value in $theme-colors {{$color} {$card-background-color: $value;color: color-contrast($card-background-color,$body-color);}}As a result of this, what we get in the compiled output is the class generated for the card background (for example, .bg-primary), which will, in turn, decide which foreground color (dark or light) should be automatically set to this card (based on the contrast ratio).This feature offers a major utility to developers, as it removes the risk of contrast errors while setting up the foreground colors.Minimize Codes For Bootstrap 5 Maps Another addition to the list of Bootstrap 5 utilities, developers now have the ability to automate the process of creating huge maps with several values.Previously, with large sets of values, creating these maps would be a manual, time-consuming process prone to human errors. By automating this process using the new Bootstrap 5 utilities of SCSS for loop and map-merge methods, developers can save a lot of time and manual effort.To understand this Bootstrap 5 utility better, let’s take this example where we want to extend the values in an existing spacers map and add up to 30 more values. Your final map should look like this:$spacer: 1rem;$spacers: (0: 0,1: $spacer * 0.125,2: $spacer * 0.25,3: $spacer * 0.375,4: $spacer * 0.5,5: $spacer * 0.625,6: $spacer * 0.75,7: $spacer * 0.875,8: $spacer,9: $spacer * 1.125,10: $spacer * 1.25,11: $spacer * 1.375,12: $spacer * 1.5,13: $spacer * 1.625,14: $spacer * 1.75,15: $spacer * 1.875,16: $spacer * 2,17: $spacer * 2.125,18: $spacer * 2.25,19: $spacer * 2.375,20: $spacer * 2.5,21: $spacer * 2.625,22: $spacer * 2.75,23: $spacer * 2.875,24: $spacer * 3,25: $spacer * 3.125,26: $spacer * 3.25,27: $spacer * 3.375,28: $spacer * 3.5,29: $spacer * 3.625,30: $spacer * 3.75);Each value is 0.125 units more than the previous one.From here, if we create such a map manually, it will require a lot of time and human effort. With Bootstrap 5, however, we can automate it using a loop:$spacers: ();@for $i from 0 through 30 {$spacers: map-merge($spacers , ($i: '$spacer' + '*' + #{$i*0.125}));}@debug $spacers;When you run @debug $spacers, it will show you the values in the $spacers variable, as seen above.What has happened here is that we've created a complete map writing only a single line of code no matter how many entries there were.Using the same technique, we can also simplify the process of creating maps for other property variables.Consider this example where we want to produce $position-values. This is how we want our required output to be:$position-values: (0: 0,25: 25%,50: 50%,75: 75%,100: 100%);We can produce this map with a single line of code using the for loop and map-merge method while adding as many entries as we want:$position-values: (0: 0);@for $i from 1 through 4 {$i: 25 * $i;$position-values: map-merge($position-values , (#{$i} : #{$i} + '%'));}@debug $position-values;Note: In for loop, if "through" is used, the final number is included; if "to" is used, it is excluded.In this case, we’ve slightly modified the logic and adjusted the $i value according to the requirement before using it in the map-merge function.Note: You can always use the @debug function to see the content of variables during compilation.The same method can also be used to create a border width map:$border-widths: (1: 1px,2: 2px,3: 3px,4: 4px,5: 5px);$border-widths: ();@for $i from 1 through 5 {$border-widths: map-merge($border-widths , ($i: #{$i + "px"}));}@debug $border-widths;The logic here is relatively simple, as all we needed was the addition of syntax “px” with the value.Make Utility Classes Responsive Further extending its capabilities from its predecessor, version 4, Bootstrap 5 also provides responsive utility classes. In Bootstrap 4, these were fixed values.Bootstrap 5 uses a SASS-based utility API to generate these utility classes, with the output stored in the $utilities variable as a Map through which various utility classes can be used.This contributes in a major way when code is being written for a website to be viewed on different devices. Taking the various mobile or desktop views into consideration, developers would often have to create specific classes for the respective device view.With this feature of responsive utility classes in Bootstrap 5, developers now have the option to automatically generate classes that can be used on mobile or desktop or tablet, catering to both a "medium screen" and a "large screen".$utilities: map-merge($utilities,(// scss-docs-start utils-vertical-align'align':(property: vertical-align,class: align,values: baseline top middle bottom text-bottom text-top,),// scss-docs-end utils-vertical-align// scss-docs-start utils-float'float':(responsive: true,property: float,values: (start: left,end: right,none: none,),),… more lines))Let’s consider that you want to use the width property from this $utilities map:'width':(property: width,class: w,values: (25: 25%,33: 33.33%,50: 50%,75: 75%,100: 100%,auto: auto,),),The class that is generated for html use is .w-25 or .w-33 giving the CSS value width:25% or width: 33%.If, for example, we wish to use the width property for a certain breakpoint (tablet or desktop only), the required class should be .w-md-25 or .w-lg-33 working at tablet or desktop breakpoints only.All you would need to do is set the optional responsive value to "true", which is false by default, and we'll get the required responsive classes:'width':(responsive:true,property: width,class: w,values: (25: 25%,33: 33.33%,50: 50%,75: 75%,100: 100%,auto: auto,),),What's essentially happening here is that the API in Bootstrap 5 is doing all the work that previously, developers would have had to do manually through functions in older bootstrap versions.Define State Properties Since this rollout of Bootstrap has inherited some object-oriented features that weren't previously available, it now also offers the capability to define state properties. This speeds up and improves a previously very time-consuming and tedious process where developers would have to write a separate code and input values manually to apply the same command that would be used on multiple variables.This is possible with Bootstrap 5 because the utility API has a state option, which, when set, gives developers the option to produce pseudo classes, like “hover, focus”.Let's take an example of the navigation menu on a website. If you want to add the ability for an item in the navigation bar to change color when a user hovers on it, and then apply the same command on other items in the navigation bar as well, all you would need to do with Bootstrap 5 is to simply write "state: hover" in the "Opacity" property in $Utilities Map and mention the values once. This will then produce the hover classes, which can be used in the html of menu items, making the coding much cleaner as well as reusable.$utilities: ("opacity": (property: opacity,state: hover,values: (0: 0,25: .25,50: .5,75: .75,100: 1,)));Output:.opacity-0-hover:hover { opacity: 0 !important; }.opacity-25-hover:hover { opacity: .25 !important; }.opacity-50-hover:hover { opacity: .5 !important; }.opacity-75-hover:hover { opacity: .75 !important; }.opacity-100-hover:hover { opacity: 1 !important; }TakeawayBootstrap has historically been a popular tool amongst developers, but with the new Bootstrap 5 components, small and large companies alike are quick to recognize the value of adopting this free tool. Perhaps the biggest and most evident benefit offered is the ability to automate development using the SCSS functions and mixins that reduce the code while minifying output files mostly by using inheritance and other object-oriented programming (OOP) features.From accessibility to automation, Bootstrap 5 utilities have undoubtedly reached a whole other level in terms of making the development process much smoother and more efficient, particularly for frontend developers and designers.

Unlock the Hidden Features of Bootstrap 5 (and How To Use Them)

mobileLIVE Award Winner -Best Managed Companies 2022

Committed to service excellence and driven by a culture of innovation, the company maintained the Gold Standard recognition for overall business performance.Toronto, ON—May 10, 2022—For the sixth year in a row, mobileLIVE is once again recognized for overall business performance and sustained growth. This year, mobileLIVE not only earned the prestigious Canada’s Best Managed Companies designation but also maintained its status as a Best Managed Gold Standard company.“Now in its 29th year, the Best Managed program seeks to recognize companies who combine strategic expertise and a culture of innovation with a steadfast commitment to their communities,” said Derrick Dempster, Partner, Deloitte Private and Co-Leader, Canada’s Best Managed Companies program. “This year’s winners demonstrated an increased focus on environmental, social, and governance issues. They maintained an unwavering dedication to their core purpose, enhancing client relationships and cultivating a healthy corporate culture.”Winning the Best Managed award puts mobileLIVE amongst the best-in-class of Canadian-owned and managed companies – companies that have achieved sustainable growth through demonstrated leadership in areas of strategy, capabilities and innovation, culture and commitment, and financial management.“By prioritizing employee well-being and championing their professional development, we are on course for continuous improvement,” said Jahan Ali, CEO and Founder of mobileLIVE. “Today marks a very important milestone in recognizing these priorities. With innovation at our core and the right culture, we are driving sustainable growth.”Every year, hundreds of entrepreneurial companies compete for this designation in a rigorous and independent process that evaluates the calibre of their management abilities and practices. Applicants are evaluated by an independent judging panel comprised of representatives from program sponsors in addition to special guest judges. 2022 Best Managed companies share commonalities that include (but are not limited to) putting their people and culture at the forefront, focusing on their ESG strategies and doubling down on accelerated digitization.“The pandemic has changed the way businesses operate and these winners have responded by transforming and pivoting their companies so that they are leading the way forward for the future,” said Dino Medves, Senior Vice President and Head, CIBC Commercial Banking (a sponsor of Deloitte). 2022 winners of Canada’s Best Managed Companies award will be honoured at galas across the country. The Best Managed program is sponsored by Deloitte Private, CIBC, The Globe and Mail, Salesforce, and TMX Group. About Canada’s Best Managed CompaniesCanada’s Best Managed Companies continues to be the mark of excellence for Canadian-owned and managed companies with revenues over $50 million. Every year since the launch of the program in 1993, hundreds of entrepreneurial companies have competed for this designation in a rigorous and independent process that evaluates their management skills and practices. The awards are granted on four levels: 1) Canada’s Best Managed Companies new winner (one of the new winners selected each year); 2) Canada’s Best Managed Companies winner (award recipients that have re-applied and successfully retained their Best Managed designation for two additional years, subject to annual operational and financial review); 3) Gold Standard winner (after three consecutive years of maintaining their Best Managed status, these winners have demonstrated their commitment to the program and successfully retained their award for 4 -6 consecutive years); 4) Platinum Club member (winners that have maintained their Best Managed status for seven years or more). Program sponsors are Deloitte Private, CIBC, The Globe and Mail, Salesforce and TMX Group. For more information, visit

mobileLIVE maintains Best Managed Gold Standard, awarded Canada’s Best Managed for Sixth Consecutive Year

UX metrics

What are UX Metrics? Types of Metrics Three UX Metrics For Usability Testing UX Metrics Test Plan Template TakeawayWhen we talk about UX & design, we often discuss research, research-led design, usability studies, and user experience trends. However, while we often finish these discussions with several exciting learnings, we find all of them battling for our attention.How do you prioritize your work and understand the value a design change could bring to you?The simple answer? UX Metrics.What are UX Metrics?Metrics help support design changes while also allowing UX teams to choose the most critical problems in their product usability. Usually, this framework is used to measure the enterprise user experience so that we can talk with the users and gather vital information from them.A metric is a measure that we can track, and in this context, a 'measure' is the detection of change. Similar to the multitude of metrics that businesses use, such as sales and retention rates, there are several types of UX metrics.(Diagram by Mark G Brown)Types of MetricsConsider UX metrics as your key performance indicators (KPIs). The KPIs for UX/UI design are of different types, each of which focuses on a distinct area:Usability MetricsThese are descriptive metrics that look at how easily users complete a task or event. Commonly tracked indicators like ease-of-use rating, time on task, task success rate, etc., are used to measure the ease of task completion. Advanced usability metrics may also track interaction patterns.Engagement MetricsThese measure user perception: how users interact with your software, app, or website. They include page views, scrolls, event streams, the time it takes per interaction and the attitude of the occurred interaction.Conversion MetricsThese measure the outcome of the experience by focusing on smaller groups of users that you can engage for prolonged and retained use of your product to get insights like conversion rates or Net Promoter Score (NPS).Three UX Metrics For Usability TestingYou might be familiar with some common usability testing metrics and the frameworks that use them.However, in this article, we’re only talking about the ones that:Are both time and cost-efficient and were found to be the most effective at providing accurate results – without needing a large sample size of participants!These methods listed below were handpicked after we tried them out and used them to conduct our own usability testing on a very complex Enterprise Product that we were working on.1- Single Ease Question or SEQ (Post Task Questionnaire)The Single Ease Question (SEQ) is a UX performance metric that uses a seven-point scale to rate how difficult users are finding a task. Here’s an example of what this scale may look like:ExampleOverall, how difficult or easy was it to complete the task? Rate your experience using the seven-point scale below.During usability testing, users are given a post-task questionnaire with this rating scale right after attempting a task to best capture the user’s impression and experience of the task. Since most usability-study sessions will involve many individual tasks, each task followed by such a questionnaire will allow you to extract and record several subjective answers from each user.Collecting Responses of SEQ through Google FormPost-task questionnaires should be short – ideally one to three questions – in order to allow minimum interference with the user flow during a testing session.The SEQ Google Form Survey looks like this.Interpreting SEQ ScoresOnce user responses are collected, you can track the answers using this UX Metrics Scorecard.You can then interpret these scores on an SEQ Percentile Rank Scale:On average, SEQ scores fall between approximately 5.3 and 5.6, which is above the midpoint of 4 on the seven-point scale.One issue of the SEQ as a diagnostic tool is that the questionnaire can lead to users finding it hard to recognize and differentiate the complexity of finishing a task from the actual problems experienced while completing it. So, it is recommended to ask a follow-up question: “What is the primary reason for your score?”Benefits of Using SEQThe SEQ method is very useful for two reasons:Since it is conducted right after task completion, the SEQ method gathers users' immediate thoughts and impressions, as the experience is still fresh in their minds. Hence, the participants can clearly assess how they felt during the experience without any other tasks or thoughts hindering their memory. With the data being collected right after every task, the SEQ method allows easy comparison of the most problematic issues in your workflows for every task.Post-task questionnaires should be short – ideally not more than 1 to 3 questions – in order to allow minimum interference with the user flow during a testing session.Note: There are many user testing platforms like User Testing, Usabilla, or Maze that can help you measure task time and success. The UX metrics methods quoted above are what we used for an Enterprise Product.2- System Usability Scale or SUS (Post Test Questionnaire)A post-test questionnaire, the System Usability Scale contains ten different questions. Each of these questions has five responses – from strongly agree to strongly disagree – to gauge the usability and learnability of the system.ExampleAs the name suggests, this post-test questionnaire is given out at the end of a session after participants have completed all tasks in the usability test.According to an article on perceived usability published by the Nielsen Norman Group, post-test questionnaires "reflect how your users perceive the usability of your website or app as a whole". They are meant to capture this assessment from the perspective of the user, including "their lasting overall impressions". The impressions on your users of the experience as a whole are subject to something known as the peak-end effect, which is that "the most intense and last parts of the experience, either positive or negative, impact the participants' recollections and evaluations the most".Conducting Usability Session by SUS through Google FormTo conduct the usability session by SUS, here’s the Google Form Survey you can use.The formula used to score SUS is as follows:For odd items: subtract 1 from the user response. For even items: subtract user responses from 5. This will scale all values from 0 to 4 (with 4 indicating the most positive response). Add up all of the converted responses from each user and multiply the total by 2.5. This will convert the range of all possible values from 0 to 100 instead of from 0 to 40. Formula:Interpreting SUS ScoresJust as we did in SEQ, a UX Metrics Scorecard is used here as well, which looks like this.Based on research, a SUS score above 68 would be considered above average, and anything below 68 is below average.In order to have the usability of your site be in the top 10% of all sites, you'd require a score of 80 or higher, while a score of 73 would put you only in the top 30%.The best method of interpreting your score is through the process of normalization, in which the scores are converted to a percentile rank. The grading scale below shows how the percentile ranks can be associated with SUS scores and letter grades to interpret the results.Benefits of Using SUSWith references in more than 1300 publications and articles, the SUS method has made its mark as an industry standard.Some of the noted benefits of using SUS, according to, are:It is relatively a very easy scale to apply to participants It provides reliable results even when administered on small sample sizes It is very valid in that it effectively differentiates between usable and unusable systems. 3- Usability Metric for User Experience (UMUX)A result of research at the Intel Corporation in 2010, the UMUX method came about as a replacement for the SUS to create a tool that was not just shorter than the SUS but also conformed to the ISO 9241–11 definition of usability (i.e., effectiveness, efficiency, satisfaction).Interpreting Score of UMUXA result of research at the Intel Corporation in 2010, the UMUX method came about as a replacement for the SUS to create a tool that was not just shorter than the SUS but also conformed to the ISO 9241–11 definition of usability (i.e., effectiveness, efficiency, satisfaction).The UMUX method is used for testing perceived usability via a four-item questionnaire. Scores are measured on a seven-point option scale, which goes from Strongly Disagree (1) to Strongly Agree (7), and the scores range from 0 to 100.Interpreting UMUX ScoresThe UMUX is best used after a usability test in the following way:Determine what method you will use to distribute the questionnaire. A pen and paper will suffice for in-person testing, but you can use an online survey tool for remote testing. While scoring UMUX, odd items are scored as [score — 1], while even items as [7 — score]. The scores are summed up, and the total is then divided by 24 and multiplied by 100.To conduct a usability audit, we always let users know as much as possible about all the scenarios, tasks, participants, and facilitators, as well as provide them with brief information within the given time.UX Metrics Test Plan TemplateHere is a sample usability test plan template to use before conducting Usability Testing.TakeawayThere are many factors that come into play when deciding what metrics will work best for you; the ones discussed in this article were shortlisted because they were found to be the most time-effective and easily compatible with smaller sample sizes of participants.As is the case with many other UX researchers and designers, budget-friendliness was also a very important reason we ranked these methods at the top. If cost-efficiency is something you’re concerned with, you’ll appreciate this article about Usability Testing on a Budget.All in all, UX performance metrics are vital in UX research, particularly as a KPI for UX UI design. But it is also equally important to understand why UX metrics are used and which ones to use at what stage of your usability testing process will ultimately pave the way for you to achieve your main goal: consistently providing an unforgettable user experience.

Top 3 UX Metrics For Testing Product Usability


Part 1: The Challenge and Our North Star The Challenge Every now and then, we see designers wasting their time creating UI flow diagrams inside slide decks and whiteboard tools to show UX/UI design to executives or senior management. Designers are also at times found giving walkthroughs of their design files to every member on their team, then to all product managers, then to all developers, then to all the people who missed those calls, and it goes on and on until the end of time. When we have designers working repeatedly on these things, it impacts not just the designers but the whole organization. We want the designers to work on more important things: solving user and product problems. When this starts to happen, the designer’s valuable time and energy are reduced to doing these repetitive tasks. Design Ops to the Rescue One of the key areas of Design Ops is to alleviate problems exactly like this. Our North Star here is to completely eliminate the handover process of design with stakeholders. In an effort to achieve this, we need to bring everyone to the same table and have the same language that everyone speaks and understands, which is what DesignOps achieves. This will have two immediate benefits: Eliminate (reduce) time wasted by designers doing side tasks. Build confidence with stakeholders. Stakeholders feel more comfortable trusting their designers when they can understand their work and process as well. The design department will no longer be seen as a black magic box that no one really knows how it operates. The shared language will help the stakeholders understand how design files are organized and documented, so they can go and find anything whenever they need it without bugging designers. The documentation on design decisions in best cases eliminates the requirement for tedious walkthroughs, one of the biggest benefits of DesignOps. Laying the Foundations As a first step, we set up two keys or legends to identify the state of the design and document the design files. State of Design Very similar to project management statuses, we introduce the states of UX/UI design. The key allows anyone coming into the design file to understand their status. This can be used not only to identify design files as a whole but also the pages, user flows, and individual screens. Our first set of statuses look like this (these can be modified and adapted to any team’s needs, but we have found this to be most productive in our case): ✍️ Working on it Anything that designers are currently working on can be denoted by this status. 🚧 In-progress Things that are not yet finished but also not being actively worked on can be denoted by in-progress status. ✅ Pretty much done This status is important to indicate your progress on work. Statuses like these will build confidence with your stakeholders. 🔸 Please review for approval With this time you are inviting the product manager or other stakeholders to review your UX/UI designs and decisions. 👍 Ready for presentation UX Designs that have been approved by product managers and the internal team will be ready for executive presentation. 🔹 Approved Designs approved by all the stakeholders can be marked with this status. 🔒 No further changes Use this state when a design has been officially locked and you want to hand it off to developers. This will mean that no more changes will be catered to on the design and it is locked until delivery of the project. 🔻 On hold Designs that get deprioritized due to any reason can be marked as on hold. 📦 Archived or legacy Any old or deprecated design can go under the archived or legacy label. 🎆 Magic Lab All the amazing ideas and designs can find their place in the magic lab. These are proposed pieces of design that designers want to showcase or show off but are not part of the main user flow. Documenting Design Taking this a step further, we also set up comment keys. These can be used to document design decisions, clarifications, ideas, concerns, and more as raised by designers and stakeholders during the design process. The comment key we generally suggest to use looks something like this: The status and comment key is part of the Figma File System, a subset of the Figma Design System by mobileLIVE. This can be downloaded free from the Figma community. This is available as ready-to-use components that you can plug in any of your design files and start using them.

Design Ops Series: Improved Designer and Stakeholder Collaboration


TORONTO, ON – Nov 16, 07:45 ET mobileLIVE, a digital transformation consultancy specializing in experiences and the technology used to perfect them, is proud to be named a Great Place to Work®-Certified Company. “Investing in our people, prioritizing a culture of learning, and empowering and enabling the professional and personal goals of employees is ingrained in our culture,” says Aftab Ali, Director Human Resources. “We understand that in our line of work, fostering innovation and supporting the people who spark it is critical to driving change and solving the challenges our clients turn to us to solve. We give our employees less to worry about while enabling them to do more, professionally and personally. It’s simple in concept but far-reaching in impact.” This certification is determined after a comprehensive independent evaluation by the Great Place to Work® Institute Canada and an extensive employee survey conducted anonymously. Additionally, recognized organizations must be headquartered in Canada, with a majority agreement that people are treated fairly, regardless of personal characteristics (such as gender, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation). “Becoming an employer of choice is not only a foundational aspiration of ours but strategic and critical to achieving our vision for the future,” said Jahan Ali, CEO and Founder. “This certification serves as an indicator, directly from the people who matter most, that we are on the right track. It’s the experience our people provide which is a big driver for our growth and never losing clients, and why it’s so critical to provide an equal experience to employees.”

mobileLIVE Becomes Great Place to Work® Certified™

GraphQL and the API Academy

Client demands are always changing, and if the last decade is any metric to go by, we know they will continue to evolve for the foreseeable future. To stay competitive now requires companies to have multiple permutations of their offering and an agile approach to continuous improvement. The traditional REST API model doesn’t cut it anymore; what companies need is fast pace in development, and with GraphQL that’s exactly what they get. Join Luca Maraschi, CTO mobileLIVE, as he very elaborately walks us through the journey of what GraphQL does, why it is important, and how it differs from REST.

GraphQL and the API Economy: Beyond the Traditional REST API Model


Customer expectations are always changing; however, digital has not only accelerated the rate of that change but elevated those expectations. Needless to say, this has caused challenges for business, with BFSIs being particularly hard hit. The Googles, Facebooks, and Amazons of the world have spoiled customers, providing them with seamless experiences, on-demand, wherever and however they want. And now, it’s time Financial Institutions and other BFSIs do the same, and I’ll show you how below. But before you can solve the problem, you need to understand it. The Problem For Banking Customers For banks, credit unions, and insurance brands, and BFSIs in general, the shift of consumer preferences towards digital solutions poses one of the biggest threats to their core modus operandi: in-person customer appointments. And while physical bank visits were not an issue felt by banking customers previously, their perspectives have changed on two significant fronts: Experience over products More customers now prefer that their experience should be better, more efficient, and faster, prioritizing it over the products that they receive, which are pretty vanilla in their construct. Convenience over privacy Customers are also willing to let go of a little bit of privacy in exchange for more convenience, better integration of financial or banking softwares, and faster action for the services they’re choosing. Changes in Customer Behaviour With customers getting so used to getting all of their tasks done instantly and in a few clicks, BFSIs are lagging in adopting such efficiencies in their customer engagement models. As a result of such fundamental changes in customer expectations from the industry, we’re now witnessing alarming statistics in customer acquisition rates as experienced by banks, financial institutions, insurance companies, and BFSIs that are trying to shift their processes to a digital framework: 51% of customers drop off from their onboarding journey with a bank due to the length of the process. 46% of customers leave their applications midway because the user interface is not friendly enough to proceed. 41% of those who start the process digitally never return if they log out or if the sign-up process is too long and requires too much information. In addition to changing customers’ tolerance levels towards their banks, such variables contribute largely in showing BFSIs that they have a lot of catching up to deliver the differentiated experiences that their customers have already become so used to receiving from interacting with other non-financial services. The Industry Perspective on Digital Experiences When we look at financial institutions and BFSIs as a whole, it’s no news that it’s a heavily regulated industry. While that in itself is not a challenge, their use of decades-old practices, processes, and financial softwares is still being followed. Such institutions have never viewed it as a customer journey but rather a journey that happens internally within the bank and involves the customer’s file to move physically from one department to another. In simply trying to make such a process seamless and convert it into a frictionless onboarding journey for the customer, many issues come to the fore. Organizational Challenges Before looking at how financial institutions could begin to address these bottlenecks, we need to consider some of the grave organizational challenges that exist as well: Disconnect at the first touchpoint Whether the customer’s first touchpoint is a website or app, in the case of a digital channel, or to visit the bank and talk to a teller for non-digital channels, this is where most of the disconnect happens. Systems failing to cope up with expectations On a system level, the challenge remains to cope with increasing customer expectations, be it an internal system or a legacy system with the customer. Old and outdated processes The fact also remains that the processes and financial softwares adopted by these institutions are simply too old to convert and involve too many layers in pushing the customer’s application from one place to another. The true picture that this paints for financial institutions is that of struggle: breaking the numerous silos, being unable to implement automation, and using non-modular technology, rather than using modern technologies like banking softwares that offer convenience in accordance with the current needs in the digital world. That being said, one sliver of hope we’ve seen in the last three to four years is that the right technologies have become available to remove nearly all such hurdles. With such technologies at hand, processes like identity verification and document scanning and organization can all be reduced to a matter of a few seconds and done purely digitally rather than taking days and manual interaction with people. This is where successful institutions are now setting themselves apart, and the reason why achieving the optimal customer onboarding experience has become more critical than ever before. How Banks Can Address the Challenges Most banks resorted to addressing the digital shift by taking the same system and flow of process and creating an online facsimile of it. With research showing us that 85% of customers drop off between clicking on an ad to starting their application online, it’s evident that these ways aren’t working. We see such high drop-off rates because the customer onboarding process isn’t being adapted to digital, rather just shifted to it. Even if financial institutions didn’t – or didn’t need to – think about these earlier, certain factors are unique to a digital journey and need to be taken into consideration: Capturing the customer as soon as they come in How can the institution position the journey and capture customer information so that even if the customer drops off, they can be contacted again to help move their application forward? A lot of organizations are rewarding customers to return and complete their journey, an incentive that is doing wonders in the way of new customer acquisitions. Upgrading to new systems Most core banking softwares are quite archaic and need upgrading, and to run a digital workflow, institutions will need new systems rather than relying on the same old financial softwares. Speeding up the process With digital experiences, the pace of action is one of the most critical factors, and the question becomes of how fast banks can get the customer in and through the system and convert them into revenue-generating customers. The 5 Stages of the Customer Journey Digital Onboarding - The 5 Stages of the Customer Journey Understanding that the customer journey cannot remain in the background anymore needs to be prioritized above all else. From an organizational point of view, it can be broken down into five stages: Acquisition of Data Whether customers fill-up the form themselves or their information comes from third-party portals, capturing their documents and organizing them in as little time and clicks as possible is the first stage. Verification Is the customer who they say they are? Depending on the product offered, there are different Know Your Customer (KYC) regulatory requirements. Risk Assessment Once customer information is verified, an automated risk adjudication process is conducted. Payments Are customers paying directly, or are payments integrated with third-party payment providers? Provision of the Service The customers are issued a digital card to add to their Apple or Google wallets to get started with using the service as soon as they sign up. Interestingly, from the first to the last stage, this entire journey can be 100% automated, without human intervention, and in most cases done almost instantaneously. The experience needs to be easy, fast, and frictionless. In 5-minutes, a customer can and should be able to activate their account, with a digital card added to their device, all without ever having to set foot into a branch. Takeaway Every organization hoping to enter the digital era needs to break from or evolve their traditional processes, and this, although harder, is especially important for financial institutions. The question is, how to create a solution that balances customer expectations and business objections; and it will be those who can most effectively achieve that, who will be the most successful in the future.

How Financial Institutions Can Exceed Customer Expectations


Experiences that make you feel the same way regardless of where they happen – that’s what sets apart a business from a brand. Omnichannel experiences will continue to guide digital interactions that are: Faster More personalized Customer-driven And our experts show just how that can all be implemented. Bringing together their brand, design, and technology, this one-hour session about unravels implementing omnichannel experiences, the challenges that come with it, and the potential it will unlock for the future of digital businesses.

Omnichannel Experiences: Solving the Implementation Challenges

How to Create Frictionless Digital Onboarding in BFSI

While the preference for digital channels isn’t diminishing, customers’ tolerance for long, complex sign up processes is, and that means financial institutions are now facing challenges like: Dropping customer sign ups Increasing cost of acquisition Rising cost of abandoning signup Fortunately, this can be fixed with faster, frictionless, and completely E2E digital onboarding, and you can discover how here. In this extremely insightful, one-hour session, BFSI experts Ghazanfar Ahmed (Director of Digital Innovation) and Danysh Hashmi (VP BFSI) let us in on exactly how banks, credit unions, and insurance brands can achieve a better Digital Onboarding experience for their customers. Join them as they discuss key industry drivers and market challenges, designing customer-driven experience, and the technology needed to support it all.

BFSI: How to Create Frictionless Digital Onboarding Experiences


Any experienced product developer will tell you that a bold vision and strategic planning are not enough to bring your envisioned product to life . That approach focuses too heavily on the destination; overlooking the critical journey of how to get there. And for that, we turn to a roadmap. A product roadmap is the bridge between your long-term goals and short-term struggles; and today, we’ll dive further into the concept of roadmapping and why it can take you on a journey to your next product. What is a Roadmap? Agile roadmap The concept of a roadmap is commonplace, especially if you’ve even been involved in a long road trip like the one from Toronto to Montreal depicted below. Note, it does not say a specific time of arrival; rather a window. That is because there are several stops along the way; and given any number of variables at those stops, it’s difficult to say with certainty how long each of those stops will take. After all, what if there’s a huge line for the bathroom? However, the roadmap does help answer some critical questions: Which is the fastest route? Will you stop along the way; and if so, where? How do you know you’re moving in the right direction? The prerequisite for gaining any benefit of a roadmap is a destination; and when talking about product development, that destination is the product. And the roadmap is how you ensure that journey ends up where it needs to be while addressing strategic objectives along the way. The Importance of Roadmaps for Product Development The same that applies to road trips apply to product development The value of a good roadmap applies equally to road trips as it does to product development. And while there are numerous frameworks for creating one, as long as it keeps you on course and gives you a better understanding of where you’re going and why. An incredible tool for implementing product strategy and aligning stakeholders on a shared vision; a product roadmap provides not only the journey the product will take but how that strategy will be executed, communicating the product’s evolution by mapping its major releases onto a timeline. Roadmapping in Action That’s exactly what was done for our engagement with one of our clients. The client was in the process of executing an important digital transformation initiative when they began to voice some concerns: How would the journey look like, and how can we communicate to executives that the teams are moving in the right direction? How would the product evolve in the future? How would the three teams work together to deliver integrated business goals; what were their dependencies? Executives were unclear what the individual teams were trying to achieve, how much was done, and what was next What would be in the releases and when would they take place? Which release to focus on now and why? Which features to prioritize and what associated user stories to use for the first release What they were missing was a connection between the vision and execution, and the solution for that is nothing but a good roadmap to plan out its major releases. An exercise was done to identify the milestones along the way, and eventually, they were able to create their first roadmap in the following format. The items or business goals in these three columns were strategically placed to inform the team of the goals to focus on NOW and which ones to focus on later. This format helped them emphasize the order of things with business goals rather than their due dates. It also allowed product owners to prioritize features and associated user stories, which helped them to achieve the goals mentioned in the NOW column. Roadmap in Action Multiple sessions were conducted with all stakeholders, and we helped them understand the purpose of a roadmap that would help them overcome the challenges they had identified. After that, the following structure was produced. This structure identified the releases for the NOW column business objectives: releases for the NOW column The results of the roadmapping exercise above were as follows: Aligned the vision with business goals and objectives. Even though everyone already had this information, it was not presented in such a way that could be understood by all of them. Identified and agreed on the KPIs on the business objectives. Identified the features from all the teams involved (presented with different colors) to achieve those objectives. Identified what the journey will look like by mapping out releases. Identified which features need to be delivered for each release goal. Understood what the user stories are associated with the identified features for each release. Not all user stories needed to be considered for the release goal. Introduced goal-oriented thinking instead of just delivering outputs through user stories. By following the format of NOW, NEXT, LATER for the roadmap, the program could communicate better with the key stakeholders and was able to establish transparency. The roadmap was able to solve the challenges the client was facing and also help them identify what to focus on. Roadmapping During COVID-19 As mentioned before, the concept of road mapping is not only applied for product development or a road trip. It’s frequently used by governments as well. Here’s an example of what Ontario followed as part of the province reopening during the pandemic: The Roadmap to Reopen is a three-step plan to safely and cautiously reopen the province and gradually lift public health measures. The plan is based on: The province-wide vaccination rate Improvements in key public health and healthcare indicators Creating A Roadmap For Your Perfect Product There is no specific date involved in the plan, but it does highlight goals to achieve. As the Ontario Premier, Doug Ford, clearly mentioned in one of his interviews: “Roadmap is a plan about how we are going to reopen the province, not when.” Build Your Own Roadmap It should be clear at this point how crucial a roadmap is for any serious product development effort. Which is why I want to leave you with exactly how to create your own:Identify and articulate product vision Identify business objectives/outcomes to achieve along with metrics Focus on goals and benefits, not on timelines Collaborate with all stakeholders for alignment Consider rough estimates to check the feasibility of the goal Review it regularly and adjust as required By creating a roadmap, you have better communication and easily identifiable goals that help you achieve the product you have envisioned.

Product Roadmapping: For Agile Planning & Product Development


Now that the social experiment of working from home is over, how many of us can say we want to go back to work? For most organizations, replicating physical workspaces to the virtual landscape was not an easy task; in fact, it was one that came with a range of unforeseen challenges. But with virtual tools, collaboration strategies, and the latest inventions of modern technology, most of all Virtual Reality, organizations, both big and small, are able to not only manage their teams efficiently, but engage them in ways that can make remote collaboration all the more enjoyable. And just like everyone else, my colleagues and I have also had to find different ways and virtual tools to keep our team members engaged and inspired during the pandemic as we tackled remote collaborations with people we had never met before. We recently held a virtual talk in which we discussed the strategies that have enabled our teams to have successful remote collaborations in the new virtual reality. Remote Collaboration versus Regular Meetings Before we get into the virtual tools, collaboration strategies, and practices that can make your project successful, it is important to understand what the term ‘remote collaboration’ encompasses. This is the process of different teams working together, regardless of their geographic location. While the purpose and content are the same in both remote and regular meetings, the element of body language is missing in the former. In face-to-face meetings, you have the facility of being able to judge the body language of your peers. Not being able to fully gauge the response of your team members across the screen can affect work performance and company morale. While pre-pandemic collaborations would include face-to-face meetings, conferences, and workshops, remote collaborations consist of group chats for work projects, virtual interactive meetings and workshops, and virtual tools as well. In order to have a successful online collaboration, you need certain virtual tools that can help team members connect and also boost their innovative thinking, even in a virtual reality. So instead of having boring Zoom meetings in which at least one team member is likely dozing off, engaging the team in a much more interactive virtual activity, like an online workshop, can prove to be far more beneficial. Virtual Tools for Collaboration Workshops Collaborative workshops are the best way to brainstorm new ideas since they are more focused toward one specific topic or project. With every team member tending to one problem or project, you will have better outcomes. The word ‘workshop’ may sound daunting – but don’t be intimidated by it. You do not require big teams in order to have a fun and constructive workshop; it can be with as little as three people – even as you work in your new virtual reality of working from home. Workshops foster innovative thinking as they allow you and your team members to be more hands-on. It also allows for more visuals which can definitely make the entire process less snooze-inducing. Remote collaborative processes like workshops prompt your employees to be more vocal. Every single one of your workshop attendees will be required to participate in some way, so it is an effective way of improving communication between team members. This is especially so because a workshop offers the opportunity for everyone to be heard, as opposed to conventional meetings where only someone higher up in the company hierarchy, like the CEO, would be the loudest person in the room. With everyone participating, you can identify what each team member excels at so that you are playing with each other’s strengths. Virtual Tools Now that you know about the advantages of having a workshop, let’s talk about some virtual tools that will facilitate you in the process. These are some of the soft wares I have found useful for creating workshop boards on: Miro is a whiteboarding platform that allows various teams to work together for an online collaborative process. This virtual tool has a suite of features, from digital sticky notes and a Template library to a canvas that never runs out of space. The ability to integrate this with other platforms like Google and Jira to quickly export documents serves as an added benefit, making this one of the most efficient virtual tools for such remote collaboration. Mural is another virtual tool that allows you to have a seamless collaborative workshop online. You have visual communicative features like flowcharts, drawing, sticky notes, and some interactive tools like timer, voting, and celebrations. Google Jamboard is a user-friendly virtual tool, and the best part is that if you are using other Google Suite products like Google Sheets and Google Meet then you can just integrate the Jamboard with them. You can have up to 50 collaborators on Jamboard at one time, making it another valuable addition to the list of virtual tools we have at our disposal. Collaboration Strategies in Action Your Role as a Facilitator It’s important for you to think about the role you will play as the facilitator. It is a crucial job, one that can greatly determine the success of your virtual workshop. But don’t worry – I have some collaboration strategies for you that will help you shine in your role in this virtual reality we’ve found ourselves in. As a facilitator you must allow creativity to flow while maintaining the structure of the workshop. There are two aspects that you must keep in mind as you prepare for your workshop: Firstly, since you have to guide the workshop you must fully understand and convey to your audience that the purpose of the workshop is to dive deeper into the problem or topic that the workshop will be addressing, and it’s okay for participants to not have a high-level understanding of the topic. As the facilitator, it’s more important to answer questions and help everyone come out of the workshop with a better understanding of the topic and unveil the root of the problem being addressed. Secondly, you have to empathize with the people working with you. When I prepare my workshops I try to keep in mind that my team members are also nervous about taking on a remote collaborative process and will need me to keep them motivated and engaged through the process, as well as guide them on working with the virtual tools being used. Rules Give Your Collaboration Structure Even before the workshop starts you can connect with your virtual collaborative team by sending them an intro board that has the names of team members and the other details such as the mission and aim of the workshop. You can also include tips and shortcuts in this intro board, especially for those who are not familiar with the tools of a virtual workshop. This ensures you don’t waste time in the actual workshop trying to guide team members. A quick tip to achieve this is to send out a short 5-minute tutorial video that explains, with a practice board, how the tools are to be used. This helps participants get used to the tool that will be used in the workshop beforehand. It would also be helpful for you and your team members if you added the rules of the workshop. Here, I must emphasize on two rules: Stick to the topic, and Respect the time Stricter time management is required in virtual collaboration meetings; focus on these two rules so you don’t lose time or track of the meeting. Another rule that you should have for yourself is to encourage out of the box thinking and let your participants be expressive. Also keep in mind that sometimes there are stretches of silence as team members are thinking or working on something on their own. This can feel awkward for many but it is the facilitator’s responsibility to assure the team members that this silence is normal and not uncomfortable. What can help at this time is a playlist that can uplift the mood of collaborators – it might even help the creativity flow! The most important rule of all is that everyone in the workshop, including you, feels comfortable enough to share their ideas. Socializing is a Key Part of Remote Collaborations Once the rules have been laid out, don’t just jump straight to work. Remember, if your team members are awkward with each other, you won’t be able to foster any innovative thinking. Have some ice-breaking activities that will allow your team members, especially cross-functional ones, to get comfortable with each other. Not only do such sessions help with getting the participants familiarized with each other, but can also be done as a quick warm up exercise on the topic of the workshop before they begin. If your ice-breaker is based on the theme of the workshop, it’ll help get the conversation going. Team members can upload pictures of themselves, and play a game in which each of them writes a truth and a lie on a sticky note and lets the other team members guess which is which. If you really want to kick things off, you can also ask them questions, like giving them four different meal options and letting them choose what they would order by writing it on a sticky note, or ask them their favorite part about the topic to be discussed and asking them why they think so. Socializing done, let’s start the real work! First, set the goals and expected outcomes of your collaboration. This means establishing two points: Why are we here? What are we trying to achieve? Your collaborators should have all the information about the purpose of the workshop and with that, you need to ensure that the outsiders have complete context of the problem they are taking on with you. Once everyone has all the information, let the discussion flow. Remember, you have many virtual tools and features at your disposal so don’t hesitate to use them. Best Practices and Tips For Virtual Collaboration How Can You Improve? An important part of having workshops is receiving constructive feedback. My peers and I find that having a post-workshop survey allows us to identify our strengths and weaknesses. So use a survey to find out how your participants felt about your workshop. In the survey you can ask questions such as: Have you achieved the goals you had before coming to the workshop? What did you think of the time management/activity design? How was the facilitation? You can share the survey at the end of the workshop, when memories are fresh, and give them a few minutes’ time to fill them out. If you want honest feedback, ensure your participants that the surveys are anonymous. Playback Session Now the workshop may be over, but there is still some work left! We suggest you have a playback session. This allows the team to get back together for a second session and review the workshop results. The teams know exactly what work they have produced and if it matched the expectations or hypothesis they had set. You can also decide what the next steps are going to be. A playback session is another interactive way of ensuring that your team members are all on the same page with each other, so it will include a recap session in which you may include short clips or screenshots of the main discussion points of the workshop. A section on synthesis and key findings would allow everyone to discuss the details of the ideas produced in the workshop. Finally, you can organize the ideas into actionable items and then work towards what the next steps can be. The Future of Remote Collaboration The pandemic has forever changed how we work. Whether it is in offices or at schools, work from home will become more frequent, at least in a hybrid capacity if not completely. But the shift to virtual workspaces will continuously demand innovation of better ways to recreate human interactions and make them as comfortable and convenient as possible. With the introduction of 5G, virtual meetings, conferences, seminars, and workshops will run a lot smoother, with less lagging, call dropping, and other connectivity issues. One thing that I’m personally excited about is that many companies are looking into VR processes that will allow you to attend meetings virtually, either as an avatar or hologram. We may feel isolated right now, but technology is growing by leaps and bounds. With holograms and avatars, you could freely interact with new team members from any corner of the globe, and this is just one of the many advancements that prove to us that despite not being physically present at work, we do not have to do without the social elements of collaborating with each other.

Remote Collaboration For Successful Innovation


While my career choices might make me appear biased, I truly believe that few practices will carry as much importance in the future as Service Design. In truth, service design isn’t new. However, as our world moves towards all things digital and finds that transition accelerated by historic and uncontrollable forces – like the pandemic – there has been a keener interest in what exactly service design has to offer. Much like the world had to evolve and transition to digital quite rapidly, so too did the practice of service design adapt and evolve to help architect and orchestrate that transition, or at least, many of the success stories. And seeing how at the heart of service design is incorporating a variety of perspectives, I’ve included a few of my peers’, taken from a virtual talk we shared, to show how service design can improve ever-evolving digital experiences by evolving alongside them. Changes in Service Design An Internal Perspective Service design is all about going out into the world and observing how people interact with services, gathering data and plotting the best course forward. And to address “the elephant in the room,” as Patrick Bach, Director of Service Design at CIBC, put it, research and the way it is conducted has been forced to change significantly. Ethnographic interviews are a great example, notes Patrick, something he and his team would historically conduct in-person, and in some cases even fly across the country for, have all had to shift to virtual. He admits that while many elements do translate well to a Zoom call, getting to the heart of research questions isn’t without its challenges. Virtual poses many obstacles, especially to participatory and activity-based research, while the lack of a traditional conference room setting has forced teams to reimagine how they collaborate and co-create. “One of the ways we’ve adapted is around how we communicate. So it used to be these very physical walkthroughs; we would print things over large sheets of paper and get everyone to walk around, annotate, and reflect. In the virtual world, we’ve been embracing the format of video, so instead of creating a journey map or service blueprint, we’ve been converting those things into something more portable, repeatable, and reusable.” I couldn’t agree more with Patrick, and will come back to this point later. An External Perspective Video does allow for many opportunities for collaboration and connection; however, not everyone is so quick to embrace it. “Let’s take observational research, for example,” says Judy Mellet, Director of Service Design & Strategy at Telus Digital. “We are on a project where we try to observe what happens in an installation process in the home where a customer might be comfortable in some ways letting you into the house and observe them and they see you as perhaps somebody that may be able to support them through that process. They are less wanting to be observed over video, and it’s just a dynamic; they feel like they’re being watched.” Service design beckons professionals to dig deeper for ways to improve, revamp, and evolve how specific processes or activities are carried out. It proposes new and reimagined ways of achieving the same, if not better, results – and it appears organizations and enterprises are ready to embrace. Judy goes on to remark that evidence of this can be seen in how the nature of requests from businesses of service design are evolving. Rather than asking to fix one specific problem, the demands are more transformational, reimagining entire concepts or approaches. And to me, this is the real proof of its value – when applied to transformational initiatives. Growing Appeal of Human-Centred Design An interesting observation is that the pandemic pushed customers and stakeholders into becoming the end-users of a complex and broken system. Suddenly, everyone knew what it was like to be on the wrong end of a bad digital experience. So how do we fix it? The answer is human-centred design, and by putting it at the centre of all transformation projects, we’ll best be able to craft an experience that justifies the systemic journeys and buy-in processes that are becoming the norm of digital life. This has seen the demand for service design increase and, to echo Judy, so too have the project sizes, as organizations realize, in some cases the hard way, that their digital experiences simply weren’t good enough. Communication & Collaboration Adding to Patrick’s point earlier, professionals are now more driven to develop new digital tools to overcome their biggest problems, which couldn’t be more evident than in collaboration and communication. Virtual tools now complement physical walkthroughs otherwise conducted in more tangible ways. For instance, where experience mapping was previously being done on physical walls with location and size limitations, virtual walls are now being used that are more conducive to collaborative research and come with fewer physical restrictions. This is not to say that such virtual activities weren’t in play before the pandemic hit; rather, it’s their prevalence and adoption that have increased. Not only does everyone have to have access to them now, but being a part of such an environment has led to better and more efficient ways for everyone to play their part within an organization. Industry Impact & Opportunities Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals The role that service design can play in healthcare is just now being paid its due attention because workers are faced with challenges and questions unlike ever before. A new scale of awareness is now observed, with individuals partaking in conversations like which vaccines they can get, where they can get them from, and where they currently stand in the process. Such a level of individual engagement has opened up a large window of appreciation for service design principles and how they can be applied to solve all such concerns. Telecommunications & Banking Where driving sales and engagement with customers has always been a priority, sectors like banking and telecommunications were severely impacted as a result of the pandemic. Powerful, yes, but these industries driven by sales and customer engagement saw a massive disruption in their processes. Now, as offices and retail are reopening, we are seeing these industries finding some resistance in going back to the old ways and much value in staying on the course forced upon them. It appears much of the “quick patchwork” intended to tie us over is being revisited, refined, and will likely make an appearance (or at least some facsimile) in whatever the “new normal” turns out to be. Real Estate Another industry is real estate, where historically, physically visiting a property site was vital. Beyond virtual tools and walkthrough technologies, service design thinkers created completely new ways to translate physical interactions into immersive virtual journeys that took the customers from point A to point B via a seamless digital process. Why Service Design? It’s Adaptable & Malleable What makes service design so relevant and effective in today’s global landscape is its multifaceted nature. There are numerous service design methods, principles, and applications that can adapt to any given situation to the degree with which it is required. Rather than offering a single solution to a specific problem, service design takes up a problem-fit approach to really tackle challenges as they come along. It Breeds Innovation & Human-Connection Being applicable to a range of different projects makes service design a huge facilitator for innovation. It drives out-of-the-box thinking because it urges users to think along bigger lines for better solutions. And the value of service design is not going to fade away when and if we “go back to normal.” The new norm will be a different one, and service design has the potential to assist organizations with rethinking the best ways to design this new reality, keeping the people who will be living it at the forefront. Practically speaking, our own service design team comes in at the start of engagements, rethinking how the business is currently serving customers and the quality of the experiences being offered. It’s imperative to translate the context of the customer in such situations, but transferring the same level of empathy across all user testing channels is challenging. In my opinion, the onus is on service designers to augment themselves throughout the end-to-end process so that they can reimagine these experiences and prioritize human-centrism every step of the way. Take Away While I know I am not alone in this opinion, I’m doubtful we’ll ever go back to the way things used to be. Already, hybrid work models are being implemented, businesses are shifting and transforming to digital at an accelerated speed, and the demand for better digital experiences is increasing at an exponential rate. And it’s those reasons why service design is so largely at play now across the globe. It’s also why service design will continue to support the efforts of future-focused businesses in not only improving their digital experiences, but crafting them (and their organizations) in such a way that the interest and journey of all parties involved are best served.

Service Design: Improve and Evolve Experiences

Click to read Luca Maraschi "Scaling micro frontends blog

Develop, test, and deploy pieces of the frontend independently Add, remove, or replace elements of the frontend without rebuilds Build the components of the frontend using different technologies Craft the truly omnichannel experiences customers demand You know why Micro Frontends are so appealing and what challenges they solve; and now, you can learn how to scale them. In this one-hour session, join Luca Maraschi, CTO of mobileLIVE as he shares how to create the elevated customer experiences that are driving revenue for Ikea, Starbucks, HelloFresh and more.

Scaling Micro Frontends: The Why and the How


Toronto, ON – June 7, 2021 – mobileLIVE’s singular purpose to accelerate digital transformation has just gained momentum with the appointment of Luca Maraschi as their new Chief Technology Officer. As CTO, he will be responsible for architecting the technology roadmap for our clients, lending his deep expertise on cloud computing, distributed systems, designing platforms at scale, and for scale to provide a holistic framework for transformation. “Technology is far from being utilized as a real tool to leverage acceleration. In the short term, layering on more and more technology can solve the problems in front of you, but it also weighs you down, causing bigger ones all around you. Suppose your goal is agility, speed, and efficiency? It would be impossible to accomplish this through that approach. First, you need to reassess and reimagine your processes, remove points of friction, and realign your people and perspective for organizational, not just project efficiency.“ LUCA MARASCHI, CTO of mobileLIVE From his time as a Technology Leader advising Fortune 500 companies through their transformation journeys, inspiring hundreds of developers to create the next generation of platforms and products, and his reputation of removing complexity and replacing it with value that is felt by both user and organization as a whole proceeds him. As an active contributor to numerous developer communities and author of several open-source tools, the proof of what he can do is all around him. “I met Luca several years ago and was instantly impressed not only with his technical knowledge but how he utilized his unique experiences to approach challenges with simplicity and efficiency in the forefront,” says Hussain Qureshi, President of mobileLIVE. “When I discovered such alignment between his approach and our own, I knew he was the person to lead our technology teams and drive the transformational efforts of our clients.”

Luca Maraschi Named New CTO at mobileLIVE


If you are looking to launch a device in Canada, whether it’s IoT, a tracker, wearable, 5G, mobile – whatever, you’re going to want to have it tested and certified first. And in this 30-minute video, you can learn how having the most common questions answered, including: Where do I start, and should I do it alone? What tools do I need, and what’s the end-to-end process? How long does it take, and what does it cost? What type of certification do I need, and what comes next? And more! The mobileLIVE Device Certification & Testing Lab professionals have been helping Fortune 500 brands and SMBs launch their products in Canada with certification, testing, and team augmentation for more than 10-years. And in this video, they will show you precisely what you need to get your device certified and launched in Canada.

How to Certify IOT, Wearables & Mobile Devices for the Canadian Market


Despite a challenging year felt across the globe, the company maintained its drive, culture, and future vision. Toronto, ON – May 5, 2021 – mobileLIVE is being recognized for its commitment to strategy, culture, innovation, and sustained growth, earning Deloitte’s Canada Best Managed Companies for a fifth, and perhaps, most memorable, year in a row. “The entire world felt the impact of the pandemic, and we were not immune. It was challenging, but being an agile organization by nature with digital in our DNA, we were able to pivot quickly,” said Jahan Ali, CEO and Founder of mobileLIVE. “Good planning, clear and communicated strategy, and a resilient culture helped us respond, not react to events as they unfolded. That is why maintaining this designation is something not only myself, but our entire organization is proud of and will continue to strive for.” Going into its 28th year, Canada’s Best Managed Companies is the country’s leading business awards program, recognizing excellence in Canadian-owned and managed companies with revenues exceeding $25 million. These companies are judge across 4 pillars, including: Strategy & Execution Culture & Commitment Capabilities & Innovation Governance & Financials “This past year has posed numerous challenges for Canadian business and has touched each and everyone in some form or another – including this year’s Best Manage Winners,” said Kari Lockhart, Partner, Deloitte Private and Co-Leader, Canada’s Best Managed Companies program. “They should be extremely proud of this designation and use it as a catalyst to continue the work they do each and every day. Their unwavering commitment to their people, and their adaptability amid a year of turmoil, have led them to this achievement and it mustn’t go unnoticed.“ Each year, several sponsors join Deloitte in celebrating Canadian Business, among which is CIBC. “CIBC is especially proud to celebrate and recognize the winners of Canada’s Best Managed Companies in what has been a very challenging year,” said Dino Medves, Senior Vice President and Head, CIBC Commercial Banking. “The companies had to make tough decisions, adapt quickly to a new environment and most importantly, continue to innovate and invest for the future.” About Canada’s Best Managed Companies Canada’s Best Managed Companies continues to be the mark of excellence for privately held Canadian-owned and managed companies with revenues over $25 million. Every year since the launch of the program in 1993, hundreds of entrepreneurial companies have competed for this designation in a rigorous and independent process that evaluates their management skills and practices. For further information, visit

mobileLIVE Named Canada’s Best Managed Companies for the Fifth Consecutive Year


Replace manual & scripted testing with automation Drastically reduce the cost of running multiple tests Test across multiple machines and interfaces Quickly detect system or product defects Reduce time while improving customer experience This is what the democratized future of QA and Software Testing looks with Model-Based Test Automation, and in this 30-minute video, you’ll discover not only how to accomplish the above, but why you’ll need to if you are still relying on traditional testing methods.

Model-Based Test Automation: Bigger, Better, & Faster QA


Service design has changed, and so have the men and women who practice it. That’s because they’ve had to adapt; they’ve had to evolve in order to overcome Bad Digital Experiences. Fortunately, we’ve assembled some heroes to discuss where this discipline is having the greatest impact on business and the changing needs of the people it serves. Judy‌ ‌Mellet‌‌ ‌-‌ ‌Director,‌ ‌Service‌ ‌Design‌ ‌&‌ ‌Strategy‌ ‌@‌ ‌Telus‌ ‌Digital‌‌ Uzair‌ ‌Sukhera‌‌ -‌ ‌Sr.‌ ‌Director,‌ ‌Product‌ ‌&‌ ‌Design‌ ‌@‌ ‌mobileLIVE‌ Andrea‌ ‌Guertin‌‌ ‌-‌ ‌Vice‌ ‌President,‌ ‌Design‌ ‌Strategy‌ ‌@‌ ‌Bridgeable‌ Patrick‌ ‌Bach‌‌ ‌-‌ ‌Director,‌ ‌Service‌ ‌Design‌ ‌@‌ ‌CIBC‌

Can Service Design Save the Day?!

mobileLIVE donates $100,000 to help Trillium Health Partners

The company is lending its digital expertise to help usher in the future of health care. Mississauga, On (March 11, 2021) – mobileLIVE is gifting Trillium Health Partners (THP) more than $100,000 to help create a new kind of health care for a healthier community. The gift includes $35,000 for the future redevelopment and expansion of Mississauga Hospital and $75,000 worth of professional IT services over the next five years. Increasingly, it has become the responsibility of enterprises to contribute to the reimagining and creation of a better world, and mobileLIVE believes that supporting our health care system and workers is integral to a thriving, resilient community. “There is a growing need in our community, especially among our most vulnerable,” says Jahan Ali, Founder & CEO of mobileLIVE. “Social responsibility is one of our cornerstones since inception, and the last year has only reignited our commitment to meet that need. With THP, in addition to making a financial contribution, we wanted to make a tangible impact by engaging our talented team to support THP with IT services.” THP already has an embedded culture of innovation. This partnership will accelerate and enable the advancing transformation through technology and expertise. “Now is the time to rethink health care and hospitals to create a more complete, equitable, inclusive and efficient system for our community of patients and their families. The opportunity to leverage the expertise of mobileLIVE is a way to accelerate success and we are so grateful for their partnership and support,” says Caroline Riseboro, President & CEO of Trillium Health Partners Foundation.

mobileLIVE donates $100,000 To Trillium Health Partners

Watch webinar on "Connect, Collaborate & Innovate Remotely"

Workshops and team collaboration have always been beneficial: View problems from different perspectives Get to the root of the problem Encourages creative problem solving and innovative thinking Keep teams focused on outcomes Increased accountability and investment Immediate, more tangible and actionable output There fun So how do we replicate all of that living in a predominantly virtual world? You’re about to find out. Learn how to reignite innovation, reconnect with your teams, and get from problem to solution faster, even when working remotely. Created to help enterprises overcome some of the challenges their teams are presently facing, this session will cover. The fundamentals of Remote Collaboration Why it’s critical for teams working remotely The best tools to connect and collaborate Strategies & Best Practices that drive participation The Future of Remote Collaboration And more

Virtual Tools & Strategies For Successful Remote Collaboration


Whether talking about native, mobile web, or hybrid applications and regardless if your project is iOS or Android, Appium is the most popular open-source framework for mobile application testing – and it’s easy to see why. And because of that, we’re going to talk about something else. Everyone knows that Appium is great, but what I’ve noticed is this common knowledge has resulted in more and more people turning to it in blind faith, without fully understanding how to get the results that made it so appealing in the first place. I want to fix that with these: Test using a Cloud Platform Device Selection & Fragmentation Using one script for both OSs Android and iOS If you are looking for efficient and cost-effective mobile automation, these not always followed best practices are critical. Those three best practices are what you have to do. Now, I’ll take you through how and why you should. Test Using a Cloud Platform – A Change in Mindset Most mobile application automation is done using a local setup where you have a mobile device connected to a laptop executing the tests, typically in an office where single or, multiple stations are set up as illustrated below. However, as everyone knows, typical is not what you would use to describe our current reality. And for many if not most predominantly working remotely, a new set of challenges arise: Setting up Appium can be tedious and time-consuming, especially for iOS. Devices cannot be maintained in a lab-style environment from home as devices need to be periodically reset. Loss of network connectivity or downtime within the office cause additional delay and hassle. Reliance on remote viewing of the devices can be slow and inefficient. The limited breadth of testing and coverage due to not being able to test on many different devices using the local machine. Testing bottlenecks – because you can’t execute everything on your laptop. Setting up parallel execution requires effort. And this was just off the top of my head! These challenges aren’t feasible given our current remote work environment. So what do you do? You write your scripts on your laptop and execute them without worrying about setup, bottlenecks, or limited breadth of testing. And to do that, you need cloud-hosted environments like Saucelabs, Experitest, Perfecto and others. Personally, I prefer Saucelabs and Exepritest. Here are a few reasons why: They offer a large cloud for continuous testing with the industry’s most comprehensive coverage for mobile devices. Highly scalable platform for increased parallel execution, decreased execution time, and elimination of bottlenecks. Provides complete transparency on your testing efficiency using videos, screenshots, logs and full analytics to determine where gaps may exist. Using an integrated development platform makes Appium automation even easier by directly executing Appium tests from Eclipse & IntelliJ, using embedded simple editors and detailed views. Offers hybrid support that connects to a local or remote device and uses the device’s reflection for instant visual feedback on device behaviour. Use Object Spy, object repository and XPath identifiers to automate complex scenarios. Modify tests and create a complete, robust automated mobile testing project (Experitest). Advanced automation capabilities to increase coverage. Test advanced use case scenarios such as barcode and check scanning, audio features, GPS simulation, 3rd party applications (Facebook, maps, e-commerce, etc.) TouchID, or customized elements such as sliders, pickers, tables, gestures, and more. While I am not a salesperson, this is usually the part of the conversion where the cost comes up for this setup. Local Setup vs Cloud Platforms Testing for 6 months on 12 real devices Local Setup costs are Device Cost (one time) – $800/device x 12 devices and 2-4 Laptops (2 Mac, 2 Windows) is equal to $12,600 and Cloud-Hosted Devices costs are License cost – $999 for (4 concurrent tests per month) for 6 months and One laptop is equal to $6,700 You can see that the cost for doing six months of testing on 12 real devices using a local setup is double the cloud’s cost. Why would you pay more to make your life more difficult? It’s clear that Appium automation on cloud platforms is the way as we advance. Choosing your devices for testing effectively While the abundance of device options is great for consumers, this fragmentation is a major headache for developers and testers. Currently, we have two main OSs for mobile phones, Android and iOS, which seems simple enough until you account for the different models, makes, and versions – especially for Android. It’s not feasible from a time and resource perspective to test all the combinations. This is why device selection is so critical, and here are some steps to help you narrow down your choices: 1. Visit the following to get the latest mobile phone stats. 2. Get the mobile device market share, e.g for Canada: It means that in Canada 50% of people use Apple and the rest use Android devices. It also tells you which devices are mostly used. From the list, select the top 4 devices. 3. Android OS share. Android(10.0 10) 49.9% Android(9.0 Pie) 21.32% Android(8.0 Oreo) 9.05% Android(7.0 Nougat) 4.96% Android(7.1 Nougat) 3.81% Android(8.1 Oreo) 3.54% 4. IOS share iOS 13.6 34.24% iOS 13.1 26.17% iOS 12.4 9.52% iOS 14.0 8.78% iOS 13.5 5.32% iOS 13.3 3.03% 5. Resolution Share (1920x1080) 11.79% (1366x768) 8.17% (768x624) 6.73% (375x667) 5.91% (414x896) 5.72% (1440x900) 4.45%. Screen Resolution Stats in Canada - September 2020 Based on the information that is available, you can narrow down your list and create the best feasible combination of make, OS, and version. One Script / 2 OSs There are many ways to write efficient test scripts. Most engineers follow page models by default which is a good thing. But how do you create one automation script that will work on both Android and IOS? A properly developed application’s behaviour and logic are usually the same on both Android and IOS. There is no point in doubling the work by duplicating the business logic and developing two scripts, one for Android and one for iOS. Here is how you can tackle the problem at hand. The following screenshot shows an example of a unified Appium test to calculate restaurant bill. For a unified test to work on both Android and iOS, the following must be done. 1. The Appium tests need to instantiate the appropriate driver based on the configuration. 2. Use page factory methods to define elements for both OSs and for each page of the application. The annotations AndroidFindBy and iOSFIndBy will help pick the right element based on what OS the test is running automatically. 3. Create methods to implement the test steps. The following method will click on the button to calculate the tip. 4. Call the page methods from the test class to complete the test case. Take Away The world we live in has changed and the way we work and the way we test has to adapt. The key is to develop and perform testing with efficiency in the forefront, trying to avoid duplicate efforts and unnecessary costs – that is exactly what the above was intended to do. Hopefully, after this, you be more efficient, more effective, and better equipped to perform automated testing of mobile applications in whatever your new setting is and with the highest ROI possible.

3 Things Every Appium Developer Should Do For Mobile App Testing


In response to physical distancing, capacity restrictions, and unpleasant customer experiences, Stand-in is an app designed to regulate the flow of people going inside of a business, so there isn’t a line outside. Toronto: December 3, 2020 – Today, mobileLIVE has officially released Stand-in, an application designed to help businesses and customers navigate the new normal of physical distancing and capacity restrictions. Conceived after an unpleasant experience lined up outside of a big retailer and in anticipation for the cold winter ahead, Stand-in is a line-management system that ensures businesses can safely reach and maintain capacity restrictions inside without causing overcrowding or unsafe lines outside. “Not in my wildest dreams would I imagine having to wait in line to buy fruit at the grocery store, let alone 45 minutes,” says Hussain Qureshi, President of mobileLIVE. “But after that experience, seeing how inefficient and unenjoyable it was despite the increased staff, I knew we had to do something that would help these businesses operate safely. Nobody should be left out in the cold.” Stand-in offers a more comfortable and safer retail experience, focusing on helping businesses that have already suffered many recent hardships. After registering the business and its locations, customers can join a “virtual queue” from anywhere, providing them with their position in the queue and estimated wait time. When it’s their turn, they will be notified in advance and given the fastest route to get to the business. They will be automatically checked-in and out, all while providing real-time foot traffic data of customers to the business. Stand-in is entirely self-serve and requires no expensive hardware other than a smartphone. It can even work if people don’t have the application. Stand-in is free for both businesses and customers and is available now for iOS and Android devices.

Introducing Stand-in


Do you feel that your technology teams are not living up to the expectations for your Digital Transformation? Do you find technology to be a significant bottleneck in the rollout of your next-generation experiences? Does it take months to roll out new features and capabilities from concept to market? Do you believe that your API platforms fuel your business growth or create a hindrance in your vision for future growth? Can your cloud support the immediate demands of the market efficiently and effectively? Have you seen tangible results from your cloud transformation yet? If any of this sounds familiar and you’d rather it be a past problem and not a present one, then you’re in luck. Watch Uzair Sukhera (Director of Design & Innovation) and special guest Luca Marashi (VP of Engineering @ as they discuss how to tackle these challenges and accelerate your digital transformation by simplifying your technology.

How to Simplify Technology & Accelerate Digital Transformation

Watch the Design Systems for better, faster, and cheaper development video

There is undeniable value in a Design System; just look at what we titled this webinar. However, looking again at that title, you may notice something – the word Development. Despite how beloved Design Systems are by Designers, they are not the only recipient of its value. Implementing and benefiting from Design Systems hinges on the heavy lifting from Development teams. And in this webinar, you’ll learn not only how to mitigate challenges but: How Design Systems improve user experience, especially for multi-branded experiences The benefits of developing reusable UI blocks (hint: it’s time, effort and cost) How Design & Dev collaboration improves output & delivery Utilizing a common design language between Design & Dev Effective collaboration between Design, Dev, QA, and more! Quantifying the benefits over conventional development methods Setting & scaling your design system across the organization And more!

Design Systems: Better Development, Faster, and for Less

Watch the Them Switcher demo

Theme Switcher is a Figma Plugin that allows designers to shift between multi-brand themes effortlessly. Intrigued? You should be. By designers, for designers, this plugin improves workflow and reduces the time spent on projects by 25%. Once downloaded, easily: Switch between multiple style sets Sync from Local Styles Apply Colour Themes With no external platform required, and all in less than three clicks. In this short demo video, you’ll discover what Theme Switcher offers; including, how to create naming conventions for brand themes, how to turn those into Local Styles, and more.

Theme Switcher Demo: How designers can use this workflow plugin

Watch the DesignOps discussion video

As an organization, as a team, and even just as a designer, how do you: Create productive & efficient workflows? Find the right talent with the rights skills? Grow & strengthen your design teams? Improve the value and quality of your work? The answer to all of the above is DesignOps. And if you have questions then this webinar and its expert panel will likely answer them all and more.

Demystifying DesignOps: From Theory to Practice

Watch the Design Thinking Delivering Value webinar video

Today’s reality is one of accelerated product lifecycles, competitive pressure on a global scale, rapidly changing technology, and an ever-growing number of market segments all demanding their own unique experiences. That is, until tomorrow, when the demand shifts yet again. So how do you succeed in a world of constant change? In this session, you’ll discover how to: Organize a culture that drives meaningful outcomes Empower your people with autonomy Shift towards Human-Centred Delivery Manage the end-to-end value creation process Centralize services and self-serve platforms And more!

Delivering Value in the Age of Constant Change

Watch the Design Systems webinar recording

Most major brands and product companies have already adopted Design Systems and for a good reason. Good design results from good design practices and few bring as much efficiency, consistency, and organizational value as a well-implemented and utilized Design System. This session was created to give a candid view of Design Systems in action, with a particular focus on small to mid-sized and legacy organizations. Addressing everything from design and developer collaboration to garnering stakeholder buy-in, and spanning the theoretical to the practical, you’ll discover not only the “Who, What, Why, and How” of Design Systems, but also our own unique and straightforward framework for successfully creating one. In this webinar, we answer: What is a Design System, and why you’d want one? How do you successfully build them, and who should be involved? What are their key components? How do you use and maintain one? Open Source vs Design System? And more!

Design Systems: Creation, Application, and Value

Watch the Who Should Own Microservices discussion video

To better understand Microservices, you need the perspective of the developers who create them and the business side that drives them. You need men and women who haven’t just read about them, or work with them in isolation but have had their boots on the ground at a variety of client locations, on dozens and dozens of projects, that span multiple industries and verticals, and have driven successful outcomes. So we gathered those people up and recorded them!

An Open Discussion: “Who should own Microservices?”