UX & limited resources

Literature review

Inês Bravo
Apr 25, 2017 · 25 min read


At 2011, Grefé states that “All design is experience design.” Design is a critical ingredient adding value in a multi-cultural world (Grefé, 2011). A multidisciplinary team is mandatory to solve problems, and understanding context is an essential aspect of the designer’s role (Grefé, 2011). Perception is always true in the mind of the perceiver. When creating experiences, the individual involvement and context create a specific experience, different from the above (Hassenzahl, 2010).

Applying Design Thinking methods to an existing business culture is still a challenge but can be done when well framed. Designers working in companies that have a low UX maturity level can still thrive. Thinking the company in a holistic way has more gains, improving innovation and creativity; learning from past experiences, adding to present and future learning push teams to improve methodologies and apply new methods.

Encountering the value for Design Thinking and, ultimately, for User Experience brings companies, that have already their business models well defined, a new look and affect the innovation within the processes.

Design Thinking emerges as a different way when to formulating a business problem where the user point of view is also a condition to achieve the end, added to the technology feasibility and business viability that frames the outcome.

Nonlinear concepts and linear process are not as common inside the organization where “business as usual” empires; traditional business managers deals with non-measurable concepts like Creativity, Design and users behavior.

Applying Design Tinking methodology relays successfully on the way business tend to perceive the discipline as a process and a methodology, instead of a radically shifted way to do business. Understanding the value that designers capabilities built up by direct experience is a real paradigm shift that business can acknowledge.

Articulating the value of design and innovation with a continuing and strengthen customer focus led to, in companies like IBM, Philips, Google and Amazon, a recognition that the discipline is an essential part of the business success. Being Design a fragmented discipline, from an ideal job to making things, design thinking originated within academics that research designers and their discipline.

Collins (2013), explains what is Design Thinking in six adjectives: emergent, intuitive, adductive, reflective and ambiguous. Designers thinking the process is the relation between internal and external process. Like Kimbel (2011) refers, studying the way designers think and work comes back to 1960s.

According to the academic discourse, taking a human-centered approach, alongside with business and technology translates into the concept “Design Thinking”. This can be seen as the same concept of designerly thinking, framed as a buzzword into the business discourse.

Both names, “design thinking” and “designerly thinking” refers to an ongoing design practice. The first one relates to the profession in action; the second term, designerly thinking, refers to the relation between theory and practice from a design perspective, rooted more in the academic discourse. Johansson-Sköldberg, Woodilla and Çetinkaya (2013) opt for many discourses when designerly thinking is not perceived as a weakness but as matured level of the discipline.

Like Raney and Jacoby (2010) state, understanding how designers solve a problem and applying it in a business context can have a significant impact in how tasks and ideas grow. “Design Thinking is a way of finding human needs and creating new solutions using the tools and mindset of design practitioners. (…) A “design thinking” approach means more than just paying attention to aesthetics or developing physical products. Design Thinking is a methodology”. The quote from Kelley and Kelley book, Creative Confidence (2013, p. 47–48), it is clear when states that the human factor, as a point of view, is a condition to achieve the end. The methodology added to the technology feasibility and business viability will frame the solution.

Design thinking can also be narrowed to a toolbox (IDEO, 2009 — UsTwo, 2014). Formulating a deeper understanding of options available, refining ideas, can be perceived as Design Thinking in action; it can be a very uncomfortable place to be for a traditional business manager.

The analytical process to solve problems is a familiar approach that managers deal every day. Reframing this though and taking a new approach to business, as a designer, is a challenge for business managers, but can lead to new ways to grow and sustain a business.

When IDEO’s Tom Kelley explored that business had more to gain with important design than with traditional business consultants, enabling business innovation, exposed the importance and potential of designers (and their work methods) engaging with companies, two ways of thinking were cleared revealed. Design Thinking term was coined by Tim Brown when new methods and approaches could be used as a problem­ solving method when applied to issues outside the traditional design domains.

Managers way of thinking and problem solving is different from designers way based Design Thinking in practice discourse. Brown, when writing to Harvard Business Review (2008, p. 86), about the concept Design Thinking, illustrates the idea by paralysing with Edison’s way of doing innovation with direct observation.


Iterate and develop new ideas that appear along the way it is a designer’s work method. Making space for that approach, browsing, prototyping and recapitulate ideas, learning and modifying, if needed, the original path, is known as a creative process.

Iterate can be done by prototyping generating useful feedback for the team involved in developing an idea. Learn and observe the possible weakness and strength of the idea, and act according to it, is the main goal.

Observe people and their actions is a significant role in the process of Design Thinking. When observing (managers, designers, and all stakeholders) the human-centered design approach echoes the paths to be taken. New approaches arise. The road is not easy, and it is not linear. Shifting the way of thinking, by asking designers and all stakeholders to meet consumers needs and desires instead of filling market gaps, only perceived by competitors analysis, shifts business strategic, increasing new forms of value, otherwise not achievable.

The design process is divided in inspiration, ideation and implementation. The first to label the motivation to proceed with a solution; the second to generate, develop and test solution; the third to deliver the solution to the market.

Being back and forward through this steps it’s the ideal process to solution grew, innovate, and to involve all the stakeholders in the same way — business, technology and people. By passing this stages and using prototypes, business managers are embracing more experiments in the daily routine of their companies that can lead to more innovation. Doing prototyping, it is only expensive and complex if needed.


Ledtka (2014) found that Design Thinking is not just an innovation process, but also a problem-solving process. The involvement with the problem, when using design tools, can bring to light — such as customer journey maps or user testing or interviewing — encourage people to stay more time reframing the opportunity.

The complex paths to finding common ground between the two languages, business, and design, initiated a debate about the value of Design Thinking in the enterprise context. The value, when incremental, it can be explained by organisational conditions and not solely by the merits of the process. A more holistic approach produces intelligent and meaningful solutions.

Assumptions are tested more frequently, and conversations with the real user are the base to decide the value to follow. Spending time to analyse what is the market and what are the people’s needs help frame the solution, leading to more understanding.

Design as an approach, generating ideas in a collaborative work with other disciplines, contribute to the value chain of the business (Gardien and Gilsing, 2013). Design Thinking and Design Doing are synonymous, optimised, and integrated design processes lead to better business performance and return on investments (Raney and Jacoby, 2010).


When applying Design Thinking principles, the mindset to develop and become customer-obsessed help shortening the path to creating a customer-obsessed culture. Design thinking incorporates a core principle: increase empathy for the end user, actively listening to and sharing ideas with customers.

When customer behaviours change faster than organisations deploys new products is a problem. Executing a mentality of continuous testing and learning is hard. Design Thinking principles when putting customers at the core of the process push for a transformation from “inside-out” to “outside-in” (Giron and Hart, 2015).

When, at an organisation, innovation happens because of new technological possibilities, working in the opposite direction to meet user demands, is the opposite of Design Thinking (Giron and Hart, 2015). The intersection of feasibility, viability, and desirability is the goal.


Design Thinking is concerned about “how something may be” rather traditional business models, which have their focus on how something is and must be (Raney and Jacoby, 2010). The assumptions that can be followed and developed, without testing, because that is not time enough, or resources enough, or data enough, or knowledge enough, can narrow the possible perspectives for the outcome.

Thinking outside the box is a challenge, but thinking inside the right constraints at the right moment, it is more demanding with a better outcome for the customers and users. Shifting design from creating eye-pleasing and functional products, design thinking can broader aims, for designers, organising methods and approach. Looking at problems first from the prism of users’ needs.

The discipline could be a source of competitive advantage for a company when using this approach as a point of differentiation from its competitors (Collins, (2014)). However, the lack of clarity and coherence in the practice can, sometimes, lead to the poor implementation of tools, turning the process difficult and ineffective.

The perceived risk of the process and the exploration of failure can also see negative angles. Testing and analysis help the companies achieve a sustained competitive advantage through greater collaboration and better synthesis of data to create more innovative solutions.

Focus on human needs and desires fulfillments, apart from business viability, after delivery the product/service is something to care, improve and to continue. Design Thinking is not a lifesaver, but can help business (Walters, 2011). Discovering new opportunities for business, are not expected to be brought by ideation and creation when having linear business models decision-making.

Top managers fear time spent with divergence phase. This state of mind can be counterargument by Design Thinking process. When tools are used in as a natural form, with a scarcity of assumptions tested brings more constraints that the ones are predicted.

The holistic viewpoints help the organisation to identify new business opportunities and enhance the existing ones. Designers can help at this phase, exploring tools that will help all involved in the process think from the customer point of view, avoiding costs and reducing risk, is recommended.


The design requirement is influenced by a multitude of factors and stakeholders. Like Amanda O’Grady (2015) states, products that build deeper connections with customers are the result of a design process infused with emotion.

Design firm IDEO is famous for fostering Design empathy. Observing real people living their lives, understanding insights and act on it is a challenge for organisations. However, when doing so, profound emotional understanding of people, the creative capacity for innovation is unlocked (Barttarbee et al., 2014).

Empathy can be defined by the ability to understand, to be sensitive, to others person feelings and thoughts. Self-experience is not necessary; it is only mandatory that self-bias be turned off. So, to up level the human-centered design, designers needs to work consciously to understand the others experience. This dimension applies to clients and customers.

As stated by Barttarbee et al. (2014), empathic design involves observation. From that work, a set of data is collected and analysed to uncover people’s unspoken needs (Brown, 2009). Empathy is a powerful force when putting designers in others people’s shoes is done correctly.

Emotion and empathic thinking can be seen as a rival to analytical thinking. Analytical makes judgment independent of emotions, empathic thinking foster trust. (Barttarbee et al., 2014). If people do not set aside their expertise, the act of empathising with others can fail. Different mental models can cause conflicting thoughts. Mental models shape our behaviour; they are representations of real, hypothetical, and imaginary systems (Kahneman, 2011) allowing people to predict interactions and outcomes, based on beliefs, not logic, they are formed past experiences, culture and context (Kahneman, 2011).

If management gets lose touch with customers needs, empathic thinking can help, narrowing the gap. Transforming current situations into better ones, not perfect, can be done by empathic design. Human-centered and empathic design encourage that.


When working in an industry that based assumptions in numbers, it is critical to apply and measure our designers — successes and failures — using a diverse set of data to recognise the bigger picture. Looking from the other side, services are delivered on demand (Bodine and Doberman, 2015), but experiences can be revealed over a period. Distinctive experience is a demand.

How can companies design better experiences? Design strategies around internal capabilities, gaining strength and momentum from their existing culture whenever possible can be a starting point (Bodine and Doberman, 2015). The experience economy is here. Value proposition and gain momentum: sense context; anticipate needs determined by personal experience and analysis of previous patterns; self-adapt itself; respect people applying improvement in quality and less effort. A coherent, shared view of the experience that the organisation wants to delivery to its customers is the starting point.


Daniel Pink (2009) defends that people should look around, the best solution is to research. When left brain activities can easily be outsourced, mechanised, right-brained creative and conceptual kinds of abilities are the differential factor.

Can the work of the researcher be substituted? Can robots do the job of the designer? If the problems that they face have a set of clear rules and a single solution? Maybe. When the rules are deceiving, the solution could not be obvious (Pink, 2009). A solution to a problem here, could not be the same there. The creative process needs the whole brain. Emotions, experience, conscious and unconscious are treated in the system. The process to create, can be identified by daydreaming, ruminating, or otherwise letting the mind wander. Imagination wonders between personal meaning-making, mental simulation, and perspective.

Inside organisations, many organisations are making their decisions based on outdated assumptions (Pink, 2009). When studying about intrinsic motivation, the desire to do things with meaning was the tipping point to set the path for this work. With this in mind, three elements pop up: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. As Pink says, autonomy is the urge to direct my life; mastery to get better and better at this subject; purpose to do it in the service of something larger than ourselves.

Setting up a UX practice in an organisation, two factors must be considered: the education level; the strategic and objective level. All of this depends on people. There should be someone advocating for UX at each level of leadership. User Experience basics requirement is to meet the exact need of the customer (Nielsen — Norman, 2006). Simplicity introduces the joy of use. If organisations are seeking true user experience “there must be a seamless merging of the services of multiple disciplines, including engineering, marketing, graphical and industrial design, and interface design.” (Nielsen — Norman, 2006)

User interface (UI is different from User Experience (UX). It is also crucial to differentiate UX and usability. According to Nielsen (2012), the definition of usability is a quality attribute of the User Interface. How easy to learn, how efficient to use so further. User Interface and User Experience are different disciples, and any single interface does not constrain user’s experience. From an individual level, independent contributors are self-motivated, autonomous, and perfectionist in their attention to detail. From an organisation point of view, the leader needs to have big picture thinking and focus on communication, empowering others. Pete Smart (2015) defends that when the organisation starts to see ‘users’ like ‘people,’ shift from numbers to individuals happens. Considering the needs of many is hard but without understanding the needs of one, is even more difficult.


People tend to think that reality is the truth (Gray, 2015); the obvious, and bubbles are created. On the other hand, other people can construct the same way of thinking, creating a different bubble based on their truth. Rationalisation is easy to do when individual beliefs determine the conclusions. It is self-sealing logic, personal truth. This same exercise can be conducted with the other person, and a bubble with their beliefs will be constructed. With this approach, a problem can be faced when the new idea to be tested clashes with the internal coherence. Rejection is faced. Research design is putting our beliefs aside, along with our safe mode, helping organisations and designers to expand the knowledge outside the current bubble.

Professionals need to find a way to deconstruct personal beliefs and understand other people beliefs — we do not need to agree, but we need to suspend our judgment to be able to comprehend the other; need to understand others ways of thinking. From an organisation point of view, it can find by being exposed to ways of saying what the values are, but professional demonstrate different behaviours. The difference between exposed theory and theory-in-use is real.


Carol Dweck synthesised in the book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success”, (2006) about the power of beliefs, both conscious and unconscious, and what happens when changing one small belief impacts profoundly on people’s lives.

Personality influence the way work is done. A personality with “fixed mindset” is the one assuming that intelligence, character, ability are static, that people born with them. Moreover, consequently, success is the affirmation of that traits. A constant search for success maintains the self-belief of being smart and skilled, avoiding failure by all means. On the other side, the opposition is the “growth mindset”. Looking for constant challenges and faces failure, not as a sign of unintelligence and inability but as a way for growth and for developing existing abilities.

That two mindset shapes the relationship with success, and from an early age, defines people’s behaviour. This applies in the professional and personal context.The consequences of believing that intelligence and personality can be developed rather than being immutable ingrained traits.

Based on Dweck (2006) research, passion for learning is the foundation of the “growth mindset” rather than approval for actions taken. Human qualities can be cultivated when effort and ability are in place. Failing is not the issue, the pursuit of learning is the ground force for growing continuously. The power of passion for thriving during challenging times in their lives are encountered in personalities with “growth mindset.” So, with mindsets can be reprogrammed, behaviour can change. The perception of success changes and the importance of failure also. From Dweck research, it comes obvious that creative minds are growth mindsets because of the resilience and fail-forward perseverance shown. The act of stretching to learn something new. From the negative side, failure is considered that personal potential is not being fulfilled.


In a time where most of web experienced can be classified as a remix of other, where designs happen at a fast pace, where frameworks like Bootstrap or Squarespace can easily build digital experiences in a few hours, what is the role of the designer? How often people learn, unlearn and relearn in the digital age? Constantly.

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn”
- Alvin Toffler

Following Toffler statement, does unlearning be the same that upgrade a learning? No, people need to understand consciously that to under something, they need to change their belief in the previous learning. From a technical point of view, professionals keep learning, unlearning and relearn tools, methods, strategies. When not doing so, stagnation happens. Unlearning is not forgetting, is a conscious act. To forget and stop doing a habit is a deliberate action. Unlearning behaviours can be possible. Using tools like feedback can help understand and reframe the learning.

Looking for the other side, with curiosity, is a mental exercise that can assist in formulating alternative views or options available. We can all cultivate the state of mind of a child, and keep asking “Why?”. Immerse in new realities is looking at the world through someone else’s perception.


A fixed mindset demonstrates interested on feedback reflected directly on ability. A growth mindset, on the other hand, informs and direct action to places to expand existing knowledge and skill, prioritising learning. Mindset is an interpretative process (Dweck, 2006). It is an introspective process, an internal monolog, a judgemental one in a fixed mindset, and on a growth mindset a constant seeking for constructive actions.


An experienced professional understands the importance of context and adapts methods of work in which contexts. It is important not to neglect the Why decisions as How are they be executed. The design process and all process includes the reasons behind the decisions.

Some decisions professional follow are best practice informed; others are guided and shaped by the disposition of context. Criticism and feedback have a crucial role in the design process but with rigor. Reassess all of the assumptions being made, helps determine the root objective of the work, reevaluating circumstances, and maximize the opportunities. Like John Maeda (2015) refers, for times, Design was largely attractiveness bring to products more attractive. At the present, is a way of thinking driven by the desire to understand users needs better.

Like Chimero (2012) states, the best way to describe design is by acting as a bridge between things, situation, people. Designers are connectors; empathy is crucial to building collaboration. Good design is effective, the price and profit of the work represent only part of its value. Design is a mind-set and a set of capabilities and skills. Maeda (2015) defends that requires people to work in a collaborative way. The designer work can be adding value or simply, advice and not design something. Connecting design to the business is culture based. Maeda (2015) defends that culture is hard to create because everyone is busy. Design is about systems thinking.


As Zmijewski (2015) refer, designers use the whole brain, bringing divergent thinking to organisations. Connecting experiences and synthesise new things is the foundation of creative thinking. The designer’s job is to make the complex, simple. To do this job, a commitment to selling ideas internally is mandatory. Overlapping convergent and divergent thinking, synthesising company knowledge added with customer feedback and using the experience to drive decisions.


Each design is a mashup of choices, the sum of innumerable influences. Nothing comes from nowhere, and every idea is built on what came previously. Austin Kleon, the author of “How to Steal like an Artist” (2011), states that the work of others has become part of his work. He can say that every idea is a remix of one or more previous ideas.

Creation requires influence. Designers minds need to be sensible to others, other people, other ideas. The look should be specific, without cognitive bias. Research to embed multiple sets of data, to inform their intuition, their thoughts, their better judgment to deliver a precise solution to the problem in hands. So, if dominant ideas are the copied ones, new ideas evolve from the old ones, new understandings. New media created from old media, copied, transformed and then combine.

Design thinking is not just about products and services, is about the process. Looking through the customer lens has to be ingrained in everything professionals do (Sarrazin-Yeon, 2015). Understanding user requirements are critical to the development of a successful product (Sarrazin-Yeon, 2015).

Spotting a keystone habit is a major advantage. Other habits are linked to this and help the behaviour to tight locks all of other habits. In the book, “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg (2012, the author describes what a keystone habit is, their implications and what is needed to do trying to change and influence habits.

“small changes or habits that people introduce into their routines that unintentionally carry over into other aspects of their lives.”
— Duhigg, 2012

Ingrained patterns in the brain reforms and readjust when habits are treated as opportunities and clues to act on them, aiming a goal. Ingrained patterns in the brain can reform, transforming people and their behaviour. Acquire one of these habits and everything in life can change when keystones habits spark a chain reaction of other good habits, altering an aspect of life, personal and organisations.


If someone can change any one behaviour, it will affect other behaviours (Fogg, 2015). Designers can help by focusing other on developing a better understanding and standardisation of UX practice. The eager to learn and apply the principles is there. Like BJ Fogg explains (2015) ripple effects on life can happen when habits change. Fogg believes that what increases in motivation is the ability. Designers know that behaviours are not a solitude act — habits can potentiate others.

Creating or breaking habits are different things (Fogg, 2015; Duhigg, 2012). An efficient method can create habits, like Tiny Habits (Frogg, 2015), based on Behaviour Model that links behaviour to three things happening together at the same moment: B=MAT (Behaviour = Motivation + Ability + Trigger).

In an organisation, social context can elevate Motivation, boost Ability and be Triggered that leads to an intended to do what already was a behaviour. Behaviour change is a practice that can be enhanced by creating a focus, current habits that can lead to a new behaviour (Fogg, 2015). On the other spectrum, Fogg defends that the use of computers (smartphones) can be efficient changing people’s attitudes or behaviours. The term coined by Fogg in 1996 is “captology” (computers as persuasive technologies = CAPT). Looking to analytical data, captology can apply and understood if designers only focus on known analytics, influence the way of thinking. Captology can be used as tools for solving problems, helping understand and measure what matters to people. Does not say why people do it.


Daniel Kahneman (2011) presents two systems that define how the human brain works: System 1. The one that can not control consciously. Decisions are made with a little-to-no mental effort like in a certain setup or quick decisions following gut or intuition feelings; System 2. The one that people control consciously. The conscious thoughts, the data analysed side, the one that solves problems and takes big decisions. To this system occur, the effort expended is greater and its a slower process than that the used in System 1.

Susan Weinschenk (2015) explains that human prefers System 1 naturally because when used it is faster and takes less effort. Moreover, individuals do not engage with System 2 unless it is necessary, do to cognitive demanding.

When system 2 enters into action
If the solution that we seek is not easy to achieve, individuals tend to source for alternative solutions rather than activate System 2. When defining the product, designers need to test the user experience, and the business model and measure the results. If these actions are not taken, guesswork is the reality.

Walking the journey users have to make, beginning from the time landed on site to the point where the result is achieved. How is the process compared with competing services? Watch five users as they interact with the product.

“Think of it as a room’s air conditioning. We only notice it when it is too hot, too cold, making too much noise, or the unit is dripping on us. Yet, if the air conditioning is perfect, nobody says anything, and we focus, instead, on the task at hand.”
- Jarred Spool (2005)


The shift from designing a user interface that makes easier to use to designing an engaging, relationship-building experience is a substantial transformation of an organization. To do, designers need to (Bryan, 2012):

- Understand the company (UX team needs to become aware of how their designs impact business results; UX strategy is determining out what levers move the needle for the company and connecting UX design decisions to those levels; Draw connections between business priorities and UX design decisions. Company vision can also provide UX design some strategic guidelines );

- Understand the competition (competitive benchmarking and tracking competitors’ UX innovations can bring new perspective insights into important aspect of the field in which the company competes);

- Understand the customer (understanding a company’s customers just customer behavior is shifting dramatically; developing a customer research program that looks at usability and contexts and mechanics of use, through the eyes of customers).

From Susan Weinschenk study (2015), the common UX process that is in the industry: UCD (User Centered Design process); Waterfall UX; Lean UX and Agile UX. To foster collaboration, the design should be baked into the process, well managed and planned, mixing design activities with development delivery phases aligning priorities and schedules (Ratcliffe — McNeill, 2012). When Design is done up-front, designers and developers have a hard time adjusting and adapt the design process, compromising on design quality (Ratcliffe-McNeill, 2012). Collaboration and Iteration cycles are good feet to improve UX. The feedback loop “build — measure — learn” can minimize project risk and teams need to incorporate UX activities to learn and get user feedback, increasing user research (Weinschenk, 2015).

The typical UX Design activities are (Weinschenk, 2015): conceptual model design, information architecture, user interaction design, sketching, wireframing, prototyping. Digital product is never done. The improvements to the problems include working in short iterations and fostering intense collaboration. Design needs to be baked into the process, thought through, planned, and managed (Ratcliffe-McNeill, 2012). Today, design continues to be tightly integrated with delivery but, if it is not the case, it can become a bottleneck since different team priorities and schedules are available.

For Levy (2015), the process of UX Strategy should be started first, before any design or development. The strategy needs to be validated with potential customers. As Levy states (2015), the strategy is to create a plan, understanding the current position and future one, by looking at the big picture.

Peter Morville: user experience honey com


Constant balance time between advocating the value to the stakeholders and improving personal design skill (Buley, 2013). Constant communication is the key to success. Like John Maeda (2015) refers, for times, Design was largely attractiveness bring to products more attractive. At the present, is a way of thinking driven by the desire to understand users needs better. Research is not just about discovering opportunities; is putting the design and team in sync (Hall, 2013). Skipping user research is risky, and implementing assumptions are a risky business. User research allows professional to test them and prevents cognitive bias (Loranger, 2013). Always be testing. Asking user to try to achieve a set of goals, in a moderator tone, can lead to new insights and mistakes spotted, listening to the user.


Analytics to create goals and study the data that comes when analyzing the funnel visualization tool. For visual information to be useful, it must be perceptible, noticeable and meaningful (Kahneman, 2011). Where users entered, passed through and get out of the products is understood precisely when using this method. Goals and funnels are used to look at any aspect of the digital product needed to measure user flow through the website. Goals allow to track site objectives, locate problem where objectives are not met. Conversions and Behavior flows are features that can indicate how users progress along the sales funnel, where they leave and if they come back (Brain, 2015).

Generate and apply insights is a competitive advantage for companies (Fiore, 2013). However, looking to a just big data set of quantitative information can turn to number-driven approach, resulting in depreciation for qualitative data. The strategy should have analytical power and analysis from insights born out of individual observation and reflection, and fostering the qualitative judgment into the organization. Usability testing and user-centered design can be only a part of the job. To create and solidify great user experiences holistic thinking is the strategy to approach (Levy, 2015).


Insights can be fuelled by quantitative and qualitative data. Qualitative research the main point is to uncover the human experiences and market context is provided by quantitative studies (Hall, 2013)

The human-centered point of view is stronger when analytical data cross-validates with emotional insights. “We then embed stories into data and cross-validate emotional insights with numbers to arrive at a stronger, human-centered point of view” (Seemann, 2012). A designer should be responsible for the consistency of experience across all touchpoints. With an approach that combines design, business strategy, and technology, working together to make decisions and keep the customer experience a top-of-mind (Hall, 2013 — Monteiro, 2012).

Organizations should propagate design empathy, embracing their relationships with existing and potential customers. As emphasized by Barttarbee et al. (2014), it is difficult to sustain empathy throughout a corporate culture over time; it is a continuous effort and task. When using empathy to put customers, stakeholders and end-users at the center of the problem-solving equation, this is the foundations of design thinking (Killian et al. 2015). Budgets and key performance indicators often are not aligned with performance on customer metrics; research may be superficial as McKinsey points out (Killian et al. 2015) impacting on the customer. A design-driven company goes beyond understanding what customers want to uncover why they want it. The user’s point of view should be at the table where business decisions are made.

How to assess progress? Organizations measures. The question to face is what to measure and how? Atkins and Cuthbert (2014) defends that an integrative approach is needed: multiple business dimensions balanced. For the authors, the values of qualitative information should be at par with quantitative data (Hall, 2013). Design research methods can also be marketing qualitative assessments. Can include customer comments, focus group, performance reviews, surveys, etc. Information that is measure needs to be relevant linked to business outcomes that matter. Reliable data should be replicable. When a measure is changed, a change in the outcome is conditional (Atkins and Cuthbert, 2014).

When measuring, good judgment is a virtue (Prusak, 2010). With a goal target, identifying both quantitative and qualitative measures is the next step. The quantitative measures will provide trackable metrics (Atkins and Cuthbert, 2014). Qualitative measures assess the inter-relationships and emerging issues.

(reference: Natoli, 2015)

Build in the metrics to support the work. Associating design work with quantifiable results is a plus (Hall, 2013). Building benchmarks and metrics into projects will ensure to designers their work can be justified. Design decisions are reinforced with research data (Zmijewski, 2015). Doing quantitative research based on extensive focus groups can be outperformed by competition adding the amount of time consumed and money for value. Designers notice trends. Heuristic evaluation and small tests can be the only tools need to a product team focused on the ‘wow’ (S. The thinking part of design and UX is most valuable part (Natoli, 2015).

Everyone thinks that can do design (Hall, 2013). When doing and applying progressive design, determining measures can be an excellent way to involve team members in design decisions (Zmijewski, 2015). Fostering a design feedback loop, creates consistency and trust. As stated by Zmijewski (2015), design is a team sport. Designers orchestrate in numerous task, stakeholders and are ultimately responsible for the end product. Understand top-down and bottom-up strategies are mandatory for a real professional. Uncover the sweet spots between what users expect from the product and what the business needs to accomplish to survive and prosper (Natoli, 2015).

Research project

The mindset for professionals who wants to create a better UX practice, with limited resources  —  Industry Research Project, MA Digital Media Management Hyper Island (October 2015 / January 2016)

Inês Bravo

Written by

user experience designer. strategist. visual geek. consultant. digital management. www.inesbravo.com. lisbon lover & world traveller. hyper island alumni.

Research project

The mindset for professionals who wants to create a better UX practice, with limited resources  —  Industry Research Project, MA Digital Media Management Hyper Island (October 2015 / January 2016)