Also, here are my talking points with a few links to reference material, in case you are really into this.
Slide 1: Design
Hi, I am Keith Instone and I am a User Experience Consultant, which means that companies hire me to make their technology easier to use, but I actually help them change the way they do design. Today. I’d like to talk about design and how it fits in with what you do every day. First, design is a broad term that means different things in different contexts. I’d like to cover 3 contexts.
First, in the IT world, where we make digital products and services, we use the term “experiences” to describe the big picture of what we design. Design is part of a larger process that includes business strategy and software development, for example. “Interaction designer” is one of the many job titles in this context.
In the physical products world, the world of toothbrushes, toasters and trucks, design is also practiced. “Industrial designer” and “human factors specialist” are job titles in this context. In the built environment, design and architecture and planning go hand-in-hand.
Although these 3 contexts for design have their differences, technology is leading to a convergence. Think of using your smartphone to operate an app that controls the security system, furnace and lights in your house. Designing for the digital, physical and built worlds is becoming a combined design challenge.
Design has always been important to business success, but the rise of Apple has reminded business leaders of its value. There is now data to suggest that design is a driver of global corporate success.
In order for a company to get value from design, however, it has to think of it as more than just making things look pretty. In this simple design maturity model, companies move up the chain from pretty to functional to using design principles to solve business problems. But the most advanced companies use design as a way to think.
Slide 2: Economic Development Audiences to Design For
First, how can design help us most directly? By applying design thinking, design methods and design skills to improve the products, services and experiences for our key audiences.
Here is a list of some of those audiences of our economic development efforts. As I have been learning more about economic development, I try to map what I hear to these audiences and what the goals are for each. Sometimes the audience goals have subtle but important differences. Design details can greatly affect how effective we are in helping each audience accomplish its goals. Also, I have noticed a trend towards thinking of “residents as boss”, which could mean a very different design approach than with other audiences.
Some of the economic development touch points that we can apply design to include web sites for economic development professionals, in person events for business leaders, and marketing campaigns to retain talent. Remember that design is not just making things look pretty: it is creating functionality that works, solving complex problems, and even framing economic development issues.
Slide 3: Improving the Regional Economy
I think that design can also have an impact on the Toledo Region economy.
I have some ideas on how we can raise the design maturity of companies in the region.
For larger corporations, they often have problems with business unit silos that do not collaborate. We can use design to improve how they operate, helping them lower costs, for example.
We can use design to create new products and services here in the region and sell them to the rest of the world.
We can think of design as an industry and develop companies that excel at it. They can both sell their services in the global marketplace but also attract other companies that want to tap into their expertise within the region.
We can also use the concept of design founders – having a designer join a business person and a technologist – as the team that creates a start-up company.
Which of these make the most sense? I do not know. But I do know that to try any of them, we need to build up our regional design community. I have been doing a few small things to develop design talent in the region, but we need to do more. We also need to figure out what “design” means here in the Toledo region. I think our version of design can be different and better than other regions, making it another part of the economic development story for the region.
Whew, obviously, this was hard to fit into 3 slides and 5 minutes. I hope this gives us something to talk about. What do you think? Where does design fit into economic development for the Toledo region?
I did my Design & Economic Development talk at the NORED Ignite session (PDF agenda) and think it went fine. I covered most of my main points, did not babble too much, got a few laughs, and was within 5 seconds of the 5 minute requirement. This is just a start, so time will tell if this was worthwhile.
The best part for me was finding connections with the other talks. The talks were not coordinated ahead of time, but I heard about examples of design being applied and cases where the design community could be supported.
I am “going back to school” this week, to take the Ohio Basic Economic Development Course. To better understand how the economic development world works, I thought I should at least take the beginner course. I have been observing economic development from a distance for about 5 years now, but I need a need a better understanding of how all of the pieces work. Topics on the agenda for the two and a half day course (with a few comments):
Strategic planning (how will it differ from “corporate UX strategic planning”?)
Community development (intersection with planning, focus on financing aspect, perhaps)
Marketing (designing experiences & marketing go well together…or butt heads)
Business retention & expansion (user group: current businesses in region)
Business attraction (user group: potential businesses)
Managing economic development organizations (how to design good “intranet” experiences for ED teams to be effective?)
Small business development
Real estate development and reuse (the physical world, not all digital)
If I would have left out all of the times I said “right” then I might have had enough time on each slide. Hopefully it is not too painful to watch.
As I have looked over the agenda, and reminded myself of some ED & ED connections, here are some of the more “advanced” topics I may pursue after I am done with the “basics”:
Branding / marketing / selling / support: how each layer works in ED (vs. corporate) to help design across the possible silos.
Talent attraction & retention in a model focused on “workforce development”. Does “economic development” actually include these 2 talent aspects, or is it left to someone else (like corporate HR departments)?
Residents as stakeholders in ED efforts. Residents as target audiences (on par with business leaders and site selectors?).
Role of (information) technology in ED #1: How technology changes how ED professionals work (e.g., tools to do their jobs better).
Role of (information) technology in ED #2: How technology is changing the global economy. A few examples: Remote workers and globally distributed companies; software start-ups with a few employees worth more than huge, “traditional” companies; 3-d printers and advanced manufacturing. Thus, how regional economic development strategies need to change in light of the global shifts. One possible example: do not think of IT as another “industry vertical” like manufacturing or solar energy. Instead, think of it as a horizontal enabler of all economic development activity in the region.
A whole section about redesigning government was missing in my IgniteUX talk about how user experience professionals can get involved in economic development. I had limited slides and time and had to cut a lot.
Local government is a crucial player in local economic development. It contributes to the business climate (for corporate facility investors, as one example). It provides incentives for investment. The way regional governments are organized and collaborate has a huge impact on the cost and quality of services, from health care to public transportation to trash pick-up. This makes it a huge factor in quality of life for residents.
The digitalization of government, e-gov, is driving some of the government redesigning efforts. For example, a technology plan (like Chicago’s) will drive a lot of change.
From a high level point of view on redesigning government, I follow my Canadian colleague Jess McMullin and his Centre for Citizen Experience. His recent presentation at a conference in India is a good place to start thinking about how we apply our “customer experience” skills to “citizen experience.”
I have been wanting to solidify some of my thoughts about the relationship between my specialty, user experience, and economic development. So I proposed a 5-minute talk for the Ignite UX Michigan event, and it was accepted. I presented it on October 24th in Ann Arbor. It was a great crowd: kudos to the organizers.
Below are the slides I put together with my speaking notes. It sure is hard to squeeze it all into 20 slides at 15 seconds each, so next time I do something like this, I will get more time.
1. Hi my name is Keith Instone and I am going to talk about economic development. Let’s go!
2. I hope to teach you a little about economic development. And to help you see how your UX work can have an economic impact. We can have an impact on our local economy.
3. First, a little about me. I have been called a human-computer interaction researcher, a usability specialist, information architect, and user experience lead. I have had a fun 24 years in the profession.
4. Over the past few years, I have started a “professional hobby”: hanging out with economic development professionals, talking with them about technology, design, and UX. I am trying to learn how they think and work. I try to help them.
5. I feel obligated to show a 3 circle diagram, like many UX colleagues before me. This talk is about 2 things called ED – Experience Design and Economic Development – but not the third thing often called ED.
6. I am from the Toledo area and have been involved in economic develop efforts there. But I consider Ann Arbor, Detroit and Toledo in the same economic zone. In the big picture, we are in this together, despite the state line.
7. My first foray into economic development was in 2008. Northwest Ohio ED organizations were trying to collaborate and form a Meta-plan. I shared my IBM experience building cross-organizational platforms. And learned about applying UX in a new context.
8. My second foray was helping with the Toledo Region branding initiative. It was fun and educational to be involved in the stakeholder research, observe the branding process, and help a little to translate it all into designs.
9. I believe I have started to make sense of the audiences in this ecosystem. Site selectors, Entrepreneurs, Tourists, Companies, Residents. Quality of life is an important concept.
10. I am starting to see how things relate to each other. How assets like museums and universities contribute to the quality of life, for example. But it is still messy, lots more to learn, especially how each audience thinks and what really motivates them.
11. The internet and social media are now crucial aspects of doing economic development right. Secret handshakes, suits and smoke-filled rooms still matter, of course. But ED folks are starting to invest in digital, which helps them understand the importance of UX.
12. But we can do a lot more than just help design economic development web sites. We can do more than our typical jobs, like help companies market better or reduce frustration with an intranet. UXers can be DRIVERS of economic activity.
13. Get a drink. Catch my breath. Time for 1 question but no time to answer!
14. Examples like the rise of Apple helps people see the economic value of what we do, when good design is baked into a company’s DNA. If you want more good jobs, spawn more Steve Jobs.
15. It’s not just Apple. Amazon, Starbucks and many more are showing that good experiences are good business. We live in an experience economy now. A revolution is happening. Helping companies compete worldwide on customer experience is economic development.
16. It is not just about helping established companies. UX is crucial for startups. A new trend is to have business, tech AND design founders. Venture capitalists are starting to offer design services to companies in their portfolio.
17. Rashmi Sinha of Slidshare is 1 example of a design founder. She started Slideshare in 2006. It grew to over 50 employees & was acquired by LinkedIn for $119 million. I have other UX colleagues who are “job creators” – everyone likes job creators.
18. By far the #1 limitation I hear from people is the need for more UX talent in the area. We need to develop more UX talent, then keep them here. And recruit more UXers to move here. This event, MidwestUX, IUE are good starts, we need to do more.
19. ED is often only about JOBS. But quality of life matters a lot. I have also started hanging out with city, county and urban planners, and architects, who focus on making the place where you have a job worth living in. Tomorrow, I will be at a planning conference, for example.
20. Earlier this week, I was at Midwest UX in Grand Rapids. We talked about how physical spaces and digital space relate to each other. The Internet of Things and other things. I am not the only UXer moving in the “space planning” direction.
21. Time to wrap up. These are the points I was trying to make. We are at a special time in history to make a difference. Not just a design difference, an economic difference. We can help our local companies, or start our own. We can help plan our communities. We can make this region great (again).