Last week Calum and I went to the EICC for Turing Fest 2017. With a pen and notebook in hand, we took advantage of what the Strategy and Product streams had to offer. You can see how we got on throughout the day on our twitter page.

A Common Thread

We attended the first day of Turing Fest 2017 filled with great conversations covering all things business and technology. A common thread stitched many of the presentations together: the role of UX design in catapulting these businesses forward.

I’ve said before that I often find the term ‘UX’ is passed around rather loosely at times. However, it’s always refreshing to hear people who genuinely follow the methodology talk about their experiences. Gaining insight into how some of these successes have been achieved was an eye-opener – so I’ve highlighted some which really grabbed my attention.

Jane Austin – Moo

Calum and I hit the first talk of the day together. It was a presentation by Jane Austin, Director of Design and UX at Moo, formerly of The Telegraph. Jane expressed how The Telegraph got on-board with the need for User Experience – helping her grow the UX team from the bottom up within 18 months. Spearheading User Experience in the organisations she has been a part of, Jane very much conveyed its underestimated value within them.

Jane Austin

Incorporating Blue Sky thinking, Google Ventures style-design, research bids, and all the way to something they call Testing Tuesday. From their journalists to their readers, they create the best experiences they can. Jane stressed that iterative research and unpacking assumptions has saved a lot of time and money in the project she’s tackled. Both, products of a user-centred design approach. Her aim to make each member of her team a ‘full-stack UX designer’ was particularly interesting! Showing how highly she values that skill-set within teams but also individually.

Nick Marsh – Wonderbly

Wonderbly are a full-stack publishing company creating personalised books for children. Wonderbly’s genius move (in my eyes) is how their story books blend reality with fantasy. Allowing customers to tailor the characters names, gender and look to represent the intended reader. In turn, essentially becoming the co-creator of the product!

The stories exist first online as a software tool – eventually making their way to print once personalised by the customer. Wonderbly basically sell imagination as a product through their iterative approach to writing stories for everybody. A concept which I think brings a whole new slant to user-centred design!

Jeff Gothelf – Author, Lean UX (& UX Guru)

The final talk of the day ended on a note which really struck home in the most novel of ways. Bringing the business model of an agricultural empire, John Deere, into the spotlight. A business model resulting in year-on-year declines in its profits.

The problem is their contracts which forbid anyone other than certified engineers to fix faulty machine software. By law, Jeff explained that their software is protected by an encrypted security layer. In order to get the huge machines up and running again, US farmers have devised an unexpected technique. Purchasing cracked Ukrainian DIY software from the web. The hack comes in at a portion of the price and time it would take waiting on John Deere to arrive has become a no-brainer within the farming industry. As a result, the organisation has been losing millions year-on-year to customers making life easier for themselves.


Although an extraordinary example – the story reiterates the most basic of principles: satisfy your users. Customers are only loyal as long as they want to be. So, keep them wanting and don’t give them reasons to go elsewhere.

My Three Takeaways

1. Iterative research and unpacking assumptions saves time and money, so do it!

2. Make users feel part of your product, it’s important as emotions are strong drivers of change so satisfy them!

3. To master the basics is often overlooked, get them right otherwise your customer will become someone else’s!

Thanks Turing Fest 2017

Finally, I’d just like to reiterate my thanks to all who made the Turing Fest 2017 happen. It was an inspiring day and I’m already looking forward to next year’s event.

The Border Crossing UX Team

Our team of user experience consultants specialise in research, facilitation, strategy, and design. Together, we help clients transform the experiences they deliver.