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What to do if you fall in love with dynamic data

San Francisco, June 6th, 2018

Founded in 2002, Momentum Design Lab is a digital design agency driven to improve the human relationship with technology by designing and building meaningful connections between companies and their customers.

Momentum has offices in Silicon Valley, New York City, Dubai and London. Its services are based on user experience design and development, including: Research, Product Strategy, Design, and Implementation. The company helps a variety of clients, from start-ups to the Fortune 500.

We interviewed founder David Thomson who says, ‘Our vision is to deliver business value through great design.’

David started out as a graphic designer in the action sports and entertainment industries. By the late 90s he’d shifted away from print and into interactive design using Flash as his prime tool.

I was enamoured with dynamic data platforms”, he confesses and adds “I quickly shifted my focus to designing user experiences for larger enterprise software platforms where the user experience became much less predictable“.

Momentum Design Lab grew out of my career where I was doing consulting for enterprise software and consumer internet companies in the Silicon Valley.”

In a few words, how is the Design Thinking process at Momentum?

Our design thinking process consists of the five stages: empathise, define, ideate, prototype, and test. And then, of course, implement.

Depending on each company’s design thinking maturity and internal resources, we’ll put together a program that that may contain some of the following:
Ethnographic Studies, Competitive Analysis, Focus Groups, User Observation, Usability Testing
Discovery & Strategy Workshops, Empathy Maps, User Personas & Use Case Development, User Stories
Customer Journey Mapping, Service Blueprints, Flow Diagramming, Information Architecture
Wireframe Design Sprints, Visual Design Sprints, Clickable Prototypes
Usability Testing, Multi-variant Testing, Focus Groups

Style Guide. Frontend or full stack development

How do you prioritise ideas from UX brainstorming sessions?

Each situation is unique, however, we’ll use anything from ‘Buy a Feature’, ‘Story Mapping,’ to ‘Affinity Grouping.’

Is your office space designed in a particular way to facilitate the Design Thinking?

We have plenty of whiteboards, foam board and space for the designers to collaborate. We also can adapt to almost any situation with the help of sticky notes.

How do you define the constraints of a project? Is it possible to guaranteed results?

The project constraints typically come from business requirements. It can be budget, time or the target features. We’ve found that general budget guidelines lead to better results.

Product UX design is a combination of research, risk, and implementation. We’ve found that the best products come from multiple design explorations and Iterations that also combine a team of people that can implement the design per specification.

I don’t think anyone can truly guarantee any specific results ahead of doing any research. We can guarantee that we will follow a design thinking based process that will yields ideas and results. Exactly which of these will be is impossible to predict by definition.

How do you learn from users? Do you work with empathy maps?

For the most part, we work on new product design thus we are starting without existing users. The tool we use the most is ethnographic studies to understand their needs best. Often the results end up being used as part of empathy maps and/or user personas.

How do you collaborate with the client?

For larger projects, we typically engage in face-to-face Discovery and Strategy workshops where we collaborate on everything from Personas, User Journeys, Service Blueprints, Empathy Maps, Use Cases, User Stories, Whiteboard Sessions, Workflows, Information Architecture, and Product Roadmap/Strategy.

Throughout the engagement, our team collaborates with our customers on project tasks, requirements, and the deliveries. We use a variety of tools to maximise efficiency (Basecamp, Pivotal, Jira, Slack, Hangouts, GoToMeeting, Invision, etc.).

How do you treat failures?

Failures are the best learning opportunities. But you should also ask how do you define failure. To us, an idea that does not work is not necessarily a failure. It is an iteration, in step in the exploration process that you build upon.

Can you share with us some UX lessons?

Never assume that you know your users. Always do your best to empathise with their needs by removing your biases from the equation.

Are there online publications, professionals, industry leaders you follow?

Jesse James Garrett from Adaptive Path, Marissa Mayer, Jason Fried from 37Signals/Basecamp, Don Norman from Nielsen Norman Group, Alan Cooper from Cooper/DesignIt, and Nir Eyal. I keep close tabs on some of our alumni who are now thought leaders in UX including Stacy La from Clover, Emma Sherwood from Cooper/DesignIt and Pam Jue from BlueOwl.

Thanks David!

By Geny Caloisi.

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