For our 2016 event, we’ve been busy speaking with sponsors to give you more insight into the companies who help us to put on great UX events like UXcamp.
Nomensa create groundbreaking experiences that make a measurable difference to the way people use digital technology live, work and play. They call this ‘Humanising Technology’. A strategic digital design agency founded in 2001, their clients include Liberty Global, Virgin Media, Royal Mail, National Trust, ADP and Atradius.
Nomensa have offices in Bristol, London and Amsterdam where they house 100 of the brightest, most talented minds in the industry who work hard to understand people and the emotional response to design.
The company is no stranger to the Amsterdam UX scene. In April this year, Simon Norris, CEO and founder, gave an incredibly insightful session entitled “Cultivating Digital Mindfulness” to a packed audience at AmsterdamUX's monthly Meetup. In May 2016, Nomensa also contributed to our monthly round-table session, with Katelijn van Lieshout presenting her thoughts on “The State of UX in NL”. Nomensa also sponsor UX-events such as UX Strat Amsterdam which took place in June 2016.
We caught up with Katelijn at Nomensa’s Amsterdam office and talked about Nomensa’s first few months here, their approach, challenges and opportunities, and the impending UXcamp. Having joined Nomensa in January 2016 as Country Manager for the Netherlands, Katelijn has a background in advertising where work on campaigns for customers such as Renault, Nestlé and Randstad saw her focus and attention drawn towards Customer Journeys, UX strategy and Omni-Channel experiences.
Nomensa have been working in Amsterdam for a while now, but now you have a base here. Tell me about the past 8 months. How have they been for you?
It’s been interesting! I’ve been working hard on all the things that setting up a new entity entails - researching the market, looking for opportunities in addition to our existing Dutch clients, and ultimately letting people know we are here. A large part of my role has also focused on getting a feel for general perceptions around UX here in the Netherlands and getting involved with the surrounding UX community. In particular, I’ve led a few UX Round-Table sessions which have been a really nice way of interacting with those already working to provide associated services within the region.
Nomensa already has two key clients here in the Netherlands, Liberty Global and Atradius, both with an international presence. One of the reasons the business set up here was to serve these customers from a local office, therefore, but our aim is also very much to expand on our existing footprint and attract new clients too. We’re also recruiting at the moment, so there is a lot happening as we Nomensa continues to grow at a really fast pace.
You mentioned that you’ve been busy researching the state of UX here in the Netherlands, can you tell us a bit more about your findings. And if you’ve noticed any key differences between the Netherlands and the UK?
I’ve been talking to companies and peers about what they think about UX, how mature UX is in relation to their own set up and that of their clients, and what challenges they are still facing. Doing so has given us a more informed sense of what Nomensa can offer in return, and a feel for exactly how our own service offering can bring fresh approaches to the Dutch market. Initial impressions are that there is a real desire for companies in the Netherlands to take the initiative, and be “the grown-ups”, when it comes to effecting successful UX strategy, but my feeling is that we are not there yet.
Although we are developing at a rapid pace, which in my personal experience links to the Dutch mentality as a whole, it seems some businesses are still struggling to pin down UX. As a nation, we’ve always been forward-thinking, progressive and internationally focused, and Nomensa wants to capitalise on this thinking through the introduction of events such as UXcamp.
Despite this, I don’t believe we are as well-developed in UX strategy as the UK is, and it seems that many businesses still don’t really know what UX is all about. Here it has a tendency to still be associated with issues around interaction design, where Nomensa sees the importance of getting involved in a community and in educating each other about UX on an ongoing basis. From our perspective UX is not design, it’s not research and it is not merely a combination of the two. Effective UX focuses on accessibility, information architecture and aligning stakeholders, with CX acting as a separate, supporting concept focusing on the connection the consumer has with a brand in more depth. Nomensa believes that getting involved in UX communities through UX events such as Interact (London) and Collaborate (Bristol), for example, helps get the message across and we’re planning on hosting the Interact conference in Amsterdam soon.
What other challenges do you see, based on your research?
Successful development of UX is dependent on the realisation that improvement is not achievable as a short term solution, or via a short term project. Typically, research can take half as long as an entire project term itself, and is often largely underestimated in comparison with the subsequent design and implementation process that follows. It is less tangible and it costs money, but it is crucial to the success of any UX initiative. For this reason, Nomensa strives to get a really good sense not only of what is required, but why it is required. People want quick wins but, with a focus on sustainable strategy, we also believe perfect UX needs to be influenced by the business involved, as well as the consumer.
This is still a big step for some companies, however. Digital is still evolving, legacy systems often struggle to support optimal UX and therefore need to be rebuilt, and that can take a long time. This is why we say UX is not about now or the end of the year, it’s about building a corporate strategy designed to accommodate UX developments that are likely to arise weeks, months and years ahead. Successful UX cannot be driven by one department, such as Marketing or IT, but needs to come from the top and flow throughout the company.
What do you feel separates Nomensa from other companies within your field?
Founded in 2001, Nomensa has 15 years of experience working with a broad range of clients within the UX industry. The business has a strong heritage within the field and is experienced in accommodating its services to reflect a relatively new industry which is consistently subjected to ongoing changes and developments. With this in mind, Nomensa believes in a specific way of working and approaches all of its UX projects with the knowledge that everyone working at Nomensa is set up and available to work in the same way. As a company, Nomensa was founded by three people with different, but complementary backgrounds. Our CEO Simon Norris has a strong background in psychology, human experience and technology, while MD Sally Lincoln is highly experienced in design matters and our Director of Accessibility Alastair Campbell’s expertise lies in Information Architecture and Accessibility domains.
This depth of combined expertise is subsequently reflected in everything Nomensa does as an organisation, and all of our teams encompass the attributes of its founders. UX consultants provide strategy work, research and thinking around the customer journey and beyond, whilst our UX designers work on prototyping, high fidelity designs with style guides. Nomensa’s technical developers then work on front and back end development and CMS with support from the client services team. Testing, workshops and getting alignment with stakeholders also heavily dominates our process and is led by our multidisciplinary teams.
Can you give a bit more insight into your current projects in the Netherlands?
Two years ago, the team started work with Liberty Global on several visionary projects, all of which are still a work in progress. As a business, Nomensa is considered and involved as a true partner within this visionary journey. As such, we set up a “UX Inspiration” meeting every quarter, where all countries operating within the internationally focused organisation come together for two days to present work, share news and discuss industry trends. It’s been a really successful initiative that has subsequently fed into company operations far beyond that which are usually initiated at a conventional project level. Far beyond a simple re-brand or re-design, our focus has in turn reached out much more widely to support business operations as a whole.
And you mentioned that you have been busy engaging and getting involved with the UX community. What are your impressions of the Amsterdam community?
Everybody I have had the pleasure to work alongside so far is suitably ambitious when it comes to improving on UX day in day out. Everyone is aware that this is a young community that is yet to mature, and is subsequently keen to share knowledge, expertise and insights. It really is a “community” and this fits in well with what Nomensa as a leading UX strategist is all about. From a personal perspective, coming from the advertising where things can be often be more guarded, it’s nice to meet a lot of great people who are open to sharing.
And, moving on to UXcamp, you attended the event last year, what made you decide to sponsor this year?
We had no hesitation in getting involved in UXCamp this year, especially now that Nomensa itself now has a permanent base in Amsterdam. As an organisation we are really keen to support the UX community, and truly believe that all UX professionals can make a difference. Meetups like AmsterdamUX and events such as UXcamp are great in encouraging people to come together, learn and share in what is a young industry.
Do you have any plans to present or lead a session this year?
We’re still discussing this, as we have a lot of interesting ideas and topics we are currently working on.
And if there was one topic you’d love to see presented at UXcamp, what would that be?
It would likely be something focusing on how to sell UX internally - how to convince finance and senior management to invest in UX, for example. UX is so important and yet I know that a lot of in-house practitioners still struggle with this. Businesses that view UX as ‘just design’ tend to question why research is needed and want to a new design completed as soon as possible, without understanding all that UX really entails. So presentations, ideas and personal experiences regarding how to sell UX internally, and any details on the return on investment that UX initiatives have delivered, would be really interesting.
Thanks to Katelijn and Nomensa for their time. They are a welcome addition to the Amsterdam UX scene. Their approach to UX, knowledge and experience in the UK market as well as their strong and well respected leadership and talented employees give their Dutch operation a great foundation for success. We’re sure that we can learn a thing or two from them and their UK colleagues and look forward to seeing them on September 10th. Be sure to follow them on twitter to stay up to date on events, blog posts and articles.