Sponsor Spotlight: Nomensa

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.

About Nomensa

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.

Sponsor Spotlight: IceMobile

Welcome to the next blog in our series of interviews with our fantastic sponsors. We’re grateful all of them for helping us put on UX events in Amsterdam.

About IceMobile

IceMobile believes that they are most able to help retailers built one on one relationships with their consumers at mass scale. They uniquely operate at the magical intersection of design, data and technology to deliver their services and solutions in loyalty and high frequency retail. UX, Strategy, Design and Customer insights are cornerstones of everything that IceMobile does and are crucial to their success.

IceMobile boast an impressive client list that includes KLM, Vodafone, Albert Heijn, Philips, Heineken, Jumbo and ABN Amro.

We spoke with Miika Kossi and Hans Ruitenberg at IceMobile’s Headquarters in Amsterdam. Both Miika and Hans hold the position of Associate Creative Director at IceMobile. Miika has been with the company since 2011 and Hans since 2012.

 

Tell us a little bit about IceMobile

IceMobile is a leading software development company in loyalty and high frequency retail. We develop digital loyalty solutions for retailers around the world, allowing brands to get to know their customers better and forge stronger relationships. Our roots are within the Netherlands, but we’re extending our global presence with satellite offices in Toronto and Hong Kong. One of the great things about IceMobile is the diversity of people we have working here; over 35 different nationalities all contribute to a very vibrant and international company culture!

What role does UX play in your company?

UX as a discipline is at the core of everything we do. Our UX designers are embedded into our scrum teams and there is a constant dialogue between business, design and development. We have a big team of visual designers and interaction designers. We even have our own UX Lab, where we create and conduct all sorts of UX studies.

What are the main UX Challenges you face?

The digital loyalty landscape is getting more complex, with most of our customers building up their data capabilities and dealing with privacy concerns. This is opening a new landscape of opportunities where is important to remain focused on the user needs. As UX designers we push to keep users in control, engaged and proactive.

As we’re working for more clients around the globe, we also have to increase our understanding of different cultures in order to be able to design for them. With most of our people based in Amsterdam this is quite a challenge, but also an opportunity for some valuable “design excursions” 

What are the challenges you envision for the future of UX?

We’re moving more and more towards data informed UX design, creating systems that learn whilst people interact with them. While this is a challenge in itself, we will also have to make sure that technology serves humanity and not the other way around.

Do you have a “dream” customer or project that you’d love to work with?

Whole Foods have a great proposition and would be a very interesting brand to work with. Outside of food retail, Tesla is a company that greatly inspires us. We love working with customers that have the desire, vision and guts to challenge the status quo.

Are you planning to pitch any presentations in the Madness Session? If so what kind of areas will you be focusing on?

At IceMobile we have specific knowledge about UX research, loyalty mechanisms and of course mobile design guidelines. We’ll make sure we bring this knowledge to UXcamp!

What session would you "love" to see presented at UXcamp?

We’re excited about the latest developments in wearables, conversational bots and smart assistants like Amazon Echo and Google Home. It would be very interesting to get more hands-on with designing for these platforms.

What do you hope to get out of sponsoring UXcamp?

We’re always on the lookout for new talent. Besides that, we’re excited to exchange ideas with the UX community and to get inspired!

Thanks to Miika, Hans and IceMobile for their time. They are a company who had the vision and foresight to look at opportunities that Mobile Internet would bring way back in 2002. This vision and forward-thinking persists to this day.  

Their customer-base alone demonstrates that their approach and UX focus is providing a winning formula in the Customer Loyalty space.

Pop by and say hello to IceMobile at UXcamp on September 10th. Rumour has it that they have some tasty swag up for grabs! (But you didn’t hear that from me)

Why present at UXcamp Amsterdam

UXcampAMS would not be possible without our sponsors, and you, the content creators and community. This is your chance to pitch your ideas, views and thoughts and run a session based on a UX topic of your choice. If you are considering running a session, then read on to gain more insight into the day and some tips for presenting.

The opportunity to share your knowledge, vision and perspectives.

Take the opportunity to discuss, explore, validate and build on your ideas with an engaged audience of like-minded professionals. In addition, showcasing your talents can be a great way build up your network, enhance your professional credentials.

What should I talk about?

You’ve probably got loads of ideas for great sessions, but in case you need any inspiration, you may wish to consider the following:

  • Are there UX topics that are not, in your opinion, receiving enough attention?
  • Have you worked on an interesting product or project? What insights can you share?
  • Have you performed some UX research with interesting results? What were they and what did you learn?
  • Are you currently working on a challenging assignment and would like thoughts and ideas from colleagues?
  • Have you recently tried new techniques with great/disastrous/surprising outcomes?
  • Looking for work? Showcase your talents!

What should I expect on the day?

The day starts with the “Madness Session” which is due to begin at around 9:30. During this session we will start by asking anybody who would like to present to fill in a Session card with some basic details on it. Once all sessions cards are complete, you will be invited onto the stage to give a 30 second pitch on your topic. The audience will vote for sessions and we will create the day’s agenda during as the Madness Session progresses, assigning time slots and rooms. Remember, your pitch is your first chance to make an impression, try and inject energy and passion into the delivery to give people a glimpse of what to expect in the session.

We expect to have time and space for up to 30 sessions, spread across six rooms. Each session will last no more than 45 minutes. We would advise that you should plan 30 minutes for the main part of your session and 15 minutes for questions and discussion.

OK, I’m in. What do I do now?

So, you’ve decided that you want to lead a session. Congratulations. You’re Awesome.

Below you’ll find some tips to help you prepare for the day.

Make sure that you have a ticket - The BarCamp format revolves around everyone being a participant. There are no keynote sessions or pre-arranged speakers. There is no agenda before the day itself. The event comes to life on the day itself. So if you’d like to attend and present, make sure that you have a ticket. If you don’t have a ticket already, head on over to our tickets page and grab one. If all the tickets have all been snapped up, please join the waiting list to find out if and when more will become available.

Arrive On Time - As a potential presenter, it’s crucial that you arrive on time to ensure that you are available to complete your session card and pitch in the Madness Session.

Teamwork makes the Dream Work - Leading a session for 45 minutes can be hard work. Why not share the workload? Presentations can be collaborative so if you want to run a session, but would rather have like-minded colleagues or peers to bounce off, then why not team up? Just remember you will all need a ticket!

Pick the Right Format - At UXcamp, it’s up to you how you want to run your session. However, we encourage you to consider the best way to deliver your content. For example:

  • if you are looking for a range of professional opinions and would like to gather feedback, then consider a discussion type format.
  • If you would like to inform and educate on methods, tools and techniques, consider a workshop.
  • If you have a story to tell, the maybe a presentation is best.

Try and plan your session in a way that maximises the benefit for both you and your audience and gets the plaudits rolling in after the session.

Be Prepared - For the pitch, make sure that you can “sell” your session in 30 seconds. Focus on your core message and think what will appeal to your desired audience.

For the session, pay attention to the structure. Ensure it has a good introduction, some key learning points and a natural end point. Define a couple of key take aways and make sure that you wrap up with these.

You don’t have to have all the answers - UXcamp thrives on variety. We welcome presentations, workshops and discussions on all manner of UX related topics. Sessions do not have to be one presenter sharing ideas and opinions. If you have a loose topic that you would like to explore, garner opinion on or work through with peers, then why not pitch a discussion session?

Be open to new ideas and perspectives - The great thing about assembling so many talented and smart individuals in one place is that we can all learn from each other. Whether leading a session or attending a session, there will be plenty of “light bulb” moments and opportunities to build on, discuss and explore these further. Embrace it!

Bring what you Need - If you will be presenting slides, then please make sure you bring your laptop and presentation with you. Meeting spaces will be equipped with either a TV or projector. A number of the spaces also have large whiteboards. If you need any additional materials such as Post it Notes or Flip Charts, please bring these with you.

Don’t let language be a barrier - UXcampAMS has attendees coming from across Europe and beyond. Therefore, sessions should be held in English. That being said, the majority of attendees are not native English speakers, so don’t worry about delivering sessions in the “Queen’s English”. We’re UX’ers, not Oxford English majors!

Shameless Self Promotion - If you are planning to run a session, let the world know. Use Social Media to notify your followers and contacts. Maybe they’d like to come along too! Don’t forget to use the hashtag #UXcampAMS16. This helps build anticipation to the event, gives attendees an early insight into some of the sessions…….and it also makes it difficult for you to back out at the last minute

A final note

Very few of us are natural public speakers. Presenting can be daunting. If you’d like to present, but are thinking that nerves may get the better of you, just remember that you’ll be among like minded people who attend sessions because they are interested in the topics presented and are keen to listen to the insights of passionate and knowledgeable speakers. Speak with attendees and organisers before the madness session and keep the above tips in mind and you’ll be all set to deliver a killer pitch and session.

Sponsor Spotlight - Adyen

As a non-profit organisation, we rely on the generosity of sponsors to make the event what it is. Our sponsors allow us to put on great events while remaining in the background. We would therefore like to give you a bit more insight into these companies and take you behind the scenes.

In this post we’ll be focusing on this year's venue sponsor, Adyen.

About Adyen

Adyen is a global, omnichannel payment service provider. Founded in 2006, with a wealth of experience in the payment technology sector, Adyen saw the need for innovation and modernisation in an industry running on systems that were old, patched together and with little focus on the customer.

Over the past decade, their success and customer base, which boasts companies such as Spotify, Uber, Facebook and Netflix, shows that they were not alone in understanding the need for a new approach. Adyen currently employs approximately 180 people in Amsterdam with further offices across the globe.

We caught up with Tim Hudson at Adyen’s offices where we were given a sneak peek of this year's venue and chatted to him about Adyen, it’s UX challenges and opportunities and also about UXcamp. Tim has been with Adyen for 3.5 years and holds the position of Experience Architect. He is responsible for the Front-End and Interaction design team at Adyen which currently consists of 12 employees.

Adyen have been around for 10 years now. In “traditional” finance, that’s pretty young but in the booming Fintech space, it could be considered pretty mature. Can you tell us a little bit about Adyen’s journey and challenges along the way?

The company is only 10 years old, I’ve been here for three of those, but the guys who built the payment system have been in and around the payments space a lot longer. They built completely new rails for the payment system and that is the system that we have now. Of course, when the system was created, it started with developers creating functional products. There was little thought for UI or Interface design, it just grew and grew to a functional system. These guys are absolutely brilliant at writing and solving very difficult payment challenges, but UI was not considered. So, six years down the line, we started to introduce UI and became part of the team and that’s quite a hard sell, because there were still people building stuff, making connections to acquirers and building out functionality. We’re actually trying to turn the whole process on its head here, which is a challenge, but we are certainly making progress. We’re adding to our team and are currently recruiting as there is lots of work to do. We have a tremendous amount of functionality that we need to revisit to see what and how we can improve it from a UI perspective.

Can you tell me more about UX challenges that you face within Adyen, both long term and on a day to day basis?

We have some very big customers, but a number of them don’t currently utilise our UI. It’s all API based. One of our challenges is to get them to see the benefits of using our interface. We can provide better insight into data and risks. We are really trying to emphasise and focus on the User Journey and on giving insight into what is happening right now and how we can help through our payment optimization tools.

The data is important and we focus on being clear and succinct. Of course, we want it to look nice and visually pleasing, but first and foremost our focus is on giving insight.

After three years at Adyen, what are your proudest achievements, successes and highlights?

I’m proud of the team that we’ve built. Before I came, there was no design, no branding, little marketing and no consideration for front-end and UX and that was my remit when I started here. It’s always easy to stand and look at where you are and what’s ahead and there is a huge amount to do. But when I take the time to look back at what we’ve achieved already, I am very proud of what we’ve done, the changes that we’ve made and the attitude and focus of the team. But it’s still really exciting. We’re still a startup. We like that feel, we’re growing rapidly, there are big challenges and a mountain of work ahead, but it’s all really exciting stuff. We’re changing the payments arena and there are many many challenges such as designing new Point-of-Sale interfaces and new customer journeys - a lot of our merchants are really keen to partner with us on working out new and future customer journeys. And this is a really really exciting space to be in.

We have been working hard on our Omnichannel offering, whereby with our system, merchants are able to sell online and instore all through one platform all over the world. We can help merchants gather data regarding purchases and give feedback into the customer experience enabling the future improvement of that experience. From a UX perspective there are several aspects, such as how does that play out at the till, in the shop itself, how does it play out for the merchants themselves and how does it play out for the customer. Essentially, how do we give the customer the best experience possible.

So, in addition to all of these challenges, are there any other areas that you would like to explore? If your boss came to you and said “Tim, take 6 months to work on something that excites you in relation to payments”, what would you do?

In addition to the Customer Journey and Omnichannel work, which I find really interesting, I’d definitely like to explore Virtual Reality (VR) more. It’s not big in payments at the moment. We are now familiar with making micro-payments on mobile. VR is a whole new aspect. To make payments invisible is a big challenge. When you’re in VR, you want to act naturally, so if someone says “Do you want to pay for this?” you say “Yes please” and mechanisms should be in place to make that happen. But before we get to that point there is a lot of work to be done, for example on different interfaces. VR is such an exciting medium, we are still looking at traditional ways of doing things in VR, but that is just the process we tend to take to get to the next stage.

This is your second year sponsoring UXcamp Amsterdam. In addition to sponsoring last year, you also ran a session. Can you tell us more about that?

I ran a session based on the challenges that we face here at Adyen. I talked about how and why we made the decisions that we have made. It was nice to see the enthusiasm from the attendees and we had a little bit of fun as well!

Do you have any plans to run a session again this year?

Yes, we are discussing some ideas to pitch in the “Madness Session” and hope that these will be of interest to the attendees and that we get a good amount of votes. I can’t give you specifics. It’s all “Top Secret” at this moment!

Did you attend any sessions last year? Any particular highlights?

I did, I attended a couple. One in particular resonated with me, by Igor Asselbergs. He ran a session on “The secret to colour design”. I found it so relevant that we invited him back here to speak with our team to help with some challenges that we had, particularly with the coloration of charts and graphs that we are working with.

If there was one presentation that you would love to see at this year's UX camp, what would it be?

I’d like to see someone come along and talk about animation in UX, not for the sake of looking pretty, but how this could lead the user to better insight into what the UX is doing. I’m quite interested in that, because then we would also invite them to come and work for Adyen straight after the talk!

I think motion within interface for the sake of clarity and indication is an interesting thing. We don't do a lot with that at the moment and we would love to do more.

What do Adyen as hosts hope to get out of this year’s events?

Well, we’re recruiting so it’s always good to interact with talented people, there will no doubt be sessions that are relevant to us and I’m excited to show Adyen to the community that you have. It was a great experience last year. I’m proud of Adyen and proud of working here and I’m excited to show off the space and invite people to have a look at what we are doing.

What words of advice do you have for fellow sponsors or any companies out there who may be considering sponsoring our event?

Simply invite the UX guys in. They are a good bunch of people, you get to meet talented professionals while getting your name out there as a company that takes UX seriously. It’s good exposure and will be a great day.

 

Thanks to Tim and Adyen for welcoming us in for the chance to spend some time getting to find out more about the company and to see their working environment. Adyen are certainly a very interesting, forward thinking company with great offices and some interesting times ahead. We’re delighted that they have agreed to sponsor us for a second year in a row and look forward to their hospitality on September 10th.