Approachability – how companies are warming up the world wide web

The first point of contact we usually have with a company or brand these days is online. If we want to learn more, get in touch, buy products or complain about something we usually turn to the world wide web. A wave of creative and funny additions to websites that really present a non-serious and non-technical way to communicate with users has been catching my attention in recent weeks.

The most important quality that this brings to any company or brand is approachability. When a customer chooses to interact with a company or brand online, there are ways to remove the “barrier” that lies between you and your customers.

For example, check out the way the Dropbox team introduce their staff. They keep it real and funny, in the process display their approachability.



Bankwest do a great job of bringing approachability and fun to the traditionally serious industry of banking. When searching through their ‘About us’ I came across their ‘Happiness experts’ – This was a welcomed surprise


Error 404 pages are another great way to show a more approachable side to your customers. Check this out from


And here Twitter actually put their famous bird in a less than desirable state!


…while Imgur have put this spin on what is an annoying system state for most users:


This one from Hipmunk is one of my favourites. Being the scatterbrain I can sometimes be, I was on the search for flights when my error input became known to me:


I guess the moral of the story is to keep it light. People are social characters. We love to connect, share and feel welcomed. Keeping the technical speak to a minimum and finding the right balance of professionalism and approachability is the key to connecting with people… and it makes things that little bit more fun.

And in the spirit of keeping things light & fun, here is our Principal Consultant Dave, trying out the latest eye tracking glasses…


Got other examples to share? Send them through 🙂


Destination: Bandung, Indonesia

I recently spent 2 weeks in Bandung, Indonesia with a great project team who are extremely interested in pioneering UX in Indonesia and ensuring UX becomes a fundamental part of their processes that is embedded into all their digital products.

Mar 2014 Update: We are now selling eye trackers in Indonesia and have a new Bahasa Indonesia website

Project objectives:

  1. Facilitate the learning and development of the project team in UX strategy and assist with integrating UX into their everyday practices.
  2. Conduct a full-scale UCD project to develop a new travel website for Indonesian domestic travellers.

In order to meet both objectives we ran a number of UX ‘showcases’ and then got workshop participants to conduct the UCD activities for their new travel website. This allowed participants to immediately put into practice what they were learning.

The UX showcases were attended by 15-20 people daily and included the following topics:

  • Introductions to UX and UCD
  • Psychology of users and UX
  • Stakeholder discussions
  • Heuristic reviews
  • Competitor & expert reviews
  • Persona development, user journeys & scenarios
  • Storyboards & key user tasks
  • Information architecture, navigation & card sorting
  • Sketching & wire-framing
  • Prototyping & stop-motion videos
  • Usability testing & hallway testing
  • Eye tracking in Indonesia


The team were very responsive to UX and the methodology being taught, and were eager to get busy. They had us set up in a dedicated “UX War Room” for 2 weeks which quickly became full of posters, post-it notes and lots of activity!



Image           – For more on the stop-motion activity, see my previous blog  (make sure you check out the Youtube links to the finished products from the stop-motion workshop – amazing stuff!)

Project outcomes:

  1. We were able to successfully assist the team with applying the knowledge and theories learned in the sharing sessions to their new website development.
  2. We were able to use the data gathered during the 2 weeks to build an interactive prototype of the new website in order to provide a ‘proof of concept’ to senior management.
  3. The team is super pumped about UX and this is spreading through the organisation!

Image– Project, support and management teams at our farewell lunch.

Image– Members of our awesome project team!

Visit to the Bandung Digital Valley 

On a side note, we got a chance to visit the ‘Bandung Digital Valley‘ in the Research and Development Building. Check out the photos from this place – so cool!



ImageImage-New friends at the Bandung Digital Valley

I’m looking forward to the Indonesian team visiting us in Sydney in a couple of weeks. They will be here to observe the next phase of this project which will be hallway testing with eye tracking on the interactive prototype. It’s also a chance for us to repay some of the great hospitality shown to us during our stay in Bandung 🙂 Stay tuned for an update.

Get in touch to see how we can help your organisation get excited about UX!


Stop-motion videos from Bandung, Indonesia

I recently spent two weeks working with a great bunch of people in Indonesia who are starting up their own internal UX team. One of the highlights of the time spent there was getting the guys to sketch, wireframe and prototype new designs, and then put together stop-motion footage to show the interactions in these designs.

The objective was to create a protoype for their ‘personas’ to explore, plan and book a trip. The team accepted this challenge and set off to create their experiences.



Check out the awesome results!

The videos really do showcase the impressive talent in the team….a fantastic effort from everyone involved!

Decisions, decisions!

We kicked off our morning with a “whodunit murder mystery” to put into practice the G.R.A.D.E decision making model. 

Nirish walked us through the decision-making process by highlighting the steps we go through on a day-to-day basis without conscious awareness we are doing so.

So what is the G.R.A.D.E decision making model?

GRADE model

As a team, we were required to go through the evidence from a Cluedo-style crime scene and decide who was responsible for “Bob’s” demise. We followed the G.R.A.D.E model to gather all the information, review the evidence, analyse what we had gathered, decide on our perpetrator and evaluate if we had come to the right decision.

Some of the key take-aways from this exercise:

1. Digressing from the intended plan & jumping to conclusions is very easy.

When working together to gather evidence, we often found that we were already straying into the analysis phase by trying to string aspects together to come up with a theory. We had to remind ourselves to take a step back and gather ALL the evidence before trying to piece the puzzle together.

2. Emotions get in the way

It was hard not to let our emotions get in the way. We devised all sorts of conpsiracies and theories about who killed Bob (we did let our imaginations run a little wild). However by constantly referring to the G.R.A.D.E model we were able to reposition our investigations to consider information and evidence alone! While intuition plays an important role, it is very easy to let our past experiences, biases and judgements affect and shape our perceptions. This was a great exercise in “objective” decision making.

3. We are all susceptible to confirmation bias

A phenomenon known as confirmation bias refers to the tendency for people to focus on information that helps them confirm what they already believe to be the truth. We had to be careful that we didn’t exclude or undervalue the relevance of other bits of information that didn’t necessarily ‘fit’ into our theory. This is why the ‘gather’ phase was important. We were able to go back and re-review up all the bits and peices we had gathered at the start of the exercise to ensure we hadn’t overlooked or ignored information. Only then could we be certain that our decision was the most correct one.

3. Beware of over-analysing

We spent quite of bit of time in the “decide” and “evaluate” phases going around in circles. In fact we had uncovered the truth some 20 mins before we called case closed on the whole thing. While analysis is a key part of the process, if we over-analyse we run the risk of ‘analysis paralysis’ – that is so much time is being spent analysing that a decision actually never gets made (or takes too long to get made). Time being a luxury we can’t always afford.

Overall a great group activity! If you would like to learn more about this or get a copy of the crime scene investigation, get in contact with us!

Launch of our new website

We all know that the plumber never gets around to fixing his own leaking taps, the electrician takes months to change their light bulbs and the builders own house never gets quite finished. Well we found ourselves in our own little trap, constantly putting aside our own website to work on yours!

Regardless, finally we are proud to be unveiling our new website!

Our website was created using UX tools and methods (#practice what you preach). We conducted an expert review, competitor review, created personas, did a design studio and self-reflection exercises with our internal stakeholders (us!). We even conducted user testing, asking our clients to provide us feedback during the OD Christmas BBQ.


Check it out – Let us know what you think! And stay tuned for our mobile website!



From Avalon Beach to Palm Beach – Our Christmas Party!

In the spirit of all things Christmas, the gang from OD set off on a road trip to Avalon Beach to start our Christmas party adventure. We met up with the lovely Tina from Beach Fitness who made sure we would be working hard for our lunch – starting with a walk along the headlands from Avalon to Whale Beach.




Couldn’t have asked for nicer weather – here are some shots of the gorgeous views we had along the way.






We stopped at Whale Beach to do some awesome beach activities (no rest for the wicked!). 




Alexis showed us all the true meaning of competition to take out the winner of the flag sprint game! Goooo Alexis!!




Dave had his GoPro cam handy to capture some of the fun. Check it out!



We walked up the hill….



..and down the hill…




…and more walking…




…till we finally made it to the lovely Barrenjoey House for our delicious lunch! 




And no Christmas celebration would be complete without a Secret Santa gift exchange 🙂




All in all, a fantastic day! Thanks to Kylie and James for setting this up for us- we had a blast!

– D

Online shopping – how to get it so wrong

I must say, I’m not a fan of shopping centres during the lead up to Christmas – the fight for parking, the hoards of people, and shops being turned upside down. So bring on the online shopping campaign aptly named ‘Click Frenzy’. I didn’t hear about this until I came home to find my sister waiting there watching the neat little clock countdown to 0 days 0 hours 0 minutes and 0 seconds. Apparently this was an attempt to boost the online retail efforts of the Australian market.


I jumped on the bandwagon with 10 mins to go, registering my details and keeping my credit card handy. Unfortunately that was the end of my frenzy. After numerous attempts to load the Click Frenzy page failed, I resorted to Google to help me track down which retailers were taking part, however each of these websites were also down.

I lost interest and faith about 20 minutes into the frenzy. Even my credit card was disappointed.

Click Frenzy suffered from an almost embarrassingly predictable failure to meet the supply demand. Users were required to register before the event, so surely they could have been more prepared. 

I believe the UX lessons learnt here are obvious – if you are going to create an online experience, be prepared to deliver on your promises. After all, no bricks and mortar storeowner would create hype, tell everyone to rock up at 7pm, and then padlock the doors shut. 



– D

5 things not to do when designing your email unsubscribe experience

Unsubscribing from an email newsletter can feel like a breakup: sometimes it’s messy, other times you can’t wait to see the end of it. The way I see it, when a user wants to unsubscribe from your email newsletter, let them. Any break up is hard to deal with, so don’t make it harder. Don’t give them more ammunition to not like you. In other words, if you make this process difficult or painful, they will have the confirmation they need that their decision to cut ties was the right one. Remember – no one likes the crazy ex!

When creating your unsubscribe process, here are my top 5 not to do:

1. Don’t send a confirmation email to confirm the un-subscription


2. Don’t ask a thousand exit questions


3. Don’t put your customer through hoops


4. Be careful not to kick them out the door


5. Don’t make it impossible for them to leave


Tell us your about your pet peeves when it comes to unsubscribing…, or perhaps what you are doing to make the process less painful (for both parties).