An Objective Consideration of Signatures and Forgery

Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the 3rd Next Bank Asia conference in Singapore. There was a lot of discussion about the future of banking customer experience and the need for simpler banking solutions.

One topic of current interest is the ongoing use of signatures as a form of identity in banking contexts. Brett King, CEO of Moven – a mobile banking startup, proclaims in a blog post that signatures are no longer an effective form of identification.

My PhD research is in cognitive-behavioural forensics  with a focus on signature forgery. We use eye-tracking, handwriting kinematics and questionnaires to gain insight into the signature forgery process. There are a few points about signatures and their portrayal that I believe are worthy of mention.


Signature Forgery Research in Melbourne

It is important to understand just how relevant signatures are today. Try and remember just how many times you have signed something in the last month. Then multiply that by 12 to gauge how many things you have signed in the last year.  Understand that almost entire populations of people are doing the same thing! Signatures are VERY numerous and it’s a misconception to believe that they are fading away. In fact, there currently exists little, to no substantial  evidence that can statistically quantify this ‘dying’ of signatures. Claims about signatures fading appear to be fuelled by instances of medium to large sized companies shifting to other means of verification.


Signatures are considered a behavioural biometric that we rely on for proof of identity. Unlike that of DNA, retinal patterns or finger prints, they are subject to change from day to day. It is this variability that has made signatures such an interesting and unique form of identification.


Because signatures are physically produced and can vary physically, they can also be forged. Evidence from studies have shown there are a few ways in which to improve the difficulty with which your signature can be copied. These include increasing the complexity of your signature by adding more line intersections and turning points, incorporating atypical line directions and angles, preferably making your signature illegible and being physically consistent when you write it! However, properly forging signatures is not as easy as you might believe. There are many established typical tell-tale signs of a forgery, which are difficult for forgers to avoid and relatively easy to detect.

I was having a chat with Louise Long from NAB and she mentioned some work she had been assigned involved checking the signatures produced in the bank (for verification purposes). The process of checking signatures for verification purposes is one that also occurs everyday in places like stores and banks. However, the process of verifying signatures is much more complicated that people assume, particularly without a fundamental understanding of the theory underpinning signatures and their examination. One useful tip is that there tends to be a trade-off between line quality and spatial quality when someone forgers a signature. This means that line tremor (or poor line quality) can therefore be used as an indicator of a forgery. However, this is not always the case, and that’s why signature examination can be such a difficult task!


Line quality difference typical of signature forgeries

It should be noted that only professional signature examiners called forensic document examiners are properly qualified to provide opinions about the proposition that a signature is the process of a forgery, or not. So if your working at a bank or supermarket and are unsure whether two signatures ‘match’, don’t feel bad if its difficult to determine – remember, signatures are usually quite physically variable! This is why when a dispute arises, handwriting experts are usually called upon.

q and s

Often when people talk about signatures, broad statements attempting to explain a magnitude of issues are asserted without consideration of finer points. A distinctions between signatures’ effectiveness as a form of proof of identity and signatures’ convenience as a form of proof of identity (from a user experience point of view) should be made. In addition, the security behind signing verses other forms of verification is again a separate topic.

Without going into too much detail about the reasons why signatures are still so widely used today (such as convenience and technological infrastructure), it could be argued that perhaps signatures will eventually one day be replaced (in most contexts) by more robust biometrics that are not susceptible to variation. All factors considered, signatures are probably still the best forms of identification we currently have access to. If they weren’t, we probably wouldn’t be using them so readily. Although, there are examples of companies and institutions making innovative movements, such as the shift toward the use of pins instead of signatures (e.g. see Commonwealth bank), this is a very minute percentage of signings when considered on a global scale.

It also shouldn’t be overlooked that unlike signatures, pins can be forgotten and pins can also be stolen. So for now, if you’ve ever been worried about the security of your signature, the least you can do is attempt to make it more forge-proof (for more information, see my other post on how to protect your signature against forgery).

For further insight about what the future might hold for signatures, I’d recommend reading Developments in Handwriting and Signature Identification in the Digital Age

Thinking like a designer for 90 minutes

This week I had the fantastic opportunity to think like a designer in the Stanford Virtual Crash Course at Objective Digital. Our consultants, Dave Hayes and Nirish Shakya had recently finished teaching the 12-week UX Design course at General Assembly’s Sydney campus. We hosted the recent graduates of the course help them to put what they learned into practice in 90 minutes! Being the curious psychology student that I am, I decided to pop my head in to see what was happening. Coming from a psychology background and having spent my entire degree practicing scientific principles of experimentation, I was pleasantly surprised by this experience.

What was it all about?

The D-School Virtual Crash Course provided a fun, energetic and fast paced guide to thinking like a designer. The course had a simple objective – to re-design the experience of your partner giving a gift to someone else (your partner being the person sitting next to you).

You get 8 minutes to interview them and find out about their past experience of giving someone a gift, their motivations, desires, likes, dislikes and anything else you could think of that influenced why and how they bought that gift.

“So tell me about the last time you bought someone a gift.”

“So tell me about the last time you bought someone a gift.”

We conducted 2 quick interviews each, the second one to dig deeper to answer more ‘why?’ questions. Then came the chance to think out of the box and think of as many radical solutions we could for their gift giving dilemmas. We then tested our initial concepts by showing them to the user. Based on their feedback, we picked one concept to prototype.

Quickly getting feedback on our prototypes but also having fun

Quickly getting feedback on our prototypes but also having fun

We made real life arts and crafts versions of those prototypes. Did I mention that we only had 4 minutes to do each of these activities? Maybe I didn’t stress it enough, this was FAST!

Rushing to find the appropriate materials. “How do I bring my concept to life??"

Rushing to find the appropriate materials. “How do I bring my concept to life??”

What did I like about it?

I particularly liked how similar designing is to being a psychologist. One of the most important parts of designing for someone is to understand their needs. This means you have to empathise with your user. All of those skills I learned about probing and asking the right questions to get to the core of someone’s problem – the same goes for designing.

I also really enjoyed how the fast pace nature of the course meant that no one in the group was judgmental, knowing that someone only had 4 minutes to re-create your gift giving experience means that your user is not expecting a Picasso masterpiece.

What made it challenging?

I found the very limited time given for the activities difficult. It was really challenging to find out enough information in a 4-minute interview. Also, I am terrible at arts and crafts! Trying to make a model of a prototype within a few minutes was very challenging. However, the limited time forced us to focus on just the critical things and not on every detail.

What did I learn?

I learned how important it is to understand the customer’s needs. It seems that many companies fall into the trap of assuming what their customer wants and what they need. Designers then make solutions for the wrong problem or problems that probably don’t even need to be solved! If only all the stakeholders could do this crash course, they would have first hand experience of why it is important to understand the root cause of customer’s needs and behaviours. Excel spreadsheets and funky charts can only tell you so much. To really understand people and their problems, you need to go talk to them.

Summing it all up

Overall, this was a very rewarding experience. I feel that even though I’m not specifically a designer, learning to understand my user / client is a essential skill for any job I go into. In fact, I think this is something anyone and everyone should try to do. It’s not just about being a designer for 90 minutes; it’s about learning to emphathise with the needs of the people you’re solving problems for. I would encourage anyone from any background to try  the virtual crash course, even if you don’t think you’re creative or know much about designing. I’m not and I don’t, but I can promise it was heaps of fun!

“See the beer represents how food is an essential part of life and giving!"

“See the beer represents how food is an essential part of life and giving!”

Amanda Krulis

photo (1)

 Amanda is a student at UNSW studying a Masters of Organisational Psychology. She is a new intern at Objective Digital and is striving to learn as much as she can about user experience. Amanda also loves spending time outdoors and skiing around the world. 

Takeaway from POPAI Professional Development Breakfast Seminar

On Tuesday (29th November) Objective Digital team had an early start to attend the POPAI Professional Development Breakfast Seminar at Hilton Hotel. Professor Richard Silberstein (CEO Neuro-Insight) captivated the audience in his 30mins presentation about Neural Pathways and the Path to Purchase. While, Yu Dan Shi (APAC Industry Strategy Director, Adobe Marketing Cloud) presented great insights on how to simplify complex marketing touch points.

“Neural Pathways and the Path to Purchase”

Prof Richard shared interesting case studies on how brain-imaging technology is used to measure how our brain responds to advertising. The methodology measured four key areas in brain activity; attention, emotional response, memory encoding and engagement. As people watch an ad, their brain activity shows whether they are drawn to certain images or withdraw and whether certain image are more memorable than others. He also explored the idea of an “iconic trigger” principle which is probably the most relevant principle to marketers. An iconic trigger is selected by measuring implicit memory encoding (i.e. most memorable) and also engagement (i.e. most engaging). A good example of effectively using this principle was by a large insurance company to determine which scenes from their TV ad should be used for their below the line campaign for maximum effect.

As an eye tracking researcher, I can relate to how technology can be a great help to generate consumer insights. Our eye tracking methods are commonly used for usability studies and shopper research to evaluate how users and consumers experience and perceive different media and communication messages. Both eye tracking and brain imaging technology are able to explore unconscious reactions (implicit memories) which reveal insights that traditional research method couldn’t do.

Online dating eye tracking study reveals that men look, women read


Men used up to 65% more of their time viewing the profile’s photo when assessing a match


Women spent nearly 50% more time than men in assessing if someone’s profile is a match

“Simplified the Complexity”

Yu Dan Shi spoke about the latest trends that will impact how marketers should be focusing their approach. These trends are:

  1. Personalized Engagement
  2. Digital Accelerated Evolution
  3. More Complex Customer lifecycle

As the world we live in is getting more and more complex, marketers have less predictability and clarity when it comes to understanding consumer behavior. Traditional marketers need to embrace the digital space while digital savvy marketers need to take a step back and embrace human sciences. Key performance indicators should not be measured between traditional marketing channels vs. digital, as these are no longer relevant if you want to get a holistic view of how your company is performing. Both need to come together and work in a collaborative environment, not compete against one another.


I couldn’t agree more about holistic approach, here in Objective Digital we often work on and recommend omni-channel studies when it comes to marketing campaigns. Our methodology provides a one-stop-shop to measure the online, mobile, and in-store effectiveness. This approach provides rich insights which can uncover the answers to key business questions and help to refine a company’s offering.

Please contact us on info@objectivedigital to learn more.

Objective Digital at the POPAI Professional Women’s Info-Drinks

Yesterday the female team members at Objective Digital joined the POPAI Professional Women’s Info-Drinks at the Hilton Hotel, where Stephanie Tam, State Sales Manager of Lorna Jane, shared the best shopper insights and strategies she picked up during her travel around the world as part of the Westfield’s 2013 Young Retail Study Tour.

Not surprisingly, early on in her presentation, Stephanie pointed out that retail experiences should be all about the customer.

“What makes your brand go round? – 360° retailing” (Stephanie Tam)

This should not come as news to anyone in the industry, however, Stephanie emphasised the fact that she found it difficult to find any retailer in Australia performing as customer experience oriented as she found in the rest of the world.

These were a few of the stand out companies Stephanie found during her trip:

1. Burberry

Burberry in London

Stephanie spoke about her experience in the Burberry flagshipstore in London. When trying on a pair of jeans in the change room, the screen in front of her showed her other items that would go with the jeans. When she selected them the sales person would be waiting outside the change room with those items ready to try on.

2. Warby Parker

Warby Parker in USA

Warby Parker – predominately an online company, opened a physical store to allow people to try on different styles of glasses, take photos, post photos and share it on social media and then place their order. In that store there is no inventory, rather orders are placed online and dispatched from a warehouse. Not only did the company successfully increase traffic to their website, this strategic move led to a huge increase in sales.

3. Kate Spade’s Pop Up Store


Kate Spade in NYC

Taking window shopping to the next level by delivering a “different” experience to the customer, Kate Spade Pop Up window shops display the latest fashion on a touch screen display in front of a nicely decorated window. The customer can choose a product on the screen, which can then be delivered to any address in NYC within one hour. Transaction takes place through an app on the customer’s smart phone.

Other stores follow this same strategy:

4. This is Story


“Story is a retail space that has the point of view of a magazine,

changes like a gallery and sells things like a store”

Located in New York, This is Story provides an experience to their customers that changes every six weeks. This strategy is exciting and lures their customers back into their stores on a regular basis.

In today’s fast paced and changing world, it is important for every company to be up to date and provide experiences that are relevant to customers on a daily basis.  A successful strategy today might be obsolete by tomorrow. Each and every company has to listen to their customers on a regular basis, test their services and products for improvements and change their offerings accordingly.

Last but not least, Stephanie pointed out the importance of ethical values of a company. Customers are after a great (purchasing) experience, however, they also strive for more sustainable values that leaves them with a satisfied feeling after their purchase. “Giving back” as part of their purchase experience is valued highly, and in today’s world a large percentage of customers are willing to stay loyal to a particular brand, evening spending an extra dollar or two to be apart of the larger community effort.

For example, Stephanie named Toms’ “One for One” programme that donates a pair of shoes every time a customer purchases one. Another great example of giving back to the local community is the Nike+ FuelStation Pop-up, located in a park in London. Nike provides a meeting place for runners, a place to hang out and get educated on all things fitness like running routes and eating plans. This space does not sell any Nike gear, but rather provides a sense of community to its customers.

To sum up, Stephanie presented a good case of the importance of considering the customer’s experience in every business strategies and that adapting to the changing environment in today’s world is key to successful operations.

This makes us proud of working in a company that is specialises in just that: Improving the customer experience from a 360 degree perspective – across all touch points!

Danielle Azar and Jasmin Kollinger

UX Australia 2013 Day 2: Top 3 Insights

Here’re the top 3 insights from Day 2 which follow the top 3 insights from Day 1.

Groundhogs in the source code: Navigation as cross-channel sense-making by Andrea Resmini

  1. People create their own meanings in places within physical and digital navigational meshes.
  2. Place is a way to understand the world. Intent and meaning is more important than geometry.
  3. The web is a map that leads to somewhere real.
    Andrea Resmini, Groundhogs in the source code: Navigation as cross-channel sense-making

Andrea Resmini, Groundhogs in the source code: Navigation as cross-channel sense-making

One team, one dream: Practical ways to work better, together by Kelsey Schwenk

  1. Traditional methods (such as personality tests) of categorising people into cubicles is flawed.
  2. The VIEW model developed by the Center for Creative Learning looks at relative scales of problem solving styles instead.
  3. We lie somewhere in the following scales: Internal vs. External, Explorer vs. Developer, Person-oriented vs. Task-oriented.
    Kelsey Schwenk, One team, one dream: Practical ways to work better, together

Kelsey Schwenk, One team, one dream: Practical ways to work better, together

Gesture control: Wave goodbye to your remote control and say hello to the future by Sean Smith

  1. There are 2 types of gesture: pointing and semantic.
  2. A combination of the two is preferred by most.
  3. Use both universally common gestures and customised culture-specific gestures.
    Sean Smith, Gesture control: Wave goodbye to your remote control and say hello to the future

Sean Smith, Gesture control: Wave goodbye to your remote control and say hello to the future

From faith-based to evidence-based design: Design by numbers by Miles Rochford

  1. Design decisions based on just intuition are not going to cut it anymore. We need evidence backed by data.
  2. Data is not about proving yourself right or wrong.
  3. Data is not automatically useful.
Miles Rochford, From faith-based to evidence-based design

Miles Rochford, From faith-based to evidence-based design

Designing surveys to get the responses you want! by Hendrik Müller

  1. 10 steps to designing surveys that get unbiased, valid and reliable data: 1. Decide if the survey is the right method 2. Objectives 3. Sampling 4. Questions 5. Avoiding biases 6. Visual design 7. Evaluation 8. Building 9. Fielding 10. Analysis.
  2. People answer more honestly if the survey is anonymous.
  3. People cannot predict the future. Ask about shortcomings, not wish lists.
Hendrik Müller, Designing surveys to get the responses you want

Hendrik Müller, Designing surveys to get the responses you want

Getting UX done by Ian Fenn

  1. Call it ‘critique’, not ‘design review’.
  2. Have smaller pre-meetings before the big meeting.
Ian Fenn, Getting UX done

Ian Fenn, Getting UX done

Designing meetings to work for design by Kevin Hoffman

  1. To help people hear better, start with divergent thinking followed by convergent thinking.
  2. To help people see better, use graphic facilitation (visual note taking).
  3. To help people do better, present and design ideas collaboratively. For example, for each section on the homepage, collectively answer who needs it and what they will do with it.
Kevin Hoffman, Designing meetings to work for design

Kevin Hoffman, Designing meetings to work for design

Designing services for messy lives by Andy Polaine

  1. Identify crevasses in your product experience and minimise them.
  2. If you don’t design it, someone else will.
  3. People have lives beyond the screen. Try to observe and understand their lives.
Andy Polaine, Designing services for messy lives

Andy Polaine, Designing services for messy lives

Conference recap by Steve Baty

  1. Small details are important.
  2. We are the humanising force. Understand people. Bring them in the design. Work with them.
  3. Lines between digital and physical spaces are getting blurred more and more.

UX Australia 2013 Day 1: Top 3 Insights

Here’s a highly synthesised version of the amazing talks I attended on Day 1 of UX Australia 2013.

Microinteractions: Designing with details by Dan Saffer

  1. Design is not about solving wicked problems.
  2. A microinteraction does one task well.
  3. Product experience is only as good as its smallest experience. Create signature moments!

Microinteractions: Designing with details by Dan Saffer

Our billion-dollar baby: From greed to good by Chris Paton

  1. Gambling can be designed for the good of the world.
  2. Slow down to go faster.
  3. Get a good scrum-master!

Microinteractions: Designing with details by Dan SafferOur billion-dollar baby: From greed to good by Chris Paton

How to run an effective Cultural Probe on your UX project by Matt Morphett and Rob McLellan

  1. Look at the longitudinal view of the user’s day.
  2. Brief all your participants together and look them in the eye while doing it.
  3. Provide an example entry in the diary to encourage expression of honest feelings.

How to run an effective Cultural Probe on your UX project by Matt Morphett and Rob McLellan

Usability and the art of gentle persuasion at Justice by John Murphy and Gavin Hince

  1. Find your REAL audience.
  2. Provide guidance for the lost. Demystify.
  3. Bring lots of “conceptual glue”!

Usability and the art of gentle persuasion at Justice by John Murphy and Gavin Hince

Winning proportions and frictionless navigation by Jon Deragon

  1. Navigation has a lot of baggage.
  2. Disproportionate navigation creates severe frustrations.
  3. Always ask: what have we adopted from the past and how is it applicable?

Winning proportions and frictionless navigation by Jon Deragon

Universal design for touch by Katja Forbes

  1. Sometimes, reinventing the wheel can change the world!
  2. Respect our elders when designing solutions, otherwise they won’t use your product.
  3. In text-to-speech, directive language sounds bossy. E.g. ‘Delete the event’ vs. ‘Deletes the event’

Universal design for touch by Katja Forbes

Two models of design-led innovation by Steve Baty

  1. Insight-led innovation and hypothesis-led innovation
  2. A 1-week rapid iteration includes: hypothesis > sprint > working prototype > test hypothesis.
  3. Use a time-lapse camera at a cafe to watch people. Get insights from their behaviours.

Two models of design-led innovation by Steve Baty

Agile ethnography in New York’s secret public spaces by Chris Holmes

  1. POPS (Privately Owned Public Space) are TOPS!
  2. Agile ethnography = Traditional ethnography + Agile methods. Don’t think too hard. Just f*cking do it!
  3. Everyone in your team is a researcher. Agile = adjust your expectations accordingly.

Agile ethnography in New York’s secret public spaces by Chris Holmes

We’re sponsoring the World Marketing Congress!

The 2013 World Marketing Congress (WMC) is being held at Monash University on 17th – 20th July and we are proud to be Congress Supporters.

The biennial World Marketing Congress attracts hundreds of delegates from around the world. Delegates include many of the world’s leading academics and researchers actively working in the discipline of marketing.

Visit for detailed information on Melbourne, including accommodation, airport transfers, exchange rates, public transport, restaurants and bars, tourism highlights and useful smart phone apps.

Please stop by the lab and check out all of Monash Uni’s eye trackers that we support!

Academy of Marketing Science


Merry Christmas from the OD team!

We had a client Christmas party on Tuesday and the team setup a DIY photo booth in the office. It was a massive hit as you can see below:

We, at Objective Digital, have had a great year, thanks to all the awesome people and organisations we had the opportunity to work with. We’re super-excited about the year ahead and are looking forward to even bigger things. Safe holidays and see you in the new year!


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