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UX visits Sears en Puerto Rico

. Elyse

Accompanied by a cross-functional mainland team, I recently visited the highest-grossing Sears store in the world, located in the Plaza Las Americas Mall, in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

It's a spacious, luxury-laden showcase for such items as high-end perfumes and cosmetics and carries several designer clothing lines exclusive to the island, as well as a full complement of furniture for every room of the house.

My visit was both incredibly inspiring and informational--I literally followed the physical flow of merchandise from warehouse to store, which greatly enhanced my understanding of our "virtual" online store on Sears.com. I was impressed by the pride of the PR teams, as well as the instant and overwhelming warmth and kindness they showed us. All in all, a successful and rewarding research expedition!

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The Age of Customer Capitalism

. Dennis Schleicher

Reflections on "The Age of Customer Capitalism" by Roger Martin

A great article on the different kinds of capitalism. 1932 with managerial capitalism, 1976 with shareholder capitalism. And now the third era: customer-driven capitalism which aims to maximize customer satisfaction.

He writes about P&G and J&J being customer focused and doing better than GE and Coca-Cola.

Martin says Drucker had it right "that the primary purpose of a business is to acquire and keep customers."

The biggest implication for user experience professionals when Martin calls for "determining what your customers value and focusing on always pleasing them . . . "

He concludes with "if more companies made customers the top priority, the quality of corporate decision making would improve because thinking about the customer forces you to focus on improving your operations and the products and services you provide, rather than on spinning lines to shareholders."


"The Age of Customer Capitalism" by Roger Martin, Harvard Business Review January-February 2010. It was brought to my attention by Michael Simborg.

See my HAPPY CUSTOMER diagram about the customer experience life-cycle and how it "earns" money for the business.

(A)head of the competition.

. Iga

What is the purpose of an e-commerce header? If God created a header - not corporations - what would it be? What would it look like? What has it been and what will it become?

I have been pondering this topic for about 10 months now, as I have been lucky to work on projects that involved header design, both the functional aspects and visual design. I have to admit, my first attempts were a product of my personal taste and what I thought a header should look like. I guess every designer starts there. But quickly enough, I reached new depths on the subject pondering: what would be an optimal header height, branding, color systems, navigation and other business objectives.

I looked at our competitors’ headers to assess and compare the current state of things. It didn’t take me long to notice header patterns across all major web retailers: they were static, corporate, logos on the left, text links on the upper right with an icon of a shopping cart somewhere in the mix. That was all underlined by a massive color bar with search function and departmental navigation in it. The same fonts, the same visual treatment for tabs, similar colors – nothing really stood out.

Here is my question and problem: if we, as UX designers and business people think of our header as something unique to our audience, if it speaks our brand message, why on earth do all headers look nearly identical? Why do we copy each other? Because it works, or because it works on a acceptable level and it’s safe to stay within a standard?

Shopping tools have changed in the past two years. What influences the purchase now is not what it used to be. We used to rely on promotions and advertising to close the sale, now we have Facebook and consumer reviews. This shift is not evident in our global elements where it is still easier for me to locate a tab for Gifts or a Weekly Circular than to access social shopping tools, or a call to action for Sign in – a gateway to personalization and relevance. A successful retailer needs to focus on consumers, not simply on selling stuff. What pieces of content need to be immediately and globally noticeable to create better action (clicking on links, subscribing, sharing, UGC, etc)? Can those elements respond dynamically to what the user is doing on the site (modes), reflect or adapt to individual voices and content? It is a question of real estate -- a representation of a highly valued area parceled out to different business units vs. architecture -- a dynamic, multi-pane mode reacting to a state of engagement.

I believe our task is to create environments (digital, or augmented) that facilitate and encourage participation, build trust with the consumer, and change gracefully over time while retaining their unique identity. Infusing some personality to the experience doesn’t mean arbitrary design executions. It is about picking the right direction and sticking with it.

Putting a Face to the FED Team

. chris sienkiewicz

Putting a Face to the FED Team

Lately, we’ve been working with a lot of partners all over the globe, and it’s been wonderful to meet these new people. The thing I’ve been struggling with is putting a name (and voice) to a face. All these phone meetings make things less personal, and personal connections are critical to building a successful team.

But what to do? I mean, it’s not like we can fly all over the world for face-to-face one hour meetings. That’s just not happening.

So, what was the answer? Simple, just go and take pictures! So that’s what I did. I took photos of all the developers in the organization, and put together an org chart with each and every one of them on display.

Now it’s simple to put a face to a name (or a picture on the dart board), and our meetings with these partners are just that much better. Whether they are 5000 miles away, or 35 miles away, we know what each other looks like, even if we can’t be there in person. After all, in this social/virtual world, it’s all about building relationships.

So, without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to the Front-End development team that brings you all the sites you’ve grown to love (sears.com, kmart.com, mygofer.com, thegreatindoors.com, etc!!!)

See our smiling faces!


New Chair

. Dennis Schleicher

New furniture just arrived at our State Street Location. Check out Andrew Daniel in the new purple chair.