Creating a User Experience for Everyone

This is a video of a talk I gave at the Interact UX Conference which was held at The British Museum (///orders.behind.tanks) in October 2018.

I have the pleasure of being the Creative Director of what3words and presentations to a specialist audience give me a great opportunity to look at what I do from a different perspective. In this case, User Experience.

For me, the definition of UX is simply everything a company says and does.

But in reality “everything” is incredibly complex to manage, so how do we do it at what3words and what have we learned?

I explain how a 3 word address works, the design decisions that we’ve made in order to make it a global standard, how we work with voice, and show people around the world use the system.

It’s amazing what people can create with a few simple words.

Thanks to Henry and Nomensa for the invitation and for producing this video.

Maintenance vs Innovation
Creativity and maintenance go hand in hand. And in a mature ecosystem as much energy goes to maintenance as goes to creativity.
— Gary Snyder

Calen Cole at Stripe Partners does a neat blog post about the Festival of Maintenance. He quotes Alex so you know it must be good ;)

Definitely worth a read if you’re passionate about innovation.

The Festival as a whole was a provocative and eye-opening experience. It was also a strange experience – after all, Stripe Partners specialises in innovation. We spend our time and effort doing the research, ideation and facilitation that produce innovation that works. Our work is nearly always focused on new offerings, new markets, new consumer groups.

The Festival got me thinking: are maintenance and innovation necessarily antagonistic?
— Calen Cole | Stripe Partners
City Hall Digital Leadership
City Hall has been piloting a digital leadership programme, starting with senior teams, in partnership with @doteveryoneuk
— Theo Blackwell, Chief Digital Officer London City Hall

Alex has been hard at work with DotEveryone and London City Hall on their digital leadership programme. She's having a fantastic time working with people who really care about leading with digital understanding and responsibility. New cohorts start in September 2018.

👏🏼 👏🏼 👏🏼 great work @petite_a who’s leading this programme for us at @doteveryoneuk - building understanding of digital and responsible leadership across the senior team at the GLA - it would be great to see more Mayoral teams do this.
— @CassieRobinson, Strategic Design Director DotEveryone

We can't wait to see how the programme goes from strength to strength.

Female Founders Program at PwC
 Image: Kinga Incze

Image: Kinga Incze

Our very own Alex (fifth from the right) was a coach and speaker at PwC's first Female Founders Programme

Partnering with Blooming Founders, its designed to help startups scale in the B2B space.

It was an excellent day - so much energy, dedication, authenticity and openness. Made my week. So many shared stories and shared ambition.
— Alex Mecklenburg
Innovation obstacles and their simple solutions

Scott Kirsner writes in the Harvard Business Review about a study done for Innovation Leader about the obstacles innovation faces in large businesses. 

On one hand CEO's are happily not to blame, but on the other internal politics, turf wars and a lack of alignment are a monster cited by 55% of the study. 

Three things got my attention in the study and the feelings of the respondents.

Firstly, it was the simple inability of large businesses to react to market changes. Large businesses can lack structures or processes to test or attempt effective action. It means innovation never moves past the knowledge that something needs to be done, or a well-meaning strategic PowerPoint presentation.

...what mechanisms exist to set up collaborations with outside vendors or startups, or run a quick pilot test with a function or business unit? Too many companies wait for the annual strategic off-site to roll around before they address the changing dynamics of their market.
— Harvard Business Review / Scott Kirsner
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Then the need to influence corporate culture and create an inclusive innovation story can't be underestimated. 45% of respondents blamed cultural issues for a lack of innovation which is remarkable for such a poorly defined aspect of our working lives. 

I'd argue that it's a side-effect of positive innovation actions that failed or were dropped too quickly after people invested their reputations or energy into them. Few things reinforce a feeling of inertia more than I-told-you-so disappointment. 

Few things infuse a culture with self-belief better than turning ideas into reality, even if they aren't perfect every time. Start-ups disrupt with action, not perfection. 

Kirsner's final point cuts to the chase and is brilliantly simple, "long-term commitment is essential". 

Corporate cultures reject many new initiatives if people believe they are the flavor-of-the-month. When CEOs and other leaders talk about innovation, they need to make it clear it will be more like a daily exercise regimen — part of the way things are done here, from now on — than a magical incantation that delivers instant results.
— Harvard Business Review / Scott Kirsner
Ten things about digital transformation by 10 Digital Ladies

10 Digital Ladies is a networking group for women working in digital practitioner roles such as product management, strategy, engineering and marketing.

Their panel about digital transformation had some interesting insights about inclusive stories, using digital tools well, and managing an organisation going through changes. 

We live in an age of ever increasing complexity. To help us cope with this rate of change, organisations have looked for simple answers to complex questions – adopting digital technologies, tactics, methodologies and ‘digital ways of working’ as the silver bullets of organisation change.

But over and over again we see digital programmes failing to deliver real, meaningful change. 10 Digital Ladies decided to ask why, and what could be done differently at our meetup “Why it’s time digital grew up: transformation beyond easy answers”.
— by Nina Lovelace and Alexandra Burson

You can read their full article on LinkedIn - click here.


10 Digital Ladies is a networking group for women working in digital practitioner roles such as product management, strategy, engineering and marketing.

They run small, informal ‘support and networking’ meetings in London, where mid to senior level women can discuss issues that relate to their digital career and could help them reach their full potential.