GUEST BLOGGER: Judy Ma is the Creative Director at 3M Health Care, with responsibility for leading and developing the Business Group’s User Experience design function. Prior to joining 3M, Judy led the UX team at Motorola. Judy has overseen the delivery of over 90 products to more than 100 million users worldwide.
In a large org like 3M, what’s your process for taking a “big idea” and executing it across departments?
One of the most important parts in taking “Big Ideas” to “Big Results” is we must start with a meaningful problem. Every new solution development is based on some problem or opportunity, but often those issues – obsolescence, margins, quality – don’t reflect the needs of the customer. At 3M, we apply ecosystem thinking to define the problem. Ecosystem thinking is NOT limited to products and services provided by a company. The users are already part of an ecosystem of information, people, products, services, and channels. We need to design products and services that users will accept into their own ecosystems.
Once we come up with a concrete program definition, then we leverage cross-disciplined and diverse mindsets to solve problems in new ways, crossing business, design, and technology. When “Big Ideas” are targeted at creating disruptive innovation, the level and speed of change are amplified greatly as compared to more traditional operational or incremental change efforts. We develop design solutions and services through Scrum & Design Sprint. Working in this way helps us to respond to the speedy development as well as to maximize the benefits of reducing risks throughout the developmental cycle.
Launching the solution is not the end of the game. Keeping up-to-date with technology, trends are essential to the success of your big idea in today’s world. We use a continuous delivery model which enables us to make changes within our solution at any stage without harming the user experience or hampering the product quality.
I do believe that these approaches are equally valuable and can be applied to all types and sizes of businesses/organizations, not just a large company like 3M. Are you ready to convert your BIG Ideas into BIG Results?
As a Creative Director, what kinds of outputs are you responsible for?
I am responsible for envisioning and executing on the product + service ecosystem for 3M Health Care. I direct a team focused on creating compelling experiences that balance user intent, business needs, and service experiences; lead and develop the user experience design function across 3M Health Care Business Group, playing a strategic role in aligning the roadmap with the market needs. My role also focuses on creating attractive and relevant solutions within the constraints of a complex technical framework and context of multiple stakeholders.
We create medical products that help prevent infection and promote healing…oral care solutions that simplify procedures and improve outcomes…automated intelligence solutions that get the right people the right information right when they need it.
As a key player in a Fortune 500 company, what concepts do you feel like most SMBs are missing? Most don’t have Creative Directors…
SMBs can thrive by taking activities that big businesses aren’t good at. There are many size-advantaged activities that are valuable; for example, big companies having squads of salespeople, massive marketing budgets and loads of leverage at the bargaining table. However, size makes other valuable activities harder, and smart entrepreneurs can drive a wedge into these big-business cracks to create profitable markets for SMBs. Here are a couple of suggestions:
- Knowing your customers better than they do is a key to success. Who is our customer? Love/hate about us? Last time you spoke with a customer? Is your team improving customer experience? Where do you go to learn about your customers? Make sure you get the customer(s) in the room when you review your new ideas. Learn from your customer service team. Do live listen-ins of your call center dialogue - Amazon design team is doing this monthly. Do inexpensive field studies and in person co-creation sessions with customers as often as possible. Unmoderated & moderated remote testing is the fast, easy and budget friendly way to get results in minutes.
- Reinvent your site/solution. Most small businesses don’t have a great online presence, and some don’t have one at all. And without a good site, they’re missing vital sales opportunities. You can reinvent your site/solution by transforming it into an essential part of an experience, and when this happens it is very clear why your target audience chooses your site instead of the competition.
What are the biggest areas of improvement you feel companies are missing in the space?
Today, customers expect complex systems to feel simple, relevant and even magical. They expect software to permeate boundaries between devices – and even the physical world – and to do so gracefully. Big companies are beginning to see UX (User Experience) as a critical corporate asset, not something to outsource to a third-party design firm that could end up working for your competitors the following year. User experience is everything. It always has been, but it’s still undervalued and under-invested in. We need to start to give UX more muscle to ensure that experience design is a serious priority and shapes strategic roadmap/plans.
Let’s be brutally honest. If our customers have an easier time doing business with our competitors, then that’s exactly what they will do.
You have 10 minutes to “audit” someone’s brand…what are you looking at?
I look at these things:
Begin with a great first impression.
- Your first screen should appeal strongly to customers/users. The average attention span of a human plummeted to eight seconds – down from 12 seconds in 2000 – which means goldfish now have a longer attention span (nine seconds) than the typical consumer. If you can’t make an impact in eight seconds, the consumer will move on to the next site.
Highlight the most important parts.
- An effective visual design leads your customers to important information. Your content must be easy to consume.
Think subtract, not add.
- Must be clutter free UI. Most customers don’t want to read or hear lengthy, text-heavy ads.
Respect your customer’s limitation.
- User’s capacity to remember things isn’t foolproof. Your site design should be based on the user’s actual needs and not what they say.