Recently, I conducted this interview with Richard Dalton, Head of Design at Capital One, about his background, his recent work at Capital One, his vision of where their experience design strategy is headed in the coming years, and his upcoming UX STRAT speaking engagement.
Paul: Hi Richard! Thanks for taking the time to talk with me. Can you start by telling UXmatters readers a little about yourself—such as your educational background, professional path, specific areas of focus, and anything else that you think will help them get to know you a little better.
Richard: Hey Paul, I graduated from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, in England, with a degree in Software Engineering just as the World Wide Web was turning into a thing. I am eternally grateful for this synchronicity because I’m not really sure what I would have done otherwise! I was always a terrible coder. I was more interested in the things I could make the systems do rather than in actually creating the systems. After I graduated, I was employee #1 at an Internet design startup—this was in 1994. Soon after that, I co-founded another Internet design firm in the North of England. Then, I moved to the US in 1999, and 18 years and three financial services companies later—Vanguard, then USAA—I now find myself Head of Design at Capital One. Read More
Thanks to the leadership of Scott Cook—formerly Intuit’s CEO and now Chairman of the Board—Intuit has always been a customer-centric company that really listens to its customers. In the company’s early startup days, Cook instituted Intuit’s Follow Me Home program, in which Intuit employees hung out at stores that sold packaged software until a customer bought Quicken, Intuit’s personal-finance software and, then, the company’s flagship product. An Intuit employee asked the customer if he could follow him home to see whether he had any difficulty installing the application. He would then observe the customer as he unpacked and installed the software and note any causes of frustration or confusion.
Through this program, Intuit learned what aspects of their software needed improvement. Cook’s goal was to make it easier for people to balance their checking account using Quicken than with a paper checkbook. By observing their customers, Intuit learned that people were using Quicken to handle bookkeeping for their small businesses, so they created QuickBooks for that market. From the very beginning, Intuit has done user research both to understand how customers are using their current products and to identify customers’ unmet needs, allowing them to introduce new products to the market to satisfy them. Read More
Steve Portigal, a fixture on the design research scene and founder of Portigal Consulting, has written a new book titled Interviewing Users. His book compiles the insights he has gained from decades of conducting ethnographic research into a highly accessible, informative, and thought-provoking guide. I recently had the pleasure of talking with Steve about his book.
Jeff: Thank you for sitting down with me to talk about your book. You’ve been presenting some of the ideas in Interviewing Users at conferences and on your blog for some time now. What was your process for coalescing and curating all of that content into a book?
Steve: It was a pretty interesting process. As you say, writing this book was a chance for me to finally put together all of these things that I had been mulling over, teaching, and writing about for such a long time. Maybe I’d been telling a story in workshops for a while, but I’d never really written it down in full. There were also some things that I’d been glossing over—like “I can’t really explain how this works, it just does.” So, what was exciting in the writing process was to reflect on those thoughts and realize that I could flesh some of these pieces out, now that I was removed from the immediate mode of presenting. Read More