Top 5 projects in Ziraff

For the last four months, I have gradually shut down my company. Ziraff was doing great – 2016 was the best year for the company. But now it is time to end. I would like to thank all the team members, clients and partners for those memorable 4 years of blood, tears and fun. During those years, we did more than 40 projects. Here is my personal top 5 of the projects to remember.

Trends of digital services – 2017 and beyond

Trends of digital services are slow. They are especially slow compared to regular marketing-oriented websites, where every year brings many new design aspects. But still, the digital services have their own long term trends.

The changes happening in 2017 and later will be significant. I’d even say that the current trends will have higher impact on businesses and users than the introduction of smartphones or anything else since the birth of internet itself. These trends work in combination with changes in competition – the next major competitors of the banks, telecoms and utilities are not coming from their own sectors, but from tech industry. Tech companies know how to use the data and how to focus on the customers, so in the long term they will be the best banks, utilities and telecoms. The company that owns the data about user is the long term winner.

The next thing to disrupt – internal work tools of financial sector

The financial sector has had plenty of companies that have tried to “disrupt” the industry. Nobody has truly managed to disrupt so far, but scratching the surface is also good for the industry and customers. What could be the next battlefield to disrupt? Internal tools and processes.

The jump in financial sector has mostly happened on the customer and visual side. Yes, online and mobile banking have improved the efficiency and made a lot of things automatic for the banks (customers themselves do the dirty work now). But, those two aside – most of the banking sector still works internally the same way as in 1985 or 1995.

Banking is actually not alone in being bad in internal processes and programs. It is a problem plaguing most of the large companies. They have the legacy and the legacy is from the ages when IT systems user experience and efficiency were not an issue. It was already efficient to start using computer so it did not matter if it took the customer service 5 or 10 minutes to complete the activity.

Case Study. Redesigning “the right product calculator” for Estonian Energy

Estonian Energy (Eesti Energia in local language) was monopolistic energy producer and retailer in Estonia. It had a long history, almost 100% market share and no urgent need to develop the user experience that would be better than something offered on the rest of the market. All of that changed when

All of that changed when free market started to come closer. Suddenly electricity was not anymore just another utility, but Estonian Energy had to improve its customer service, make itself simple, its products understandable and user experience top of the market.

Responsive or special mobile version of web page?

Quite often a website development request says that the solution should work not only on desktops, but also on tablets and smartphones – i.e. website should be responsive and adapt itself to different screen sizes. The term is popular and responsive is considered a miracle solution that makes it possible not to create a separate mobile-only solution at all.

Yes, in some cases responsive is a good solution – e.g. blogs, many news sites, small websites, mostly information or marketing oriented websites. But – in case of large sites and even more in case of self services responsive is quite bad solution – costly and not making anybody happy.

What is UX?

UX (user experience) is how the user interacts and feels about the service that he/she uses. They way how you use the computer, is UX. The way you open the door, is UX. The way how you cross the road – it is also UX.

Good user experience is when you can cross the road without the need to stop in middle or without the worry if you make it to the other side. Bad user experience is when you have to wait for a long time, then you cross the road with red light and have to stop in the middle to wait for another green. And cars are waiting behind the red that you crossed already a long time ago.

Quite often we do not think if crossing the road or opening the door is a user experience, the same way as we are used to take internet sites, computers or phones as they are. All the things we are used to we tend to take as granted and do not expect any improvements.