Q&Agency: Teehan+Lax

Welcome to Q&Agency! Each week, I talk to agencies small and large and get to hear (in their words) what differentiates them and the experiences they create. To help bring some of that information to you, I'm showcasing an ongoing series of interviews with small to midsize interactive and design agencies. If you'd like to see your agency or an agency you work with here, let me know!

On July 21st (after a hiatus and relocating to California), I talked with Jon Lax, a partner at Teehan+Lax. Edited excerps from that conversation follow.

Forrester: Tell me a little bit about Teehan+Lax?

Jon: We were founded in 2002 in Toronto in the deepest, darkest part of the dotcom bust. Geoff Teehan and I were at Modem Media and they had just decided to get out of the Canadian marketplace and focus more exclusively on the US market. When we were left out of work, we began looking for companies that understood what was going on in the industry at the time and we just couldn’t find any. Some of the former Modem clients and Modem Media in Conneticut were interested in continuing to work with us so we decided to start a company that was an alternative to what we had come from – a large ad agency.

At the time, there were a bunch of people circling around similar ideas. We were inspired by the thinking of Tim O’Reilly, Jason Fried of 37 Signals, and Adaptive Path about what we called user experience. So we decided to start a firm that could define and design customer experiences in the digital channel. Define and design is most important part of that phrase. We’re not technology developers. We don’t have to do everything to do anything. A lot of our clients were separating technology from user experience projects so they didn’t need us to do that.

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Help Us Benchmark "Social Maturity"

We recently embarked on a Forrester-wide research project to benchmark the use of social technologies across enterprise organizations led by my colleague Sean Corcoran. Why is this important? Well, as you may know, Forrester covers social technologies from a wide range of perspectives — from roles in marketing to IT to technology professionals. We find that each of these roles differs in its general “social maturity” and that most companies are experiencing pockets of success, but few, if any, are successfully implementing it across the board. Full maturity in this space could take years, but there are clear differences in how some ahead-of-the-curve companies are using social technologies for business results. The one question we know that our clients — across roles — are interested in is: “Where is my organization compared to others in the use of social media?”

To help answer that question for our various roles, we're conducting a survey and doing interviews to understand:

  • How do you define “social maturity,” and why is it important to get there?
  • Which companies are ahead of the curve in implementing social technologies for both external use (i.e., for customers/consumers) and/or internal use (i.e., for employees/partners)?
  • What have been the biggest drivers of success?
  • What are the biggest challenges?
  • What steps do most organizations need to take and why?

 

The point of all of this is that we'd like your help. If you're interested, here's how:

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Q&Agency: Universal Mind

Welcome to Q&Agency! Each week, I get to talk to agencies small and large and get to hear (in their words) what differentiates them and the experiences they create. To help bring some of that information to you, I'm showcasing an ongoing series of interviews with small to mid-size interactive and design agencies. If you'd like to see your agency or an agency you work with here, let me know!

On May 18th, I talked with Brett Cortese, CEO, and Erik Loehfelm, Director of User Experience, of Universal Mind. Edited excerps from that conversation follow.

Forrester: Tell me a little bit about your agency?

Brett: Universal Mind is an award winning digital solutions agency. We work with our clients to create best in class solutions that deliver an exceptional user experience while overcoming complex technical challenges across a wide variety of devices. That’s going to include the browser, desktop, tablet, connected appliances, all those types of things. Our focus is on the enterprise; we have a very deep understanding of how to expose complex systems and processes in an engaging and effective way.

We have a team of over 100 strong, spread out through the United States. That includes offices in San Francisco, California; Golden, Colorado; Grand Rapids, Michigan; and Westfield, Massachusetts.

Forrester: What is your elevator pitch?

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Q&Agency: Roundarch

Welcome to Q&Agency! Each week, I get to talk to agencies small and large and get to hear (in their words) what differentiates them and the experiences they create. To help bring some of that information to you, I'm showcasing an ongoing series of interviews with small to mid-size interactive and design agencies. If you'd like to see your agency or an agency you work with here, let me know!

On May 5th, I talked with Jeff Maling the President and Chief Experience Officer and Geoffrey Cubitt the President and Chief Technology Officer of Roundarch. Edited excerpts from that conversation follow.

Forrester: Tell me a little bit about your agency?

Jeff: Roundarch was founded in 2000 by Deloitte and WPP. At that time, the idea was to bring together the technology and program management skills of Deloitte with the creative skills of WPP to tackle large web problems. Over the past year or more that has translated into large digital problems of many types including mobile, touch screen, etc. But for the most part, we’ve stayed true to the vision because we’re specialized in large-scale digital solutions for fortune 500 companies, the government, and large international organizations. We have about 220 full-time employees primarily in New York and Chicago, smaller offices in Denver and Boston, and a virtual office in DC (where we mostly work in secure locations). Like any good agency or consultancy, we also have a few nomads who refuse to move into one of our offices.

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Q&Agency: TandemSeven

Welcome to Q&Agency! Each week, I get to talk to agencies small and large and get to hear (in their words) what differentiates them and the experiences they create. To help bring some of that information to you, I'm showcasing an ongoing series of interviews with small to mid-size interactive and design agencies. If you'd like to see your agency or an agency you work with here, let me know!

On April 21st, I talked with Frank Torbey the CEO of TandemSeven. Edited excerpts from that conversation follow.

Forrester: Tell me a little bit about your agency?

Frank: TandemSeven is a specialized user experience firm dedicated 100% to business applications and portals. We specialize in creating usable, intuitive interfaces for complex applications. We work with IT, product managers and business unit leaders to create strategic business applications that break out of the norm and deliver a whole new level of user experience. We’re the UX company for complex business and transactional applications.

We were founded in 2001 and have 55 employees in three offices in Boston, New York, and Chicago.

Forrester: What is your elevator pitch?

Frank: We’re the user experience experts for business applications and portals. Tomorrow’s business applications require a whole new level of user experience. Business users’ needs are evolving rapidly just like consumers' needs; they want highly intuitive and usable applications no matter what platform or device they’re using. We help companies like Bloomberg, JP Morgan, Orbitz, and others create applications where the user experience improves productivity and increases competitive advantage. We’re all about delivering business results for our clients by helping them deliver usable applications.

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Calling all Web design agencies!

Forrester is conducting a survey of agencies that offer Web design and development services in North America. We've invited a long list of agencies to complete our survey, but if we've missed you, here's your chance!

The survey covers topics regarding the organizational structure and services your firm offers. Your responses as well as those of other respondents will be published in an upcoming Forrester report unless otherwise noted – questions for internal use only and those that will be reported only in aggregate are specifically noted in the survey. Last year's survey yielded the report Where To Find Help For Web Design Projects, 2009. The survey should take approximately 15 minutes to complete. For participating, you will receive a complimentary copy of the report in which your responses are published. Please use the link below to complete the survey:

https://deploy.ztelligence.com/start/index.jsp?PIN=15WP6SZV56QXJ

We are hoping to have all surveys completed by Fridya, April 23rd. If you need additional time for any reason or have any questions, please just let me  and my colleague, Rachel, know. You can find us at: Vidya Drego vdrego@forrester.com, Rachel Zinser rzinser@forrester.com.

Q&Agency: LEVEL Studios

Welcome to Q&Agency! Each week, I get to talk to agencies small and large and get to hear (in their words) what differentiates them and the experiences they create. To help bring some of that information to you, I'm showcasing an ongoing series of interviews with small to mid-size interactive and design agencies. If you'd like to see your agency or an agency you work with here, let me know!

On March 18th, I talked with Tom Adamski, President and CEO of LEVEL Studios. Edited excerpts from that conversation follow.

Forrester: Tell me a little bit about your agency?

Tom: LEVEL Studios was founded in 1995 in Santa Barbara. Today we’re headquartered in San Luis Obispo with offices in Los Angeles and San Jose. Across the three California studios we have about 200 people today. We’re focused exclusively on the digital space and we’re independently owned and operated. Like other digital agencies, strategy, creative design, technology, and the connection between those three areas is the key driver of our business. Today that means we’re working with marketing communications groups and we have a growing client segment in product development and design.

Forrester: What is your elevator pitch?

Tom: We’re an independent digital agency that produces products, services, and experience for brands as a way for those brands to build community and meaningful relationships with their customer base. Our three west coast studios focus on user experience, digital media, and application development. We’re a relationship based organization based on long term, retention based strategies both for our clients and our staff. Our 3 largest clients have been with us on average ten years. Those lasting relationships produce better business results for our clients and for our agency.

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Q&Agency: EffectiveUI

Welcome to Q&Agency! Each week, I get to talk to agencies small and large and get to hear (in their words) what differentiates them and the experiences they create. To help bring some of that information to you, I plan to showcase an ongoing series of interviews with small to mid-size interactive and design agencies. If you'd like to see your agency or an agency you work with here, let me know!

On March 16th, I talked with Rebecca Flavin, CEO and Peyton Lindley, Executive Director of UX Design and Technology at EffectiveUI. Although they were both busy at SXSW, they were kind enough to chat with me. Edited excerpts from that conversation follow.

 

Forrester: Tell me a little bit about EffectiveUI?

Rebecca: EffectiveUI is a full service user experience agency based in Denver, Colorado with offices in Rochester, New York and Vancouver, British Columbia. We specialize in the custom design and development of Web, desktop, and mobile applications with a zealous focus on driving user adoption and loyalty. We primarily work with Fortune 1000 and enterprise companies across multiple industry verticals. Our team is passionate about improving the quality of people’s lives through their interactions with technology and brands.

Forrester: What’s your elevator pitch?

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A missed opportunity for user-centered thinking

I happened to notice an article yesterday on nytimes.com titled Choosing a Marketing Plan: Traditional or Social Media. It's a case study on E. P. Carrillo, a cigar manufacturer and distributor run by the Perez-Carrillo family. It reminded me of a conversation I had with an agency I visited a few months ago. The article begins by outlining the problem:

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5 ways to deliver quality mobile Web experiences

Smashing Magazine recently wrote an article about Mobile Web Design Trends For 2009 that was...well...smashing! It brings together a few best practices for good mobile Web design as well as some of the more common challenges involved with designing and developing a good mobile Web site.

Here's what smashing recommends:

  1. Offer simple options
  2. White space
  3. Lack of images
  4. Sub-domains instead of .mobi or separate domains
  5. Prioritized content

    I might reorder the list slightly (I'm actually not sure if this list was in any particular order), but I think these are some very important design principles that user experience professionals looking at mobile devices must remember.

    2010 is going to be a really interesting year at the intersection of customer experience and mobile. There's finally enough critical mass both in terms of content and users of both mobile Web sites and applications to actually make it an interesting discussion.
    I'm actually making my own list (with a few different recommendations) of 5 ways to deliver quality mobile Web experiences and presenting it at a Target Marketing and eM+C webinar that Gomez is sponsoring on March 10, 2010. If you feel strongly about a specific tactic, let me know. If not, stay tuned for my recommendations in an upcoming post (after the 10th!)

    If you're interested in the topic of improving mobile Web experiences, you can learn more about the topic and register for my Webinar.

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