You can tell easily how much a car costs just by looking at the price tag. But what is the cost of producing that car? Or, how much did it cost to design that specific car, so it can withstand competition for at least one product lifecycle, be reliable, meet safety and brand standards, customer demands, and perhaps even become a design icon at the end of its production cycle? You perhaps agree, that foreseeing the cost of design – and its Return Of Investment — is anything but easy. Design is an iterative process and you don’t know at the beginning of a new project how many design iterations you need to go through, justify, negotiate and test until you arrive at an acceptable solution, especially when it’s someone else you are designing for or with. In this article, we explore some of the pitfalls of cost estimations for digital product- and service design. We start with a summary of my learnings from working for almost 22 years in the digital, creative space, on more than 200 projects, in partnership with 25 creative agencies, and in-house design departments.

The design process is shown as a path with lots of windy corners, loops, and obstacles to overcome. Design is not linear.

You are being tasked to estimate the cost of something that does not yet exist, but need to know when it will unveil itself, where it will appear, how it is going to look and what it can do for, and will do to, the people who will eventually use…

I’ve been working with startups, medium-sized organizations, and fortune 500 companies on digital product and service strategies as a customer-focused experience designer for two decades. A client recently asked me to sum up what I learned throughout hundreds of engagements — both on agency and client-side. First, I felt I was put on the spot and struggled to pinpoint what made some companies succeed and others fail at strategy. Then it became crystal clear and amongst many of the insights and tips I could provide, I shared the most valuable one: Doing not ‘drawing’ leads to strategy. It’s almost never the other way around. That applies to business-, innovation-, product-, platform-, community-, API-, UX-, [Add-Anything-Here]-Strategy – as Quibi will testify. This article will tell you how winning companies are already testing in the marketplace, while their competitors are still completing PowerPoint presentations.

How is it possible that so many companies that claim an absence of strategic leadership can not only survive, but be successful and respected businesses? (Mark Ridley)

What do the Wright Brothers, Alibaba, and League Inc. – a healthcare startup from Toronto – have in common? They all had a…

Customer insights not only reduce risks ($) but they fuel innovation ($$$). In today's consumer-focused, highly-demanding world, you cannot afford shipping digital products and services nobody wants or are hard to use. Users know – the alternative to your website or mobile app is just one click away. Successful software and online businesses like Google, Netflix, Spotify, Airbnb, Thomson Reuters, 3AM, Babylon Health and Atlassian (just to name a few) conduct customer research and user experiments on a regular basis, sometimes daily, to stay on top of people’s needs, attitudes and behavioural changes. Here are a few new and common ways to increase the user research capability of your organization – no matter if you are a large or a small company and whether your teams can dedicate not more than 1 hour to one week of their time.

Heuristic Evaluation: 2 to 4 hours

An expert review against a set of principles.

Heuristic evaluations are a great way to go after the more obvious usability and user experience issues that come with the first iteration of a new user interface or software. Such evaluations give the design and development team a chance to look at their work with some fresh eyes. You…

The most successful software designers, information architects, UX and UI designers are the ones that leverage psychology to inform their design decisions. Gently acknowledge, that you are in the business of designing and shaping human behaviour. You are in control of how people attend to, perceive, think about, use, memorise and talk about products and services. In this article, we explore a selection of lesser-known concepts and theories from cognitive psychology, cognitive science, decision neuroscience and human-media interaction that help you advance your skills as a designer.

Distributed cognition

Distributed cognition is a branch of cognitive science that proposes cognition and knowledge is not confined to an individual; rather, it is distributed across objects, (other) individuals, artefacts, and tools in our immediate environment. It is useful for analyzing situations that involve problem-solving, such as figuring out how to navigate…

Two decades ago, W. S. Humphrey wrote in his book –Winning with Software– that “Every company is a software company”. I cannot agree more and want to underpin that all organizations need to start thinking, operating and innovating like a digital-first company, with software-technology at the heart of every interaction from customer acquisition to sales to retention to internal and external communication. It’s really you yourself thinking of your own future and your digital DNA as a company. Here is how we at Appnovation help you understand your digital innovation capabilities – and give you a starting point.

Besides creating digital products and running design-led workshops, my key role as a User Experience Manager at Appnovation is to understand other people’s businesses, the market they operate in, the competitive landscape and their key audiences that drive software usage, growth and sales. …

The rapid expansion of the Internet into rural areas, the easy accessibility and creation of commodified digital travel services and the fluid adoption of ubiquitous mobile and network technologies unleashed new business challenges for traditionally slow-moving, brand-lead Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs). New, customer-centric and web-enabled startups are leading users attention away from static, anonymous, program-driven website directories to utility-driven, community-enabled interoperating platform economies. Mediated by technology – consumers become producers and vice versa, generating value as a two-way participatory act while exploring the world, meeting people and forming new relationships, that benefit themselves and also the organizations that orchestrate these interactions. In this article, we examine key platform characteristics, conceptualize opportunities for DMO’s to participate in the rapidly growing platform and online aggregator economy and outline how the DMO‘s value creation chain for its online outlets needs to be redesigned from scratch. This write-up reflects an ongoing thought-process (not an end-point) about the future of a tech empowered travel industry. Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

The Travel Platform Economy

Key Points

  • The digital travel economy is dominated already by online platforms. Latest who joined: Amazon Explore
  • In the online world, the distinction between ‘producer’ and ‘consumer’ of travel experiences is increasingly blurred.
  • Platform-enabled businesses are taking over travellers attention and changing their behaviour online. These new value-creation ecosystems not only stimulate…

Almost all successful transformations have one thing in common: Change is driven through empowerment, not mandated from the top. When we at Appnovation conduct customer and user research inhouse for smaller and larger organizations, we pass on the right insights, tools and processes to equip teams and individuals to drive change within their own organization. Here is how we do it.

We Start Small, But Broadly

Today’s digitized world is moving rapidly, and the shelf life of business strategies, marketing plans, customer engagement models, products and (digital) services gets shorter, so a corporation’s transformation capabilities become its only enduring advantage.

Our design and research team at Appnovation learned that by conducting user and behavioural customer research…

At Appnovation, we recently started offering our clients user research on a retainer basis. The new service provides critical insights; delivered more frequently to help our clients better understand their customers’ behavioural changes over time, and to be able to make an informed design (and business) decisions faster, with more confidence. In this article, we share our overall approach to recurring, continuous, behavioural user research, how we effectively run experiments and conduct remote testing sessions in multiple markets simultaneously, and how we socialize the findings that can feed into an organizations’ change management process.

Many organizations undermine the power of their website when they only leverage it as a tool to publish news and stories, promote products and services, or use it as a touchpoint to control peak times for their customer service centres. Some of you may be thinking that I’ve just described…

How can you talk about design productivity? The process of design is highly iterative, selective and corrective. At times you explore the ‘design space’ for satisfactory approaches and then switch back to time-consuming in-depth analysis. You know upfront that half of the work is for the bin. Especially interaction design is through-and-through subjective and experiential: Design complexity emerges within activities of designing, experienced through acts of reflection, decision, and judgment. However, there are a few tactics that make these steps easier. Here are a few tips to help you set up the right environment to cope and structure this ‘creative chaos’.

It’s one of these days when you look at the outcome of your work and you think to yourself: Why the hell did it take me 8 hours to do that? In retrospect, the outcome looks like it may have taken 30 minutes of work.

Starting out

I designed my first website…

Not all internet platforms are made equal; the technologies that power them share functional similarities, but the value they create, the interactions they foster and the experiences they provide to end-users are fundamentally different and so is their underlying operational ‘business-logic’. With the evolution of the internet and the rapid growth of online businesses, the word ‘platform’ has caused a lot of confusion. In this article, I will clarify some of the common expressions we hear when platforms are discussed in the context of the internet. I will then demonstrate why online government services such as and its successors do not match the template of other successful internet platforms just yet – and what consequences this has on our democracy. After all, not all technologies are equally democratic. Lastly, I want to explore and share with you briefly the idea of an authentic Democracy-as-a-Platform with shared owner rights, which can scale and reform democracy at speed. Let’s start by exploring the terminology of an internet ‘platform’.


A Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) is a category of cloud computing services (data centres available to many users) that provide a platform allowing software engineers to conveniently develop, run, and manage applications without the complexity of building and maintaining the infrastructure typically associated with developing and launching an app or online service…


Senior UX Manager @Appnovation, Canada. Writes about Cognitive Psychology, Behavioural Economics & Platform Design. Creator of

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