When I was at GDS, I found it hugely interesting to design for GOV.UK in a way that works for people who aren’t particularly confident with technology – designing for everyone. It’s something I missed at Twitter, where my team was creating advanced interfaces in products for pro users – journalists and social media managers – pretty close to designing for myself.
I’m always fascinated to see how people with a different relationship with technology interpret an interface that you and I consider straightforward. From watching my mum struggle with Facebook on her iPad, to usability testing online transactions with tech savvy grandparents at the Cabinet Office, this is something I love.
So when I was recently approached by Saga (with a core audience of over 50s for their holidays & cruises, magazine and financial services products) to build a central digital design team and lead a large scale redesign of their complete digital estate (websites, apps, the digital experience on a new cruise liner! 🛳 ) with a renewed focus on the customer, it piqued my interest.
I haven’t previously worked in a business which deals in financial services and, while it didn’t initially appeal to me, the ex-Adaptive Path design team who joined Capital One has convinced me that it’s an area ripe for opportunity. And I’ve dealt with government bureaucracy, so how hard can it be?
Looking at the Saga website and apps, I could see they suffer from many similar issues to pre-GDS government:
- the siloed nature of the business is exposed to the user, right down to inefficient and inconsistent sections of the website for each department (see the holidays, money, and magazine pages)
- forms are often designed to benefit the business, not the user.
- there’s inconsistent attention paid to the needs of their specific customer demographic (right down to the design of the logo – if I find the colour split halfway through the word ‘Saga’ difficult to read, how might it be for a customer who’s eyesight is deteriorating?)
There are symptoms typical of complex businesses without the speed and flexibility to adapt, and which can be addressed by a new central digital team with clear design principles, a company-wide style guide, strong digital governance processes, a complete redesign based on user needs, and a switch from waterfall to Agile delivery.
Big challenges, but huge potential. Over half the population of Europe will be over the age of 50 by 2020. It’s an audience with a disproportionate share of disposable income, and yet there are no obvious companies leading the way in digital design in this space – they're all too busy focusing on millennials.
I’ve been working with Saga to draft a bold digital strategy for 2017 and beyond, and am heartened to see that their new top team are ready for change.
So I’m now their “Group Head of Digital Customer Experience and Design” (do I win the prize for longest job title?)
We’re already partnering with Nomensa on accessibility, and have recently run in-house training days for the divisional digital teams with Ethan Marcotte and Karen McGrane on responsive design and Sarah Richards on content design.
There are plans afoot for the business which I can’t detail here, but suffice to say I’m excited, both for myself and the team – and also for Saga customers!
Join the team
We’re a rapidly growing central digital team of a dozen people in a company of 5,000+, leading the charge on the digital revolution.
We’re based an hour from London on the high speed rail link to the south coast (by the Channel Tunnel entrance in Folkestone).
On my specific team I’m looking for contractors or full-timers with these skills, and with the confidence and ability to lead the company to a bright new digital future:
- UX design (hired)
- Design research (hired)
- Visual design (hired)
- Content strategy (hired)
- Email design
- Front-end developer (hired)