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Johan Berndtsson, Mikael Aldman, Ingrid Domingues och Kjell Persson. Foto: Patrik Renmark

inUse+ÅF

Johan Berndtsson

inUse and ÅF are joining forces to form Sweden’s largest Service Design and User Experience agency, with a turnover of over 200M SEK.

Ever since I and the other founders gathered around Ingrid’s kitchen table our goal has been to make the greatest difference we can. For those who use the solutions we create, for the clients we work for, and – as often as we can – for society at large.

For 15 years, all of us at inUse have built a fantastic business. We’ve grown from zero to over a hundred colleagues. We have teached thousands of classes, helped thousands of clients with tens of thousands of challenges, and we’ve made everyday life easier and more fun for millions of users.

inUse has never been just a company. inUse is an idea. An idea that design makes a difference. For humans, business, and society at large.

In recent years many internationally renowned Service Design and User Experience companies have been acquired by management consulting companies, IT companies, banks, product companies, and others. This is not a coincidence. The purpose is apparent: the increasingly complex development of products and services has to be lead from a design perspective. And that’s where we are today.

inUse is a strong Service Design and User Experience brand in Scandinavia and internationally. This comes from, among other things, the conference From Business To Buttons, the many speakers and authors working at inUse, our commitment and diligent work with City of Denver, Smart Cities, and more.

When we look forward, to the next 15 years, we will have a entirely new platform to work with. A platform that truly and genuinely, allows us to realise our designs and the things we create.

With the new platform we gain access to technical expertise that our designers and front-end developers can use to deliver complete solutions.

With the new platform, we have access to 400 architects, light designers and acoustic experts – a perfect match to our efforts in Human Spaces and smart cities.

With the new platform we significantly increase our capabilities to manage physical touchpoints in the customer journey mapping, with the addition of a large number of very skilled industrial designers.

ÅF has offices in 30 countries, and has a clear desire for inUse to gain a higher international presence – just in line with our plans to open more offices.

We are extremely excited! With ÅF we get the platform we need to take the next step, and fulfill the promise that design really can make a difference – for users, business, and society at large.

We need more extraordinary talents on this journey to succeed. Do you want to join in?

Johan Berndtsson, COO of InUse and Co-founder

Mikael Aldman, Deputy Regional Director of InUse and Co-founder

Ingrid Domingues, Director of Impact Management and Co-founder

Kjell Persson, CEO of InUse
 

Facts about the acquisition:

  • ÅF acquires inUse Experience AB, as well as the US subsidiary inUse Inc.
  • inUse continues to operate under its own brand, but is organizationally integrated into ÅF's Digital Solutions division.
  • inUse continues to work with its customers and does not waive any of values, offers or focus areas. On the contrary, we will be able to expand the areas in which inUse has already succeeded.
  • The founders, CEO, and the regional managers at InUse have all been active in the acquisition process and all remain in the business.
  • All employees at inUse and ÅF Design enter into the new merged business. With with a turnover of 200M SEK.
  • Johan Berndtsson, co-founder and COO of inUse, will lead inUse. He will report to Ann Granberg, head of ÅF Design.
  • Kjell Persson, current CEO of InUse, will have a special responsibility for business development of ​​Smart Cities and other areas where inUse holds the key to cross-disciplinary offerings.

Welcome to inUse, Robin Whittleton!

Sara Doltz

We are happy to welcome Robin Whittleton to inUse in Malmö.

Tell me a bit about yourself! 
– I’m a second-generation programmer; my family always had a PC in the house and I knew from about age 8 or so that I wanted to work with them (before that I wanted to drive a tractor). I did the usual route into development in the late 90s and went to university to study Computer Science, then didn’t use any of it by starting a career in front-end development. Since then I’ve worked for a few medium-sized design agencies before most recently spending two years with GDS working on GOV.UK’s design patterns.

How did you end up in Malmö? 
– My wife is Swedish and we’d talked of moving over to here at some point; the time seemed right for both of us for a bit of a new start. We both really like Malmö, and it’s a good midway point between my family (south-east England, direct flights from Copenhagen) and hers (southern Öland).

What made you choose inUse?
– I wanted an agency that cared about the user as well as the business. In my time at GDS it became obvious how bad most websites are for anyone using them who isn’t blessed with a good monitor, fast connection, the latest hardware and 20/20 vision. inUse appealed to me as, more than most agencies, it seems like the user is a priority. Also (and this is no insult to the GOV.UK team, but…) working with talented designers who are allowed to use more than three colours was appealing.

Tell us of a moment, in your career when you had an epiphany?
– A recent one was reading a Microsoft document about inclusive design. There was a diagram showing the difference between permanent, temporary and situational disabilities that really got me thinking about how we as society perceive impairment and what we can do as developers to combat that.

Are you interested in a career at inUse? See available positions.

Save the Date – FBTB 2018 May 15th

Sara Doltz

From Business to Buttons 2018 will be on May 15th. The venue for next year will be Cirkus in beautiful Djurgården in Stockholm.

Does May seem far away? Not for us: we started working on From Business to Buttons 2018 the day after this year’s conference. And things are starting to come together nicely. The venue for 2018 will be Cirkus on Djurgårdsslätten, and the date will be the 15th of May.

So Johan Berndtsson, COO of inUse and program chair for the conference, what can we expect from the conference in 2018?
– From Business to Buttons is a conference at the intersection of business and design, and as always we will gather some of the greatest speakers on UX and Service Design from around the world – experts who rarely, if ever, come to Sweden.

– We’ve already secured some really exciting speakers. The topics range from e.g. how to design truly immersive experiences – like perhaps the most beautiful game ever created – to how to manage the complexity that follows from a truly holistic service design approach. But we'll also have speakers taking about e.g. how to become a leader who really understands the transformative power of design. 2018 is going to be a great year in the history of the conference!

Tickets will be released at the beginning of October. But if you don’t want to miss a single thing then sign up to our newsletter.

In the meantime, here is a video of this year’s most appreciated talk from Mike Monteiro.

 

Katie Dill on how to deal with digital and analog chaos

inUse Experience

How does Airbnb design their digital platform to adapt to the analog chaos that may emerge outside of it? Pontus Wärnestål, Director of Service Design at InUse, gives his chief impressions of Katie Dill's speech at From Business to Buttons.

Check out our courses at inUse Academy!

At InUse, we often encounter design situations where user experience weaves together the digital within a complex analog context. And as the service platforms we design extend over more and more touch points in multiple channels, the complexity of the service increases. The challenge will be to create an broader perspective and try to anticipate situations that may arise in these complex systems of digital and analog interactions.

It was therefore very interesting to listen to Katie Dill at From Business to Buttons. Katie is the Director of Experience Design at Airbnb: an online marketplace for renting and booking short-term accommodation that is managed through the digital Airbnb platform.

In her presentation, Katie introduced the problem of trying to manage the chaos that can occur when experiencing a service that is largely analog (living for a period in an apartment, house or other accommodation), something set up between two people who do not know each other. In addition, the situation itself is quite delicate: the host gives their private home to a stranger, and the guest must trust that the home they rent during their vacation, or business trip for that matter, meets all their requirements and expectations. To complicate the situation further, there is not infrequently the question of different cultures and languages ​​between guest and host.

How does Airbnb then design their digital platform to create an overview of the potential analog chaos that may occur? Katie introduced five principles that guide design decisions for the Airbnb platform:

  1. See the Big Picture. Visualize and communicate customer travel to all internally within the organization. There should never be any doubt about what the goal is and what experiences should be facilitated through its use.
  2. Get Ahead of It. There are many things that can go wrong, and it's our job as designers to predict as many potential pitfalls as possible. It is also about managing expectations.
  3. Set the Stage. By setting up frames and giving suggestions to hosts on how to present their property accurately (descriptions, photography how-tos, tips on activities in the surrounding area, etc.), you rake away clutter in order to let the content take center stage.
  4. Keep it Real. Katie pointed out that Airbnb realizes that they do not own the accommodations or that the hosts are “employees,” but instead try to build an authentic culture around properties and renting based on guest and host communication. In this way, you reduce the risk of a superficial and artificial experience that other service providers in the  komer  service and tourism sector may occasionally suffer from.
  5. Arm Your Partners. An important part of the Airbnb platform is the analysis tool for the hosts. This part of the platform is not visible to guests, but acts as a data-driven coaching tool for the hosts. This includes analysis and help to interpret guest ratings and property tips such as “photo schools” to continuously enhance the hosts’ offers.

 

Just a few days before From Business to Buttons in Stockholm, I myself used Airbnb for accommodation for three weeks in Denver in the United States. In many ways, it was a much nicer and more interesting experience than the classic hotel room. The digital platform enabled quick communication between me and my host. And as Katie herself gave as examples in her presentation, Airbnb supports hosts with recommendations on how to write great background information about the area, how to give good suggestions on restaurants and experiences, etc. This was noticed, as my time in Denver was enriched by the many hints of the treasures and gems in the area that I certainly would have missed if I chose to stay in a traditional hotel. In other words, a lot of things happen behind the scenes so that the experience “on stage” between guest and host will be as rich and positive as possible.

Check out our courses at inUse Academy!

Presenting design work like Mike Monteiro

Alexander Skogberg

On April 28th I got a spot at Mike Monteiro’s workshop Presenting Work Like Your Life Depends On It. Presenting design work and holding presentations in general is a crucial overlooked skill they don’t teach you in school. So, let me – with the help of Monteiro – tell you some things that can be really useful.

Get an inspirational lecture – from inUse!

When I started working as a consultant and UX Designer back in 2011, I was just 24 years old and incredibly naive. I expected clients to blindly trust me and take every claim I made for granted. 

“After all, why wouldn’t they?”, I thought. I had studied for five years, gotten a job at a well-known agency and the client had signed a contract agreeing to pay my high hourly fee.

However, too often my design ideas were turned down. Sometimes I knew that they needed more work, but quite often I was flabbergasted and couldn’t figure out why my work was questioned or ignored.

In retrospect, there were at least three reasons for my design work not being accepted.

One, my work probably wasn’t as good as I thought.

Two, there were larger internal political struggles at hand that I had no control over.

Three, I didn’t present my design ideas well enough.

Since I’ve always been data-driven in my design process, I naturally got better at backing up my design choices. Still, I was coming up too short, too often.

A few years ago, I came across Mike Monteiro’s book Design Is A Job when I went through the A Book Apart series. It took my breath away! I recognized so many scenarios and errors I’d made. I took it to my colleagues shouting “This is a manual for working as a consultant!”.

I learned a lot from Mike’s book and even more when I saw his presentation 13 Ways Designers Screw Up Client Presentations at From Business To Buttons in 2015. Therefore, I was delighted to learn that I had gotten a spot at his workshop the day after From Business To Buttons 2017.

I won’t repeat exactly what Mike Monteiro shared with us, but I thought I’d share my experience – with lots of input from Mike – on how to hold a great presentation in general.

Here’s what to think about:

1. You’re more important than your slides

This might seem like a given, but you shouldn’t be dependent on your slides. Make sure you know what you’re going to talk about by heart. Nice slides should just be the icing on the cake. You are the presentation, the slides are secondary.

2. Work the room

Don’t sit down or hide behind your laptop when giving a presentation. Stand up, get your hands out of your pockets and move around. Use your body language for getting attention and showing some attitude.

3. Include the participants

People have chosen – or been forced – to listen to your presentation. Thank them for coming, and explain why they’ve been summoned or why they’ll benefit from listening to you. Encourage them to ask questions and don’t be afraid to ask them questions during the presentation.

4. Be entertaining

Presentations are too often boring. Make sure to be enthusiastic and put on a show. Don’t be afraid to crack a few jokes, include a funny GIF in your slides or tell a relevant anecdote as long as you have enough substance. There’s a fine line between being funny and just being silly.

If you look at presentations and talks from popular conferences such as An Event Apart, you’ll see that most speakers have a great sense of humor. Have a look at them, and watch some stand up comedy on Youtube for inspiration.

5. Keep your slides lean and varied

It’s easy to have too many slides with too much content on each of them. Don’t be afraid to kill your darlings or ask someone else to help you do it. You’d be amazed how much text can be shortened or removed completely without hurting the presentation at all.

Don’t forget that content doesn’t have to be all text. Try conveying your message with charts, photos, illustrations and video clips.

6. Be prepared for technical failure

Internet connections go down, adapters go missing, sound systems malfunction and projectors can be time-consuming to set up.

Always do a soundcheck well before your presentation starts, bring your own adapters and have a backup version of your slides that doesn’t rely on Internet access for its content.

7. People love anecdotes

One thing I’ve noticed when holding presentations throughout the years, is that people love to hear a good relevant anecdote. If you can tie a personal story to something you’re saying, it can bring a lot of credibility to your presentation.

Anyone can find facts and relevant work from other sources, but a personal experience makes you feel even more like the expert you hopefully are.

Get an inspirational lecture – from inUse!