Sutherland Innovation Labs Research and design. Improving everyday experiences. Fri, 26 May 2017 14:49:53 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 Copyright 2017, Sutherland Innovation Labs - Sutherland Innovation Labs Research and design. Improving everyday experiences. Labs Life: Getting to know Giulia Mazza Tue, 23 May 2017 17:35:53 +0100 Labs Life: Getting to know Giulia Mazza

Continuing our series of interviews with the people that make Sutherland Labs tick, this week, we try to track down the owner of the locker in our San Francisco office that is labelled “Guido” and instead find the wit and wisdom of unrepentant Nespresso addict, Giulia Mazza, one of our Senior Design Researchers.

How did you come to work at Sutherland?

Giulia: I studied psychology and anthropology, and at first intended to be an academic anthropologist. Then I realized that I wanted to apply human insights to solving real-world problems, so I joined a small design agency with lots of projects in the automotive industry. We worked closely with car designers to inform the design direction of concept cars and mapped out broad future trends in mobility. It was a blast!

Anthropology is a natural conduit to Design Thinking practice. It’s all about observation, listening, empathy, and suspending judgment. The belief that there is no wrong way to be a human.The ability to get close to the ground of a particular behavior, whether it’s traditional weaving or online shopping, and then take a bird’s eye view to see how things connect and what they really mean is at the core of both disciplines.

Giulia working in the labs

As an anthropologist in Silicon Valley, there is less traditional weaving in my life. These days, my routine involves lots of emails, scoping out projects, writing proposals, biz dev, more emails, and sometimes a class at the local YMCA if I’m being good. Everything is liberally interspersed with coffee from our trusty Nespresso and Giphy wars with my lovely colleagues on Slack. If I’m actively working on a project then that’s a whole different scenario and I’m fully immersed in that flow: planning and scoping, recruiting participants, assembling materials, going out and doing the research, analyzing data, writing and presenting the report.

Why does your locker say…

Giulia: Blame Shauna and her label maker.

Image of Giulia's locker

So what do you do for fun?

Giulia: Dote on my brother’s pug-bulldog mix. A bull-pug? Anyway, his name is Enzo and he’s so ugly he’s cute! I also read, (try to) write, and watch obscure movies. Figure out what else I can make with eggplant for my vegetarian boyfriend. Explore the many hidden nooks and crannies of San Francisco. Have long existential conversations with the person sitting next to me on a transatlantic flight. I’ve also been making a greater effort to connect with people who inspire me, say, someone who wrote an article or gave a talk that I really enjoyed. I contact them and say, “Hey, you’re great at this! Tell me more?” People are almost always so generous. It’s been a great learning experience.

Giulia's brother's bulldog-pug mix

How do you see your role changing in the future?

Giulia: I hope design researchers will increasingly tackle more macro questions and outputs, rather than discrete processes and interfaces. Look at the “big picture” behind the digital screens. Organizational design is something I’ve become interested in because I notice design recommendations don’t “stick” unless there are conducive workplace dynamics and structures to support them. We also need to think more about the lifecycle of the solutions we recommend, including implementation and long-term sustainability.

Organizational design is something I’ve become interested in because I notice design recommendations don’t “stick” unless there are conducive workplace dynamics and structures to support them. We also need to think more about the lifecycle of the solutions we recommend, including implementation and long-term sustainability.

When I peer into my crystal ball, I see tech companies likely continuing to bring design and research talent in house and doubling down on the investment, because it’s clear that great UX is a key differentiator. Instead of competing with in house teams, agencies will seek to complement them, each becoming more specialized and skilled in a particular methodology or industry. While tech was the first to change, more industries will follow suit. No one is safe from disruption: think of the car industry and Uber or the hospitality industry and Airbnb. They will need to majorly pivot to a human-centered mindset if they want to be competitive. I hope the financial sector is next, as it is in major need of a human touch…

Will Giulia ever get the right name on her locker? Will Enzo ever recover from the terrible insults rained down on him? Will the financial sector get with the program? Come back next week for another instalment of ‘Labs Life’ to find out these answers and more.

Trello x User interviews: Analyzing, synthesizing and sharing results Mon, 22 May 2017 13:30:40 +0100 Trello x User interviews: Analyzing, synthesizing and sharing results

Trello is useful for just about everything from analyzing interviews, to developing journey maps or service blueprints, to organizing todo lists. Originally, I started using Trello to do remote co-analysis with a colleague in Boston. Since then, I’ve realized how powerful it is for side-by-side analysis and as a flexible and low-fidelity way of sharing and communicating research results. For folks who prefer post-its and a white wall, Trello is a great place to keep a record of the synthesis as post-its tend to inevitably fall off the wall.

Here’s a workflow that I’ve found works well for analyzing and synthesizing user research. This approach tweaks David Ghent’s method adding detail based on my workflow. For example, I found that typing research insights into Trello directly during sessions is unwieldy. I prefer to import insights from my transcript notes after the interviews, and to have separate interview notes to refer back to at anytime.

Stage 1: Setup the board

Create a new Trello board

Create a new Trello board that will be the home of all the data input and analysis. You can make a copy of this template I created as a starting point.

Create a first column, “participants” and populate

Add each participant’s name as a unique card. Add any profile information you’d like to surface in the title text of the card, and add additional user details by clicking into the card and adding additional notes in the description.

Create preliminary named labels

Labels are a good way to see at a glance who or how many people said what. It is also useful for tracking key parameters such as pain points, ideas, or hypotheses.

  • Create labels for each participant, U1+Name, U2+Name, etc. If you have one type of participant, label each participant a distinct color. For different types of participants, use label colors to represent a participant type, e.g. employee vs. consumer.
  • Create additional named labels such as pain points, to call out positive feedback, location, ideas, hypotheses, questions, etc. Pro tip: reserve certain colors such as red to call out pain points or green to call out positive feedback. I also like using yellow for ideas or hypotheses.

Create preliminary columns

Name columns based on categories such as touch points, channels, steps in a user’s journey, research questions, personas, etc. The categorization doesn’t have to be perfect at this point. Column names will change and evolve in the following phases. In a website user testing scenario, columns could be labeled: landing page, sign up flow, about us, mobile, etc. Creating a “key” column can be useful if there are many labels to keep track of.

Once these initial elements are in place, you’re ready to get started with entering user data and the first stage of analysis.

Create key columns for participants and callouts

Create key columns for participants and callouts

Notes on collaboration: as you set up the board, discuss and share labeling and naming with teammates so that everyone is familiar with the lay of the land.

Stage 2: Enter interview data

Process the interviews one by one

Starting with the first participant, start populating columns with cards containing research insights or quotes + annotations. When copy/pasting quotes, make sure to note down the participant number, e.g. “U1 – I couldn’t figure out where to sign up”. Then when other participants say similar things, attach their label to the same card without losing track of where the quote originated from.

Attach relevant labels to each new card as you go

Create new labels as you go, but make sure to attach the relevant label to previously created cards. Use participant labels to count users that share similar attributes, e.g. “prefers working from home”.

Rename/create columns as needed

As you process each interview, adjust or create columns as needed to reflect the evolving understanding of nuanced findings. The titles of new/adjusted columns can become research insights.

Copy shared insights across columns

If an insight is shared across multiple columns make use of Trello’s copy functionality.

Add detail to cards by adding descriptions or by adding images

At this stage, concentrate on capturing the data in the right columns and labels. Don’t worry if some columns are extremely long, while others are sparsely populated. Once you’ve processed all your interviews, you’re ready to move on to the next stage. If you want to keep your raw data separate from the synthesis, you can make a copy of your whole Trello board.

Notes on collaboration: split up the interviews with collaborators. Keep them abreast of any changes you make to labeling or new columns that they might want to be aware of.

Example of a card showing 4 participants labeled, that agreed with a particular research finding

Example of a card showing 4 participants labeled, that agreed with a particular research finding

Stage 3: Synthesize findings

Take stock of your current board. It’s time to condense down the findings.

Adjust, condense, and expand columns where necessary

Scan over the columns. Check that the titles make sense and that they are not redundant with other column titles.

  • If a column still contains many cards, try to break it up into two or more columns.
  • If a column has only a few cards, see if it might be combined with another column.

Going column by column:

  • Condense and check for redundancy across cards. Try to limit the number of cards in one column so that there’s no need to scroll too much.
  • Finalize counting by double checking labeling
  • Check that columns represent the labels contained within. Rename columns where appropriate.

Repeat steps 1-2 until satisfied

Note on collaboration: if you can, sit side by side to digest down and agree on the research findings.

Step 4: Make findings communicable (optional)

Read over your board with an outsider’s eye. Add additional details to make sure that someone who wasn’t involved in the research would understand the findings. If you did it right, you can almost copy column titles as findings into your research report with supporting quotes, etc.

Columns can be re-named during synthesis to reflect key research findings. The attached cards provide supporting evidence.

Columns can be re-named during synthesis to reflect key research findings. The attached cards provide supporting evidence.

As you get comfortable with this general process in Trello, adjust the process to your own workflow. I’ve found that the way I organize or conceptualize columns or labels can vary depending on the type of project. With larger projects, I may use multiple boards and copy cards or columns across boards. For example, if your next step is making a journey map in Trello, it’s likely that you can copy steps, sub-steps and pain points across boards.

Extra notes:

I learned the hard way that Trello allows changes in offline mode, but does not save changes.

Smaller logo. Bigger changes. Thu, 18 May 2017 16:04:57 +0100 Smaller logo. Bigger changes.

You may have noticed that a few things have been changing around this website, with the most obvious being our new logo.

Often, a new logo is the first thing that a company does before even considering the systemic changes that are going to be necessary to update their corporate culture, the equivalent of slapping a new paint-job on the outside of a crumbling building. Which explains why Sutherland’s chief marketing officer Ben Stuart was hesitant to prioritize getting a new logo made.

“I resisted the rebranding effort, hoping to engage my brain on headier challenges –  organisational design, our technology stack – anything other than the logo. But after a day or two of resisting, it became clear that too much work would be delayed without a new logo and visual ID system.”

Ben Stuart, Chief Marketing Office, Sutherland

The old logo has been serving our parent company Sutherland well for the last 30 years, but eventually everything needs a little update. While a logo change is symbolic of a commitment to change elsewhere, here in the Labs we understand exactly how powerful symbols can be. It was a natural decision for us to integrate with a visual approach that represents Sutherland’s human-centric approach to transformation.

Across Sutherland, teams have been reinvigorated by the impending changes and the possibilities that the future might bring, and the whole company is buzzing with newfound energy. For a relatively small investment of time and money into getting a new logo designed, it is having a massive impact across the whole company.

“The work that Sutherland is doing today is innovative and forward-looking and the 30-year- old logo didn’t give the team proper credit for everything we’ve built, what we’re doing and where we’re going.”

Ben Stuart, Chief Marketing Office, Sutherland

In the Labs, our job is understanding the intricacies and processes that run the world and how to transform them for a better future. Transforming ourselves to reflect the changes in world culture, society and technology is a natural part of that progress and our new logo is indicative of that change – and the rest of the changes that are coming.

Labs Life: Introducing Anna Haywood Tue, 16 May 2017 11:51:30 +0100 Labs Life: Introducing Anna Haywood

In the latest of our series on the Sutherland Labs team, we’re wondering just who is the mysterious “Victorianna” that we hear so much about in the London offices? Could she have some connection to mild mannered Principal Design Researcher Anna Haywood? Only some subtle prying will help us get to the bottom of this mystery.

Why do they call you Victorianna?

Only one person calls me that! Although my job is helping craft the products and services of the future, there is much from the past that I find inspiring. I’m heavily inspired by the people and movements that stood up for what was right and just following the industrial revolution, which changed the fabric of society forever.

What is your job at Sutherland?

I’m nosey! I like finding out what makes people tick, and what their experiences are. Coupled with curiosity, I use my skills in observation, empathy and analysis to help create products, services, and systems that respond to real, human needs. I walk in the customer’s shoes, and ensure that the user’s voice is heard throughout the process of designing or improving a product or a service. As time goes by, I am expecting to spend more and more time training other people in design thinking and user experience. I am even going to be teaching for the UXPM training that we are rolling out in the UK!

Anna in a workshop with colleagues

How have your Victorian heroes affected your life?

One of my favourite innovators from the industrial revolution is William Hesketh Lever. He introduced soap as we know it in the modern sense, pre-wrapped and branded in bars. Lever understood the need for innovation, for diversification, and for adding value through marketing. Lever founded the model village of Port Sunlight in 1888 for his workers. It offered his industrial workers decent, sanitary and affordable houses, amenities and welfare provisions, sharing the prosperity of the business with everyone involved.

Inspired by the beauty of Port Sunlight and the ethos behind it, I moved here from Essex two and a half years ago. I feel proud to live in such a unique and historic place. I love that, as a conservation area with houses protected by their listed status, the village is safe from modernization and the threat of ugly modern architecture.

Port sunlight

Does your knowledge of the past help you to predict for the future?

The population will continue to get older, and design will need to get more inclusive, potentially adapting content and structure to a wider range of ages. This could mean font sizes adjusting to suit people with impaired sight or navigation menus simplifying for people with lower technical competency.

The popular term for what we do might change, but whether it is “Design Thinking”, “Service Design” or “User Experience”, the people-centred core will remain the same. Whatever happens, my job will probably stay much the same too. I will wake up in the morning and check my email. I will send some emails before I finish work for the day. Email bookends.

Anna in a workshop with colleagues

Other than William Hesketh Lever, who are some other inspiring figures from the past?

Around my fantasy dining table I would have people who strove to shake up the status quo and seek a better world.

  • Oscar Wilde would be at the head of the table, his writing is influential to this day and his works critiqued social norms, revealed hypocrisy and class consciousness within high society, as well as highlighting the prevalence of sexual repression.
  • Next would be William Holman Hunt, my favourite Pre-Raphaelite. I go on a weekly pilgrimage to see his Scapegoat painting at a local gallery. Hunt, along with Rossetti and Millais, formed the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood to reject and overturn the artistic orthodoxy of the time, establishing a new benchmark for modern painting and design
  • Emmeline Pankhurst, the political activist and suffragette would be there. The movement that she spear-headed helped women win the right to vote and I can’t imagine living in a world where I didn’t have a political voice.
  • Last but not least would be William Morris, the leader of the Arts and Crafts Movement. Morris’s vision in linking art to industry, by applying the values of fine art to the production of commercial design, represents a key stage in the evolution of design as we know it today.

Will Anna ever find the time machine that will allow her dining arrangements to come together? Will she be the busiest trainer at UXPM? Come back next week for another exciting instalment of ‘Labs Life’ as we ponder all the ways that “Victorianna” is going to destroy the space time continuum.

Improving the experience of young patients entering the hospital system Mon, 15 May 2017 10:35:29 +0100 Improving the experience of young patients entering the hospital system

We are delighted to announce our involvement in Corporation Pop’s latest round of research for an augmented reality app, aimed to accompany young people when entering the hospital system.

In the works for almost two years, this extraordinary project involves elements of game-play, augmented reality and artificial intelligence with the aim of putting young patients in the driving seat, by accompanying their hospital visits, from first contact to eventual discharge.

The design company’s Managing Director Dom Raban explains why this project is so important to him, “This is a very personal project for me. In 2011 my then 13 year old daughter was diagnosed with cancer. Her journey through the NHS system was characterised by a lack of information at every stage of the process which left her with a deep mistrust of the medical system”.

Photo of children's ward when our consultants were interviewing staff.

Sutherland Labs were asked to understand what existing tools were available for children entering the hospital system elsewhere, and speak to individuals who were no stranger to a children’s ward, such as patients, parents and medical staff to gather concept feedback and understand the patient journey. Director of Design Research Simon Herd says “Context is everything with such a potentially bewildering environment. The only way to really understand the relevance of this concept was to spend time in the hospital with those experiencing the system. We learned so much by being there and we really appreciate the collaboration of those we met.”

It is hoped that by reducing the fear a patient may experience during a hospital visit, will “lead to a quicker recovery and improved clinical outcomes”.

To view the full press release and read more about this project visit:

Rethinking in-hospital entertainment Tue, 14 Jun 2016 10:17:09 +0100 Rethinking in-hospital entertainment

Our client, global provider of hospital entertainment systems, asked us to analyze customer experience of their current system and inform the design of a cleverly user-centric new one.

TV remote and tablet


TV, radio, games, other interactive content: hospital bedside entertainment has the power to positively transform patient experience. But many patients in this study were not engaging with our client’s current system and opting instead to use their own devices. We were called on to conduct deep analysis of patient needs. Our findings then inspired the design of a revolutionary new system – to make hospital stays infinitely more entertaining.


From registering for the first time, to tuning in to the radio or finding a good film, we first identified key user tasks. We then conducted interviews with staff, patients and family members across different wards – Elderly, Stroke, Children, etc. – to find out how these tasks could be carried out most efficiently. Insights from discussions, interviews, focus groups and a visit to the client call centre were then translated into different personae and journey maps. The outcome? As many as 50 different propositions to guide development of the new system.


These propositions included: a friendlier, more accessible user interface; a promotional loop on the homepage to raise key feature awareness; a simplified VOC library structure to enable easy browsing; and extended account management features for families to enable them to make purchases on a patient’s behalf.

Hospital ward
Designing a better patient experience Tue, 07 Jun 2016 13:37:57 +0100 Designing a better patient experience

From billing and online payment to registration and insurance, effective healthcare requires effective administration. And, for a joint study by Sutherland Healthcare and its non-profit partner, this was a starting premise.

User on iPad


Our globally renowned healthcare client asked us to observe administration across its facilities and decipher what was working well, and where there was room for improvement – with a focus on billing, registration, online activity, signage and numerous other non-clinical issues.


Our starting point was to closely observe over 100 patients and staff in a variety of settings across its two hospitals and contact centre, considering factors such as environment, education and general operations in order to enhance day-to-day experiences. Our six main areas of exploration were as follows: transition from paper to online processes; online self-service; medical payment issues; education and awareness of costs in relation to healthcare; healthcare insurance; and the possible overuse of brochures and posters in medical environments.


Our research enabled us to identify pain points in the customer and staff journeys and to offer inspired solutions. These included: a new patient portal providing self-service registration and access to clinical information; text message reminders and late running notifications; a mobile app updating family members on patient status; cost estimator tools to make costs more transparent; online application and payment for financial aid; a loyalty programme; and a new strategy to increase awareness and uptake of health insurance exchanges.

Doctors walking in hospital
Designing a roadmap to customer loyalty Fri, 01 Apr 2016 13:37:40 +0100 Designing a roadmap to customer loyalty

Enhanced customer experience equals greater customer loyalty. And for one client, a successful pet services retailer, this is what we set out to achieve.

Pet store dog beds


What does the future hold? This particular client envisioned a future full of opportunity, one in which their loyal customers reaped the benefits of better services and experiences. But they needed our help in shaping this vision and transforming bright ideas into positive actions.


The challenge was to improve customer loyalty by identifying opportunities for innovation and better aligning customer experience, at the same as exploring the potential for moving certain services online. Sutherland’s ethnographic researchers sprang into action – observing and interviewing over 100 employees, partners and customers, at home as well as in store, to build up an-in depth picture of their experiences. Insights were then shared with the client through documentary film and behavioral profiles of common customer types.


Our research led to greater understanding of the drivers of customer loyalty, and provided the basis for suggestions on how to make pet-lover customers happier. These suggestions ranged from improved mobile scheduling and in-store product placement to the development of more effective employee training methods – illustrated through vision maps for a brighter, better future.

Dog check up
Bringing a health insurer closer to its customers Mon, 14 Mar 2016 10:16:54 +0100 Bringing a health insurer closer to its customers

A strategy for smarter, more concise digital communications and a refreshed, customer-centric mindset: this is what we achieved for this rapidly expanding health insurance multinational.

Journey mapping workshop


Our client, a global provider of health insurance, wanted to reconnect with its customers. Having grown significantly through acquisition, in order become a company that today spans cultures, countries and time zones, they asked us to help re-centre customer experience and restore coherence to their channels of communication.


You can’t connect with customers without understanding them, so our research team analyzed the personae of the company’s key customer groups, involving stakeholders across its business – from IT to sales, operations or customer service. Our creative team then presented initial insights via reports, films and journey maps, before validating them with customer focus groups.


We helped our client develop a customer-centric mindset internally, gaining deeper understanding of the needs and behavior of its predominantly senior customer base, while developing a brand new digital roadmap for the years ahead. And while education starts at home, we also delivered board-level educational sessions to raise awareness of the benefits of customer-centric design – leading, ultimately, to a more unified company vision.

Patient being examined
Creating a global entertainment experience Fri, 05 Feb 2016 13:37:27 +0100 Creating a global entertainment experience

Sutherland Labs has enjoyed a long, fruitful partnership with a British media giant and enabler of global entertainment, helping to refine its customer experience, software, marketing communications and website.

Remote and screen


How effective is our on-demand download service? What typeface would work best on our new TV interface? How can our customers record their favourite shows quickly and easily? How might our website landing page work best? These are the kind of questions to which we have helped our client – over the course of many years – find inspired answers.


In-depth interviews. Focus groups. Filmmaking. Journey maps. We’ve applied numerous different methods to enhance user experience for this dynamic, long-standing client.


Our work has led to the introduction of compelling new interfaces, content cataloguing systems and other innovative features – such as the ability to download shows directly to a set-top box, which, at the time, was considered groundbreaking. Beyond this, we’ve nurtured a culture of design thinking within the company – one which now leaps to solve problems and find desirable solutions for its millions of daily users.

Workshop session