Emily Wengert “Beyond Channels: Context is King”

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Today on Radio Johnny, Chris Baum talks with VP, User Experience at HUGE Brooklyn, Emily Wengert. Emily discusses her 2012 IA Summit presentation about designing with context. She covers how these ideas developed, what they mean when approaching a cross-channel design project, and gives examples of each of the contexts she explored in her talk. Her premise is that digital channels emerge more quickly than our typical design approaches are able to apply. Designing with context allows you to focus your design efforts in a way that lets the design process work across channels more effectively.


“ While untangling why I didn’t agree with a client’s request, I realized that part of it was they wanted to think about mobile as just mobile…They weren’t thinking through what they could really be doing for their business at different moments. I wanted to get them to stop thinking of the channel, but that’s how they organized themselves.”

“Because of that one really sharp right-hand turn in that project, we’ve been able to shift the feature set they were developing and be able to talk through how to prioritize features that matter in different contexts to make sure you weren’t dropping the ball in any particular context…Fortunately, the business goals have started to align even more strongly with that kind of positioning of thinking about these different moments and delivering on them. That’s only given us more firepower behind the scenes.”

“We should really stop offering less on the phone, because they might just be at home, even with their laptop 6-8ft away. It suddenly means we have to stop turning mobile into this dumber thing…mobile is actually smarter b/c it has so many other things (gyroscope, GIS, access to other data that you keep in your phone)… we have to stop oversimplifying it to the point where we’re not helping people very much.”


* Follow Emily on Twitter @wallowmuddy
* Overview of Emily’s IA Summit presentation

Chris Baum

Chris Baum uses the design practice to build technology and solve hard problems creatively as a consultant in San Francisco. He has been involved in the technology scene for more than a decade, moving between designer and product manager, freelancer and full-timer, big companies and startups. In his spare time, he wrangles his son, cooks food, eats (some of) it, edits Boxes and Arrows, serves on the board of the IA Institute, and mentors several up-and-coming designers. Find him at about.me/cbaum or on twitter @cb.

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