A Bold year to remember!

A Bold year to remember!

Bold Insight started out small, much like my former company 20 years earlier, User Centric, where a few set off with lofty ideas and a plan. But this time, we are smarter. We learned from the growing pains, the corporate red tape, and how to run a business better to ultimately benefit our clients. A year has passed and Bold Insight has emerged into so much more than anyone could have dreamed.

We set the bar high with an adjective that would guide us both individually and collectively to be BOLD. As UX researchers, our brains tell us to be thoughtful and calculated. But our hearts scream for us to be courageous.

Courageous by being a committed and curious research partner that cares about product success as much as our clients do, and to consistently provide the insight needed to create safer and more efficient, effective, and engaging experiences.

Courageous by nurturing a fun, supportive, and dynamic work environment that imparts cultural values of empowerment, resourcefulness, and ingenuity; to reward dedication and initiative with opportunities to share in the success of the business. That’s what being an employee-owned business is all about.

Courageous by giving back to the community through our commitment to philanthropy and investment in advancing our field. In 2018, we supported undergrads and graduate students studying human-computer interaction (HCI), organized a company team for a charity 5K, and hosted two networking events (Chips for Charity) that resulted in donations to 20 charities and look forward to more in 2019.

In a short year, we have surpassed our goals. We have grown from two to 30 in what seems like a heartbeat. With that growth comes office expansion. We are so excited about two brand new offices in 2019. Built from the ground up, our goal is to make these spaces uniquely “Bold Insight” to reflect our company culture. Our Chicago Loop location will open in January 2019 and our new headquarters, designed around the employee experience, will open in March 2019 in Downers Grove, IL (Chicago suburb).

In the last year, we have also expanded our international network through global funding. With partner locations in Germany, Switzerland, and Japan, we are poised to support global projects effectively and efficiently.

What a year this has been! Bring it on 2019! We are excited for it to begin!

The critical component missing from AI technology

The critical component missing from AI technology



The first step when developing AI is to understand the user need; but just as critical, is knowing the context in which the data is being collected.

The bold future of UX: How new tech will shape the industry

Part 3  The critical component missing from AI technology

In our last post on artificial intelligence (AI) , we discussed the three pillars that AI needs to consider to be successful: context, interaction, and trust. In this post, we will dive deeper into the idea of context.

It’s no secret that AI is a hot topic in virtually every industry; how to apply it, how it will advance the industry, how it will improve the experience for the customer. It was a major topic at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), and articles that either expound the virtues of AI or predict that it will be humankind’s downfall are in the popular press on a regular basis. It’s clear that while the opportunities are seemingly endless, there is a critical component missing from much of the AI technology out there: In what context is the data (that allows AI to learn) being collected?

Don’t build it just because you can

When we think of the buzz around AI, we must pause to ensure we are “not building AI just because we can.” While the opportunity is great for efficiency, people will hear this statement and immediately fear for their jobs. But successful manufacturing companies know that the key is striking the right balance between robots and people. The first step is to understand what user need is addressed with the robots. Some examples of this include:

What’s missing, and is currently doing a disservice to AI, is context. Around Valentine’s Day, a story came out where AI was asked to come up with new Valentine’s Day candy heart messages. But without context, it produced quite a few messages that would confuse (and possibly anger) anyone that received them. (I know I wouldn’t want to receive a heart that said “Sweat Poo” or “Stank love”.)

When we build AI tech, there are three stages where context must be considered:

  1. Before it’s built: Beyond uncovering the user need that the tech will address, we must make sure that the context in which it will be used gets into the AI process. This will ensure we collect the right data.
  2. During: When the data goes in, it must have context. For example, if you are collecting data on behavior in a car compared to a bedroom or kitchen, it’s clear that the context would be important.
  3. Using the collected data: Currently, AI is a ‘black box’ – you throw in data and see what comes out. But the user must use AI to do something. If we take a user-centered design approach to how the insight might be used, this is when we will really see how powerful AI can be.

The potential for AI is astounding, and it will likely be one of the defining technologies of the 21st century. However, AI is only going to be as good as the data and information that we feed to it. By providing AI with the proper context for it to advance properly, we are helping to ensure that AI is delivering on its promise of simplifying life for the end users.

What are your thoughts on the idea of context in AI? Start the discussion by leaving a comment below!

The next post in our future tech blog series will move from software to hardware with a discussion around robotics.

This blog post is part three of a series, The bold future of UX: How new tech will shape the industry, that discusses future technologies and some of the issues and challenges that will face the user and the UX community. Read Part 1 that discussed Singularity and the associated challenges with UX design and Part 2 which provided an overview of focus areas for AI to be successful.

Just in time for the Super Bowl – A football metaphor for UX research and design

Just in time for the Super Bowl – A football metaphor for UX research and design



User research and user-centered design are inseparable. We are quarterbacks. We don’t like to run.
LinkedIn doesn’t lack for content and opinions on how to define roles within the broad sphere of user-centered research and user-centered design. In acknowledgement of the proliferation of the UX industry, and the fact that there are plenty of good reasons for specialized titles beyond a general “UX Practitioner,” we will lead with the caveat that, for this blog, we’re talking about user research and user-centered design in general. We thought we’d have a little fun and, at the same time, share our perspectives on the relationship between user research and user-centered design via gridiron metaphor.

There’s no “I” in team

User research and user-centered design are inseparable in our minds. Doing good user research isn’t worth anything if you don’t tie it to your design process; user-centered design isn’t really user-centered if it isn’t based on research. Kind of like having a blue-chip quarterback isn’t worth much without a high-quality receiver or two.

The QB

Regardless of specific title, the user researcher (intentionally vague) plans, manages, and executes the user-centered research that will ultimately provide the insights used to guide product design. Just as the legendary quarterback Joe Montana had the ability to read the defense and adapt the game plan, a great user researcher (intentionally vague) has the ability to observe and understand the use-related challenges faced by the intended users of a product and guide product design with those insights.

The receivers

Now, consider who gets the ball, like Hall-of-Fame Receiver Jerry Rice. He has the skills and experience to carve up a defense and make big plays happen – much like a great designer has the skills and experience to execute upon research insights and create a best-in-class product or interface design. The designers often snag the highlight reels when they do their job particularly well. The brilliantly-designed product or interface akin to the receivers’ one-handed catch dragging a toe while falling of bounds. But that play is not possible without the quarterback’s audible at the line of scrimmage based on reading the challenges presented by the defense. Assume “the pass” is an insight traveling from quarterback to the receiver. A quarterback can adjust the flight path of the ball to avoid the defenders. The great ones can deliver the ball to the receivers in stride just like great researchers provide designers with the well-placed insights to design with confidence. Each team member plays an equally important role, and it doesn’t do much good to have one without the other.

But let’s be real, we prefer research to running

We love working directly with designers, and in fact, many of us have worn designer hats in the past. But make no mistake – we are researchers. We excel at uncovering and interpreting the nuances of use-related challenges and delights so that designers have the framework they need to create products and services that provide exceptional user experiences. Also, we don’t like to run. We are actively seeking quarterbacks to join our team. If you share our passion, visit our Careers page.

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