User interface design, the translation of consumer insights into new products or services, and why he ended his successful career at a string of international agencies to join ZEISS – Niels Clausen-Stuck, Head of Customer Experience at ZEISS Digital Innovation Partners, answered various questions we put to him about his work at ZEISS.
Niels, a few words about your background?
The last 20 years of my career were focused entirely on user experience. I originally started with a degree in pottery – Don Norman got me into usability with his book The Psychology of Everyday Things. Interaction design was pretty new back then – and I turned into a user interface expert mostly through freelancing and autodidactic design studies. I was one of the first back then to focus on product interaction design, and I was lucky to land work at different agencies around the globe. At IDEO I learned about user-centered design and design thinking. Designit introduced me to the Scandinavian take on UI design. FROG taught me about agile, and at Design Affairs I focused on brand-shaping user interface expression. Essentially it was the broad agency experience.
So after so many years as a consultant, why did you join the ZEISS Digital Innovation Partners?
During my career I learned a lot working with different clients from a broad range of industries. Working as a consultant, you jump from one gig to the next. This is great for exposure and bringing ideas from one area to the other, but I started to miss having an impact by truly bringing things to fruition. As a designer, I do not only want to fill post-its and create nice renderings – I want to make great things real. The setup of the Digital Innovation Partners sounded like an amazing best-of-both-worlds combination of industry and an agency. Here you delve into new challenges and are responsible for the results, but you also have the flexibility and the breadth that you encounter at an agency working across the business groups.
What’s the main task of your group?
Actually, we have three focus areas in my group:
The UX/UI designers help to make the stuff we do here at the Digital Innovation Partners tangible. That means whatever product or solution we develop here, they visualize, they shape it, always with an eye for the users’ and customers’ perspective and needs.
The user / customer research specialists bring hands-on qualitative user research expertise to our projects. We want to ensure that the insights we gain stay and aggregate at ZEISS, not at our research suppliers and consultants.
Our data scientists and analysts take the quantitative research and analysis – the potential that resides in the wealth of the data that we generate across our products and services – to a completely new level.
In essence, we translate customer and user insights into opportunities for new products and new services – and shape and massage them into reality. We support and facilitate the design process in general with design thinking and user research.
What would you say is the biggest challenge for ZEISS when it comes to UX/UI design?
ZEISS has a unique heritage and strong and stringent industrial design. We need to translate that into a coherent and recognizable UX/UI Design. What I envision looking forward is a user experience that is on par with the top consumer brands.
Niels, what’s your unique selling point for convincing someone like you to join the Digital Innovation Partners?
Impact! You can have impact in an environment that is as dynamic as an agency. The setup we are creating here is unique – like I said. You enjoy the best of the two worlds, agency and industry.
Are you interested in joining ZEISS? Click here, to browse through our open positions.