Kevin Humphries joins CoopDigital

Hi, I’m Catherine and I’ve been at CoopDigital since July, learning more about how our Co-op understands its data. As Mike said at the AGM earlier this year, our ambition is to be trusted with our members’ data, by only using their data for good. But, we need to earn that trust.

We’ll say more about our vision in future blog posts as our work develops. Today, I’m delighted to welcome Kevin Humphries to the team, who joins us to help shape our approach to data.

Kevin Humphries joins CoopDigital

Kevin was the first chief architect for HM Government where he established a central Government architecture function and has previously been a lead technologist in retail, financial services and utilities sectors. As part of his work here at the Co-op, Kevin will design our overall data architecture as well as setting the standards that we will use to manage our data.

His initial objectives are to:

  • Create a clear vision for how we manage our data across the Co-op
  • Outline a clear plan for how to achieve our vision

Kevin will start by speaking with colleagues across the business to understand where we are today, in terms of how our data is used and managed. We’ll keep you updated through this blog.

Catherine Brien
Data Science Director

User Research at CoopDigital

Hello, my name’s Simon and I’ve just joined the team at CoopDigital as a user researcher.  I’m really excited to be here and help the team build some world class digital services.

Picture of Simon Hurst - user researcher
Simon Hurst – user researcher

What does a user researcher do?

User researchers fulfil several roles for a team, we’re there to help them understand:

1) Who the users of our services are and understand what they need from the service. To build great services you need to truly empathise with your users.

2) What’s the problem the user is trying to solve, what goal are they trying to achieve? How can we support them to achieve their goal?

3) Whether the solution we’re looking to provide works well and how can it be better?

Meeting real people

We do this by getting out of the building and meeting real people, talking to them and trying to understand their lives, watching them trying to complete their goals or use things we’re building.

We work with a huge variety of people, this includes those who are just learning the ropes, people who have maybe been bought a tablet by their children, or people who use a screenreader to interact with their device because of a visual impairment.

Bringing the team along

It’s even better when you bring members of the team with you, getting people who are building the service and writing the code to see users actually using the thing they’ve built and to see them struggling can have a tremendous impact on how they tackle problems. The result is a team who care about what they’re building and are absolutely committed to making it the best it can be.

User researchers are interested in if people can use things to complete a task, user research isn’t about asking people if they ‘like’ what we’ve built, or what they think of the colours.

It can be frustrating for people to see something they’ve designed and built not working, to see people struggling to understand the words they’ve used, or to interact with the clever little interface they’ve made. However, the sooner we can recognise the issues, the sooner we can fix them, it’s better to find this out before you release the thing.

It’s even more important to understand why we are building something in the first place, is it needed by people? Is it helping them to achieve a goal or to solve a problem? If it isn’t we end up building something that could be the most beautiful designed and usable product or service, but if it’s not needed then no one will ever use it.

We’ll be looking at how we get involved with users more and more in the near future and we’ll be sure to blog about how we’re doing it and what we’re learning along the way. We’ll also be working hard to try and understand how user research applies in an organisation as diverse and varied as Co-op. There’ll be plenty more blogs to come from us on that.

Simon Hurst
User Researcher

Delivery in engineering

I’ve recently joined the CoopDigital team where I’ll be heading up delivery for engineering. I’m currently supporting the teams getting our new membership  ready for public launch in the Autumn.

Picture of the team working on new Co-op Membership
Some of the team working on new Co-op Membership

As you can probably tell if you’ve been following our blog, you’ll see that we are growing our internal capability to ensure we can support new and existing businesses with digital expertise.

I’ve worked in digital since 2000, but in the last 6 years have specialised in Agile delivery for media or retail applications. Most recently I was part of a BBC team that transformed ways of working for some key TV and mobile applications to ensure that value was delivered incrementally, enhancing the end user experience and reducing waste in getting there. This involved smaller multidisciplinary teams that were product led with the end user at the heart of all prioritisation.

The team here is in it’s infancy but with some exciting work lining up and an open culture where continuous improvement is encouraged I am very excited about being part of the team that can help set this up for success.

If you’re interested in getting involved and helping to shape our Delivery culture why not have a look at our existing vacancies.

Anna Dick

Emer Coleman joins CoopDigital

Emer Coleman joined CoopDigital this week.

A major part of our digital strategy is opening up to the digital economy, especially in the North-West. Working with our partners in the NOMA project, we’re creating shared spaces for digital collaboration and product delivery. Emer will be helping us to open this up for other businesses and organisations, as well as helping us find the best way for CoopDigital to support and be part of the growing digital community in the North West.

Emer has a huge amount of experience in leading digital transformation in both the public and private sector. She’s Chair of the Open Data Governance Board Ireland, and was part of the team that built  TransportAPI into a successful and sustainable transport data company. More recently Emer has been lecturing and writing on Techno Ethics and the need for new ethical approaches in the digital economy.  Her recent talk We Need To Talk About Ethics is worth taking a look at.

Picture of Emer Coleman
Emer Coleman

I know she’ll want to consult as widely as possible so that she can reflect the views of the community back to us here in CoopDigital. So get in touch with her. She’s not hard to find. She’s on the internet here www.emercoleman.com and here @emercoleman

Welcome Emer.

Mike Bracken
Chief Digital Officer

 

Alan Williamson joins as Head of Marketing for Co-op Electrical

In March  Co-op Electrical became part of CoopDigital. We want to grow and to make it a truly digital business, not just an online one. To help us do this I’m delighted to tell you Alan Williamson has joined as Head of Marketing for Co-op Electrical this week.

Alan has worked in marketing and eCommerce for over 15 years, most recently at Netflights.com a division of the Emirates group where he held the position of eCommerce Director. Before this Alan worked at Bupa, Shop Direct and City Bank.

Picture of Alan Williamson - head of marketing - Co-op Electrical
Alan Williamson – Head of Marketing – Co-op Electrical

As well as welcoming Alan to Co-op, I’d like to also say thank you to Charlie Manson who for the past 3 years has managed marketing together with his day job as Head of Buying.

Thanks Charlie and welcome Alan.

James Holland
Managing Director – Co-op Electrcial

Rick Healy & Dan McGraw join digital engineering

I’m delighted to welcome Rick and Dan to CoopDigital.

Picture of Rick Healy & Dan McGraw
Rick Healy (left) and Dan McGraw (right)

Rick Healy has been promoted to the role of principal architect in the Digital Engineering team. He’s been doing a lot of work on our new Membership platform, we’ll tell you more about that on the blog later this week. Rick’s worked with me on a number of projects over the years and has been a real leader in cultivating the solution architecture community at Co-op.

Dan McGraw joins the team as an architect. He’s  been on our graduate programme for the last 2 ½ years, where he’s taken roles as a Business Analyst, IT Project Manager and finally as a Solution Architect, working with lots of our businesses and most recently on the membership platform.

Welcome to both.
Danielle Haugedal-Wilson

For the latest vacancies at CoopDigital visit http://coop.uk/digitaljobs and search digital.

Why content design matters at Co-op

Hello, I’m Joanne, a new Content Designer at Co-op. I’m one of 3 new content designers who’ve recently joined CoopDigital’s design team. The team has a range of experience and skills from user research to interaction design. We’ve been recruited from both within and outside Co-op to build transformational, user-focused digital services.

Content design might be new to you. So, here’s what it is, how it’ll change what we put on Co-op’s website and why it’s essential for the future of the business.

Content designers Joanne Schofield, Fiona Linton-Forrest & Sophie Colbert
Content designers Joanne Schofield, Fiona Linton-Forrest & Sophie Colbert

What is content design?

Content design isn’t just writing and editing words.

Content design is discovering why someone has come to our website or web page – what they came to do, find out, order – then exploring the quickest, easiest, simplest way to allow them to do that.

Content design gives essential content only at the point that it’s relevant and through the most effective channel. That means we must understand the whole service – all the steps the user goes through to get their task done – to determine the most effective place to give the user information.

So, content designers will ask ‘why?’. A lot.

Why we need to design content

The internet has given customers power. Expectations are raised. People expect online services to be easy and straight-forward. If we don’t serve customers well, we’ll disappoint them, frustrate them, lose their trust, and consequently their business.The future of Co-op relies on knowing our users and making services that will make their lives simpler.

It’s impossible to have good services without good content design. Getting information to people when they need it, how they need it and in a way that they understand, is critical. Content is the service.

So, we research our services with real users. We’re building services that we’re proud of, that are revolutionary, but more importantly, are built with the user at the centre.

Words get in the way

Users interact with web content in a different way to print. They’re impatient. They’re usually on a mobile device and time-poor. So they skim-read, looking for headings and links that will help them get to where they need to be. 75% of each web page isn’t read. We need to edit content to a bare minimum and get out of the way, so the user can get where they need, fast.

Web content should only exist if we know that there’s a need for it to be there. People generally don’t want to spend much time on a company’s website. They usually know why they’re there and what they want to do. We need to make this easy. If we can’t explain what content is helping our users do, it shouldn’t be on our site.

And all content should be meaningful, written using words we know our users use and understand. This might not be what we call things internally. Each word is competing for our users attention – we need to make each one count.

Designing for all

We can’t control who views our website. We can’t assume any prior knowledge of the subject we write about, the user’s web experience or their personal circumstance.

By writing in a consistently clear, simple, honest way we open up our services to all. The average reading age in the UK is 9 years old, and many users have English as a second language. We should write in a clear way, get rid of jargon and service-specific terminology, be friendly but to the point. We shouldn’t be afraid to be obvious. If we’re not we’ll create a barrier between us and our users. And they’ll go elsewhere.

Designing with empathy

Each user comes to our site with their own story, situation, insecurities and struggles. What we think may be a simple field in a form could have emotional triggers for our users. What if someone is asked to enter their ‘home address’ and they’re homeless or in a safe house? Insensitivity can not just lose customers, but can upset and offend.

Regular user research with a diverse range of users will help us design empathetic services for everyone. And nothing underpins Co-op’s values more so than inclusive, honest, transparent design that puts users at the heart of the business and in control of Co-op services and products.

Joanne Schofield

Catherine Brien joins as Data Science Director

I’m delighted to welcome Catherine Brien who will be joining CoopDigital as Data Science Director in July. At the AGM I talked about making the Co-op trusted with data, Catherine will be vital in making that a reality.

Catherine joins us from Oliver Wyman where she is a partner as well as global leader of their women’s network, founding member of the inclusion council, and the lead for their social impact model.  Keep an eye on the blog as Catherine will write about the progress we’re making.

Image of Catherine Brien
Catherine Brien

One more thing, as you may have read in Martha’s blog  Russell Davies our Director of Digital Strategy is also going to be working for Doteveryone as Interim CEO, you can read a little more about this news from Russell.

Good luck Russell and welcome Catherine.

Mike Bracken
Chief Digital Officer

Hello from Lawrence Kitson.

I’m Lawrence and I joined CoopDigital today. Originally from Salford, I’ve been working at ustwo in London for the last six years, and prior to that at Sony Ericsson over in Sweden where I worked as an interaction Designer on their smartphone platforms.

At ustwo, I’ve led Interaction/service design & UX on lots of projects, including massive trading platforms, developing the original Barclays Pingit application concept, worked with small businesses to help them understand what they do better, and helped build a fantastic team of designers.

Lawrence Kitson
Lawrence Kitson

Over the last couple of years I’ve been working as a “Product Lead”, on new product/service development projects, testing and validating new propositions and releasing Minimum Viable Products/Alphas. In that role, I work with a team of designers, developers and coach to define, validate and release the best possible version of a new product or service that delivers the most value for users and stakeholders.

I’m helping to run a Masters degree at Hyper Island and also working with a charity called Diverse City to define a service that helps emerging performing artists with an impairment gain more access to mainstream opportunities.

I have written about the opportunity new regulation is bringing to the personal finance market for companies to make products and services that improve financial literacy.

I’m passionate about the opportunity we have to make things a bit more equal by building products and services that are designed to improve people’s lives. I can’t think of a better company to do that for than The Co-op.

Lawrence Kitson

Andrew Travers joins CoopDigital as Head of Digital Design.

I’m really pleased to say Andrew Travers has joined CoopDigital as Head of Digital Design.

Andrew Travers
Andrew Travers – Head of Digital Design
At The Co-op we’re building an in-house design team relentlessly focused on user needs. Andrew will work with me and all the designers here, both digital and in other areas, to define The Co-op’s design direction and standards; establishing a really strong design practice. We need more talent in this area, so look out for us posting job opportunities here very soon.

Over the last ten years Andrew has been leading design teams and working on high profile projects with well-known names including Pearson Education, Method, Cern and the BBC – you can find more out about Andrew on his blog. Most recently he was Interim Head of Design at HMRC. There he led the largest departmental design team in government; setting direction and managing design standards across 25 parallel service delivery projects; establishing HMRC’s design practice and agile design approach.

Andrew is really passionate about working to bring great design jobs to the north west, to give talented designers the opportunity to stay or to return, or to discover the north for the first time.

He’s also written a book about the crucial role of research to the design process.

It’s great to have him here – welcome Andrew.

Ben Terrett

Group Design Director