Creating teams. Shaping futures.

Product | People | Potential – our chat with ContentCal

We caught up with Alex Packham, Founder & CEO of ContentCal as part of ‘Product | People | Potential’. ContentCal is a simple to use, visual tool with custom approvals for content creation and publishing.

The purpose of article series ‘Product | People | Potential’ is to feature and showcase the very best UK start-ups with grand potential, truly inspiring businesses that are shaking up their sector. We capture and share the stories behind the name. We collate authentic peer to peer real-talk, while celebrating the growth and success thus far and gather a glimpse of what’s ahead.

Sophie @ADLIB: Hi Alex, great to meet you! Please can you kick us off with an introduction to yourself and ContentCal.

Alex: My name is Alex, I am the founder of ContentCal, we are a content marketing SaaS platform that provides tools to combine Trello, GoogleDocs and several other different marketing tools into one place. The purpose is to allow SMEs and enterprise businesses to have everything under one roof, so when it comes to planning, video content and the strategy roadmap, all of the assets you need to collect; whether that be videos, pictures, key creative assets, you can calendarise them, schedule them and publish them to wherever you want them to go. All under one roof. We then provide analytics off the back of that so that you can measure performance. The key thing for us is giving these features and toolsets to as many businesses possible. We want SMEs to be able to use our products to make their lives easier and it is configurable for larger enterprise businesses as well. It’s a big market that we are going for!

In terms of myself, my background was in social media and marketing before I became an entrepreneur. I started in social media and marketing at university and I ran Odeon Cinema’s and NOW TV’s social. So I have been in and around social media and content marketing for around 10 years and I have been an entrepreneur since I was 14, there is definitely a mentality of entrepreneurs and it shows itself when you are very young!

Sophie @ADLIB: How has the journey been so far?

Alex: It’s been great! It’s been a mad journey because the phases of building a start-up are so different, whether on your own or within a founding team. I originally founded ContentCal on my own and one of the first hurdles was validating that the idea could actually become a business. Once you have funding, you have proven that the business should work in theory but then you have to make the business work in reality.

It took us around 2 years to find the product market fit. You get to the point where you are building a company in reality and that holds its own challenges. Everything about a start-up is challenging, we have been through Brexit and now Coronavirus.

I feel like I have aged massively in the last 4 years but the experience I have had and the people I have met are amazing and everything has been worth it! I like to be pushed out of my comfort zone as much as possible and although I don’t want to be in that mode forever, I do like being challenged. Most entrepreneurs thrive on being challenged, and I have certainly had plenty of those over the years.

Sophie @ADLIB: How did you find the initial start-up team and what skills were you looking for in other people to compliment your own?

Alex: In the really early days, it was more about who I could get involved that was able to do the things that I couldn’t. I don’t design or code, so I had to reach out to my network at the right time and finding the right product designer was a real challenge. I had tried to design it 3 or 4 times before and then I was introduced to Lawrence Smith, who is still with us and is now our Design Director. He understood my vision and designed it exactly as I had imagined it.

It’s hard in those early days, you can’t afford recruiter fees, you don’t really know where to start. I was only 24 when I founded the business and you have to go with the flow to a certain extent. My initial method was, who can I find in my network that would be interested in getting involved in a start-up and can do the things I can’t do. Another guy who joined in those early days was Noel, I know nothing about sales, he is an amazing salesperson but was also able to build a team.

Over the years the recruitment process has become more sophisticated but in those early stages, everything is just about building the momentum and getting the business off the ground. We progressed relentlessly in those days, it is much more structured now.

Sophie @ADLIB: In terms of people, how have you ensured you have hired the right people throughout the last 3 years and what advice would you give somebody founding a tech start-up today?

Alex: Being resourceful is a big thing for me, if you ask someone to do something and their initial answer is ‘I don’t know how to do that’, that isn’t helpful. No individual knows everything, but I like the attitude of, ‘I will find a way’. Alongside that, it is really important in a start-up environment to have a good work ethic and to want to have fun along the way.

In those early days hiring was mainly based on an instinctive feeling, but there are negatives to that because you end up hiring people that sometimes work out really well and sometimes you make a hiring mistake by hiring someone who just interviews really well.

We definitely have had experiences like that, when you are in the interview room and you have this strong feeling that they are the right person, but then they don’t work out or they can’t scale up to the next stage of the business, maybe their tolerance for change isn’t as high as others.

To anyone in the early stages, my advice would be to have your entrepreneurial gut feel but layer on another level of more professional rigour around your interview process. Whether that is through tests or bringing other people into the interview process. Make sure that gut feeling is ticked, but then have a really thorough process alongside that. You won’t always get it right, but you will minimise those hiring mistakes.

Sophie @ADLIB: I hear that you have hired 5 people virtually due to the Coronavirus lockdown, do you have any advice on interviewing virtually and onboarding people remotely?

Alex: I have hired virtually before, so luckily this is not something new for me. You have to be really focused when you do your interviews, look at the person in the eye and pay real attention and minimise distractions. During these 5 virtual hires, I have asked much tougher questions in the first stage, that I would previously have saved for a second interview. By reversing the process and asking the tougher questions first and then building the rapport afterwards, we have found it easier to know if someone is a good fit. We have also been much stricter on collecting references and if the hire has been a strategic role, we have taken longer to make a decision.

Sophie @ADLIB: You have built a solid client list, including the likes of BMW, Honda, Royal Mail and the NHS. But in the early days, how was the response to market and were there any key learnings that you can share?

Alex: My original business was an agency that morphed into ContentCal over time. Because I had built relationships with Sky and Odeon in those early days of my career, they became my first two clients, so I have always worked with large corporations. The challenge was learning how to sell into smaller organisations. When we initially started selling ContentCal, we were trying to sell it into larger corporations and I realised we were selling through founder relationships, rather than the product.

When we flipped it to SMEs, they wanted to know whether the product solves the problem that they are facing. From there, we had to go on a different journey and I played a very small role in that. We brought someone in called Andy, who is a key player in our founding team and he had SaaS sales experience. He was so important to the business as he is great at selling through demos of our product, which I am terrible at. In the last year, where we have built up the business to a decent size, we have been acquiring corporate clients organically. The big customers want a really robust product, they need it to work, it takes longer to make a decision, whereas for SMEs the process is much shorter. So, it is a completely different sales process compared to larger corporate businesses.

Sophie @ADLIB: It would be great to get some insight into how you, as a business, have coped during the time of lockdown and how you have kept creative when you couldn’t be in a room together with the wider team?

Alex: We just closed funding in February, and we had been planning this strategy day with the team, to showcase the vision for the next 2 years and the night before, I had a call from our VC funders, that there had been a coronavirus case in the office, so we were no longer able to be in the office. That was a bit rubbish, we had some great stuff planned. And then we had to quickly attune our attention to remote working, which didn’t take long practically.

I had never realised how much some people love the office. Being around people and having comradery, is probably the thing that gives them the most energy throughout the working day. On the opposite end, some people have loved working from home.

It’s so interesting, the indexes of the team, lockdown has really showcased that dynamic. So we have created a structure which can support both these types of personalities. Daily optional zoom calls, team events and socials, but we have to be mindful that some people are on zoom calls all day, and sometimes they need time off calls. We have already made the decision as a business not to go back to the old way, there are so many benefits to working flexibly. We will have one set day where everyone will be in the office, but every other day will be flexible and hopefully, this will have a great impact on everyone’s mental health.

Sophie @ADLIB: You have had some very successful Seed rounds, do you have any tips for aspiring entrepreneurs on how to navigate funding and finding the right investors?

Alex: Speak to someone who has done it before! There aren’t many people in the UK that have done B2B SaaS, who are accessible that you can have a coffee with, so I had to navigate the funding rounds myself. I have had mentors over the years who have been fantastic in term of business, but I have never had a close mentor around getting to VC funding. We did a friends and family round, then an accelerator and I spent a lot of time networking. My angel investor mentor really liked ContentCal from the beginning and he helped to make introductions and in the end, he invested himself and is still very involved in the business today. The accelerator was great to get exposure and to really evaluate the business plan. We have so far raised £2.7 million in angel funding, which was over 5 mini rounds. Getting into VC funding is a whole other ball game. I contacted our accelerator contacts who organised a networking breakfast, it was pure chance I sat next to Stan from Fuel Ventures, who have most recently invested. So, my advice for other start-ups would be to set your goals, look at different avenues, introduction, networking events, accelerators etc.

Sophie @ADLIB: ContentCal have now raised $6.4M in Seed and Angel funding rounds, which is a great achievement, what is your plan for future investments?

Alex: We are at a stage where things are scalable now, but we need to start scaling different layers. We plan to double our output across all areas of the business, from sales, tech, marketing and we need to do that at a reasonably fast pace. We will try and get all the resources in place, ready for that growth. We will analyse whether we need to do a top up phase. I am already thinking about the next pitch and I hope to give myself a year before the next funding round. We definitely want to do a Series A, but our business ambition is to be the number one content marketing platform for SMEs and we need to deliver on that. We have to piece together the plan to get there knowing the journey is going to be wobbly in reality.

Sophie @ADLIB: Finally, is there anything you wish you knew at the beginning of the start-up process?

Alex: There is so much! But my advice would be to speak with as many people who have built similar businesses and eventually sold them. Ask loads of questions and have multiple. Don’t just go and read books and blogs, get the real story from speaking to people in person. And then once you have learnt, get into execution mode and get the business off the ground.

Thank you so much for your time today Alex, it has been really insightful to hear about your journey and thank you for all of your advice!

Product | People | Potential – our chat with Howbout

Here, our chat with Neil Tanna, CEO & Co-Founder of Howbout. Howbout is a social planning app that combines events, group chats and calendar sharing to make organising plans simple. It automatically finds dates that work, easily coordinates diaries and arranges plans with friends in seconds.

The purpose of article series ‘Product | People | Potential’ is to feature and showcase the very best UK start-ups with grand potential, truly inspiring businesses that are shaking up their sector. We capture and share the stories behind the name. We collate authentic peer to peer real-talk, while celebrating the growth and success thus far and gather a glimpse of what’s ahead.

Jake @ ADLIB: Hi Neil, great to meet you. Can you start us off with an introduction to you and Howbout, please?

Neil: Hey Jake, great to meet you too! I first had the idea for Howbout when I moved to London in 2015. At Uni, making social plans and seeing friends was easy: everyone was generally free, lived close by and things were a lot more spontaneous. After graduating, everyone moved further away, people become a lot busier and everyone has a lot more things to juggle. Suddenly, organising any social plan – from a quick beer to a weekend trip – got a lot harder because of the need to pin down and organise the ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘where’ and ‘when’ each time. As we all know, a lot of the time the pain of planning usually stops the plan from happening and I saw a clear need for an app that made social planning quick and effortless.

At the time, I was training to become a lawyer and was too busy focusing on my legal exams and the job itself to really give the idea any proper thought. It was always on the back of my mind, but I suppose I was coasting.

My perspective changed completely in 2018. My mum was diagnosed with terminal cancer and that was the wake-up call I needed. It’s a phrase we’ve all heard, but only in that moment did I finally understand the phrase “life is too short”. My mum knew all about the idea and I promised her I’d go for it. She sadly passed away in March 2019 and by August I’d gone full time on Howbout.

At a similar time, my two Co-Founders also went full time. We focused on building the first iteration of the app and the business plan and launched a closed beta to 129 testers in our target market. After a lot of testing and improvement, we launched the app publicly in December 2019.

Jake @ ADLIB: Can you talk us through Howbout?

Neil: Howbout is a free social planning app that combines events, group chats and calendar sharing to make organising plans simple. Plans can be made in seconds and not only include the ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘where’ and ‘when’, but each event also has its own built-in chat and syncs directly into your calendar. It solves arguably the biggest planning pain point by instantly finding a time and date your whole group can make for you. For example, if you’re organising after work drinks on a Thursday or Friday, a Saturday brunch or a week away, Howbout can automatically find when you’re all next able to make it by securely attaching to your existing calendars and finding when works. The app also lets you share calendars with your closest friends and you can invite anyone to an event whether they have the app or not.

Think of Howbout as an app that combines the best elements of Facebook events, WhatsApp, Doodle and your calendars together.

Jake @ ADLIB: You launched under a different name, right?

Neil: Yes, that’s right! We launched as ‘ZYNG’ and have recently rebranded to ‘Howbout’. Unfortunately, quite a large US company wasn’t happy about the similarities between their name and ours and applied some heavy pressure. Looking back at it though, it was a really good learning opportunity for us and we prefer ‘Howbout’, especially as there’s a much closer link between our product and name now. ‘Howbout’ is a play on the phrase “How about…”, which is used a lot in social planning, for example, “How about we do this / go here / next Wednesday” etc. It actually works much better than ZYNG ever did, so we’re happy with how it all ended up!

Jake @ ADLIB: What’s the journey been like so far in the last year and can you tell us about your recent investment round?

Neil: We launched in December 2019 on both the Google Play and Apple App stores. We hadn’t raised investment at that point and the company had been completely bootstrapped by us three Co-Founders. We’d managed to build the first version of the product in-house for less than £500 which, looking back on it, we still can’t believe!

When we launched, because of a lack of any sort of proper marketing budget, we set ourselves a target of 500 downloads in our first month, which we reached in our first week. We exceeded 4,000 downloads by March and were growing strong on very little paid marketing. We learnt quickly that the product spoke for itself because everyone knows about the problem we’re solving, so we didn’t have to worry too much about explaining the problem to people – we simply needed to point them in the direction of Howbout.

We waited until after we had launched to have proper conversations with investors because we wanted to show some initial traction and excitement for the product. We were keen to find the right sort of investors – ones who believed in us, the product and could add value in some way – whether through further introductions, advice, experience in our area etc. We hustled hard in those initial months – sending emails, using our network and extended network, attending random pitch events, finding people on LinkedIn etc. Thankfully, we were able to close our first found in February, which amazingly included Claire Valoti, the VP International at Snap and Amir Nooriali, who’s the CCO of Callsign. Claire also joined our Board as a Non-Executive Director. Both of them have had a huge impact on our thinking and we’re really lucky to have them as part of the team.

Jake @ ADLIB: You’ve managed to bring on two great investors, what was it about your product that made them join the team?

Neil: I think, firstly, they agree that it’s a clear problem that needs solving and they can see the potential in it. There are plenty of tools out there that work to solve similar problems on the professional side, like easily scheduling meetings and finding when people are free in the workplace.

Jake @ ADLIB: Like Slack or Microsoft Teams…

Neil: Exactly, and tools like Calendly and even the features in-built into Outlook. There are so many things to help people have an efficient work-life, but there’s nothing out there to help solve similar problems in our social lives. There are only really two solutions out there: Facebook events or WhatsApps groups, but neither really works. A lot of the millennial generation, our target users, don’t use Facebook or Facebook events as much as they used to, and especially not for casual events like a beer, dinner, or holiday.

More often than not, people use WhatsApp to organise plans, but it’s such a frustrating experience. It’s definitely more informal and fluid than a Facebook event, which people like, but all the main details, information and links are lost in an endless stream of messages. It’s also so manual – you have to constantly go back-and-forth to find a time and date everyone can do, screenshot google map pictures to agree where to meet, manually add the event to your calendar and keep scrolling back up to remind yourself of the ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘where’ and ‘when’. Howbout essentially provides you with the structure of a Facebook event with the speed and informality of a WhatsApp group, and throws in a few modern features like automatically finding the date that works and calendar sharing.

The other side of it is their belief in us as founders. All three Co-Founders left good careers to jump fully into this and we’re really passionate about it. We have very different backgrounds, but we’re all equally driven and enthusiastic about the problem we’re solving.

Jake @ ADLIB: That leads nicely onto the People part of the interview, can you tell us a little bit about the founding team and their backgrounds?

Neil: I set up ZYNG with two of my good friends from Uni – Duncan Cowan and Jake Jenner. After Uni, Duncan worked as a Spacecraft Engineer and he is without a doubt one of the smartest guys I know. He’s got a ton of app and web coding experience and I somehow managed to convince him that co-founding Howbout would be as exciting as putting satellites in the sky. Jake worked as an investment banker and private equity investor after Uni, but like me saw a lot of excitement in the prospect of running and growing a tech start-up.

We bring a lot of different experience and skills to the team which I think is really important. A big reason we were able to keep costs so low at the beginning was because we were able to do so much in-house: app development, design, marketing, legal, financials etc. But more important than that is we all have the same passion, hustle and drive. Launching a tech start-up is not a glamourous life. There’s been a lot of all-nighters, crashing on each other floors and we went without a salary for a long time.

It’s crucial that we all have the same vision, determination and, in one sense, obsession with the problem we’re trying to solve.

Jake @ ADLIB: What’s the plan moving forward from a People perspective?

Neil: We’ve hired our first employee – Callum Murray – who’s joined as a Software Engineer. In these early days, it’s crucial our product continues to develop and grow and we can only grow as quickly as our Software Engineers can take us. Until now, everything has been built by Duncan, and he’s done a phenomenal job but you can only go so fast as one man.

Callum used to work with Duncan and he’s s a Deep Learning specialist. He’s another really gifted coder and was involved with the coding on the Mars Rover so we know we’ve lucked out! The first handful of hires a start-up makes can make-or-break it, so it was really important we hire right. But it’s a two-way street – just as we were looking to find a gifted coder, we needed to prove to Calum that we were worth him leaving his previous role for. We essentially needed to pitch him to join us, just as we would pitch an investor. It was quite a lengthy process, as we needed to make sure personalities clicked too.

Jake @ ADLIB: Absolutely, at that early stage, you need people to be able to connect with the founders as recruitment for start-ups has become so emotive. There are exciting projects everywhere, so you really need them to buy into the vision or product…

Neil: Exactly, as an early-stage start-up employee, it’s really important that they see the vision and want to help the company get there. There’s so much ownership of tasks needed and early start-up employees can have a huge impact on the direction of the company. For example, as our first employee, Calum is involved in a lot more than his job spec. He takes part in product strategy discussions, marketing chats, business strategy meetings etc. You need someone who can roll up their sleeves and get stuck in, which is exactly what we got with Calum.

Jake @ ADLIB: Especially if there’s only four of you in a room working long hours, you need to get on with them and they are working as hard as you.

How has virtual onboarding gone for you?

Neil: It was definitely an experience! We hadn’t onboarded anyone before, let alone virtually onboarding, so it was definitely a learning experience! Thankfully, we hadn’t yet signed for a lease anywhere before lockdown hit, but we were definitely expecting to onboard Calum into an office where he’d be working side-by-side with Duncan! There was a learning curve for the team, but we quickly adapted to virtually working and collaborating. We use Microsoft Teams, which I’m a huge advocate of, and that’s really helped us transition into the new way of working.

A big challenge with virtual onboarding is how you integrate the new person socially, without the after-work drinks, team lunches and general office chats. It definitely helped that we’d met Calum a few times and that he and Duncan knew each other well before he joined, but we’ve also made an effort to have regular Zoom drinks, virtual pub quizzes etc. Thankfully, Howbout’s been quite handy…

Jake @ ADLIB: We use Teams and we’ve onboarded people during the pandemic, and while it’s not ideal, it’s been a lot smoother than we thought it would be.

Neil: You can make the most of it, but there’s nothing like meeting face-to-face over a pint on their first day, rather than doing it in your living room!

Jake @ ADLIB: If we move on to Product, we’ve spoken a bit about the why and how regarding Howbout. Can you tell us where you are with product development now and how you are seeing that changing over the next year or so?

Neil: Two big things underpin our product development strategy. The first is the need to work agile and constantly iterate, and the other is placing a lot of importance on analytics.

Agile development for us means constantly iterating, testing, reviewing, and gaining feedback. We have a really strong beta community who we constantly go to for feedback on new features, design and functionality from which we grow, learn, and adapt. It’s a constant learning and feedback experience.

When it comes to analytics, we’re pretty obsessed. It’s crucial that we make decisions – from UI, UX and feature decisions to marketing and user acquisition decisions – based on our statistics and how users are using, interacting and engaging with the app and our brand.

Compared to when we started to where we are now, we’ve pivoted to focus on certain areas over others by learning how people actually use our app. An idea only ever gets you so far – it’s then about execution and implementation of it and how consumers react to it. It’s all about staying flexible and growing as the product grows. We’ve learnt a lot about how people use the product, which has identified, for example, the need for us to build a web app to sit side-by-side with our app. We’ve also got a lot of plans to add additional event-planning features within the app, and integrate with businesses in the not-too-distant future. Watch this space!

Jake @ ADLIB: Anything else that you’ve focused on?

Neil: One thing that’s been a real focus for us is reducing adoption friction. People are fed up of downloading new apps, especially if they need their friends to sign up for it as well. We’ve built the app in a certain way so that only the host needs to have Howbout downloaded to create the event. Instead of relying on the actual app, they can invite them via a WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, email link etc, and everybody involved has all of the details of everything on there. If they want additional features, then they can download the app themselves – essentially giving them the “try before you buy” experience. We’ve also worked hard on streamlining our user onboarding experience, which has had a positive impact.

Jake @ ADLIB: Finally, when it comes to Potential, what’s the ultimate aim for Howbout?

Neil: We have to be visionary about this. If you have the vision, then you have something that you are working towards, and that keeps your passion up.

We want to be the go-to app for arranging plans. We want people, no matter if they are using their laptop, tablet, or phone, to think of Howbout as their number one planning and scheduling tool for social events.

Sounds great, thanks, Neil!

Ask The Expert – Designing for behaviour change

This year, we’ve again sponsored the UX Bristol event and the lineup of workshops was brilliant. We heard from Efi Chatzopoulou. Her workshop revolved around the intersection where psychology meets design, which is a road you definitely can’t avoid going down when designing for behaviour change. Inspired by a well-known psychology model that has helped bring change to thousands of people and applied to different health behaviours.

We caught up with Efi after the event to gather her thoughts and top tips revolving around this.

ADLIB: What has been your career journey so far, leading you to where you are right now?

Efi Chatzopoulou: My parents always told me what a pain I was for constantly taking stuff apart, like toys and small devices, so that I can see what’s inside and understand how they work and then put them back together (not always successfully). I was also very fond of buttons and finding out what they did. I was known to read manuals cover to cover for everything we had (including our car) to make sure we don’t miss out on any hidden magical functionality. In secondary school, I loved maths and solved algebra problems when I was bored in history lessons…

All of the above seem a self-indulgent, irrelevant part of my history but it really isn’t, because these are traits that are actually really valuable in UX: curiosity, info gathering and problem-solving. This is what I think UX is about: methodical thinking with lots of helpful processes to take people on a journey towards solutions.

But if your question is more about what I studied and did for work, here’s a very quick whistle stop. I studied psychology because I was fascinated by human complexity and the stats were a nice bonus.

After I graduated, I did an MSc in Human Computer Interaction because I was a frustrated female gamer in a male gaming world and wanted to be part of creating a more level playing field. Rather than gaming, I ended up working in the charity sector for 10 years, supporting and running services for people with autism and mental health difficulties. I loved it and wanted to make more of a difference so went on to study Health Psychology.

But the more I studied Health Psychology the more I thought how design thinking could actually be a great tool for designing better interventions that help people. So I changed my path and started working at a UX agency. And that was it, I really felt I was where I needed to be, so I’ve been working in UX ever since, first in agencies and more recently as a freelance consultant. I feel so lucky in that I absolutely love what I do, it perfectly combines my fascination with people and fixation with problem-solving.

ADLIB: In a nutshell, what is ‘designing for behaviour change’?

Efi Chatzopoulou: It’s about encouraging designers to think beyond the service, product or website they’re putting out there; about the implications, design can have on their customers’ lives as a whole, not just on their platforms. That means thinking about the mechanics of human behaviour rather than solely about the mechanics of the product.

Especially when clicking a button takes people beyond ordering a new pair of shoes but commits them to starting something new or doing things differently to what they’re used to, there is a lot to consider and incorporate into our thinking. For example, clicking on the ‘Start saving now’ button of a banking app means regularly putting money aside and we need to carefully consider the ins and outs of that in order to develop a valuable and supportive experience that helps people get there.

In fact, we need to start from there, the behaviour, and work backwards, towards interfaces and buttons, rather than the other way around.

ADLIB: What were some of the core activities you focussed on in the workshop and why?

Efi Chatzopoulou: I introduced a model that has been widely used in Health Psychology. It’s one that I unwittingly found myself going back to when I was working on behaviour change problems, such as when designing a health wearable or in the finance sector. I ended up revisiting it and the more I read about it the more I felt that it can help designers break down this sort of complex problems. I wrote an article on how it can be helpful here.

In summary, two key aspects are:

  1. When it comes to changing behaviour, people tend to go through five different stages.
  2. We need to know what stage people are starting from so we can make sure to offer the support they most need at that stage.

When it comes to design, this can be really helpful, because we often have a plethora of good solutions to choose from, which makes deciding which ones to implement tricky.

This approach can help us hone on where to spend our energies on. And the answer to this is going to be different for different products at different times.

At the workshop, I invited people to create profiles of people in different stages (imaginary personas kind of thing) and then come up with ideas for solutions accordingly. It was a lot to cover in a 90-minute session, so there was a bit of information overload but thankfully it sounds like people found it helpful so I’m now developing a slightly longer, more comprehensive hands-on session around it.

ADLIB: And finally, what were some of the key takeaways from the session?

Efi Chatzopoulou:

  • Humans are complicated! As designers, we need to go beyond “users” and start thinking about the humans behind our products.
  • Change is not binary but happens in stages. If we know where people are starting their change journeys from then we can design solutions that are more matched to their needs.
  • Always test test test.

If people end up taking away just one of the above points I’d be delighted!

Thank you for sharing!

About Efi Chatzopoulou: Efi is a UX consultant with a strong behavioural science edge, helping organisations get to the most effective solutions by asking the right questions. She’s always been in awe of human beings and their complexities, which led to her studying psychology 3 times (in different shapes and forms)! She strongly believes that adding behaviour science into product design can really make magic happen, which is why she’s on a mission to help organisations add human centredness to user-centred processes. She’s worked with top agencies in Bristol and supported government, corporate and charitable organisations, including Public Health England, Innovate UK and the V&A museum. When not helping to solve design and behavioural problems for work she listens to psychology audiobooks and tests theories on herself and her family.

The purpose of our article series ‘Ask The Expert’ is to capture and share Tech, Data, Engineering, Science, Marketing and Design sector expertise. We are featuring experts, thought leaders and influencers. Showcasing sector wisdom learned through experience.