Introducing Paul Richardson

We’re delighted to announce the arrival of Paul Richardson to the team, as our new Head of Digital. Paul has specialised in Digital for over 10 years, working with some of the world’s most reputable brands on b2c and b2b experiences. He has previously led international cross-functional teams to design digital products, apps, websites, strategies and everything in between. We sat down with Paul, to ask his thoughts about the influence and impact of all things digital and how this will shape his new role at KD…

With the increasing convergence of physical and digital in delivering engaging experiences, how do you see your role influencing the work KD is involved in?

I think it’s safe to say that online and connected technologies have now permeated almost everything we do in our daily lives, and has changed our behaviour forever! So as designers it’s important for us all to think a little more ‘digitally’ by design.  This could take the form of approaching discovery tasks with greater consideration of digital channels and touch points, or new methodologies to help us get our designs in the hands of actual users faster.

I’m looking forward to having deeper conversations with our clients about their ambitions for digital, and how they can leverage KD’s years of experience to identify and maximise their potential to deliver new and exciting product experiences.

KD has an outstanding track record in design thinking, innovation and product design, and I want to help add a new dimension to the business as we develop new connected product experiences, cross-channel digital experiences and service design. I think we’ll see an increase in partnerships that allow us to provide a strategic view of digital opportunities, with a focus on speed to market, increased sustainability, social responsibility and inclusive design.

How do you see the most value being added through Digital expertise and what’s your vision for Digital within the team at KD?

Like all commercial design delivery, Digital design relies on a constant balancing of technology constraints, time and skills to create successful experiences but, unlike most physical product development, improvements and change can happen much more rapidly once a product has been launched. Digital design methodologies and rapid prototyping techniques hold huge value for us and our clients, in terms of efficiency, user feedback and agility. We can deliver experiences to the end user quickly, iterating and improving against requirements and user needs frequently once launched.

Designing effectively in this way requires a lean, Agile approach bringing with it new ways of gathering insight and defining measurements of success. This has great advantages in that it forces designers to think in a more modular way, creating design systems and language that are designed to scale beyond single project delivery.

As the lines between physical and digital products become increasingly blurred, our channel experience as designers must become much broader, forcing us all to become more T-shaped. Digital design is able to catalyse this increased knowledge and collaboration.

It’s going to be great!

Raspberry Pi Keyboard Mouse in use

What do you think are the most interesting developments in recent technology that will enable more engagement and relevance in society?

Where to start?! I think the most interesting developments we’re seeing are less about the specific technologies, but more about increased engagement and expectation in the services we already use and are becoming accustomed to. Uber, Facebook, Monzo, Netflix, Ocado, Deliveroo, Amazon Prime and Apple are the obvious and most cited service disruptors, but I think that we’re only just starting to understand how these act as long term social disruptors and the impact of our increased dependencies on them.

Increased coverage for mobile devices and promise of next generation access speeds from technology such as 5G and fibre to the home, are going to shift our reliance and relationship with connectivity from a basic utility closer to an expected human right at an exponential rate. Especially with the opportunity to devolve processing power back to the cloud, we’ll see less of a need to own the most powerful hardware, putting more emphasis on desirability and personalisation. We will all expect instant access and increased reliability, something that will bring a heightened importance on the designer’s part to create experiences that are easy to use and navigate, considering location and environmental factors, agnostic of device type.

Machine learning and AI is also developing at a staggering rate, which I expect will drastically change the design of user interfaces and our expectation for products to already understand our needs. Related to this is the increased value we put on our personal data. For example, look at software and technology development in China; digital transactions and cashless society changing our relationship with the value we put on experiences vs physical products. Privacy and accessibility are being more readily understood by consumers, and the value we put on our personal data is increasing.

As designers we have a great responsibility to make decisions as to where these new technologies are best placed, especially when their deployment decreases physical human to human interaction in favour of more virtual and self-service experiences. But these are extremely exciting times, and it’s great to be working on the tip of the wave!

How have you found your experiences of KD so far and what do you see as the benefits in having all of our expert disciplines under one roof?

There is a quiet sense of confidence and ambition across the whole company and a very welcoming atmosphere. I have a strong belief that the best innovation happens with the juxtaposition of skills and knowledge, so having the whole team located together has huge benefits for sharing our broad expertise.

Digital requires a different type of design management and collaboration between clients and suppliers. Discovery and planning requires more rigour for accurate feature prioritisation against user needs to realise opportunities to innovate. KD gets this, and the advantage of working with a team of experts in all aspects of product design, prototyping, UX, human factors, research, testing, software, firmware and design strategy is that we rarely miss anything that would jeopardise critical paths to delivery!

Team Session at KD

How do you think design conversations with our clients will change over the coming years as technology develops?

I think that we’ll see more of a focus on the overall service experience around a product, rather than the product itself. A move towards continuous improvement and long term engagements rather than a project by project model. And of course new mobile technology, augmented reality (a personal favourite of mine!), and wearables will drive necessity to improve the hand-off between these technologies and how we can design integrated services to support them.

I’m also expecting us to start having more conversations about the design of global experiences and scalable design systems. Including optimisation and improvements to existing frameworks and how legacy systems can be integrated efficiently. Coupled with this I think we’ll see a better understanding from our clients about the long term investment that is necessary for digital design, and the benefits that constant iteration and improvement can have on driving efficiency and ROI over and above more traditional large-scale redesigns or tactical projects.

We’ll also see more defined metrics and KPIs that don’t just focus on conversion, but value user experience as a differentiator. This has always been challenging, but now that most organisations have undergone widespread digital transformation, and CRMs have become ever more sophisticated, I think that we’ll see a renewed focus on reporting on the performance of our designs across whole project life cycles. Doing so puts less emphasis on specific deliverables per se, but increases our accountability to prove that we deliver world leading product and service design.

Augmented reality

Find out more?

To find out more about digital opportunities at KD, get in touch with Paul, our Head of Digital.