Piers Dillon-Scott


McDonald's is now a service design agency, and other things we learned this week

As more and more 'traditional' companies, such as McDonald's and Tesco, open digital divisions with strong service design and UX focuses, what does this mean for our industry?

Can you “create solutions to complex interface and interaction design challenges. Find intuitive solutions to core user interactions, with emphasis on elegance and simplicity”? If so, you might like to consider a career with McDonald’s.

Yup, McDonald’s.

The company, more famous for its wireframe hairnets than its wireframes, has hired its first Head of Digital, Julia Vander Ploeg. Ploeg joins McDonald’s digital division to improve the company’s service design and user experience efforts; and to build new high-end digital entertainment services.

The company appears to be placing service design at the centre of its digital transformation. McDonald's plans to create a single pan-market ordering app, through which it can also sell and promote other digital media and physical services, which will "drive frequency."

If the company can do this successfully it may be able to stem its recent decline in profits; collect endless analytics on its customer base; and see off competition from smaller more agile competitors. It's the innovators' dilemma meets content marketing.

And Ronald isn't the only one who’s opened a digital skunkworks. Tesco's digital division released its own (better than expected) tablet, and now offers media streaming services. Starbucks has been leading the way in mobile payments, customer loyalty apps, and wireless charging. And even Ryanair has its own UX lab. As Accenture says, these days “every business is a digital business.”

The question is, if big brands are taking service design and UX in-house, what does that mean for our industry?

Also this week - why mobile shopping still sucks, what Google did with a lost satellite, and some handy advice for designers.


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Illustration: Patrick Cusack

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