First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Maria Taylor: Thankfully, our family of four are healthy and working or learning from home. It’s not always easy to be so cooped up, especially with two teenagers, 2 birds, and a cat together all day…but we are finding new ways to enjoy each other’s company and to give each other space.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Limina.
Maria Taylor: I grew up on the Big Island of Hawaii in a community of diverse, dynamic, and well-educated parents who provided home-schooling experiences. During my childhood, my family lived totally off-grid — no electricity, indoor plumbing, or telephone.
I moved to the mainland as a teenager and earned my B.A. in International Development at Brown University, an M.Sc. in Photojournalism at Boston University, and an M.A. in International Science, Technology Policy at The George Washington University.
After working at several technologies consulting companies as a user experience (UX) designer, Jon Fukuda and I co-founded Limina, a UX and technical design consultancy that helps Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, and startups simplify complex human-to-computer interactions by designing more intuitive integrated digital user experiences.
How does Limina innovate?
Maria Taylor: A big change in the post-pandemic world is a shift in the value of technology. E-commerce and digital platforms such as Zoom, Amazon, and Google Classroom became the lifeline for individuals, societies, businesses, and government. It’s how many people work, shop, learn, bank, exercise, and more. Customers expect the same level of ease of use, personalization, and guidance they encounter from these innovative businesses.
Limina helps organizations design software applications and technical systems that are intuitive and easy to use.
The design and user experience of digital products and services in our technology-dependent world is essential to business success. The secret to that success is designing apps, products, systems, and information technologies around users’ needs. That’s what we do.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Maria Taylor: Working remotely 100% of the time is the number one way we’ve had to adjust our business. Before COVID-19, we offered flexible work schedules allowing all Limina employees to work from home Mondays and Fridays, so all of our team members are equipped to work productively from home. However, it was an adjustment to work from home all the time.
Valuing and fostering creativity and collaboration has always been a part of our culture. We don’t let things like distance or time zones affect how or if we collaborate. Because of this, our team members are familiar with remote collaboration tools such as Slack, GoToMeeting, Miro, Figma, and Google that allow us to do great work even when we’re not in the same location.
As we transitioned to this new way of working together, our team started off with daily 15-minute standups via video conference. After the first week, the standups became repetitive, but the ritual of getting together and theming the sessions with things like “wear your favorite color” or “tell us your favorite movie and why” took us in a new direction.
Now we are using the time for 30-minute brown-bags sessions, sharing everything from “what innovations and opportunities for new processes, products, systems, designs are coming out of these COVID-19 times” to “how we used Sketch and AirTable to systematically implement a scalable atomic design system for one of our clients.” Our entire team is leaning in and celebrating our collective and individual contributions. This type of community building was present before COVID-19, but it was more nuanced. Now there’s a spotlight on ways to crystalize and maintain our culture, celebrate our diversity, and champion each other’s work. It’s been eye-opening and game-changing for us. As a co-founder, I couldn’t be more proud of how this time of adversity has stimulated our creativity and sense of community.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Maria Taylor: The most painful part of managing through this crisis as a small business is financial planning for the unknown. We’ve had a couple of clients put projects on hold, so we’re conservative with our spending.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned through this crisis is that leading with empathy is essential. As a UX design and development consultancy, we often talk about designing complex technology applications with empathy for the people who will be using them. In these uncertain times, we’re showing empathy to ensure that our team members and customers are able to maintain their well-being, health, and safety.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Limina in the future?
Maria Taylor: To get through this time, I’ve been taking advantage of working from home and enjoying a wide variety of activities — ranging from walks, exercising, and cooking to spending time with the kids, house projects, and watching movies. I also just booked a trip home to Hawaii for Christmas.
We celebrated Limina’s 17th birthday last month. I continue to believe Limina’s business has a lot of value to offer and room to grow. I’m passionate about accelerating the adoption of human-centered design as integral to business success and growing a diverse and inclusive business.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Maria Taylor: There are hundreds of UX and design agencies around the world. UX and design professionals are in global demand. LinkedIn has cited UX design as one of the top skills to learn in 2020, and this is reflected in InVision’s “2019 Product Design Hiring Report” that says design teams are expected to grow by an average of 21% in 2020.
To showcase Limina’s thought leadership, we invested in a strategic research study to increase awareness of the issue of maturity in the design and UX industry and accelerate the adoption of human-centered design and UX as integral to business success. “The 2020 Design-Integration Report” was announced on June 1, 2020, and has been extremely well received — garnering media coverage, analyst attention, invitations to speak at industry conferences, and igniting conversations with current and prospective clients.
Your final thoughts?
Maria Taylor: Businesses are on the hook to create new customer experiences that fit with the digital lifestyle we’re all becoming accustomed to since the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to new “normals.” Now is the time to focus on the user experience of your digital products and services.
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