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Remote Design Research at O'Reilly Media: Interview with Stefanie Owens

Stefanie Owens leads the user research practice at O'Reilly Media. Her team of talented designers manage to stay connected and creative despite being distributed across the U.S.

We interviewed Stefanie to find out how her O'Reilly team designs remotely together and what advice she has for others.

Jim Kalbach

in remote teams, user research

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Your Meeting Room Sucks for Collaboration

Mariano Suarez-Battan

in cool stuff, design collaboration.

When the iPhone came out, the world knew that the way we would interact with technology would become more intimate, natural and powerful.

With the Microsoft Surface Hub now on the market, we are in one of those groundbreaking moments… but VERY focused on how we work and learn.

The Surface Hub is designed to make global teams more productive. It takes that natural feel and simplicity of whiteboards to the next dimension — digital.

Writing on the Hub is as responsive and delightful as on a whiteboard… or if you are already converted, as great as the Surface Pro or iPad Pro.


A Past Life of Shelf(-hard)ware

When you walk through innovation centers in companies, you see a lot of old Smartboards practically holding plants. You wrote something and 5 seconds later it would show up on screen; the software wasn’t there and setting it up was a pain.

Those days are gone.

The hardware works because of technological advances, the UX is there so that you can start right away.


Design Collaboration

The Surface Hub will be a core component of the Project Room of the future.

It’s more than just a cool fad to digitally sketch on a whiteboard, markup a Powerpoint and have a quick Skype call… people are using it to collaborate, democratize decisions, and be more effective. With the surge of remote teams, they need solutions that support working from multiple locations and devices.

MURAL is designed to support that use case. Design Thinkers around the world are lining up and eager to upgrade their MURAL experience and set up their digital project rooms.

Want one too?

We’ve been waiting in line for a while, but Microsoft finally announced they are shipping. Let us know if you have one ordered as we’d love to share best practices with leveraging Design Thinking at scale on the Surface Hub with you.

Here’s a case study that Microsoft put together around how MURAL and Surface Hub enhance of each other. Feel free to share along.


What’s Next

If you are still here, then you are really into this, so here it comes: we are getting smart gesture recognition ready. In this way we can speed up sketching and also keep the UI clear for full concentration in the creative process.


Mariano Suarez-Battan

Mariano Suarez-Battan

I run MURAL, where we are making creative teams become better design thinkers through our collaboration software.We started MURAL because of a game we were designing. Ask me about that.

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