Mike Wittenstein [mikewittenstein]
What is your specialty?
Where can we view your portfolio online?
What made you interested in design?
It's a better problem-solving tool than committees or compromise. With good design, everyone gets more of what they want!
What has been your professional career path?
Undergraduate foreign language
Graduate degree in services marketing
Real Estate Analyst
Experience design firm
What is your motivation? What makes you get up in the mornings?
I believe that things can be better--way better! I believe that in all of our endeavors, we should work on purpose and by design, not just to make and have things, but to set examples and share experiences. Because that is how each of us, as humans, leaves our mark on our culture, our society, and on the world we are all co-creating.
How would you define your design style?
Practical, simple, inexpensive, fun, but with a few attention-grabbing, gotta-talk-about-it, interactive and technical innovations that delight customers, engage employees, and profit shareholders at the same time.
How do you promote and move your work?
Doing good work seems to do the trick. I stay moderately active on social media and keep an up-to-date website at www.MikeWittenstein.com. Promoting others also has its positive paybacks ;-)
In which new areas would you like to experiment?
I'm looking forward to doing work in Brazil and in Latin America. I speak Portuguese from having lived almost two years in Brazil as an exchange student.
Shapes, color, concept: where do you usually begin when conceiving a design?
I use my ears first to listen for problems and to hear things 'that don't fit'. Then I use my eyes to see what customers and employees see. Next, my head to reconcile all I've experienced and to surface ideas that can make the customer and/or employee experience better for everyone. Unlike other designers I've met, I save the shapes, colors, tactile feelings for last. For me, that's the interpretive level, used to communicate emotions. I love collaborating with great designers who have a command of the things I'm not as good at. It's more fun and the results are always better than what I can do alone.
What is your favourite type of customer?
I like working with values-based/driven, charismatic leaders who care about their employees and customers and who know they want to differentiate their brands with a better customer experiences. Projects with people that fit this description are always magical.
To a certain point, is copying justifiable?
Yes if you do it in moderation, if it fits the project's needs, if you can't find a better solutions yourself, and if you credit the originator.
List some things you dislike seeing in design.
Laziness, poor execution, and too much ego (I believe good experience design is always about the user or client).
Do you believe the newer generations are better at designing?
Collaboration interfaces, travel experiences, and places to hang-out.
With which type of client would you decline in working for?
I don't work for services and products that often (in my opinion) harm others such as tobacco products or porn.
Which professionals in your field -contemporary or past- do you most admire?
I'm always inspired by individuals and teams who call their shot early and who hit their mark. For example, Babe Ruth would use the tip of his bat to show the pitcher he was facing exactly where he was going to hit their next pitch. When he did this, it was usually a home run. Seeing far enough ahead to make a difference with design is one of the thinking experiments that drives me--and helps me make better implementation decisions once a design is nearing completion.
Which software applications do you most utilize in your work?
This answer will be software plus...
Think Buzan's iMindMap Ultimate for quickly outlining ideas and approaches.
My assistant who transcribes countless hours of conversations for me.
www.TouchpointDashboard.com for laying out customer journeys.
My Wacom tablet for quick sketching.
Looxcie (wireless video capture) for capturing in-the-moment proof points.
Working with sketch artists who help my clients see-what-they-say. Jorn Nielsen from Denmark is one such person: http://www.mikewittenstein.com/see-what-you-say/
Up to what point do your designs reflect your personality?
In my opinion, a designers are always a part of his/her work. Knowing those values clearly is important so that when you're tackling client's work, you can consciously represent their values (not ignoring your own) in design decisions.
If you weren't a designer, what would you be doing?
Speaking, facilitating, consulting, teaching, traveling, and woodworking. The more interesting story is that I had opportunities to become an accountant and a real estate broker. I'm so glad life pointed me in this direction ;-)
At this moment, what would be your dream job or project?
I'm working on them ;-)
Currently, I'm helping brands make big changes to their customer experiences -- and big changes to their futures as a result.
Can you see yourself in this field twenty years from now?
Without a doubt!
Which design resources online do you frequently visit?
The interesting answer to this question is that I try to include about 20% of new design research with each project. It keep the project--and me--fresh!