An Interview with Dennis Lenard – CEO of Creative Navy UX Agency March 19, 2021 |

An Interview with Dennis Lenard - CEO of Creative Navy UX Agency


1. Tell us a bit about your company and its leadership.

Creative Navy is a top global UX design agency. We’re a small but fiesty team of 15 people with vast experience and a background in cognitive science. We normally take on the most difficult and complex projects in high stake industries like the medical device industry and the automotive industry.

2. What is your company’s culture? What does Creative Navy stand up for?

We’re motivated by excellence because we work on digital products for industries where our contribution makes a difference. It’s about taking responsibility for the quality of our work rather than vanity. Sustained effort and a lot of trial and error are the basis of our company culture, and then there’s a layer of extensive individual autonomy, because we’re a collective of seniors who take every project very seriously.

This generates an environment that kindles curiosity and welcomes innovation, as we’re always on the lookout for the best possible solutions to some of the most wicked design problems.

3. How do you approach a client and understand their perception of the app development process for the first time?


We approach all our clients with genuine interest and the openness to understand their needs and pain points. It’s always fascinating to hear about what people want to pour their time and ambition into.


The app design and development process is one of the last things we discuss. Initially, we are most interested in what they want to make for their users, how the product can benefit people, and what business challenges are making it hard for our client to build their product. Once all these aspects have been clarified, we can start pitching development plans based on our rich previous experience. We explain every plan’s advantages and disadvantages.


Once we’ve clarified all the options and context variables, people understand where we’re coming from. The necessary precondition for this process to work flawlessly is the client’s willingness to communicate openly with us.

4. What engagement models do you offer? How should a client choose among them?

Truthfully, we’re committed to innovating, discovering new solutions, creating novel products, so there’s no template for what we deliver. We venture into the great unknown alongside our clients and give it our all.

This environment makes it very difficult to predict any aspect of a project, and in order to build a successful product we must choose the template best suited to it, not the one that we might like for other reasons. We reject the practice of designing based on mere whim and instead follow through with thorough research combined with cognitive science principles.

Our work boils down to cycles of design sprints, which help us divide a larger problem into more manageable sections. We take it one step at a time.


5. What do you think are the key factors to look into before delivering the product? How do you manage to deliver the project on time?


Because we’ve successfully delivered hundreds of projects so far, we’re realistic and agree on reasonable timeframes with our clients. We like to think of each project as if it was our own, which means that we give 100% every step of the way and we don’t fool around with estimated deadlines. It’s pointless to tell a client what they want to hear if it isn’t feasible in the slightest. There’s no room for wishful thinking if you want to do great things.


If a client wants something done in 2 months, our competitors say they can deliver in 2.5 months, and we know that we need 3 months to do a decent job, we’ll usually end up agreeing on 4 months for the project’s timeframe.


Think of it this way: when a team of engineers is building a bridge, the city which commissioned it is mostly interested in cutting project costs. The contractors make it fairly sturdy, but the engineers will make sure it’s 3 times sturdier than their most pessimistic estimation to prevent needless loss of life.


6. Are you targeting any particular technology or industry? How do you plan to prepare your workforce for an upcoming tech upgrade?


We’ve worked on projects from every industry, but we enjoy working on embedded GUI design, medical design, and B2B e-commerce design the most.


To answer your second question, we use the latest Apple hardware in order to allow our design team to constantly evolve their mastery. Other than that, we’re fairly app-agnostic. People can use whatever they want and they’re encouraged to try out new things. Our favorite apps are Figma, Slack, and Notion.


7. You have been at the helm of Creative Navy for over a decade, can you please share an interesting story, experience, or project you are proud of?


We add some of the design projects we are most proud of to the Case Studies section of our website, or write lengthy articles about them for the Creative Navy Medium page. My favorite project was the interface design we made for an outboard engine, because we had to research sailing conditions and make allowances for screens that have lower resolutions and contrast ratios than the ones we’re used to on our mobile devices.


Designing for embedded GUI is fascinating because the context of use exerts a much stronger influence on the design process. Playing a sailing game on an app is not the same as actually being on a boat at midday with the sun producing screen glare and salt water spraying on your dashboard. Our team loves challenges like that because they encourage us to evolve creatively.


8. Other than technical expertise, what traits do you believe are essential for any logistics development company to succeed in this rapidly evolving industry?


I think it’s important to be versatile and to push yourself to innovate, because even options that seem foolproof are just mere iterations. Everything can and should be improved periodically.

9. What do you think of the role of research agencies like in bridging the gap between clients and service providers?

It’s very important to help companies find the right clients, because different people have different business needs. Forming meaningful business relationships is a complex process that unfolds over time, and if can spark such connections, then it’s on the right path. Thank you so much for this opportunity!

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