A Scandinavian innovation & design consultancy

Booming sales for Nilfisk – an interview with Thomas Elmer

People-driven innovation boosts market share

It’s been a couple years now since Nilfisk-Advance launched its new AERO vacuum cleaner line. To help Nilfisk develop the AERO, design-people conducted in-depth studies on how people use industrial vacuum cleaners in different situations. Recently we spoke to Thomas Elmer, Group Product Manager at Nilfisk, to find out how the market has responded to the new vacuums.


How are AERO sales going?

After two years on the market, the AERO has greatly surpassed our expectations. The line has been very well received, helping us win new customers – and we just added an extra production line to meet the overwhelming demand.


Why do you think business customers are so attracted to this product line?

design-people helped us turn some surprising findings from real-life user studies into innovative features – small but important handling details that make the everyday routine of professional users easier. That’s what’s the difference: people-driven innovation coupled with great design.


So how has that translated to marketing and sales?

The people-driven process has given our sales and marketing team new user benefits and stories that purchasers can relate to. High customer satisfaction has been a key ingredient in the excellent results and the growing sales to new markets.

We’re excited about expanding the AERO series with more products based on the same strong foundation.




Our new casebook

How the “inspired by women” approach boosts innovation, marketing and sales

Women make most consumer purchases in the world today. Yet most companies still lack a deep understanding of female motivations and barriers when developing their products and services. At design-people, we have a long track record of utilizing the motivations of women (and men) to inspire innovations in design and marketing. For our clients, this approach has meant a new competitive edge, more enthusiastic customers, and stronger sales.


In our new expanded casebook, six clients tell how this approach has worked for them, in fields ranging from smart buildings to lifestyle audio to hand-blown glass. The casebook also includes an overview of the underlying research and methods we use. 


You can check it out online here,


Or request your complimentary copy from Karin Bech Hansen at



Most user-friendly on the continent

Building strong demand for Epoke’s deicing equipment in Europe


Jørn Christensen was surprised when our design team showed up in his icy factory yard just before midnight.

As CEO of Epoke, a leading manufacturer of salt-spreading equipment, he was overseeing the development of their new control panel – a critical user touchpoint for the truck equipment that Epoke supplies to help their customers to keep roads free from snow and ice. 


design-people’s brief from Epoke: “to rethink and redesign the user interface of the existing control panel based on user requirements and the possibilities of new tech components like color touchscreens.” 


design-people’s approach to user involvement is to create a picture of user requirements that complements what our client knows about their users. We create user insights with a carefully crafted script consisting of situational observations, interviews and test assignments.  So our designers and our psychologist had such a user insights script ready when they visited Epoke to spend a few hours on the road with a truck driver on “just another night” deicing roads in Denmark. 


Epoke’s and design-people’s dedication to real-life user insights paid off. The observations and dialog with truck drivers revealed a whole new set of realizations. For instance, they called into question some of the more advanced adjustment features that had been placed at the front of the existing panel. 


Based on these insights, we simplified the user interaction design. At the same time, we made the fewer functions that remained more robust and intuitive to use – for example, with graphical representations of the spreading angle behind the truck. 


A year after the new panel was introduced, the market reaction is unequivocal. The EpoMaster X1 has set a new standard for usability in the salt-spreading business. Now a truck driver can always keep an eye on the road – especially in adverse conditions, where he or she is supported by audible and tactile feedback from the panel. The upshot: a surge in export orders, especially in Germany, as customers discover that the X1 is the most user-friendly control panel on the European market.



 “We’ve set a new standard for user-friendliness in snow-removal vehicles. The combination of shorter training times, more efficient salt utilization and greater driver satisfaction makes good business sense to our customers. Our investment in design-people’s work with user-friendly design has given us a handsome return – and opened new doors in the export market for all our products.”


— Jørn Christensen, CEO, Epoke


Developing a successful new luxury brand – inspired by women

Vifa, Denmark

In 2014, Vifa surprised the audio community by launching their Copenhagen speaker at the Stockholm Furniture Fair. The market responded with enthusiasm, and orders and distribution requests flooded in from around the world.

The Copenhagen made a bold statement in a saturated market: great sound performance wrapped in exclusive Nordic design. But the groundbreaking design began with a branding strategy built around the experiences of independent women with disposable incomes – a vast and growing market.


design-people worked closely with Vifa to create the branding and user experience strategy, utilizing our Awareness–Buy–Use tool to map out the customer journey. Together, we developed the designs and a communication platform to match.


The business results showed the Vifa owners the value of a female benchmark strategy. We’re now helping Vifa develop other products to extend their portfolio and its appeal to new market segments.



 “Focusing on women as a benchmark for the Vifa user experience has given us the competitive edge we need. As a new player in a well-established market, we need to stand out – and we’ve done that by making each loudspeaker an exclusive lifestyle statement with a high-quality sound core. With this strategy, we’ve embraced the emerging buying power of women while still appealing to male customers.”

— Michael Sørensen, CEO, Vifa



Services: female-driven branding strategy, portfolio & product design, communication, web & POS experience



A connectivity breakthrough – inspired by women

Danfoss launches indoor climate app


Danfoss is a global leader in indoor-climate solutions. Their new Danfoss Link App lets you manage your indoor climate from the convenience of your smart phone. It allows you to balance energy consumption and comfort with the tap of a finger – so that when you’re driving back from a family skiing holiday, for instance, you can switch your house from vacation mode and walk in the door to a warm, welcoming home.



“User experience and usability has been a primary focus in creating this app. The female benchmark helped us minimize complexity while prioritizing everyday convenience. With their extensive experience in this field, design-people has proved to be an excellent partner for our connectivity development.”

— Jesper Vraa, Project Manager, Danfoss Indoor Climate App Solutions



To develop the simple look and feel of the app and its intuitive interface, design-people utilized both female and male user profiles and use scenarios, and we conducted benefit and usability testing with both groups. By appealing to men and women alike, the new Danfoss Link app is helping Danfoss to stand out from the competition – and proving an excellent advertisement for their indoor-climate systems.


Follow the Apple store link below to download and try out the app,




Services: Female interaction strategy, user exploration, innovation & concept testing, product & digital design


Guidebook to a Female Interaction Strategy

Read a chapter for free

The culmination of our 3-year Female Interaction research project, this guide will help you understand the female market and tap the emerging buying power of women. It’s people-driven innovation and marketing approach and case studies will help you reinvent the way you develop and market your products and services.


“A wake-up call for any CEO, aspiring entrepreneur, product marketing executive or design agency whose survival depends on customer loyalty, sales and, ultimately, profitability.”

—Harding Leite, innovation & business development consultant, São Paulo


Read a free excerpt here



To order the guidebook, email Karin Bech Hansen with your postal address. We’ll throw in a free casebook showing you how we’ve helped clients put its principles into practice.


Price: €45 + shipping, or five copies for €150 + shipping

Meet Mr. Smith

Watch how one CEO learns to conquer the emerging female market

New app leads to a better water-metering system

The Kamstrup READy Suite proves popular with utility workers

The challenge: to improve the usability and workflow of Kamstrup’s system for gathering water consumption data, while introducing a smartphone app.


To understand the challenge from a user perspective, design-people started by conducting studies and interviews with network operators and field service technicians. We translated the insights gleaned into user scenarios and interaction design concepts for the various components of the READy Suite. 


The design DNA that we’ve developed for Kamstrup in recent years also helped guide our design of the app, the software and the antenna that connects the technician’s phone to water meters. Distinctive DNA elements like rectangular, striped surfaces, circular shapes and friendly icons now give the metering system an appealing Kamstrup-branded identity.


The new system is not only attractive, but it provides better workflow and usability, saves time and mistakes, and can be readily updated from the previous system. So it’s easy to see why the READy Suite has been embraced eagerly by users who want an improved metering experience – and why Kamstrup expects strong sales of the new product.


"Based on their real-life studies with water utility technicians, design-people helped us develop a strong functionality and interaction concept for our new READy Suite. The design DNA gives all the components of the suite a consistent Kamstrup look and feel. We now have a strong new offering in the remote metering market, and reactions from our sales force and the first end-users have been extremely encouraging."


Finn Rasmussen

Project manager, Kamstrup



Services: user research, app concept, app interaction design, PC software GUI, product design

Turning an unknown product into a winning export

The E3light Mylight – from tech specs to female benefit story

An LED flex strip triggered by a motion sensor. What real life benefits might it have – and for who? And how do you persuade them to buy it?


The answers weren’t obvious – not even to E3light, the firm that created the Mylight. So they called in design-people to define the target customers and develop a benefit story.


Based on our familiarity with the emerging buying power of women, we suggested a female benchmark user – and E3light agreed. Then our team explored the entire product experience – from purchase and unpacking, to installation and use – from her perspective. These scenarios helped us frame primary uses for the Mylight, and to identify sticking points and benefits. And they enabled us to develop a packaging and communication concept that female consumers will immediately relate to their own needs.


Mount the Mylight under your bed, for instance. If you have to get up in the middle of the night – to use the bathroom, to see to a crying child – its muted light will illuminate the floor as soon as you swing your legs out of bed.



Since the Mylight relaunch earlier this year, US sales have taken off. In fact, they’ve been so good that the Danish Trade Council just awarded E3light the Vitus Export Prize.


When we first brought Mylight on the market, consumers were not clear what it was good for. design-people helped us to define a female lead user, and to frame and communicate a strong benefit story by translating the product specifications into real user benefits that people can relate to.



Three months later, our improved user experience and marketing approach were critical in opening the door to the US market. We expect to sell 500,000 Mylights next year.”


Flemming Viktor Andersen

Founder, E3light



See how E3light now tells the Mylight story here.


Services: user experience analysis, packaging and communication concepts

Female Interaction goes TED

Live talk in Amsterdam (video)

A one-minute video qualified Female Interaction amongst hundreds of applicants for the TED X event in Amsterdam June 20th 2012.

TED (standing for Technology - Entertainment - Design) is a global nonprofit organization devoted to support world-changing ideas. Along with 21 other speakers from science, art, computing and design, Klaus Schroeder, design-people partner and head of Female Interaction research, gave a 5 minutes live talk in front the enthusiastic audience.


Under the motto of “ideas worth spreading” Klaus presented an extract of the Female Interaction research about how differently women experience technology design. His mission was that Womenomics and the preferences of women will revolutionize male biased tech industries and make them deliver far better user experiences - for the sake of all users of advanced tech products.


See the 5 min TED Talk titled Designing technology for women here