DESIGN:Chicago at Northwestern University

April 17, 2012

Last week, a few members of our team attended Design:Chicago 2012, “ROI by Design”, at Northwestern University. The annual event is an opportunity for design experts throughout the Chicago area to gather and discuss the increasing prominence of design in our area. The speakers included professionals from Motorola, Humana, McDonald’s, Herman Miller, and Wolverine World Wide.

ROI by Design at Northwestern University

Two of our favorite presentations were from Denis Weil, Corporate Vice President of Concept + Design at McDonald’s, and Jim Wicks, Senior Vice President of Consumer Experience Design at Motorola.

Denis Weil discussed McDonald’s approach to design and how the experience starts with the restaurant architecture. When designing for thousands of restaurants in a number of different countries, your designs must be attractive, have a universal appeal, and be easy to execute. A decade ago, Weil said, “If a Martian were to arrive on earth and go to a bank, a post office, and a McDonald’s, they wouldn’t have known the difference. We wanted to change that.” Today, McDonald’s restaurants are tailored to their locality, but also maintain the same user experience among all locations.

Denis Weil, Corporate Vice President of Concept + Design at McDonald’s

Jim Wicks discussed the importance of staying true to your product or service, rather than trying to be everything to everyone. An ROI-friendly design is achieved through innovation and consistency. In the past, Motorola was going after every platform trying to please all users and found that they couldn’t stay ahead of the competition. When the company made the decision to switch to an Android platform, it quickly turned the company around for the better.

Photo from

Motorola Droid Razr (photo from

We always enjoy listening to design professionals who can share their experiences and strategies with us. The event was a great learning experience!

Up Down