Table XI Blog


Why Table XI is experimenting with launching our own products

Since founding Table XI, I’ve only become more skeptical about professional services companies launching products. We built and sold Pegmo, a customer engagement platform and a modest success. But for the most part we’ve stayed away, wary of ending up stuck with an unpaid drag on resources that doesn’t do anything for us or our clients.

Read more

The next 15 years of Table XI: A new CEO and a renewed strategy

In March, we celebrated 15 years in business at Table XI. I am incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved and learned since we started in 2002. When we sold our first project to Dickson, it felt like proof of what we hoped — that doing good work for clients on our own terms was the right way to do business. 15 years later, Dickson is still a client, and Table XI has become a well-known UX design and custom software development company.

It’s been quite a journey, and I’m beyond excited for what comes next. As we plan for the next 15 years, we’re making changes that will help us form deeper and more strategic partnerships with our clients and our people. To start, we’ve launched Table XI Ventures and Table XI Labs — the former to partner with early-stage startups looking to explore problems and build game-changing solutions, and the latter to empower Table XI employees who want to pursue entrepreneurial ideas of their own.

Read more

Introducing the New Facing Disability Mobile App

We just launched the new Facing Disability mobile application under the design leadership of Ed Lafoy, our resident iOS wizard. This new app allows anyone to create and upload videos to Facing Disability's website.

Facing Disability is a nonprofit organization supporting and connecting individuals suffering with spinal cord injuries. The site aggregates more than 1,000 videos and shares answers to common questions about coping with spinal cord injuries. The videos are highly curated, edited, and are the culmination of more than a year of interviews.

The new mobile app makes it possible for even more people to contribute their voices and perspectives to Now members can securely contribute videos anytime,  anywhere, and enjoy a new flexibility and accessibility that’s particularly important to the Facing Disability community.

Read more

We Have Partnered with Chicago Ideas Week!

The Chicago Ideas Week app shown on a mobile device.

While most people are thinking about summer BBQs and lakeside volleyball, we’ve already got our eyes on October. That’s when the annual Chicago Ideas Week takes place, and this year, we’re excited to announce that we’re a Platinum sponsor and technology partner of the organization. In addition to enhancing and launching their website this past month, we’re building them a new, customized ticketing system and a ticket scanning mobile app in time for their 2013 event. As part of our mission to support innovation and the sharing of ideas in our city, this partnership is an exceptionally good fit.

Heading into its third year, Chicago Ideas Week (CIW) brings together thought leaders from around the world for talks and panels that inspire innovation and foster idea exchange. Topics range from science to politics to entertainment, and once again, the CIW stage is hosting some serious talent and intellectual muscle. This year, notable speakers include astronaut Buzz Aldrin, best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell, and chef Cat Cora, and more are joining the lineup daily. CIW will also feature a variety of behind-the-scenes experiences and special events throughout the week.

Our strategy, design, and development work with CIW includes:

  • A new ticketing system. We’ve developed a completely new ticketing system tailored to CIW’s unique and specific needs, and integrated it with the organization’s website. On the backend, the CIW team will be able to manage ticket inventory with greater ease, accommodating sponsor and speaker tickets, different go-on-sale times, and other variables—a point of clerical strain in the past. On the user side, our new shopping cart will display event availability and let users buy tickets for multiple events at once, vastly improving the purchasing process.

  • Front-end design and user experience. While Chicago-based ad agency Leo Burnett handled the CIW brand redesign, we were tasked with simplifying the site’s navigation and helping visitors find the talks that interest them. Users will now be able to search all the events and view up-to-date ticket availability.

  • Ticket scanning mobile app. A new mobile app for the CIW team will let employees scan ticket QR codes at the doors with their iPhones, giving the team an unprecedented ability to manage and track event attendance. The app will streamline ticket redemption, significantly reducing queue times and speeding up event entry.

During CIW, Table XI will also be hosting a lab focused on navigating the relationships among clients, project managers, and software developers. Our COO Mark Rickmeier will lead this hands-on workshop (which includes getting to play with LEGOs). Learn more about Learning Agile with LEGO (Fri, Oct 18 / 3-5pm) and reserve your spot when tickets go on sale in early September.

It’s an honor to be working with CIW. Community and organizational partnerships are at the core of what we do here at Table XI, and CIW shares our dedication to exploring new ideas, inspiring great outcomes, and moving technology forward.

We invite you to explore the CIW site for more information about event descriptions, schedules, and when tickets will be available to the public. And in the meantime, make sure to mark your calendars for Oct 14-20!

[portfolio_slideshow exclude="16003" include="16007, 16001, 16009, 16005"]

Want all the best React Native tools in one stack?  Download your free copy of our own mobile development stack

New Forums Launch at Neighborhood Parents Network!

The Neighborhood Parents Network logoLast month we launched the new discussion forums at the Neighborhood Parents Network (NPN). For years the organization’s 6,000 members (our COO Mark Rickmeier among them) have used the forums to discuss everything from childcare tips to the best schools to buying and selling used cribs. But despite the fact that the forums garnered more than 500,000 page views per month, there were two major issues: they were hard to use and difficult to enhance. That’s where we came in.

For the last several months we worked closely with NPN to develop the best features for the new site, while maintaining the look and feel users know and love. One of the challenges we faced was rebuilding the forums without disrupting the user experience, so our team instituted a frequent feedback loop with a core group of NPN members, who really helped shape the new site.

Among other improvements, the new forums feature:

  • Mobile accessibility
  • Improved navigation and user experience
  • Filtered search and better content filtering
  • Social groups
Screenshot of the old Neighborhood Parents Network page.

Old Forums Page

Screenshot of the new Neighborhood Parents Network page.

New Forums Page

We’ve helped NPN gain efficiencies behind the scenes, too. New, cleaner code allows servers to run more efficiently, saving NPN money on hosting. A series of alerts lets NPN stay ahead of any site-related issues, instead of having to rely on user feedback to identify them, like they had to in the past.

NPN’s Executive Director Sarah Cobb says that feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. “The forums are just more fun to use. People are way more engaged.”

Sarah had some good words for us, too. “It was great working with the team. Table XI really dug in and understood what we’re about. Having someone ask thought-provoking questions, help us prioritize what we’re doing, and think outside the box about what we’re trying to accomplish—all those things added a lot of value for us.”

For our part, we love our partnership with NPN, and we purposely integrated a platform that would give us scalability options for future work, like an improved school directory and a robust Classifieds section that will operate like a “trusted Craig’s List without the scary factor,” Sarah says.  “It’s all about parent-to-parent, reliable information, but it’s somewhat anonymous so people can share really thoughtful, personal, outspoken advice and information within the ‘gated community.’ It’s this little trusted neighborhood where you can really talk about anything.”

We couldn’t be happier to be a part of it.

Want all the best React Native tools in one stack?  Download your free copy of our own mobile development stack

Save Money on Meds with MyCouponDoc

 MyCouponDoc logo.We're proud to announce the launch of MyCouponDoc, a new online resource for coupons and discounts that can save people hundreds of dollars on their medications. The company came to Table XI looking for help in developing their core platform: Though they had originally created a prototype for their site, their system lacked the functionality and scalability necessary to grow their online inventory. Together we helped redesign the site and take it to market.

According to co-founder Kishore Eechambadi: “We envisioned MyCouponDoc as a website that families can go to for savings on what’s most important to them—their health. We’ve been collaborating closely with Table XI since February to ensure that our site has the most up-to-date information on healthcare and medication savings, and we couldn’t be happier with the progress we’ve made so far.”

The site launched in April, and we were thrilled when technology media company VentureBeat chose MyCouponDoc as one of 80 companies to present at their DEMO Spring 2012 conference. MyCouponDoc impressed a crowd of entrepreneurs, investors, and journalists, including VentureBeat executive editor Dylan Tweney, who said that “the site couldn’t be simpler to use,” and cited a co-worker who saved $180 in 60 seconds on normal medications.

Over the next few months we’ll continue working with MyCouponDoc on branding, marketing, and SEO efforts, while rolling out new features like refill reminders, a “coupon cabinet” where users can store coupons, and coupon redemptions at partnering pharmacies and doctors’ offices. Stay tuned and check out the site to save some money on your meds.

Find a new product in 5 days?  Learn how with our Free Google Design Sprint eBook

The New Flavor of Old Town Oil Online

Old Town Oil logo and bottles.We rolled out a slew of new websites in early November, which we'll tell you all about in the coming days. Next up: the relaunch of Old Town Oil.

Within the rustic, artisan shop of Old Town Oil, customers are encouraged to sample oils and vinegars from around the world. While on this tasting tour, shoppers learn about flavors, pairings, and relevant recipes from the store's friendly and knowledgeable staff. In an effort to improve brand awareness and sales, Old Town Oil approached us looking for better ways to present their oils and vinegars online and evoke the experience of sampling these products in the store.

We worked with Old Town Oil to express and translate this in-store experience to the web, using extensive, specially shot photography, evocative tasting notes, and descriptions that educate customers and differentiate products.

Since online shoppers can't taste flavor combinations in the store, Old Town Oil offers two- and four-bottle curated gift boxes that take the guesswork out of purchasing. Now a customer can easily see and buy popular oil and vinegar combinations or a sampling of the best extra virgin olive oils. Businesses can also work with Old Town Oil to create customized labels and bottles for corporate gifts.

"It's been great working with Table XI and the new site looks awesome," says Old Town Oil's Matt Dine. "It's simple and sleek, and now customers can order our products online." With gift-giving season right around the corner, that's great news for Old Town Oil and its patrons alike.

Want to start visualizing your project risks?  Download our free Software Risk Management template

The New Face of Facing Disability

facing disability logo

We’re excited to announce the launch of a new partner site that will be an important addition to the medical community. Over the past eighteen months we’ve been working with Facing Disability, a Chicago-based nonprofit, to design and build a web resource that serves paraplegics, quadriplegics, and their families.

Facing Disability is the brainchild of Robert Hill and public television veteran Thea Flaum. When Robert’s daughter Vicki suffered a debilitating neck injury in 1986, the couple discovered that, while Vicki was thankfully able to find guidance and comfort through peer counseling, the same kind of programs were not available to family members. Seeing a need, they wanted to launch an online hub that could feature video interviews with people living with spinal cord injuries, information from the medical community, and access to community support groups.

When Thea first explained her personal connection to spinal cord injuries and her vision for Facing Disability, we were excited to get involved. We worked closely with the group to build a framework that could most effectively present its greatest assets, including its library of more than 1,000 video interviews. The end result is a clean, navigable site that allows users to search through and view this extensive video collection, as well as connect with a peer counseling program. Additionally, a community-driven forum gives members the opportunity to ask questions or publish their own tips or advice.

Read more

Cloudy with a Chance of Movies

Roger Ebert and two friends posing for the camera.

In January, legendary film critic Roger Ebert returned to the airwaves with his new PBS show, Ebert Presents At The Movies, along with co-hosts Christy Lemire of the Associated Press and's Ignatiy Vishnevetsky. Table XI was proud to partner with Roger and Chaz Ebert to produce the program’s accompanying website,

The new site aims to be a rich and interactive extension of the television show, providing content about the program and its contributors, access to its social media conversation, and, most importantly, a video archive of all televised reviews and segments. The need for the site to be fast, flexible, and finished in a relatively short amount of time led our developers to jump into the wonderful world of cloud hosting.

Cloud hosting is part of a web-based computing strategy whereby sites and applications exist on shared Internet networks run by a remote host, rather than on single, highly customized and pricey servers managed by you. (Google apps like Gmail are examples of this model.) In our case, this approach gave our team the ability to get up and running quickly and inexpensively. We didn’t need to purchase costly servers, wait for them to arrive, or spend time configuring them. Rather, the normal resources we’d have in our rack, like a database, application server, and load balancer, are all virtualized and managed by someone else, in this case, Amazon Web Services.
Read more

Talking Social Media to French People

If you happened to run into any French tourists this week, they may have been part of a group of delegates from several French Chambers of Commerce. These delegates are currently visiting our city to investigate business practices in Chicago. Naturally, they sought out the expertise of our very own Greg Baugues.

This past Wednesday, at an event hosted by the French American Chamber of Commerce in Chicago, Greg gave a presentation titled "How American Companies Are Using Social Media." His talk focused on ways American businesses employ social media to attract and retain customers. Among other things, he touched on:

  • The importance of social media in establishing a company’s online identity
  • Ways companies use LinkedIn to get introductions to prospects
  • The state of brands on Facebook, featured in this infographic
  • How companies use Facebook to attract and vet new hires
  • The recent additions of Facebook Places, Facebook Deals, and how the trend of merging the online and physical worlds is affecting small businesses
  • Successful Twitter strategies that provide information to potential customers and, in the case of Old Spice, begin one-on-one conversations with customers (read more about this here)

The conference also featured Fred Hoch, president of the Illinois Technology Association, who gave a presentation on the state of tech companies in Chicago. Additionally, Michael Cournoyer from Technomedia, a French technology firm operating in Chicago, discussed the differences between doing business here and in France, and the changes French companies need to make to sell to the finicky American consumer. Americans want to cut through all the touchy-feely stuff, he said, and know what a product or service does and how much it costs.

Greg's not a big fan of using text in slide shows, but for what it's worth, here are his slides:

Want access to more articles like this?  Subscribe now to stay up to date on the latest from Table XI 

Table XI

328 S. Jefferson St.
Suite 670
Chicago, IL 60661


Give your team new problem-solving techniques with our innovating workshops and check out our event series.

GoodFirms Badge