By James Morley-Smith | June 05, 2019

Stories from the Edge: Finding Personal Inspiration to Make a Global Impact Through Technology

Unique Approach to Technology Design Benefits Front-line Workers

Sometimes inspiration can come from an unexpected place. Something we see during our everyday life can influence the work we do. Or, even something in our own families. Personal experience can cause a ripple effect that causes change in a way that we couldn’t imagine when we first started.

The term “user-centered design” gets thrown around a lot these days. You’ll hear it used to refer to everything from your mobile phone to your car’s responsive dashboard to your favorite website. At Zebra, we call it “purpose-driven design,” and it’s at the core of how we approach everything we do. Basically, this philosophy means that we start with the user, consider their workflow, workplace and environment and then design solutions to fit the challenges at hand.

I found inspiration in my life with my son Fintan, who lost his sight when he was very young due to cancer. By watching how Fintan adapted to his environment without his sight, I realised that warehouse workers might face similar challenges – dimly lit conditions and protective goggles that impair their vision while they work. Recently, my team and I drew on this experience in designing tools for these front-line workers, developing larger buttons and other design modifications that compensate for the harsh warehouse environment and help the users perform their jobs better and with fewer risks for error.

Zebra is continuously innovating to help improve life for those on the front line of business. Because, when front-line users have rugged, reliable tools that work as hard as they do and were designed with their specific environment in mind, they gain a performance edge which allows them to succeed. And that success improves overall business performance for us all.

I talk about this more in this latest video from our Stories from the Edge series: 

Editor’s Note: Know someone who helps Zebra deliver a performance edge or heard a great story from the front line? Email us at We’d love to hear from you!  In the meantime, check out other great Stories from the Edge:

Healthcare, Hospitality, Transportation and Logistics, Field Operations, Manufacturing, Inside Zebra Nation, Retail, Public Sector,
James Morley-Smith
James Morley-Smith

As Zebra’s Global Director of User Experience', James helps Zebra and its customers understand the impact that technology has on their business and how technology can and should be leveraged to gain strategic advantage for the future. With the pace of technological change, this role is more important now than ever before.

James has worked at Zebra Technologies for over 18 years [through various acquisitions; Symbol, Motorola and now Zebra]. He started his career with the company as a software developer producing custom solutions for the EMEA market and then went on to create the first ever industrial browser, PocketBrowser including defining the industrial extensions to HTML (EMML) that would be used in all industrial browsers in the enterprise space.

As EMEA CTO James acts as the technology lead in the region representing how industries operate and the needs of the region’s users within the technology office to ensure that products and innovations from Zebra are designed and built with a global voice in mind. James also heads up the global User Experience Design team as part of the Innovation & Design group. The UX team is responsible for defining all aspects of experience within Zebra’s solutions ensuring that productivity and accuracy are always the top priority, differentiating the solutions from consumer applications.