TSW: the beginning, the turning point, the intuition

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The story of TSW – The Sixth W, from visibility on search engines to the co-design of quality experiences, told by its CEO and founder.


I remember meeting rooms with the names of cookies: it was 1997 and, when Google did not yet exist, I was talking to Barilla about how the internet could become the digital place where supply and demand meet. If today it seems obvious, twenty-five years ago it was a speech that earned me the perplexed glances of many interlocutors.

However, I have not stopped believing in that intuition and I sat at the table of several managers to tell about a digital market – at the time still semi-deserted – in which, through our services, we could put in contact those who offered something with whom he needed it, through visibility in search engines.

We were inventing SEO, first in Italy together with a couple of colleagues in the sector, and various realities were starting to follow us, until the first major collaborations with Illy Caffè, Findomestic, Alessi and Jacuzzi were signed.

TSW, first headquarters in 1997, in Calmaggiore in Treviso

The years passed, Altavista gave way to Google and TSW met companies talking about visibility on search engines as a bridge between online supply and demand, telling of a visibility understood not as ranking or positioning but as the relationship between those who manifest a need and who can satisfy that need, with the aim of guaranteeing people the best search experience.

Hence another intuition: the research experience, which took place thanks to our work and the visibility that we were able to generate, could make a further qualitative leap. How? People who finally found what they were looking for, who then arrived at the “home” of our customers, came across inhospitable sites that, yesterday as today, took little account of the user experience and therefore of the user.

I then understood how essential it was for the person, after an effective search experience, to also find a welcoming site, a satisfying design, content capable of transferring the value of the company and the services offered (and this did not happen systematically). So we asked ourselves how do we enhance, improve and therefore measure this type of experience?

We started traveling the world to observe who was in charge of user experience and find out with what knowledge, technologies and in what environments they did it.

Back home, we understood that we had to have our own place, a place where, by being close to the users – whom we later learned to call “experience donors” – we could grasp everything that was needed to improve the sites and, if we want to, “fix” what was not designed from the start to generate a good experience.

A key moment that marked the beginning of an important journey: dealing with user experience and being in constant contact with people – our customers’ customers – we understood that the experience that people live and share with us at that moment it has an extraordinary value because it contains an infinite wealth of information that goes far beyond the specific task of a usability test.

It is by observing people and seeing how my work could positively affect the quality of their life that I found the guiding star of TSW: to bring quality, beautiful, simple and natural experiences to life. Online yes, but also within physical environments.

We are still sailing in that direction today because we are convinced – as we were in 1997 when we talked about SEO before it existed – that only companies that are open to real listening and involving people at all stages of design will be able to survive.

What is the destination? With 25 years of history behind me, I look to tomorrow with a goal that I euphemistically define as ambitious: to change the world, experience after experience, company after company.

At least until we are no longer needed, because creating quality experiences together with people will be like being on Google, an obvious fact. Companies choose whether to arrive early or late in this revolution (which, if you did not understand it, has already begun).

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23 June 2022 Christian Carniato

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TAG: SEO UX and UI digital marketing experience design The Sixth W approach user testing