Putting People First

Daily insights on user experience, experience design and people-centred innovation
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July 2005
31 July 2005

Oakley’s new sunglasses are Bluetooth-enabled mobile eyewear [Reuters]

Oakley Inc. is jumping into the electronic age with sunglasses that play music and work with cell phones as it targets gadget lovers who want more than just protection from the sun. The project involves a collaboration with Motorola and Cingular.

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30 July 2005

Democratizing Innovation by Eric Von Hippel

Innovation is rapidly becoming democratised. Users, aided by improvements in computer and communications technology, increasingly can develop their own new products and services. These innovating users — both individuals and firms — often freely share their innovations with others, creating user-innovation communities and a rich intellectual commons.

In Democratizing Innovation, Eric Von Hippel, Professor and Head of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Group at the MIT Sloan School of Management, looks closely at this emerging system of user-centred innovation. He explains why and when users find it profitable to develop new products and services for themselves, and why it often pays users to reveal their innovations freely for the use of all.

Download the book for free (Creative Commons License)

Related: Von Hippel interviewed in The Feature on his new book

30 July 2005

I screen, you screen: the new age of the music video [The New York Times]

Videos have taken on an exciting if uncertain life of their own, far away from the mother ship that launched them.

They thrive at online music sites, they’re sold in record stores, they connect strangers across the Internet. And just this month, speculation was rampant that they might soon be coming to iPods, the hand-held devices that are obsessing an increasingly large segment of the population.

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30 July 2005

Usability and San Francisco’s new voting equipment

San Francisco’s Department of Elections has become very interested in usability issues of voting quipment. Recently, the department had usability expert Scott Luebking come in to provide the staff some basic training on usability and voting equipment.

The training included an introductory lecture on usability and some simple demonstrations of reviewing various types of voting equipment for usability issues. The powerpoint slides for the lecture are available here (452 kb).

The Department has meanwhile also set up a pilot programme where the public can participate in a mock election (pdf of press release, 148 kb) conducted outside San Francisco’s city hall.

30 July 2005

Aaron Marcus on experience design

Aaron Marcos, president and principal designer/analyst of Aaron Marcus and Associates, contacted me to point me to some of his own resources on experience design.

The website of his company provides a rich overview of case studies and articles, of which I would like to draw attention to the Samsung case study. It describes how they helped the Korean company innovate wireless devices of the future using research and contextual observation (see also pdf).

Recent interviews with Aaron Marcus can be found on the website of the Institute of Design, Chicago and on InfoDesign.

29 July 2005

Mapping emotions [Business Week]

Consumers crave “personal meaning” in products and services. To innovate, new methods are being developed to help designers understand the emotions that drive consumer decisions.

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29 July 2005

The value of inventive services [Business Week]

It’s the biggest part of the economy these days, but many companies’ innovation remain focused on products. Service innovation as a discipline is still in its infancy. Here’s why that needs to change.

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29 July 2005

An orb with a galaxy of uses [Business Week]

Ambient Devices didn’t realise how many different applications people would find for its data-display invention. It’s a lesson in side effects.

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29 July 2005

Business Week special issue on creativity

Get creative!
The Knowledge Economy as we know it is being eclipsed by something new — call it the Creativity Economy. Even as policymakers and pundits wring their hands over the outsourcing of engineering, software writing, accounting, and myriad other high-tech, high-end service jobs — not to mention the move of manufacturing to Asia — U.S. companies are evolving to the next level of economic activity: creating consumer experiences, not just products; reconceiving entire brand categories, not merely adding a few more colors; and, above all, innovating in new and surprising arenas.

Online extra: old needs, new ideas slide show
Paradigm shifts have not just replaced products, they’ve revamped the markets the items sell in. Take a look at some of these transformations.

Online extra: bringing innovation to the home of Six Sigma
Says GE CEO Jeff Immelt: “We want to make it O.K. to take risks”

Online extra: toolbox for the creative corporation slide show
The problems and their solutions, the mistakes and the lessons to draw from them — and the rewards of creativity.

The brand wizard: Yves Behar
fuseproject, San Francisco

The transformer: Beth Comstock
General Electric Co., Fairfield, Conn.

Mr. metrics: Larry Keeley
Doblin Group, Chicago

The experience guy: David Rockwell
Rockwell Group, New York

DNA decoder: Sohrab Vossoughi
Ziba Design, Portland, Ore.

The coach: Jeneanne Rae
Peer Insight, Alexandria, Va.

The academic: Roger Martin
Joseph L. Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto, Ont.

Tomorrow’s B-School? It might be a D-School
Business schools are hooking up with design institutes — or starting their own.

Online extra: design’s new school of thought
IDEO’s David Kelley is building a “D-school” that aims to put students in direct contact with the people they’re designing for.

Online extra: 3M: reading between the lines
When customers said they needed bigger batteries to power larger computer
screens, 3M figured they really needed brighter displays. It was right.

Online extra: P&G’s quest for “wow” design
CEO Lafley is pouring resources into making consumer products a hothouse for innovation and probing deeper into customers’ psyche.

29 July 2005

Business Week launches innovation and design portal

Business Week is joining the growing conversation about getting creative by launching a new online Innovation & Design portal — — to present the best research and thinking on the subject. It also features a special section on architecture.
29 July 2005

A brain trust in Bangalore [Business Week]

High tech’s biggest name are keen to set up research operations in India — and not just because of the cheap labor.

Sarnoff is one of many Western tech research outfits that have turned to India for its combination of low labor costs, big brains, and English speakers the likes of which are available nowhere else in the world. Notables including Microsoft, Google and IBM face plenty of challenges, but they’re convinced that their investments in Indian research will pay off handsomely in the end.

Read full story

28 July 2005

Teens spurn e-mail for messaging [BBC]

US teenagers prefer instant messaging rather than e-mail to stay in touch with each other, research shows.

A Pew Internet and American Life Project study found online teens are increasingly tech-savvy.

Nearly nine out of 10 teenagers say they use the net, up from 74 percent in 2000, according to the Pew study.

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27 July 2005

Managing for creativity [Harvard Business Review]

Over many years, the leaders of SAS Institute have distilled a set of principles for getting peak performance from creative people. Among them: Value the work over the tools, reward excellence with challenges, and minimize hassles.

A company’s most important asset isn’t raw materials, transportation systems, or political influence. It’s creative capital—simply put, an arsenal of creative thinkers whose ideas can be turned into valuable products and services. Creative employees pioneer new technologies, birth new industries, and power economic growth.

class=”body”Professionals whose primary responsibilities include innovating, designing, and problem solving—the creative class—make up a third of the U.S. workforce and take home nearly half of all wages and salaries. If you want your company to succeed, these are the people you entrust it to. That much is certain.

What’s less certain is how to manage for maximum creativity. How do you increase efficiency, improve quality, and raise productivity, all while accommodating for the complex and chaotic nature of the creative process?

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27 July 2005

Should design inform social policy? [UsabilityNews]

Does design have a role in implementing social policy and addressing political challenges?

In an informal debate on “Design and Social Policy”, the July meeting of AIGA Experience Design in London weighed up just how far designers should be engaged in the political practices of shaping society.

Talking from the front bench were panellists: Ben Rogers, Associate Director/Head of the Democracy team at the ippr; Richard Eisermann, Director of Design and Innovation at the Design Council and James Woudhuysen, Professor of Forecasting and Innovation at De Montfort University.

Read full story

27 July 2005

Mobiles becoming ‘media channels’ [BBC]

Mobiles are becoming “media channels” as music, games, gambling and adult content clamour to make the industry worth $42.8bn by 2010.

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27 July 2005

Tech’s “dearth of innovation” [Business Week]

That’s due to “near-monopolists” in many areas, says futurist Mark Anderson, whose newsletter is read by the likes of Gates and Dell.

Mark Anderson just might be one of the most influential technology futurists around. His weekly newsletter, Strategic News Service (SNS), is widely read by a who’s who of investors and tech visionaries.

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27 July 2005

World’s first ambient experience suite opens []

The Ambient Experience suite uses Philips’ lighting and consumer electronics to create a welcoming and patient-friendly environment for children undergoing medical scans.

Featuring a Philips Brilliance CT (computed tomography) scanner in a room with curved walls, it lets young patients choose a theme – or ‘ambient environment’ – for the room by waving a radio frequency card over a reader to project cartoons and animation themes onto the walls and ceiling using Philips technology. They can also use the Kitten Scanner.

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(via UserNomics)

26 July 2005

Ethnography at McDonald’s

Blogger Grant McCracken has posted a nice tale about doing ethnography at McDonald’s to figure out why people order smaller drink sizes in the drive-thru than inside. And in the process, provides a nice concise explanation of a research approach.

Read full post

(via Customer Experience Crossroads)

25 July 2005

How Philips found new spark [Business Week]

CEO Gerard Kleisterlee tells how an emphasis on smart design pushes innovation, makes happy customers — and boosts the bottom line.

Read full interview

(via Brian Regienczuk)

25 July 2005

What does a sustainable society look like?

The Pattern Map offers a visual guide to the sustainability patterns that provide a framework for developing a Conservation Economy: an ecologically restorative, socially just and reliably prosperous society.

The fifty-seven patterns are adaptable to local ecosystems and cultures, yet universal in their applicability.