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Putting People First

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November 2005
30 November 2005

New Core77 discussion forum on design and innovation

Core77_forum
The industrial design site Core77 just launched a new discussion board forum on design and innovation, moderated by Steve Portigal.

The site also hosts a great many other discussion forums, including those on design research and on interaction design.

In short, a wealth of material to check out. Unfortunately none of them seem to have rss feeds.

30 November 2005

Virtual anthropology

Virtual_anthropology
The latest issue of trendwatching.com talks about virtual anthropology.

“As consumers around the world pro-actively post, stream if not lead parts of their lives online, you (or your trend team) can now vicariously ‘live’ amongst them, at home, at work, out on the streets. From reading minute-by-minute online diaries or watching live webcam feeds, to diving into tens of millions of tagged pictures uploaded by Flickr-fueled members of Generation C in Mexico, Mauritius, Malaysia and dozens of other countries.”

And Steve Portigal reacts:

“As usual, when you read about a shortcut to actual research written by someone who really has no clue about doing real research, they omit the valuable part – asking questions. Asking why! What is the meaning of the clothing you wear? Tell me a story about why you’ve got those items in your fridge?

It takes skill to unearth the insights – you can’t start and finish with self-reported data. Otherwise, you’re just a step above a mood board or something artifact-based. Insights come from people – from interacting with people, dynamically. Not simply observing their shit.”

29 November 2005

User experience and customer experience management

Livepath
Leigh Duncan of Live Path argues in a long post on his blog that user experience is an interface discipline, part of the wider field of customer experience management. It is all a matter of definitions of course, but in our own work, and in many other user experience projects I have seen, it is definitely more than just interface design. And it should be.

“User Experience or Usability is focused on the interface discipline of CEM. It is used primarily in reference to the analysis, design and/or development of human-to-technology interfaces. Some examples of this include:

User Experience is an important part of CEM, but like experiential marketing, it’s a part of a much larger whole. User Experience architects center their focus creating functional, intuitive interfaces (online or systems applications and technological devices) that enable customer interaction and transaction. CEM practitioners focus on the comprehensive interaction of customers in both online and offline channels.”

Read full post

(via Usernomics – Usability in the News)

28 November 2005

Design Council launches DOTT, a £50m regional design initative

Dott07
The UK Design Council launched today Design of the time (DOTT, in short), a £50 million, ten-year initiative to re-design the UK that begins in North East England in 2007.

DOTT, which is lead by John Thackara, gives the UK public the chance to help design the places where they live, work and play. It will, according to the organisers provide a unique opportunity for designers, businesses and public service organisations to engage with the public in practical explorations of the role that design can play in improving every aspect of people’s lives.

Every two years the Design Council will work with a UK region or nation to roll out an ambitious, year-long design programme. The aim each time will be to improve national life through design.

The first DOTT, in 2007, will be a partnership with One NorthEast, the regional development agency for North East England. It will have three distinct elements: public design commissions, education programmes and a programme of design showcase event.

dott07 brochure website
John Thackara post on the issue

28 November 2005

Future Perfect, a user experience blog by a Nokia researcher

Play_push_talk
Future Perfect is the blog of Jan Chipchase, who works in the User Experience Group at Nokia Research.

He defines it as a blog “about the collision of people, society and technology, drawing on issues related to the user research that I conduct on behalf of my employer – Nokia”, but also as “a pause for reflection in our planet’s seemingly headlong rush to churn out more, faster, smaller and cheaper.”

The blog, he says, contains material “that inspires or challenges me, helps me understand how the future might turn out.”

Jan splits his time between running user studies and developing new applications, services and products that we will be using 3 to 15 years from now. He specialises in taking teams of concept/industrial designers, psychologists, usability experts, sociologists, and ethnographers into the field and using their data to inform, inspire and affect how his colleagues think and what they do.

(via Eyebeam reBlog)

27 November 2005

Steve Portigal’s reflections on recent UX conferences

 
Steve Portigal pointed out to me that he just wrote up his own impressions on four user experience related conferences he attended this autumn:
- Creative CanUX in Banff in September
- About, With, and For (AWF) in Chicago in October
- Designing for User eXperience (DUX) in San Francisco in November
- Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference (EPIC) in Seattle in November

I just read all of Steve’s impressions, and aside from giving you a close insight on what went on at these conferences, his comments also teach you a thing or two about what makes a good conference to begin with. I cannot fail to conclude that conferences themselves need their own experience designers.

27 November 2005

Politics of the drawing board [The Observer]

 
A very insightful story by Geraldine Bedell in today’s Observer explores the latest thinking on the role of design as a means to develop solutions to services, business models and social issues, and the controversy this has generated in the UK. Yet she argues, “we could all benefit from this new thinking.”

As an example of the new approach she points out that “tomorrow the UK Design Council will announce its biggest initiative to date: a 10-year project [lead by John Thackara] to design solutions to social problems in five regions of the country, starting in the North East. At the end of each two-year phase, the region concerned will be left with up to 10 new practical public projects.”

The controversy stems from the fact that some believe that this is “strategic planning, or project management, and should not be confused with design” and that the “term designer is now [being] abused”.

However there is increasing openness to the new thinking: “Politicians and chief executives are starting to recognise that design can offer a more sensitive approach to social problems than their old, rather crude methods of information gathering, assumption forming and top-down solutions. Starting from users, they believe they can create more personalised, responsive, human, elegant and efficient solutions to social problems and business.”

Concluding, she argues that “establishment designers should relax, feel less threatened.” [...] “The rest of us, meanwhile, should be delighted, because new design opens up the possibility that we could all begin to apply design thinking, become much more involved in devising solutions to the problems that plague us. Which ought to be a lot more interesting and rewarding than just having more designer stuff.”

Read full story

26 November 2005

Ken Friedman presentations on design research

Ken_friedman
Ken Friedman works at the intersection of three fields: design, management and art.

At Denmark’s Design School, he works with theory construction and comparative research methodology for design and as Professor of Leadership and Strategic Design at the Norwegian School of Management, he focuses on knowledge economy issues.

“To design effective processes and artifacts, designers must know how things work and why,” Friedman writes. “This requires constructing and testing theories. In the most basic form, theories are models that demonstrate how things work by describing their properties or elements in dynamic relationship. Theories help us to understand what happens when elements interact. Theory construction is the art of developing the theories we require for robust design practice.”

Download two of his presentations, recently delivered at the 3rd International Conference on Design Research in Brazil:
- Designing the Experience Economy (pdf, 80 kb, 96 pages)
- Building Theory. What, How, and Why. (pdf, 56 kb, 60 pages)

(via managing innovative thinking + design)

26 November 2005

The product as story [The Observer]

Storytelling
If you had to write your organisation’s obituary, what would it say? Would there be any mourners? Has it made any difference to anyone? Would the world be worse off without it? Would anyone actually notice?

Faced with this question, say Klaus Fog and Christian Budtz, most chief executives are struck dumb, with no idea how to reply – a telling indication of the tenuousness of their companies’ hold on their purpose and meaning. If those inside the firm cannot encapsulate the core story, how can those outside be expected to understand it?

Both Fog and Budtz, of the small Danish communications group Sigma, believe that in a world of trivia, artifice and information overload, ‘the story’ is critical not just to a company’s brands, but to its whole existence. In most companies it is lost under accretions of history and bureaucracy; it takes the obituary test to uncover and reinvigorate fundamentals.

Together with Baris Yakaboylou, Fog and Budtz have written a book about their findings: Storytelling: Branding in Practice, Springer.

Read full story

Related: The Storytellers (UK)

26 November 2005

The beauty of simplicity [Fast Company]

Shoqbox
It is innovation’s biggest paradox: We demand more and more from the stuff in our lives–more features, more function, more power–and yet we also increasingly demand that it be easy to use. And, in an Escher-like twist, the technology that’s simplest to use is also, often, the most difficult to create.

The long article features MIT’s John Maeda and more insight on Philip’s simplicity approach.

Read full story

26 November 2005

Abstracts and proceedings of EPIC 2005 corporate ethnography conference

Epic
Abstracts and posters of the first Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference (EPIC, that took place on 14-15 November in Redmond, WA, are already online. The conference proceedings are also downloadable (pdf, 1.9 mb, 198 pages), be it for a limited time.

The EPIC 2005 conference drew more than 200 working ethnographers from high-tech firms, specialist shops such as IDEO, and technology-intensive businesses such as Wells Fargo.

25 November 2005

A user-centric concept of web identity

Dick_hardt
Identity 2.0 is a new user-centric and secure concept of identity on the web, rather than the current directory or site-centric one, which is not exactly safe.

Dick Hardt, CEO of Sxip Identity, made a brilliant presentation of what this all means.

Dave Gray of Communication Nation describes Hardt’s talk as: “one of the best presentations I’ve seen recently. Hardt completely captivates his audience with great visuals, great storytelling, and great timing. His presentation has a staccato, rhythmic quality, like a kind of corporate hip-hop. And he pulls it off by focusing your attention on the screen; he barely moves a muscle and doesn’t budge from behind the podium. One benefit of this presentation style is that it transfers seamlessly to the web.”

(more about this presentation style)

24 November 2005

Persuasive technology for human well-being

Persuasive
Can computers help fight obesity? Can technology motivate you to waste less energy? Can communication devices help overcome racial prejudice? Can a virtual agent persuade you to break your smoking habit? Can a mobile phone help you study? Can a robot challenge you to perform rehabilitation exercises?

The PERSUASIVE 06 conference is aimed at exploring technology in the service of human well-being, within the broader context of a socially and ecologically sustainable society. Academic researchers, designers and technology developers from around the world will be investigating the potential of persuasive technologies to positively affect human attitudes and behaviour.

The goal of PERSUASIVE 06 is to bring together a multidisciplinary group of social scientists studying persuasion, and engineers developing persuasive technologies in areas such as health and rehabilitation, housing, information and communication, and energy conservation, so they can meet, share experiences, present research and exchange ideas.

Keynote speaker is B.J. Fogg, author of Persuasive Technology – Using Computers to Change What We Think and Do, and director of Stanford University’s Persuasive Technology Lab.

The conference will take place on 18 and 19 May 2006 at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands.

24 November 2005

MuLiMob: multilingualism and mobility

Mulimob
MuLiMob is an EU financed multi-partner project aimed at using Europe’s linguistic and cultural diversity as hallmark to bolster the mobile market.

MuLiMob will review and analyse elements to be changed, fine-tuned and solved in order to develop wireless applications that are truly multilingual, from their inception right through to their final development and hence greater suited to the mobile user profile and their respective needs.

The partnership team consists of five Small-to-Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) based in Barcelona, Brussels, London and Paris.

Related mobile user experience blogs:
- m-trends
- gotomobile

24 November 2005

Business Week on China’s design boom

China_design
China design (cover story)
How the mainland is becoming a global center for hot products

Motorola’s new mission in China
China chief Michael Tatelman on how the handset maker is integrating the country’s consumers and designers into its global strategy

Shaping cars for the Chinese
James Shyr, GM’s chief designer in China, on targeting different buyer groups: “We have a diversity of customer demographics in our heads”

China’s Design Dynamos
Here’s a look at some of the names that are bringing innovative thinking and a fresh look to the Middle Kingdom

24 November 2005

Bringing social bookmarking inside companies

Ibm
The apparent success of Internet-based social bookmarking applications begs the question of whether large enterprises or organisations would also benefit from social bookmarking systems.

To investigate this question, IBM is designing and developing an enterprise-scale social bookmarking system called dogear.

This article describes the design challenges and early lessons learned from a friendly trial of the technology.

(via Institute for the Future’s Future Now)

23 November 2005

More about Aria Magazine

Ariamagazine
The people at Aria Magazine are nice.

A few weeks I posted about this (to me) mysterious initiative. And this is their emailed reaction (freely translated from the original Italian, which you can find below). I can only thank them and wish them good luck.

“We would like to stress that there are no mysteries behind our magazine, which is now in its third edition (available as of January). It is a joint project between Milan and Berlin, based upon the concept of emotional geography, as developed by Harvard teacher Giuliana Bruno.

We wanted to give life to a magazine that speaks about travelling in a transversal way, by referring to the concept of mobility as it is currently interpreted.

We started about a year and a half ago to contact photographers, writers, advertisers and promotors through their blogs. Going by our gut feeling, we explained our project and people replied with great curiosity.

Last Spring we started off with a self-financed layout which we sent to Nokia Italia with the help of Andrea di Stefano (a friend who is a journalist at Repubblica and one of our editors). About a month and a half later Nokia told us that they very much liked the project and wanted to finance the first two issues of the magazine.

We hadn’t really imagined this. In fact, our happiness even increased when also Microsoft Italia became our other sponsor.

From the very start, we were convinced that we had to approach our editorial project in an innovative way, also from the point of view of advertising. We had a clear idea in mind to not have more than 10% of advertising coverage, in English, with a quarter of the cover page devoted to the main sponsor of the issue. We also proposed sponsors locations where they could distribute the magazine (e.g. since we noticed that Nokia was a sponsor of the Artissima, we proposed that the magazine would also be distributed there.)

Also the contact with Future Lab grew out of our search to find text and photo contributions by cool hunters to our “Souvenir” section. Future Lab was very interested in our project, as it was close to some of the topics of analysis that their own company was focused on, and that was the basis of our collaboration.

Aria is distributed in Italy in magazine shops in a lot of major cities, as well as in selected locations outside of Italy. You can find more information on our distribution on www.ariamagazine.com. We have been contacted from abroad many times with proposals for collaborations, which got us to realise even more how valid our initiative is.

Laura Broggi
Francesco Carcano

*****

Original Italian version of their email:

Tenevamo a spiegarle che dietro al magazine non vi sono operazioni occulte. Aria, il cui terzo numero sarà nelle edicole a fine gennaio, è un nuovo progetto editoriale nato tra Milano e Berlino, sviluppatosi sul concetto di geografia emozionale sintetizzato dalla docente di Harvard Giuliana Bruno.

La nostra idea era quella di dare vita ad un magazine che parlasse di viaggio in maniera trasversale, attraverso riferimenti alla mobilità, nelle sue varie e contemporanee accezioni.

Abbiamo iniziato un anno e mezzo fa a contattare fotografi, scrittori, pubblicitari, attraverso i loro blog . Andando un po’ ad istinto, scrivevamo spiegando il nostro progetto, le persone rispondevano con curiosità.

La scorsa primavera ci siamo autofinanziati un layout e lo abbiamo mandato a Nokia Italia tramite Andrea di Stefano (amico, giornalista di Repubblica ed “editore” con noi di Aria). Dopo un mese e mezzo Nokia ci faceva sapere che aveva apprezzato molto il progetto e confermava la disponibilità a finanziare i primi due numeri del magazine.

Non immaginavamo che la cosa andasse davvero in porto. La gioia è stata maggiore poche settimane fa quando un altro accordo di sponsorizzazione è stato definito con Microsoft Italia.

Dall’inizio del progetto infatti ci era chiaro che dovevamo affrontare in modo innovativo una nuova proposta editoriale, anche rispetto al tema della presenza pubblicitaria. Il progetto prevede una presenza pubblicitaria massima del 10%, in inglese, con la quarta di copertina destinata allo sponsor principale del numero, cui vengono proposti ambiti caratterizzanti di diffusione del magazine (per esempio, avevamo visto che Nokia era tra gli sponsor di Artissima e abbiamo proposto che il magazine venisse distribuito in quella sede).

Anche il contatto col Future Lab è nato mentre cercavamo dei contributi di scritti e foto di cool hunter per la rubrica Souvenir. Il Future Lab ha mostrato interesse al nostro progetto che presentava affinità con alcune aree di analisi su cui la società era concentrata e da questo è nata una collaborazione.

Aria viene distribuito nelle edicole dei capoluoghi di provincia in Italia e in forma mirata all’estero (sul sito www.ariamagazine.com trova tutte le informazioni sulla distribuzione). Proprio dall’estero sono giunte numerose proposte di collaborazione e questo ci ha fatto capire che il progetto può avere una sua validità.

Laura Broggi

Francesco Carcano

23 November 2005

DIS 2006 looking for designers

Dis2006
DIS 2006, SIGCHI’s biennial conference on Designing Interactive Systems, will take place at Penn State University, University Park, PA USA on June 26-28.

DIS has become an internationally recognised forum for design researchers and reflective practitioners.

Penn State Professor John M. Carroll just wrote me that to say that the organisers are particularly keen on involving more designers in the conference. Papers are due on 15 December 2005.

23 November 2005

New online usability journal

 
The Usability Professionals’ Association (UPA) just published the inaugural issue of the Journal of Usability Studies, a UPA peer-reviewed, on-line journal dedicated to “promoting and enhancing the practice, research, ethics and education of usability engineering”.

A great positive is that the stories are available for free, unlike UPA’s User Experience magazine, which is only available as a members only hard copy. Howvever, you cannot read the journal articles in your browser – you have to download them as PDF’s. Some usability improvements are needed still to make the reading experience more immediate.

The first issue includes an invited thought-provoking essay by Jakob Nielsen on: “Usability for the Masses”. In addition, it includes four peer-reviewed articles on the ecological validity of lab vs. field studies of mobile applications, a systems control framework for iterative usability testing, a report on the development of formative tests report format, and on the heuristics of travel web sites.

Authors are invited to submit manuscripts addressing various aspects of quantitative and qualitative usability studies that have a strong generalisation value to other practitioners working with any human-interactive product.

22 November 2005

MIT Technology Review on corporate ethnography

Epic
MIT Technology Review discusses the blossoming field of corporate ethnography as a way to study how people actually use technology and reports on the first-ever Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference (EPIC), organised by ethnographers at Intel and Microsoft and held at Microsoft’s campus on November 14-15.

The conference drew more than 200 working ethnographers from high-tech firms, specialist shops such as IDEO, and technology-intensive businesses such as Wells Fargo.

Read full story
Conference blog