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Putting People First

Daily insights on user experience, experience design and people-centred innovation
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December 2005
20 December 2005

Australian qualitative research results in 35 mobile phone product ideas

Backpackers
Backpackers in Australia often wish to organise group activities, but have few collaboration methods available and only a trickle of communication is possible between them as they move. They regularly explore unfamiliar locations quickly, but have only basic resources to inform them about those places. Many opportunities exist for mobile devices to assist them with their difficulties.

University of Queensland researchers used a combination of mobile group ethnography, contextual group interviews and participatory activities, to explore current communication behaviour between backpackers engaged in a typical tourist activity.

Results indicate a long list of inconveniences backpackers face, which have translate into a list of 48 user requirements and a table of 35 product ideas.

Read full abstract
Download paper (pdf, 3.5 mb, 71 pages)

(via Mobile Community Design)

20 December 2005

Mobile phones and other technology can narrow social divides [Usability News]

Social_exclusion
A challenge to the traditional view that new technology will widen inequality in the future comes from the UK Government’s Social Exclusion Unit. The new report shows how technology is already improving life chances and public service delivery, and is being embraced by those deemed to be ‘excluded groups’. Part of the success is coming from the use of mobile phones rather than computers.

For instance, mobile phones are being used by homeless people to avoid the problems of not having a permanent address, leaving a mobile number on job applications. Medical results can be texted to the patient without someone else answering the phone. Elderly folk are playing chess with friends across the world. The report Inclusion Through innovation: Tackling Social Exclusion Through New Technologies shows other examples of how modern technology can improve public service take-up, reconnect the isolated and provide a lifeline for those groups on the margins.

The report, published by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, argues that ‘excluded’ people already use technology extensively and that we need to build on this enthusiasm.

Read full story

19 December 2005

Experience design terminology in other languages

 
What is the experience design terminology in other languages? Here are some equivalent expressions dealing with interface design, user experience, experience design, user-centred design and usability in six European languages:

- Dutch: gebruikservaring, gebruiksvriendelijkheid, gebruiksgemak
- Finnish: käyttöliittymäsuunnittelu, käyttäjäkokemus / käyttökokemus, kokemussuunnittelu, käytettävyys (thanks to Marjut Mutanen)
- French: design d’interfaces, expérience utilisateur, conception centrée utilisateur, utilisabilité
- German: Interfacedesign, Benutzerfreundlichkeit, Gebrauchstauglichkeit
- Italian: design delle interfacce, esperienza dell’utente, design utente-centrico, usabilità
- Spanish: diseño de interfaces, experiencia de usuario, diseño centrado en el usuario, usabilidad

Note that some of these words seem a little akward for native speakers (e.g. Gebrauchstauglichkeit, kokemussuunnittelu), who then prefer the English version. This is especially the case for Dutch and German speakers.

Please send me other words and languages to add to this list.

19 December 2005

Personalisation and innovation in the hotel sector

Sofitel
In this French language article (sent to me by Régine Debatty), two specialists in hotel hospitality discuss the impact of new technologies on their sector, and the delay the hospitality sector is facing in providing services (such as WiFi) that many of their customers have at home or in their office.

Philippe Rémondière, who is responsable for multimedia projects at the Accor Group, which runs 4000 Novitel, Sofitel, Mercure, Ibis and Formule 1 hotels, observes that the hotel sector will need new professionals skilled in technology and marketing to address these new customer needs.

When asked what the future in 15 years might hold, Rémondière responds: “The future is about being able to create your own room. So instead of going into a room that looks like any other, clients will be in the room that they choose and that they visited virtually before being at the hotel. This room will be entirely personalised according to the customer’s taste. This will go very far: the colour of the walls or the type of fabric will be chosen by the client and can be dynamically changed for the following client: the photo frames will show photos that matter to clients the moment they enter the room. They will also find their own movie selection there, including the movies that they selected during previous stays at the hotel. Smart home intelligence will be able to fine-tune these parameters. All these technologies already exist now and their implementation will mean a profound change for the hotel sector. The hotel will have to leave its traditional anonymity behind and will have to become part of the era of personalisation. Customers will appropriate these spaces by configuring their own personal environment, that will closely match they have at home.”

18 December 2005

London set for cashless revolution [The Times]

Oyster
Anyone who has ever visited a newsagents or coffee shop knows how annoying it is to rummage through a pocket or purse in an attempt to find the right change. But this experience could soon be a thing of the past if ambitious plans to create Europe’s first “tap and go” payment system in the capital get the go-ahead.

Transport for London, the public sector body in charge of the capital’s tube and bus network, is in advanced negotiations with two short-listed companies to expand its Oyster smart-card ticketing system.

TfL wants the card to become an “e-purse” alternative to cash for low-value goods and services. If it presses ahead with the scheme, currently only under consideration for London, it could roll it out nationwde.

Read full story

Related: Oyster card usability analysis by Matt Stephens

18 December 2005

New report on educational media for babies, toddlers and preschoolers

Electronic_toys
In recent years, there has been a big increase in new electronic media products for very young children, including those as young as one month old. A driving force behind this new market is the advertising and package labeling that makes claims about the educational benefits of specific products.

“A Teacher in the Living Room? Educational Media for Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers”, a report by the Kaiser Family Foundation, examines the educational claims about commercially available educational media products (videos and DVDs, computer software, and video games) for very young children and what kind of research has been conducted to substantiate the educational claims.

The report indicates there is little understanding of how the new media affect young children – and almost no research to support the idea that they are educational.

Download report
(pdf, 1.33 mb, 56 pages)
New York Times article on the issue

17 December 2005

Experientia

 
For those seeking the new experience design company Experientia on Google, here it is: www.experientia.com.

Google might be the most important search engine in the world, but it takes a (fairly long) while before new domain names make it to the top of the list. Many, many months.

[MSN and Yahoo! are doing much better in that sense.]

For the time being, posts about Experientia, like this one, are listed much higher on Google than Experientia itself, and there is absolutely nothing that we can do about it.

Except creating posts like this.

17 December 2005

Folksonomy in museums

Steve_museum
A group of museums are exploring how tagging can enable use of museum collections — and foster links between people and institutions.

Popular Internet applications that take advantage of social tagging – think flickr and del.icio.us – have captured our collective imagination over the past year. Museums could learn from these developments, and use folksonomic classification both to improve access to on-line collections and to provide the foundation for community-based services that reinforce the role of the museum.

A group of art museums pushed towards integrating folksonomies into the museum web, developing a working prototype and directions for future development and research that could benefit the entire museum community.

Visit website

17 December 2005

Taking back the web [News.com]

Millennials
A News.com special report explores how a new generation, technologies return the net to its social roots.

The report, which is aimed at a broad audience, is organised in five chapters and provides an insight in the importance of grassroots opinions in the entertainment business and how wikis, tagging and mash-ups are changing the web.

The most interesting chapter however is the last one, which looks at the ‘millennials‘: a generation of children and teenagers who came of age at the dawn of the millennium. Members of this generation are thought to be adept with computers, creative with technology and, above all, are highly skilled at multitasking in a world where always-on connections are assumed. Their everyday lives are often characterised by immediate communication, via instant messenger, cellular conversations or text messaging. No member of this generation, it can be assumed, would ever wait on a street corner for a late friend.

The report can also be downloaded (pdf, 264 kb, 23 pages).

17 December 2005

Semantic web, here we come [Red Herring]

Semantic_web
A consortium of blogging startups wants to give deeper meaning to the Internet by giving people tools to categorise web pages.

A consortium of young companies declared their support this week for building categories into web sites that would make them more easily searched and combined.

The “Structured Blogging Initiative” is an attempt to jump-start the “semantic web”, the idea of giving deeper meaning to the Internet advocated by World Wide Web creator Tim Berners-Lee. By incorporating descriptive information into the code of web pages, laypeople will be able to designate their content as a movie review, an event posting, or an item available for sale.

The idea is to spark massive amounts of web pages using these formats so that companies and applications can be formed to make use of the information; for instance, an alternative to eBay that collects listings from blogs rather than requiring sellers to sell within the confines of its marketplace.

The companies working on the initiative are Attensa, BlogAds, Bloglines, Blogdigger, Blogg.de, Blogtronix, Bloqx, Bryght, CommerceNet, Cordance, Edgeio, eTribes, Feedster, 5ive Group, FreeRange, GoingOn, Indeed.com, IntelliCal, iUpload, iVillage, KnowNow, Meetup, NetVibes, NewsGator, OpenBC, Pheedo, Pluck, PubSub Concepts, Qumana, ReadSpeaker, Reger.com, RelevantNOISE, Rojo, Socialtext, Sphere, Sxip, Tribe Networks, Verisign, Yiibu and Xanga.

Read full story

17 December 2005

From information design to experience design

Disappearing_computer
From information design to experience design: smart artefacts and the disappearing computer

The rate at which computers disappear will be matched by the rate at which information technology will increasingly permeate our environment and determine our lives. This notion of the “disappearing computer” and the shift from information worlds to experience worlds are of the starting points of this paper, published in the Asian online experience design journal uiGarden.

Norbert Streitz et al explore a range of social processes in innovative office environments and provide examples of how to represent situations and objects through selected indicators.

The application domains range from office environments to interactive hybrid games in home environments.

Read full story

17 December 2005

Prototypes exploring personalisation in mobile phones

Sw_personalisation
Schulze & Webb are working with Chris Heathcote of Nokia’s Insight Foresight Group to develop experimental prototypes to explore personalisation in mobile phones.

This project blog discusses their work.

There are three overlapping strands in the project: craft, hacking and mass customisation. Craft is broadly about working with people who have specialist skills in the areas of making; by hacking we are referring to combining the phone with other objects or interfering with the phone functionality; mass customisation refers to processes and materials available to small or local manufacture and appropriate to short run production.

(via textually.org)

14 December 2005

Renzo Piano about Genoa, life and the Paris riots

Renzo_piano
This is not a story about experience design as such.

It is a story about inspiration, innovation, creativity, humanity and life. And I hope that some of it wears off on you, makes you think and inspires you in your desire to become better professionals.

Enjoy.

13 December 2005

Defining creativity, innovation and design

 
Creativity is the generation of new ideas – either new ways of looking at existing problems, or of seeing new opportunities, perhaps by exploiting emerging technologies or changes in markets.

Innovation is the successful exploitation of new ideas. It is the process that carries them through to new products, new services, new ways of running the business or even new ways of doing business.

Design is what links creativity and innovation. It shapes ideas to become practical and attractive propositions for users or customers. Design may be described as creativity deployed to a specific end.

From the Cox Review of Creativity in Business

13 December 2005

Improving the aging experience

Cast_image
The Center for Aging Services Technologies (CAST) is leading the United States’ charge to develop and deploy emerging technologies that can improve the aging experience in America.

Established in 2003, CAST has become a national coalition of more than 400 technology companies, aging services organizations, research universities, and government representatives.

According to a Mercury News article, the initiative originated from Intel Chairman Craig Barrett, [who] is using his golden years to become an evangelist for technology to help senior citizens, leading his company to a prominent role in a small but growing field tackling the needs of an aging nation.

Intel’s involvement in the field came as an outgrowth of social science research it did in the United States, South America and Europe beginning in 1999. Although it was designed to look at how people might use entertainment technology, those older than 45 in the project told researchers that their biggest needs were dealing with health care for themselves or older relatives, said Dishman, one of the researchers.

Unlike today’s elderly, many of those aging Americans are familiar with computers and cell phones, which can be embedded with sensors and other technologies to help with health care needs, Dishman said.

Some other articles today on the same topic:
- High-tech improves life for seniors [CNN]
- It’s gee-whiz for the golden years [Washington Post]

11 December 2005

The experience of visiting the Museum of the Mountains

Museo_montagna
Today I visited Italy’s National Museum of the Mountains (“Museo Nazionale della Montagna”), which is located just a few minutes from my home on a hill overlooking the city of Turin.

In fact, the museum re-opened today after an extensive two-year renovation and the result is a great example of how to create a well-crafted user experience in a museum context. It is a must when you visit Turin.

The museum is located on top of one of the hills right next to the city centre, on a site which used to be occupied by a fortress and later on by a still functioning Capucine monastery.

You enter the circular building on the ground floor where a video of a theatrical mountaineer (subtitled in flawless English) introduces you to the overall scope of the exhibit. The actor, Giuseppe Cederna, is omnipresent in the exhibit and clarifies the topics of the various areas by directly using the exhibited artefacts.

The exhibition is organised in eight thematic areas, four on the first floor and four on the second, explaining in short the story of how the mountains are at once a delicate ecosystem, an area of age-old cultures, and for about a century also an area of leisure and sports, with skiing having becoming a genuinely popular winter sport just after the second world war.

The central part of the building allows for temporary exhibitions, and one of them is currently devoted to the story of the Canadian gold rush in the mountains around Klondike and the Chilkoot Pass at the end of the 19th Century.

In the end though, I was most impressed by how the museum gives you an emotional, vivid and visceral feeling of why people can feel such strong fascination and passion for the mountains.

This feeling of shared excitement is even more enhanced when you finish the “climb” of the building and head up to the third floor where on a newly constructed open air roof terrace you can admire a spectacular panorama of 400 km (270 miles) of Alps.

Do go on a clear day. And don’t worry about taking children. They will enjoy it as much as you do.

11 December 2005

Turin World Design Capital in 2008

Turin_design
My hometown Turin (or “Torino” in Italian) has been selected as the 2008 World Design Capital by ICSID, the international council of societies of industrial design.

With this nomination, Turin has been given the go-ahead to organise a series of activities and events to present the Piedmont and Italian design excellence to a worldwide audience.

Turin gave the ICSID members with a unique book that provides in ten stories an insight into the Torino and Piedmont peculiarities, seen through the eye of design.

The book also features a uniquely created font, WDC, designed to give a clearer indentity to the award, which is now available to the design community.

The idea of designing a font stems from the awareness that Piedmont has a long tradition of typography and font development. In 1470 the first industrial typographers in Europe were located in Paris and Mondovi, a town to the south of Turin. Giovanni Bodoni was Piemontese by origin, and his successful font, Bodoni, is still widely used.

World Design Capital book (English only)
- Download text pages (pdf, 100 kb, 15 pages)
- View images

Read latest newsletter (Italian only)

11 December 2005

New shared experience design resources

 
I have created a number of new experience design resources. They are all shared and public, so you can easily add your own contributions. Make sure to update your bookmarks and RSS feeds:

Experience design calendar, featuring conferences and workshops worldwide, is now hosted on Eventful (and no longer on Upcoming.org) because Eventful provides so much more functionality and is also much more user friendly.
Also on Eventful are experience design groups for Asia, Europe and North America, which only contain events of global relevance and those in your region.

Del.icio.us list of experience design companies
Tag is xdcompanies.

Del.icio.us list of experience design email groups
Tag is xdemailgroups.

Del.icio.us list of user experience and experience design blogs
Tag is xdblogs.

Del.icio.us list of mobile user experience and experience design blogs
Tag is mxdblogs.

10 December 2005

Yahoo! buys Del.icio.us [Reuters]

Delicious_1
Yahoo Inc., the world’s largest Internet media site, had agreed to acquire Del.icio.us, a popular Web site that helps users share links to their favorite Web sites, the site’s founder said on Friday.

Joshua Schachter, the founder of Del.icio.us, confirmed a posting on the New York-based start-up’s site that the company had been acquired by Yahoo. A Yahoo spokeswoman confirmed that the agreement to buy Del.icio.us had closed on Friday.

Financial terms were not disclosed, both parties said.

Read story

9 December 2005

World’s poorest don’t want $100 laptop, claims Intel chairman [Reuters]

100_laptop
Potential computer users in the developing world will not want a basic $100 hand-cranked laptop due to be rolled out to millions, chip-maker Intel Corp. chairman Craig Barrett said on Friday.

“Mr. Negroponte has called it a $100 laptop — I think a more realistic title should be ‘the $100 gadget’,” Barrett, chairman of the world’s largest chip maker, told a press conference in Sri Lanka. “The problem is that gadgets have not been successful. Similar schemes in the past elsewhere in the world had failed and users will not be satisfied with the new machine’s limited range of programs.”

“It turns out what people are looking for is something is something that has the full functionality of a PC,” he said. “Reprogrammable to run all the applications of a grown up PC… not dependent on servers in the sky to deliver content and capability to them, not dependent for hand cranks for power.”

Read full story