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Putting People First

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December 2005
9 December 2005

Mobile Community Design

Mobile_community_design
Mobile Community Design is a frequently updated blog that provides research and design information on mobile communities.

It is maintained by Jeff Axup, a Ph.D. student in Information Environments at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, and contains some remarkable and detailed comparison charts.

One chart compares mobile research methods, that is methods for understanding mobile behaviour to inform technology design. Another (hosted on Axup’s previous blog) compares usability evalution methods.

9 December 2005

Design in India

Designinindia
Bruce Nussbaum argues that Design in India is beginning to take off, as American companies discover the inexpensive but high-grade work consultancies such as Elephant Design and others, and alerts me to the great Design in India website, where you can find links to a wide range of design firms, including usability and design strategy companies.

The India Times reports that the Indian Government has developed a five-year roadmap [Draft National Design Policy, pdf, 243 kb, 12 pages] to place India as the global design hub, by constituting an India Design Council (NDC) and a number of specialised design centres, enhancing the status of the National Institute of Design (NID) as a global centre of excellence and launching the Good Design Mark to promote domestic designs.

Grant McCracken meanwhile provides a thoughtful comparison between India and China: “In the international economy, China is a commodity player. India’s promise lies in its control of cultural particulars. And by this I mean, India understands and participates in the culture of the First World West in ways China does not.”

“As long as the world wants its merchants to “pile ’em high and sell ’em cheap,” China will flourish as Wal-Mart does. India [on the other hand] has a large intellectual and creative class. Many of these people are worldly in ways the chattering classes of the West are not. More than that, India is its own intellectual challenge, a culture that knows a thing or two about diversity and discontinuity. Moreover, India has been drawing on the intellectual and educational resources of the West for several hundred years.”

9 December 2005

The client as design team member

Ideo_cubicle
The Apple website has, perhaps a bit surprisingly, a rather extensive feature on the design consultancy IDEO on its website.

A first article entitled “Bigger than a breadbox design” describes how IDEO uses innovative design methodologies and applies them to housing, cities and even governments, based on a presentation Fred Dust, IDEO’s Smart Space Practice lead made on September 21 at the Apple Store in San Francisco.

The second article “The client as design team members” looks at concrete examples: For Forest City, a real estate developer, IDEO created three styles of model homes based on the way people live in their homes. At UC Berkeley, IDEO was asked to propose a redesign for a new community center. And recently IDEO was asked to design an entire neighborhood for the African-American community in Kansas City.

8 December 2005

Nokia unveils new multimedia retail experience in Moscow

 
Nokia today announced its intention to opening several Nokia Flagship Stores in “shopping capitals of the world.” The first Nokia Flagship store opened today in the prestigious Pushkin Square district of Moscow, Russia.

In addition to generating sales, a key objective of each Nokia Flagship Store will be to showcase Nokia’s complete portfolio of products and services, offering consumers an opportunity to experience the full benefits of mobility in a comfortable, cutting-edge environment.

“Through the Flagship Stores we want to develop a close one-to-one relationship with consumers, listen to their feedback and find valuable consumer insights. This will be crucial information and allow us to faster respond with products and services that meet consumers’ needs and desires, ” explains Cliff Crosbie, Director, Global Retail and Trade Marketing.

Read full press release

8 December 2005

John Thackara reflecting on a brand new UK report on creativity in business

Cox_review
The [just published] Cox Review of Creativity in Business has been eagerly awaited by the design industry. Many creatives in the UK (as in other industrialised countries) fondly believe that while manufacturing and call centres may emigrate to cheaper countries, their brand of ‘creativity’ is immune. They expected the Cox Review to confirm this warm and cosy feeling. Instead, it will feel more like bucket of cold water.

“The model of the UK becoming an all-service economy, the world’s leading repository of professional skills, is enormously appealing – and totally unrealistic” writes Cox. “The now rapidly advancing developing economies have no desire to remain as suppliers of cheap, low-skilled labour to the world. And indeed, why should they?”

- Read full post by John Thackara
- Read related post by Dan Hill in City of Sound

8 December 2005

The next revolution in interactions, according to a McKinsey report

 
New McKinsey research reveals how the shift from transactional to tacit interactions requires companies to think differently about how to improve performance—and about their technology investments.

Moreover, the rise of tacit occupations opens up the possibility that companies can again create capabilities and advantages that rivals can’t easily duplicate.

Read full story (free registration required)

8 December 2005

Participatory Design Conference 2006

Pdc06
The 2006 Participatory Design Conference will take place in Trento, Italy, July 31 – August 5, 2006.

The conference theme “Expanding Boundaries in Design” focuses attention on the multiple contexts in which design takes place and on an expanding range of possible design outcomes, and on the opportunity to focus participatory design on broader domains, such as physical environments, organisational practices and IT-enabled services.

ParticipART is the novel art track of the Participatory Design Conference. It features an exhibition and discussion platform on participative and electronic art at the MART (Museum of Modern Art of Trento and Rovereto, Italy) from the 2nd to the 4th of August 2006. The organisers are inviting artists, musicians, game designers and performers to submit proposals of art works to be part of a public exhibition, performances, and discussions.

Deadline for submissions for both the main conference and ParticipArt is January 16, 2006.

Experience design calendar
Note that this and other conferences of interest to the experience design community are listed in the shared experience design calendar.

7 December 2005

Voicing the visual [Metropolis Magazine]

Voiceover
With the help of screen-readers–programs that speak the text on the monitor–and magnifying and contrast-enhancing features, the approximately 260,000 blind and 10 million vision-impaired people in the United States have a way to access the Internet, which has become critical in obtaining goods and services without having to navigate the physical world.

This spring–21 years after the Mac’s debut–Apple presented VoiceOver, an integrated screen reader that promises to shift expectations for how nonsighted users interact with a computer. Amid the hubbub surrounding the release of Tiger, the current version of Mac’s operating system, few in the press noted its existence–but in the accessibility world it was huge.

While the leading Windows screen-reading programs, such as JAWS, cost about $900, Apple began building a full-fledged reader into the operating system. VoiceOver refuses to abandon the graphical interface. Instead of stripping the text from its spatial situation, the program suggests how it looks on the screen by acknowledging the arrangement of windows and frames, and the difference between menus and content.

Read full story

7 December 2005

Clarity and comfort, by design

Clarity_and_comfort
Rather than simply providing clear answers to questions, the best design solutions must take into account human emotions, argues MIT Media Lab’s John Maeda in this Business Week article.

Read full story

6 December 2005

Study shows that teens are more tech savy than ever before [Financial Times]

 
Teenagers are using more technology at a younger age to connect with more people than ever before, according to a study of young consumers prepared by Forrester Research, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based market research company.

The report, based on a survey of more than 5,000 US and Canadian consumers aged between 12 and 21, confirms that today’s youth are more tech-savvy and communications-orientated than ever before.

Read full story
Read similar story in Information Week

(via textually.org)

6 December 2005

EU strategy on improving the communication with its citizens

I2010_eeurope_logo
About two months ago, I complained in this blog about the fact that i2010, the EU’s website on digital inclusion and participation, was about the opposite of accessibility and inclusivity.

I sent the same message to the cabinet of the EU Commissioner in charge of Institutional Relations and Communications Strategy and yesterday I received a very thoughtful and to-the-point answer. I have nothing but praise for such willingness to provide personalised feedback to issues raised by EU citizens.

In the end, this approach will help raise the EU’s public profile, because people will share such positive experiences. I sincerely wish this EU team all the best in improving their communications and implement standardised guidelines.

The i2010 website has unfortunately not changed at all and remains an examples of how not be accessible and inclusive.

Below is the email from Rolf Annerberg, Head of Cabinet of Vice-President Margot Wallström, that I post here with his permission:

Dear Mr. Vanderbeeken,

Thank you for your message that you emailed to us on the 5th November.

I fully agree with you that much needs to be done to improve the European Union’s institutional communication with citizens.

Indeed the awareness that EU communication with citizens needs to be improved led the Barroso Commission to tackle this issue since it came into office a year ago and for the first time the Commission has elected a Vice President, Margot Wallström, to be responsible inter alia, for Communication.

On her initiative the Commission adopted on 20th July last an Action Plan on improving communicating Europe. You will find the full text of this action plan (cf. document SEC(2005)985) on EUROPA, the official website of the EU institutions, at: http://europa.eu.int/comm/dgs/press_communication/index_en.htm).

This action plan lists some 50 concrete measures which, based on three major principles: listening, communicating and connecting with citizens by “going local”, are currently being taken.

The overall aim of the Action Plan is to bring about a new, more citizen-oriented approach to communication throughout all Commission departments and to make sure that communication on the intentions of the Commission is fully integrated from the very start of the legislative process and throughout other Commission actions. And amongst the various actions listed in the Plan you will see the Commission’s commitment to communicate using a more user friendly language.

With regard to your comments on brand and communications consistency, I agree that this is an important challenge. In this context, standardised guidelines for internet communication have been established. These rules, that are currently being updated, are incorporated in what we call the Information Providers’ Guide (IPG).

Although we still have a long way to go, I am confident that, with the step-by-step approach so characteristic for European integration, we will be able to improve communications with citizens, also and not in the least thanks to the very useful and constructive feedback from people like yourself.

Yours sincerely,
Rolf Annerberg

6 December 2005

Innovation, creativity needed to sustain Chinese growth [China Daily]

Design_china_markets
China Daily has an extensive English language report on the Beijing design and innovation meeting “Next Generation Design, Innovation and Creativity for China” (30 November 2005), co-hosted by China Daily and the Illinois Institute of Technology, and apparently a prelude to the Design for the New China Markets Conference (1-2 December 2005).

More than 30 CEOs and senior executives from prestigious companies in the design, media, lifestyle, technology, communications, education and legal sectors sat down at the Peninsula Palace Beijing with one objective: to exchange views on China’s capacity and challenges in rising to the global stage of design and innovation.

Read full story

6 December 2005

The Carnegie Library as a dynamic information environment

Maya_carnegie2
A couple of months ago I posted about a very exciting experience design case study by Marc Rettig and MAYA Design on work done for the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

Maya Design has meanwhile posted a case study synthesis of this project that highlights how one can apply experience design to physical spaces.

6 December 2005

Digital living room still just a dream

Digitallivingroom
Industry insiders told a gathering of about 150 people at the Digital Living Room conference that consumers have yet to see a need for home networks and that the complexity involved in setting one up scares away potential buyers.

According to Don Norman, a co-founder of the design-consulting firm Nielsen Norman Group, building a network practically requires the average person to be an IT expert.

“I have a degree from MIT. I’m an engineer and was an executive at Apple,” Norman said while discussing his own home network. “And I hired someone to hook it up.”

Read full story C|Net
Read full story Red Herring

5 December 2005

Engineering the products people need [Business Week]

 
“I have been teaching mechanical engineers the process of design for more than 15 years. Traditional engineering design courses focus on technology and not context. The result is a downstream focus on making a design work rather than on identifying the best design in the first place.

By teaching engineering students qualitative methods to understand the market, such as ethnography and task analysis, and then converting that understanding to a value-based product specification, the downstream process becomes more efficient and effective.”

Read full story

2 December 2005

“Design Matters” roundtable discussion at the Fortune Innovation Forum

Design_matters_thumb
The second day of the Fortune Innovation Forum featured a panel discussion called “Design Matters” with Chris Bangle of BMW Group Design, Minda Gralnek of Target and Richard Koshalek of the Art Center College of Design.

Is design the same thing as innovation? Is design more important than innovation? Or is innovation more important than design?

The Fortune panel discussion touched on each of these questions, and offered insights into how two vastly different companies – Target and BMW – are integrating design into their core corporate strategies.

Read full post
Read discussion notes on Being Reasonable
Read discussion notes on Experience Manifesto

2 December 2005

The MySpace Generation [Business Week]

Myspace_generation
Being online, being a Buzzer, is a way of life for millions of young Americans across the country. And increasingly, social networks are their medium.

Preeminent among these virtual hangouts is MySpace.com, whose membership has nearly quadrupled since January alone, to 40 million members. Youngsters log on so obsessively that MySpace ranked No. 15 on the entire U.S. Internet in terms of page hits in October, according to Nielsen/NetRatings. Millions also hang out at other up-and-coming networks such as Facebook.com, which connects college students, and Xanga.com, an agglomeration of shared blogs. A second tier of some 300 smaller sites, such as Buzz-Oven, Classface.com, and Photobucket.com, operate under — and often inside or next to — the larger ones.

Although networks are still in their infancy, experts think they’re already creating new forms of social behavior that blur the distinctions between online and real-world interactions. In fact, today’s young generation largely ignores the difference. Increasingly, America’s middle- and upper-class youth use
social networks as virtual community centers, a place to go and sit for a while (sometimes hours). While older folks come and go for a task, [young Americans] are just as likely to socialize online as off.

Read full story

Related Business Week stories:
- The networked life of a 21-year-old
- Taking the Ypulse of the MySpace generation
- Protecting your kids from cyber-predators
- Keeping kids safe online
- Graphic: Some stats on US teens (12 to 17)

1 December 2005

Shoot the focus group [Business Week]

 
Exasperation with focus groups, while not universal, is growing as companies look for better ways to get inside consumers’ heads, often assisted by new technology and the Internet.

Perhaps the most common complaint about focus groups is that consumers are not honest in front of other people. America Online Inc. in 2003 saw a disconnect between what men revealed in groups and the complaints about spam it received by e-mail. It turned out that men, in a room with strangers, were not keen to admit they didn’t have full command of their laptops. But in e-mails, they conceded that they were tortured by underperforming spam blockers.

Observing and interviewing men at their keyboards led to a revamp of the AOL blocker and an ad campaign publicizing the change. “There’s peer pressure in focus groups that gets in the way of finding the truth about real behavior and intentions,” says John B. Osborne, chief executive officer of BBDO, New York, AOL’s ad agency.

Read full story

1 December 2005

Interview with Nokia design director Marko Ahtisaari

Moiaphoto2003small
A recent interview with Marko Ahtisaari is now online at the Danish Design Center’s web portal.

Ahtisaari is the Director of Design Strategy at Nokia and Sebastian Campion talked to him just before his presentation at the Ars Electronica conference in September.

Besides talking about hot industry concepts such as ‘simplicity’, Ahtisaari offers some insight on the relation between user-centered design and Nokia’s innovation strategies.

Read interview

(via Régine Debatty)