“Despite a lower level of personal Internet usage in Estonia, Estonians are over twice as likely to utilize the Internet to interact with public authorities.”
Lomas, writing for the Adam Smith Institute, concludes that the UK will never deliver its full potential benefits to the public. “By contrast, tiny Estonia has re-thought its government systems around the new techonology – resulting in much higher online access to government services and great public satisfaction.”
Peter Merholz just alerted me to MKThink, an architecture firm which apparently has a resident anthropologist, who is getting the firm to move beyond standard architectural practice and to consider ethnography as a method toward constructing better built environments.
MKThink describes itself as the ideas company for the built environment which has a core strength in optimising the potential of the physical environment to serve human goals and aspirations.
He pointed me to a number of interesting Design Council publications. They are all available for download:
- Futureproofed: A look at why the UK needs design and a report on the Design Council’s work across business, the public sector and the design industry
- Red Paper 01 Health – Co-creating Services: A new ‘co-creation’ approach to health care is set out in this paper from the Design Council’s RED unit
- The Business of Design – Design industry research 2005:In-depth research on the UK’s design industry providing detailed data on everything from scale and economic clout to education and skills.
- The Impact of School Learning Environments – A Literature Review: An overview of academic research commissioned for the Design Council’s Learning Environments Campaign
- Learning Environments Campaign Prospectus – From the Inside Looking Out: How can we create school environments fit for learning in the 21st century? This prospectus answers the question
- Touching the State: Can design improve our encounters with the state? Our Touching the State project asked the question, and the answers feature in a magazine full of insights and opinions.
- RED Film 01: Health (mov file, 8.9 mb): this short film tells the story of two Design Council projects that used design methods to innovate in heatlh and to develop new concepts for supporting self-management and enabling healthy lifestyles
- dott07: this is a ten-year program in North-East England, lead by John Thackara, about supporting and encouraging design as central to the future economic and social success of the UK. The brochure is not online, but it contains not much more than the text of the website.
Click here for an overview of all Design Council publications.
It wants to explore how fear of change can be reduced by making things such as digital television much simpler to use.
One major change that most people will find difficult to avoid is the switch off of the analogue TV signal which will happen, region by region, between 2008 and 2012.
An important implication of the switch to digital was that televisions would become much more like computers. For some that would mean that using their television would become much more complicated.
The research project will begin in early 2006 and last until next year.
The current issue starts with an introductory article by Stefano Marzano, CEO and chief creative director, and then continues with an overview of the Philips internal design awards, a report on the exploratory design project Next Simplicity and an interview with Rob Timmer of Philips Consumer Electronics who explains the importance of creating simple yet sophisticated user interfaces for the Connected Planet range of home entertainment products and the role design played in this.
The magazine also reports on Media Mediators, a design research project, jointly carried out with London’s Royal College of Art, that explored possibilities for really bringing digital products to life, examines in an interview with Marion Verbücken, Senior Innovation Design Consultant, how innovative concepts can best be visualised and communicated when the solution of simplicity is no longer to be found in what it is and how it looks but rather in what it does and how, and finally ends with a small case study on how Philips used a people-focused design approach to develop the Aroundio service concept and create and implement the entire Aroundio brand experience for the global security service provider, Securitas.
Apart from the obvious newsworthiness of this sales message, it is worth noting for the usability industry, that the very fact of a report like this from Forrester Research, one of the most respected authorities on such trends, is news in itself.
In essence, the research giant has woken up to the implications of poor usability. The report says that while digital products are selling at a record rate, they are not being adequately supported. It suggests there is major loss of revenue in failing to sell the additional products, services and content that bring the devices to life. We might see it in terms of the damage to customer experience and that less tangible loss to the bottom line.
Forrester says that the problem is particularly acute when buyers try to access content and services on devices connected to the internet.
Ted Schradler, a Forrester vice president told the Financial Times that: ‘Consumers are being forced to assemble the different components of their digital lifestyles themselves, and they are not equipped to do it.’
(via Usability News)
The World Economic Forum, held annually in Davos, Switzerland, is a high-altitude, high-profile gathering of the globe’s business and political elites. Microsoft’s Bill Gates is a regular, as are Google’s Eric Schmidt, Sergey Brin, and Larry Page, who throw an amazing party at the Kirchner Museum every year. Bill Clinton usually hosts a late-night gab-fest, and last year it seemed like half of U.S. Congress and much of the Bush Cabinet were participating in sessions on trade and foreign policy.
Attendees at this year’s meeting, which begins on Jan. 24, will see many familiar faces. But they’ll also notice an influx of people no one would have thought qualified to join a few years ago: designers. Davos 2006, in fact, is shaping up to be a very different kind of forum. In addition to the standard topics, an unprecedented 22 sessions will focus on the general theme of “Innovation, Creativity & Design Strategy.”
“In a consumer society dominated by experiences in the (semi) public domain — often branded, designed, themed and curated to the nines — Insperiences represent consumers’ desire to bring top-level experiences into their domestic domain.”
“For designers, business analysts, marketing consultants, and others who are sincerely interested in delivering the best user experiences online, understanding these distinctions can reduce the cost of design and improve the likelihood of user acceptance.”
This was Mike Kuniavsky’s realisation when he was asked to write on the relationship between HCI and customer experience in Andrew Sears and Julie Jacko’s Human Computer Interaction Handbook.
“I decided to write down everything I had been thinking and see what happened. Well, what happened is that I wrote the most wide-ranging book chapter I think I’ve ever produced.”
This vividly illustrates how mobile phone users are often unable to find the basic applications they want to use because of the complexity of the menus they are confronted with.
“Modern everyday technology is often too complicated for the average user,” says Ralph Hinderberger, who heads the German user experience company UE Management.
Hinderberger sees the main problem in what he calls ‘featuritis’ and describes it as a ‘technology disease’ that is currently rampant. “The tendency is for manufacturers to build an increasing number of functions into ever smaller gadgets, and this simply confuses the user,” Hinderberger says.
(via Usability in the News)
“Whether it is consulting with consuming people on the streets of Chicago or in the villages of India, design is all about integration of those you design for into the core process of design. We’re moving way beyond the “consumer experience” here folks. It’s time to dust up on C.K. Prahalad’s book on Co-Creation.”
The website is aimed at design students and their tutors, professional designers, design managers and policy makers. It has been developed to introduce newcomers to key concepts, examples and design/research methods, and to support practitioners in gathering together relevant information to build up their own collection of tools and techniques.
Creative London: realising the economic potential of London’s creative industries
London’s mayor commission on the creative industries focuses on four themes: nurturing and commodifying creativity, developing Production Chains, management and growth, property and place.
Creativity, Design and Business Performance (pdf, 1.05 mb, 76 pages)
Economics paper by the UK Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), published on 25 November 2005.
Nouvelles villes de design/New Design Cities
This 330-page, richly illustrated, bilingual book, published on 22 September 2005, stems from a symposium on the same topic (Montreal, 6>8 October 2004) and coincides with the introduction of the city’s new design action plan. LThis book involves case studies (i.e. actions or events) that are at the foundation of the emergence process of seven cities as cities of design: Antwerp, Glasgow, Lisbon, Montreal, Saint-Etienne, Stockholm and New York’s Times Square. These concrete examples are supported by reflections by three imminent thinkers of the modern city: Francois Barre (Paris), Saskia Sassen (Chicago), and John Thackara (Amsterdam and Bangalore).
(thanks to Giovanni Padula)
According to the Innovation Trip website, the tours are part of “a program to nullify the geographic, communication and cultural gap between low-cost outsourcing hosts and high-cost innovation economies. Using Innovation Trip, leaders, managers and bright staff from all over the world can take-away the culture of innovation from America and apply it to their companies worldwide. Innovation Trip will energise their staff, unleash the true needs of their customers with customer-centric innovation methodologies (without actually asking them) and enhance process innovation as teamwork in their organisations to better serve their customers located thousands of miles away.”
(via Business Innovation 2005)
Cute cues are those that indicate extreme youth, vulnerability, harmlessness and need, scientists say, and attending to them closely makes good Darwinian sense. As a species whose youngest members are so pathetically helpless they can’t lift their heads to suckle without adult supervision, human beings must be wired to respond quickly and gamely to any and all signs of infantile desire.
The human cuteness detector is set at such a low bar, researchers said, that it sweeps in and deems cute practically anything remotely resembling a human baby or a part thereof, and so ends up including the young of virtually every mammalian species, fuzzy-headed birds like Japanese cranes, woolly bear caterpillars, a bobbing balloon, a big round rock stacked on a smaller rock, a colon, a hyphen and a close parenthesis typed in succession.
“Employees are demanding simpler, more intuitive and more “Web” like intranet experiences. [...] A few years ago, employees barely cared about their company intranets. Today, they’re using their intranets so much that they expect them to have the simplicity and usability of Google or Yahoo! Furthermore, in many large companies, the intranet serves as the official face of the company. Companies with unusable and complex intranets are doing a huge disservice to their employees.”
Other trends are the growing importance of rss feeds, ajax and wikis.
She just asked me to post a new announcement for open positions on my blog and I definitely owe her that favour:
Wert & Company, Inc., is a New York City-based international executive recruitment and consulting firm specializing in recruiting creative leadership, building award-winning creative teams from emerging talent to senior executives, and consulting on strategic organizational growth for a broad range of industries. We represent a diverse range of dynamic brands and organizations from design, retail, fashion, lifestyle and technology to architecture, interactive, publishing and academia.
Wert & Company is currently retained by one of our client partners throughout the US whose business is rooted entirely in Innovation & Interaction design–across new product development, service design, research and international trends. Our client’s reputations are based on their unique ability consulting on innovation for successful companies and iconic brands.
We seek exceptional talent at the leadership level [6-10 years of experience], who will bring creativity, passion, experience and vision to spearhead the evolution of our client’s successes. Individuals may come from a variety of fields including architecture, business, anthropology, interaction, product / industrial / conceptual design. The role requires individuals who can keep pace with the demands of rapidly growing international businesses, anticipate trends, synthesize design solutions, and provide creative leadership to ensure strategic and design integrity. Must understand [and embrace] storytelling through product and services.
The successful candidates bring creative leadership experience in a corporate or consulting setting and possess design excellence, emotional intelligence and entrepreneurialism, along with a balance of energy, drive, and intense curiosity! Candidates must be design champions, and human-centered with the ability to nurture and sustain high-value client relationships.
Crucially, the rig is said to be based on Google’s own operating system – most likely Linux in Google clothing – rather than Windows.
Although this has been tried before, writes Karl Long in Customer Experience Strategy, “the difference is Customer Experience… Google has proven it can develop world class, easy to use software, search, email, maps, shopping, oh and it has figured out how to provide the software free and supported through unobtrusive, profitable advertising.”
“Everyone may role their eyes when I say google is successful because they provide the best Customer Experience, and that’s because many people think Customer Experience means bells and whistles, or features etc. No Customer Experience is the balance between business goals and customer needs. It is understanding that customer needs is not a static point in time, but a gradient, a relationship curve with increasing trust, engagement, promise and reward. Google with its perpetual beta software and “invite only” strategies, where not thinly veiled attempts at “viral” marketing, they were genuine attempts to test and refine their software, which probably cost them a ton of money initially, and would have been a tough sell at other companies.”