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Putting People First

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July 2006
6 July 2006

Mature users seek uncluttered mobiles, claims research

A mature mobile phone user
Rachel Jones, founder of the UK user-centred design company Instrata, writes in Usability News about new research by her company which “set out to discover what consumers in the UK and other European countries aged 30 and upwards really want” from their mobile phones.

“The desire for a less cluttered, stress-free lifestyle is reaching into the sphere of mobile phones, according to research carried out by Instrata. Go into any mobile shop and you are faced with a bewildering array of models. The market may seem crowded but, with the focus on youth trends, manufacturers are still missing the mark for many consumers.”

“The research examined attitudes to mobiles, and levels of satisfaction. It soon became clear that many consumers are unhappy with the choice available. There is a perception that mobiles are over complicated, feature driven and aimed at the youth market. However, when asked about recent simplified models, many participants assume they are for ‘old or disabled people’.”

She concludes: “The prevailing mobile culture seems to imply that more equates to better, and simplicity means ‘dumbed-down’. When phones are created for the older market they do not have the styling or personalisation that these consumers want, or if they do, the marketing concentrates on what they feel are the more patronising aspects of improved usability instead of innovation.”

Read full story

6 July 2006

Philips Design magazine on involving users in the beginning of an innovation process

New Value by One Design
Philips just released the July issue of new value by One Design, its online quarterly design magazine.

In ‘Making the future more tangible‘, the magazine explores how, by involving stakeholders in the ‘fuzzy front end’ of innovation, Philips can truly design around them, together creating and shaping desirable futures.

In the article Stefanie Un, senior research consultant at Philips Design (who is also profiled in a separate story in the magazine), describes in more detail the Philips approach of inclusive innovation in which the user and other stakeholders are involved right from the beginning of the process:

“Through research, home visits, on-line conversations and experience testing, an ongoing dialogue is established that generates deeper insights. It also means that propositions and concepts are much more in-ine with what people like, because they themselves have been involved in developing them. The experience testing in particular is crucial. By creating a demonstrator that brings a particular experience or potential application to life, you make ideas much more accessible and understandable. These prototypes are not intended to represent possible fi nished products, they stimulate discussion at a much earlier stage, and embody the directions we want to be taking as a company.”

Also in the magazine, Dr Howard Moskowitz, expert in psychophysics and inventor of world-class market research technology, shares his view on how best to approach the fuzzy front end in ‘Talking about design‘.

5 July 2006

The science and art of user experience at Google

Fitzpatrick talk
On Google Video you can find a recent 30 minute Google Tech Talk presentation by Jen Fitzpatrick, engineering director at Google and in charge of Google’s user experience team, which is responsible for the user interface design and usability analysis of Google’s many products.

“Focus on the user and all else will follow”, says Fitzpatrick. “From its inception, Google has focused on providing the best user experience possible.”

In this presentation Fitzpatrick takes the viewer through “the art and science behind Google’s design process” and shares examples of “how design, usability and engineering come together in Google’s unique culture to create great products”.

Watch video

5 July 2006

Older people ‘missing out’ online [BBC]

Elderly online
Older people are missing out on critical services because they do not use the internet, a report says.

Just 28% of people over the age of 65 have home internet access, compared to a UK average of 57% of households.

As a result, pensioners cannot access government services as well as the most competitive deals on commercial goods.

The findings are part of a wider survey by a consumer panel at telecoms regulator Ofcom looking at the online access of marginalised groups.

The survey also looked at online use by disabled people and those living in rural areas.

Read full story

4 July 2006

Slow design, slow lab and slow blog

Slow
Slow Design is a UK-based “cultural space to stimulate debate around the concept of ‘slow design’. It is conceived as an ongoing dialogue, an open-ended project”. Slow Design “links with existing design clusters that perceive ‘design’ and ‘slowness’ as a positive influence towards more sustainable ways of living”, and is the creation of Alastair Fuad-Luke, chairman of tempo, the sustainable design network.

slowLab is Slow Design’s American counterpart. A not-for-profit organization based in New York City and with activities worldwide, it defines itself as a “laboratory for the advancement of slow design thinking and practice, envisioning environmental sustainability, social harmony and individual well-being as processes and products of good design”. slowLab is also in charge of the (not so frequently updated) slowBlog.

(I may want to remind readers that the now global Slow Food movement which was at the origin of all these initiatives, was founded twenty years ago in a small town south of Torino. It has since spun off such interesting phenomena as the Slow Cities, Slow Book (Italian site) and SloWeb initiatives. It is also in charge of the Salone del Gusto, the world’s largest quality food and wine fair, the University of Gastronomic Sciences, the world’s first academy of ‘eno-gastronomy’, the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity, an independent non-profit entity with the mission to organise and fund projects that defend our world’s heritage of agricultural biodiversity and gastronomic traditions, and Terra Madre, World Meeting of Food Communities, a forum for all those who seek to grow, raise, catch, create, distribute and promote food in ways that respect the environment, defend human dignity and protect the health of consumers.)

4 July 2006

Studying the museum visitors’ experience at Museolab

Museolab at Confluences
Nicolas Nova writes in his blog Pasta and Vinegar about the research structure Museolab [website in French], within Lyon’s future museum “Musée des Confluences” (architecture by Coop Himmelblau), that “aims at inventing, experimenting and validating technologies and services that would improve museum visitors’ experience (better interacting and understanding an exhibit). Museolab will test the technologies that will then be validated at the Museum.”

“What they are working on is pretty close to nowadays trends: personalisation according to a certain visitor’s profile, learning devices based on the visitors’ paths and actions, use of RFID tags…”

“One of the intriguing project they have is called “La Malle à Objets“: using smaller versions of object exhibited in the museum, people can drop it close to a device that would give them information about it. I am definitely not an expert of museum technologies but it’s interesting to see how tangible interfaces also pervades in this kind of settings.”

4 July 2006

Turning cultures of repair into cultures of innovation

Cultures of Repair
In an effort to understand the total user experience, Jan Chipchase of the Mobile HCI Group at the Nokia Research Center in Tokyo, has taken time out during recent field studies in emerging markets to explore local repair cultures.

“The journey has taken me to cities such as Chengdu, Delhi, Ulan Bataar, Ho Chi Minh and Lhasa with recent brief stopovers in Kampala and Soweto. They all contain clusters of shops and market stalls selling a mixture of used and new mobile phones, and whilst (in this instance) size does not necessarily matter, they often operate on a scale not seen in cities such as London or Tokyo.”

“The mobile phone market around Chengdu’s Tai Shen Lan Lu Market for example stretches across number of streets and shopping arcades and includes 100’s of small shops and stalls. If you want a snapshot of urban mobile phone consumers in emerging markets this is a good place to start.”

He then goes on to explore what sets these locations apart from cities in more ‘emerged’ markets; how these mobile phone repair cultures are different from the everyday repair shops for other mainstream electronics; why these informal repair cultures exist at all; what we can learn from informal repair cultures; and what it would take to turn cultures of repair into cultures of innovation.

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4 July 2006

Smart phones could drive new telecom business model

NFC payments
Susana Schwartz describes in a long article in Billing World & OSS Today how tomorrow’s super-smart phones will enable contactless cash payment.

Billing World & OSS Today is a magazine covering and analysing the telecommunications Business and Operational Support Systems sector, or in short the BSS/OSS sector.

“The average person who walks, drives or travels is encumbered with keys, cash, purse or wallet, cell phone, headset, address book, planner, credit cards, and multiple IDs. Throw into that mix receipts, coupons, maps, CDs and other objects, and it’s no wonder so many personal and work-related belongings are lost, stolen or damaged.”

“The X and Y Generations as well as Baby Boomers would love to travel light with just one device to use as cash or credit for small and large purchases, as well as to conduct phone calls, transfer data, obtain transaction histories, plan activities and verify identities. Merchants could also jump at the opportunity to cut the paper management and inventory headaches of promotions and transactions by pushing discounts and goods over a cell phone, allowing them and their users to automatically track buying trends, transaction histories and receipts.”

“Already, chip and device manufacturers, card issuers, cellular operators, merchants and content providers are collaborating to enable phones to be used as cash and as smart devices for almost any conceivable type of transaction. In Japan, consumers swipe cell phones to enter subways or buy drinks at vending machines.”

Read full story

3 July 2006

Design for all Europe

Design for all Europe
Reflecting the development in its core business since foundation thirteen years ago, the European Institute for Design and Disability, EIDD made the major decision to change its name to EIDD – Design for All Europe, with the abbreviations “EIDD” and “European Institute” continuing in use.

This decision reflects the Institute’s longstanding focus on Design for All as a path towards the achievement of social inclusion following an holistic methodology. At the same time, the Institute’s new name maintains a clear reference to its roots as the European Institute for Design and Disability, thus maintaining a cultural continuity of essential importance to any complete understanding of Design for All.

3 July 2006

India’s Design for All Institute on anthropology and design

Design for All Institute of India
The latest newsletter of the Indian Design for All Institute is devoted to anthropology and design.

It features the articles “Cultural dimensions and global user-interface development” by Aaron Marcus, and “Sampling in design research: toward ethnographic segments” by Ken C. Erickson.

Design for All Institute Of India is a self financed, non-profit voluntary organisation which seeks corporate and public partnership in order to carry forward its very ambitious agenda of pro-actively building bridges of social inclusion between the design community and all other groups whose activities can be positively influenced by a coherent application of design methodology. Design for All means creating products, services and systems to cater to the widest possible range of users’ requirements.

Strangely enough, the website of the Design for All Institute is barely accessible on a Mac.

Download newsletter (pdf, 1015 kb, 48 pages)