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Putting People First

Daily insights on user experience, experience design and people-centred innovation
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December 2006
2 December 2006

LEGO Serious Play: a tool to enhance innovation and business performance

LEGO Serious Play
Playful learning is going to be a very important people-centred design theme in the near future, and LEGO seems to have understood:

“LEGO Serious Play is an innovative, experiential process designed to enhance innovation and business performance. Based on research that shows that this kind of hands-on, minds-on learning produces a deeper, more meaningful understanding of the world and its possibilities, LEGO Serious Play is an efficient, practical and effective process that works for everyone within an organization.”

“LEGO Serious Play uses LEGO bricks and elements and a unique method where people are empowered to “think through their fingers” – unleashing insight, inspiration and imagination.”

Visit the LEGO Serious Play website

2 December 2006

‘Next generation’ news site to launch [The Guardian]

NewsTrust
“A non-profit news project in the US is aiming to combine the appetite for fast, aggregated news tools with a campaign to promote quality journalism,” writes Jemima Kiss in the Media Guardian.

Newstrust is being hailed by its producers as the next generation of social news websites and is hoping to promote the credible journalism and media literacy among its audience.”

“Launching in full this week after a seven-month trial, users sign up and recommend news stories by linking, rating and tagging articles on any news website.”

“The executive director, Fabrice Florin, said the site differs from existing aggregators like Digg and Del.icio.us because it measures not just the popularity of the story, but asks readers to consider how balanced it is, the diversity of sources it refers to and whether it provides enough context.”

Read full story

2 December 2006

Co-design, China and the commercialisation of the mobile user interface [uiGarden.net]

David Williams
“Until recently, the user interface of mobile devices was researched, designed, developed, and tested by UI groups within manufacturers such as Nokia and Motorola,” writes David M.L. Williams of Asentio Design in a long feature article on uiGarden.net.

“Development took place on proprietary software and hardware platforms.”

“With the codesign model, design control must be shared with other organizations, e.g., operator design teams that are more likely to be in marketing groups or third-party application developers. These teams may be as well or better skilled to produce user interface designs but will have different design and commercial objectives.”

“The collaboration of operator, manufacturer, and software developer is the first step in the evolution of codesign. A new and more interesting development (from the point of view of experience-focused rather than technology-focused design) is the entrance of MVNOs [mobile virtual network operators] and consumer brands into the design arena.”

Based on a case study on a codesign project in China involving the operator Anycom, Williams provides a series of guidelines and outlines what he thinks is the future of codesign.

Read full story

2 December 2006

External expert team helps Philips focus on simplicity [Business Week]

Andrea Ragnetti, Chief Marketing Officer of Royal Philips Electronics, showing the magic brush
“To drive change following a radical restructuring, Philips reckoned it needed a fresh perspective from creative types with no ties to the company. So it formed the simplicity board, a group of specialists in health care, fashion, design, and architecture,” writes Business Week.

Members are British fashion designer Sara Berman, Dr. Peggy J. Fritzsche, a radiology professor in California, Gary Chang, a leading architect in China and MIT’s John Maeda.

“On a practical level, the board is helping Philips rethink what its customers want. For two years, members met for several days every month or two in cities such as Rome, Paris, or New York. Today they no longer meet as a group, but each is on call to help Philips create intuitive, easy-to-use products that meet specific needs.”

Read full story

2 December 2006

The Economist speculates about the phone of the future

The phone of the future
“The phone has had a splendid 130-year history. What will it look like in future? Will it even be called a phone?” This is the central question of the cover story of The Technology Quarterly supplement in The Economist.

“To imagine the phone of the future is also to imagine the future of consumer technology, and its personal and social impact. What mobile phones will look like in a year or two is easy to guess: they will be slimmer and probably will let you watch television on the move. But what about ten or 15 years from now?”

“The chances are that phones will not only look very different—they may not even be seen. They may be hidden in jewellery or accessories, or even embedded in the body. They will undoubtedly have a host of additional features and novel uses, and users will probably interact with them in new ways, too. And even if they are still called ‘phones’—a word derived from the Greek word for voice—making voice calls may no longer be their primary function.”

The wide-ranging article, which quotes Donald Norman, Bruce Sterling, and Bruno Giussani among others, acknowledges a crucial foresight problem: “Although extrapolating from today’s phones by following technology trends can provide some clues about their future direction, the danger with this approach is that it risks overlooking discontinuities in their evolution.”

A more behaviour-centred approach to foresight might help: “No doubt other new functions will be incorporated into phones. But which ones? Given their uniquely personal nature—some people feel naked without their handsets—it seems likely that they might subsume the other two items that are generally carried everywhere, namely wallets and keys.”

Another human-centred angle is to focus on the social consequences of future phones. “Social factors play a crucial role in determining which technologies end up being adopted, and how they are used.” Insights by Max Hunter, Pierre de Vries and Donald Norman are cited on this topic.

Read full story