counter

Putting People First

Daily insights on user experience, experience design and people-centred innovation
Audience Business Culture Design Locations Media Methods Services Social Issues

Children


Disabled


Elderly


Gender


Teens


Advertising


Branding


Business


Innovation


Marketing


Mechatronics


Technology


Architecture


Art


Creativity


Culture


Identity


Mobility


Museum


Co-creation


Design


Experience design


Interaction design


Presence


Service design


Ubiquitous computing


Africa


Americas


Asia


Australia


Europe


Italy


Turin


Blogging


Book


Conference


Media


Mobile phone


Play


Virtual world


Ethnography


Foresight


Prototype


Scenarios


Usability


User experience


User research


Education


Financial services


Healthcare


Public services


Research


Tourism


Urban development


Communications


Digital divide


Emerging markets


Participation


Social change


Sustainability


August 2007
25 August 2007

David Malouf on the foundations of interaction design

Boxes and Arrows
David Malouf is a Brooklyn-based interaction designer. He just wrote a long article for Boxes and Arrows on the “Foundations of Interaction Design“.

“Interaction Design is not Information Architecture, Industrial Design or even User Experience Design. It also isn’t user interface design. Interaction design is not about form or even structure, but is more ephemeral– about why and when rather than about what and how.

For any design disciplines to advance, it needs to form what are known as foundations or elements. The creation of such semantics encourages better communication amongst peers, creation of a sense of aesthetic, better education tools, and exploration.

If there are indeed foundations of Interaction Design, they need to be abstracted from form completely and thus not have physical attributes at all.”

The article then goes on to define what Malouf sees as the four foundations of Interaction Design: time (with pace, reaction and context as its sub-elements), metaphor, abstraction, and negative space.

He concludes: “It is the interaction designer’s attempt to manipulate these four foundations that separates the practice from industrial design, architecture, graphic design, fashion design, interior design, information architecture, and communication design. In the end, interaction design is the choreography and orchestration of these form-based design disciplines to create that holistic narrative between human(s) and the products and systems around us.”

25 August 2007

Share Award: digital art prize 2008 competition announcement

Share Festival
Piemonte Share Festival announces the second edition of the Share Prize 2008 for digital art.

The competition jury, chaired by Bruce Sterling, will award a prize of 2,500 Euro to the work (published or unpublished) which best represents experimentation between arts and new technologies.

The contest is open to any Italian and foreign artist using digital technology as a language of creative expression, in all its shapes and formats and in combination with analogical technologies and/or any other material (i.e. computer animation / visual effects, digital music, interactive art, net art, software art, live cinema/vj, audiovisual performance, etc.).

(via Bruce Sterling’s Viridian Design, embellished with Bruce’s personal commentary)

25 August 2007

Book: Interaction Design – beyond human-computer interaction (2nd edition)

Interaction Design
Interaction Design: Beyond Human-Computer Interaction, 2nd Edition
Helen Sharp, Yvonne Rogers, Jenny Preece
Paperback, 800 pages, January 2007

Abstract

The classic text, Interaction Design by Sharp, Preece and Rogers is back in a new 2nd Edition.

New to this edition:

  • Completely updated to include new chapters on Interfaces, Data Gathering and Data Analysis and Interpretation, the latest information from recent research findings and new examples;
  • A lively and highly interactive Web site that will enable students to collaborate on experiments, compete in design competitions, collaborate on designs, find resources and communicate with others;
  • A new practical and process-oriented approach showing not just what principals ought to apply, but crucially how they can be applied.

Book review
by Clifton Evans on Boxes and Arrows

“Interaction Design: Beyond Human-Computer Interaction is cunningly released at a time when acceptance of Interaction Design as a discipline is reaching a critical mass. The book precipitates a huge turn in the creation of interactive technologies toward the more research/creative or human-centric model, approaching the subject of this change from different angles and illuminating historical insights.

The concept that practical research leads the way to good design is a good thing, but Interaction Design misses an opportunity, in some ways, by highlighting so many decent designs from only a research or technology-driven perspective.”

Read full review

25 August 2007

Kitchen Budapest, Magyar Telekom’s innovation lab

Kitchen
Magyar Telekom‘s new media lab Kitchen Budapest (KiBu), opened in June 2007, is a new media lab for young researchers who are interested in the convergence of mobile communication, online communities and urban space and are passionate about creating experimental projects in cross-disciplinary teams.

Promising idea-makers are provided with undisturbed working conditions and paid scholarships.

One of Magyar Telekom’s objectives with this project is to promote new initiatives and creative ideas that later might be competitive on the market.

Research fields

What happens to the net once it meets the urban space? How does private space relate to the saturating wireless networks? Where does user created content gain authority? How does our use of cities alter as we get more and more real time feedback of its dynamics? What makes a home smart? Street-smart?

We would like to rethink and remix the possibilities of new media in our everyday lives and to augment connections between new technologies and our society.

Lab

KIBU offers a research lab space downtown Budapest, a basic grant for a dozen researchers, some equipment, and a dynamic workflow where sharing and helping is essential , and the freedom to capitalize any good idea.

Being sponsored by Magyar Telekom(MT), the leading Hungarian Telco, there is a direct path where ideas and prototypes get reach larger audiences, in case MT and the project group finds ways to do so. Our aim is build a platform where ideas are materializing and some end up in cultural context, some in the market.

Art and technology

Kitchen Budapest regularly organizes exhibitions to present our prototypes, as well as works or projects from related institutions and professionals.

(via IFTF’s Future Now)
 

UPDATE: 6 OCTOBER 2007:

Short report of visit by IFTF’s Alex Soojung-Kim Pang

25 August 2007

Standford’s Design and Medical Schools team up on Respira for asthma sufferers

Respira
Jeannie Choe reports on Core77 how Stanford University’s Design School and School of Medicine teamed up to create Respira, an extremely affordable device for better asthma care.

“In order for asthma inhalers to perform effectively, the discharged medicine must be taken in coordination with a deep breath. This action can be very difficult for young children gasping in the midst of an attack. In these cases, supplementary devices called spacers are used to capture and hold the medicine until the user is ready to inhale. Over 8 million children in Mexico suffer from asthma who are without proper medical care or preventative measures and spacers, at more than $50 a piece, are far too costly for Mexican health centers to stock.

Stanford’s Design and Medical Schools teamed up to face this obstacle, creating a super cost-effective and easily distributed solution. With a cost reduction of over 99% (dang), the flat-pack, foldable paper Respira spacers can be shipped by the hundreds for the cost of a stamp.”

- Read full story
Project background

25 August 2007

Charmr, a laudable Adaptive Path R&D project

Charmr
Challenged by an open letter that diabetes patient Amy Tenderich wrote to Steve Jobs, the American experience design consultancy Adaptive Path developed Charmr, an experience design concept to project how insulin pumps and glucose meters might work five years from now.

As reported in CNet News, Charmr is “a prototype for a sleeker, more functional blood glucose monitor and an insulin pump that users can apply directly to their bodies as an adhesive.”

“They researched extensively, interviewing diabetics and consulting with Tenderich, a valuable source of information and a link to the diabetes community.

While the Charmr vaguely resembles an iPod Nano, it has an appeal of its own. The device allows users to monitor the trends of their blood sugar levels, as well as administer insulin via a sweat-proof patch. Not to mention, the device allows for wear on the wrists, or as a keychain or necklace–all of which let the device simply appear to be another mysterious gadget, as opposed to a complex medical apparatus. Furthermore, the Charmr will triple as a USB drive that allows users to view daily trends and patterns of their condition, and other special features.”

Interaction designer Alexa Andrzejewski highlights that Charmr is not a product, but a vision of what the diabetic experience could look like in a few years if considered from a user-centered perspective, exemplifying a more human approach to medical device design, i.e. a device that looks and feels like it was designed with people in mind.

As explained by Dan Saffer, they spent three weeks just learning about diabetes and talking to patients and experts, then another week analyzing and taking in all the data they gathered. They spent another two weeks concepting; creating as many ideas as they could around the design principles they’d come up with. Once they narrowed down to an idea, they created the visual and interaction design to really flesh out that concept, then a movie to explain the vision.

Not surprisingly, they were overwhelmed by the positive feedback.

25 August 2007

Mobility is cultural, not just functional

Walking
UC Irvine professor Paul Dourish and Intel researchers Ken Anderson and Dawn Nafus argue in “Cultural Mobilities: Diversity and Agency in Urban Computing” that urban computing, i.e. mobile computing in the city, needs a much broader definition that takes into account.

“On the application side, many systems design efforts focus on the city as a site of consumption and an inherently problematic environment, one to be tamed by the introduction of technology. On the user side, many systems design efforts focus their attention on young, affluent city residents, with both disposable income and discretionary mobility.

The narrowness of both the site and “the users,” we will argue, has meant that mobile and urban computing have been driven by two primary considerations. The first is how to “mobilize” static applications, allowing people to get access to information and carry out traditional desktop tasks while “on the move,” the anytime/anywhere approach as manifested in PDA applications that attempt to produce mobile versions of desktop applications or connect people wirelessly to remote infrastructures “back home” (e.g. email on the RIM Blackberry.)

The second is how to provide people with access to resources in unfamiliar spaces, the “where am I?” approach, as manifested in context-aware applications that attempt to help people navigate space in terms of resource such as devices (e.g. the nearest printer), services (e.g. recommending stores), or people (e.g. finding friends via Dodgeball).

While these applications clearly meet needs, they fail to take the urban environment on its own terms; they are based on the idea that urban life is inherently problematic, something to be overcome, in comparison to the conventional desktop computing scenario. Further, they fail to acknowledge the lived practice of urban life, and in particular its diversity and the different urban experiences of different groups. In focusing on abstracted rather than concrete behaviors, on individual consumption rather than collective sociality, and on the pairing between discretionary mobility and urban consumption, this approach paints a very partial view of urban living that leaves many people out of the picture.”

Instead, the authors “turn to research in social science that seeks to understand the relationship between meaning, identity, movement, and space, drawing particularly on work in anthropology and cultural geography”. Based on theoretical and empirical work from social science, they are “developing a new approach to the relationship between mobility and technology.”

Download paper (pdf, 248 kb, 14 pages)

(via Nicolas Nova’s Pasta & Vinegar)

12 August 2007

United Airlines magazine on ethnography in business

United
Hemispheres, the inflight magazine of United Airlines, contains this month a longer article about “today’s most telling form of market research—ethnography— [which] observes customers’ behavior in their everyday environments”.

“The study of human cultures, or ethnography, may sound more suited to academia than to the business world. Though ethnography is indeed a social science, a number of companies use it to gain a greater understanding of their customers. Their objective is to garner information to help create and develop products and services that better meet customers’ needs— especially those that customers haven’t yet articulated. Alcoa, Microsoft, Whirlpool, and Yahoo have used ethnographic research.”

Note though that the article’s web page has the wrong title (“Green House Effect” instead of “Redefining Research”) and probably also the wrong illustration.

Read full story

12 August 2007

RedesignMe!

RedesignMe!
RedesignMe.org is a Flash-based beta site where anyone can post video, photo and text of a product with usability problems.

You can also add comments to other people’s postings, ratings, and most importantly, post your own design solutions in image or video format. The goal of the site is to “promote simplicity in product design” and give “a signal to industry”.

A simple registration is required to submit content on the site which looks like an updated version of Bad Human Factors Designs or This Is Broken.

(via the blog of the IDSA Human Factors professional interest section)

11 August 2007

Rapid manufacturing’s role in the factory of the future

Direct Metal Laser Sintering
Two years ago Bruce Sterling wrote in his book Shaping Things: “We can define ‘fabricators’ as a likely future development of the devices known today as ‘3-D printers’ or ‘rapid prototypers’. The key to understanding the fabricator is that it radically shortens the transition from a 3-D model to a physical actuality. A fabricator in a SPIME world is a SPIME that makes physical things out of virtual plans, in an immediate, one-step process.”

It’s happening already, according to this Design News article:

Greg Morris doesn’t spend much time wondering about the factory of the future. He already runs it.

His company, Morris Technologies, specializes in tough-to-manufacture metal components for aerospace, medical and industrial applications. At first glance, Morris seems to operate a conventional machine shop full of high-end CNC machines. Next to the machine tools, though, Morris quietly runs a bank of EOS direct metal laser-sintering (DMLS) machines, which build up parts from successive layers of fused metal powder.

With six machines, Morris has the world’s highest concentration of DMLS capacity. And he has been using those machines not just to make prototypes but also to turn out production parts. It’s a practice that goes by many names — including rapid manufacturing, direct digital manufacturing, solid freeform fabrication and low-volume-layered manufacturing. All of the names refer to the use of additive fabrication technologies, which were initially intended for prototyping, to make finished goods, instead. Morris believes additive fabrication systems will soon occupy an increasingly prominent space on our shop floors. “We’re on the verge of a revolution in how things are made,” he says.

This is also the right time to add another category to Putting People First: mechatronics (under “Business”). It is a term that was recently re-introduced by Donald Norman, and I add it as a category because I think it is particularly relevant to the city where I live (Turin, Italy) with its great and very high-end mechanical engineering tradition – and therefore also for any other engineering-focused economy.

11 August 2007

New MFA in experience design in Sweden

EDG
Konstfack, the largest university college of arts, crafts and design in Sweden, is starting a two-year masters programme in experience design with a strong arts focus:

“In the Experience Design Group we believe art, design and media have real and measurable consequences on how we behave towards basic human problems. While conventional forms of art and design such as painting and industrial design embrace two and three dimensions, at EDG we design Time itself. Time, left to itself, is an unreflective sequence of moments. Time, subjected to design, becomes meaningful Experience. So while we do incorporate two and three dimensional media in our work, we feel closer affinities to composers and architects – those working in time-based art and design practices. To design time as immersive experience is to persuade, simulate, inform, envision, entertain, and forecast events. It is to influence meaning and modify human behavior.

The Experience Design Group is devoted to innovative interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary practice-led research in the creation of new knowledge. Experience Design, a discipline relevant to artists and designers, explores and investigates the interplay between meaning and sensation within immersive experiences. To this end, our work is the creation of hybrid practices by synthesizing art and design, emerging paradigms of experiential and practical knowledge, history, theory and the experience economy.”

The Experience Design Group website – which is a bit of a flash nightmare – presents the programme’s three focus areas:

  • Persuasive experience – How has art and design been used as an instrument to alter human behavior, and how will it be used in the future?
  • Humanitarian experience – Can art, design, craft, and media have a real and measurable consequence on basic humanitarian problems by affecting the experience of being at risk?
  • Environment experience – How do you begin to orchestrate the experience of an individual in a designed environment?

The programme, which is lead by Ronald Jones, an artist, critic and Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies, will start in September.

Five blogs are associated with/promoted by the programme:

For more information, do check this 16 page pdf download.

.

11 August 2007

Not being there

Not being there
The New York Times Magazine published a short essay on anonymity online:

“Anonymity, it turns out, can serve two opposite interests: fantasy (an escape from the self) and manipulation (a reinforcement of the self).

None of the social rules that people born before, say, 1970 learned in real space prepare them for moral accountability in cyberspace. Does e-mail have the status of chitchat, or of an affidavit? Is sock-puppeting like shooting your mouth off in a bar and saying, when asked, that your name is none of anyone’s business? Or is it like making a false filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission?”

In the end it is an old conundrum, he says, and refers back to Shakespeare’s Henry V, who disguised himself as a common soldier to rally the restive English forces with a pep talk that few would have believed had it been given in the King’s own name.

Read full story

11 August 2007

Nokia design director on emerging markets

Nokia 1208
Antti Kujala, a design director at Nokia’s headquarters in Espoo, Finland, spearheaded Nokia’s strategy and design development. He spoke to Nandini Lakshman of Business Week in New Delhi about the nuances of designing for emerging markets and about future mobile design trends.

An excerpt:

What role does ethnography play in Nokia’s design strategy across a wide variety of global markets?

Our process starts with a team of anthropologists and psychologists working in our design group. They spend time with specific types of people around the world to understand how they behave and communicate. This helps us to understand better and to spot early signals of new patterns of behavior that could be harnessed into mobile communication. Our designers often go out into the field to understand the world they are designing for. All of these observations are brought into the design process to inspire and inform our ideas.

We have an advanced design team that is looking 5 to 15 years out, working on spotting and predicting megatrends in society and coming up with thought-provoking ideas on what mobile design could do to influence and react to these.

We also have a large research group within Nokia design. It looks at long-term, macro, and societal trends as well as more short-term trends around colors, fashions, and textures. We identify local, country-specific trends, but we also look across countries to identify similarities in lifestyles and global trends. In practice, this means localized colors, surface textures, and user-interface content such as wallpaper, services, or ring tones. In our emerging-markets research, a key finding was that everybody wanted a range of options.

Read full interview

11 August 2007

What does “user value” mean?

International Journal of Design
The August issue of the International Journal of Design has just been published.

It is the second issue of this peer-reviewed journal issued by the Taiwan-based Chinese Institute of Design (read more here).

Suzan Boztepe of the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey, has contributed an article on the theoretical meaning of user value.

In design research, the issues of what exactly constitutes user value and how design can contribute to its creation are not commonly discussed.

This paper provides a critical overview of the theories of value used in anthropology, sociology, philosophy, business, and economics. In doing so, it reviews a range of theoretical and empirical studies, with particular emphasis on their position on product, user, and designer in the process of value creation.

The paper first looks at the similarities and differences among definitions of value as exchange, sign, and experience.

It then reviews types and properties of user value such as its multidimensionality, its contextuality, its interactivity, and the stages of user experience dependency identified by empirical studies. Methodological approaches to user value research and their possible applications in design are also discussed.

Finally, directions for future research on user value are discussed giving particular emphasis to the need of tools and methods to support design practice.

Suzan Boztepe earned her Ph.D. in Design from the Illinois Institute of Technology in 2004, and has since served as an Assistant Professor of Design at Middle East Technical University. She has taught design innovation and human-centered design research methods at Pratt Institute and Carleton University’s School of Industrial Design. Her research interests include strategic applications of design, social and cultural human factors, and product localization issues. She also works as an innovation consultant to international companies in emerging markets.

I found a few more interesting papers by Suzane available for download:

  • User-value-based product adaptation (pdf, 200 kb, 14 pages), 2005
    This paper reports an ethnographic study on the use of kitchen appliances illustrating how various factors of physical and socio-cultural context influence users’ interaction with product and its value. Based on the relationship between these cultural influences and the value users derive from products, the paper proposes a user-centered framework for product adaptation. The primary drives for product adaptation decisions in the proposed framework include the consideration of convenience, compatibility, accessibility, social significance, and pleasure in user-product interaction.
     
  • The notion of value and design (pdf, 220 kb, 10 pages), 2003
    Globalization of businesses brings opportunities as well as failure. In today’s volatile economy, creating superior value for users is shown as a way of achieving competitive advantage. However, there is a little agreement of what exactly constitutes user value and how design can contribute to its creation. This paper examines the notion of value from sociological, anthropological, and business perspectives, reflecting on what each has to offer to design. A conception of value as a practical or symbolic benefit of a product which arises from the interaction with user and facilitates superior user experience is advocated. Finally, the role of design in creation of value is questioned and a framework for research into value is suggested.

    10 August 2007

    User experience and the analysts

    UX analysts donut
    As part of their ongoing research of the UX environment, Rosenfeld Media recently took a closer look at the six major analyst firms (Aberdeen, AMR, Forrester, Gartner, IDC, and Yankee).

    They were hoping to determine if the analysts were paying much attention to user experience, so they searched a variety of UX-related terms (21, to be precise) on their respective web sites. They then looked at which firms paid attention to which UX topics and how they compared to the web’s overall UX consciousness.

    Which firms paid attention to which UX terms?

    • Aberdeen is focusing on web analytics;
    • AMR pays a great deal of attention to the related areas of content management and knowledge management;
    • Forrester appears relatively strong in areas that are relatively new, such as experience design, interaction design, interface design, SEO, UCD and web analytics;
    • Gartner‘s bread and butter is information management;
    • IDC‘s numbers are, overall, closest to average; if they have a specific focus, it’s content management;
    • Branding seems to dominate Yankee‘s mindspace.

    Overall, the top five topics are content management, information management, branding, knowledge management and user experience.

    How do these firms compare to the web’s UX consciousness as a whole?

    Rosenfeld admits that it’s hard to tell whether the analysts firm really lead the web on certain topics because the numbers are quite small, but there is a clear trend in the topics where analysts trail the web: ergonomics, graphic design, human-computer interaction, search engine optimisation, technical communication, usability engineering and web analytics. Rosenfeld concludes:

    “Interestingly these topics, with the exception of SEO and web analytics, all represent fairly established fields. Do analysts forgo these areas as insufficiently innovative? If so, many of these field’s practitioners would surely take issue. Conversely, SEO and web analytics are new fields which are not only considered quite innovative, but have accrued legions of software vendors. Given that the mission of many analysts is to help managers understand new technologies, it’s especially strange that the analysts have not paid more attention to these two newer areas.”

    A spreadsheet with the raw data is available upon requests

    Read full story

    10 August 2007

    Cultural differences in the emotional experience

    Ilkone mobile phone
    Marco van Hout asks in a long article for uiGarden.net whether there is something like a common ‘emotional experience’.
    “In my opinion, the answer to this question is two-fold. First of all, people share basic emotional reactions and basic human needs. This makes us all part of the same species, so to speak. However, different culturally specific contexts can make a person from Asia evaluate the same stimulus differently from a European person. But, does this count for all products and designs?”

    In this well-referenced article, he tries to explain how he think differences in emotional experience between cultures occur. He looks in particular at the importance of context, and the impact context has on people’s needs, on meaning, and on information processing

    He concludes with the statement that “in spite of the globalising market, it is almost impossible to talk about a ‘global experience’. This only occurs when context is shared, which is an ongoing process on the Internet, but not as much in the ‘real’ world yet. Therefore, it still makes sense for designers to study cultural differences.”

    Marco van Hout (The Netherlands) is a founding partner of Monito Design & Internet, a company that specializes in innovative solutions for Internet applications; an active member of the Design & Emotion Society where he supports the board as a Public Relations Officer; and editor of the internationally renowned website “design & emotion” where he publishes interviews with leading design professionals from some of the most respected brands and writes about the emotional impact of design, brands and services.

    Read full story

    9 August 2007

    Jakob Nielsen: the web design guru that web designers love to hate

    Jakob Nielsen
    “Jakob Nielsen’s no-frills useability website attracts opprobrium as well as praise, but it stands out and is never ignored,” writes Jack Schofield in The Guardian.

    “Google for Jakob Nielsen and you’ll often find him described as a “web design guru”. He’s also the man that some web designers love to hate. In particular, they love to heap abuse on his website – UseIt.com.

    It’s a decade-old design and it wouldn’t take much effort to make it look nicer, would it? More importantly, surely he ought to be following all his own guidelines on usability.

    Nielsen is not a graphic designer, and he reckons that smartening it up would put him in the middle range of site designs: “I’d be just one out of 10m. Redesigning it would take away the real value, which is that it stands out. But I’m probably the only one who could get away with it. I wouldn’t recommend it to somebody starting out now!”

    Although Use It annoys the people who think web design is graphic design, Nielsen doesn’t mind. “There is something good about upsetting people, because it’s making an impact,” he says. But, he adds: “It’s not good if you only annoy people,” and you have to offer something of value.

    Read full story

    9 August 2007

    Five new experience design-related interviews by Adaptive Path

    Washington
    The American experience design consultancy Adaptive Path has posted five interviews on its website that are worth checking out. All interviewees are speakers at Adaptive Path’s upcoming UX Week, a four-day conference introduces user experience practitioners to new rich internet application design approaches, practical prototyping techniques, effective cross-organization communications strategies and more.

    Note that for some reason the accompanying photos on the Adaptive Path website portray the interviewers, not the interviewees – an error I tried to correct here (although I couldn’t find a photo of Barbara Ballard).

    Liz Sanders
    What’s new in participatory design with Liz Sanders
    Liz Sanders (UX Week conference page) is the president of MakeTools, a design research company that focuses on collaborative creativity about the participatory process and it’s impact on design. Liz has worked across a variety of mediums, including interactive/web, industrial design and architecture.

    “What we’re doing in participatory design is involving the people who we’re serving through design as participants in the process. We’re involving them in as co-creators of the whole process. If you don’t believe people are creative, then you really can’t do this.”

    Deborah Adler
    Discussing ClearRX with Deborah Adler
    A recent story, that’s quickly becoming a classic, is the origin and design of the [American] Target pill bottle and the surrounding ClearRX system. It’s an inspiring and instructive story about the power of design to impact business and to change people’s lives. In this interview Deborah Adler (UX Week conference page), designer of the ClearRX pill bottle, discusses her experience.

    “At the time, I was coming up with my thesis and my grandmother accidentally took my grandfather’s medicine; they were both prescribed the same drug, but just different dosage strengths. When I looked in their medicine cabinet, I wasn’t at all surprised by their befuddlement because it turned out that their package was practically identical.”

    Bill DeRouchey
    Ziba’s Bill DeRouchey on interaction design in the field
    Bill DeRouchey (blog), an interaction designer at Ziba Design in Portland, Oregon, discusses how you can learn interaction design from everyday objects.

    “Industrial designers approach things quite differently than people who are designing for on screen. Just the amount of sketches, comps, and exploration that they do — they take nothing for granted for the first full phase of the project. I definitely think that I came to this approach [from my background in] an industrial design environment. Thinking about things like zoning, hierarchies, and priorities a little bit more.”

    Designing the mobile user experience
    Barbara Ballard on the mobile space
    Barbara Ballard, president of Little Springs Design and author of Designing the Mobile User Experience, talks about her thoughts on designing for the mobile space.

    “The mobile phone is the one device that is going to be in your pocket. It’s going to be carried with you all the time. This has a number of fairly obvious implications for limitations of the device and I’m not talking about right now, I’m talking about structurally long-term”

    Karon Weber and Bill Scott
    Karon Weber and Bill Scott talking about Yahoo! Teachers
    Karon Weber, principal designer at Yahoo!, and Bill Scott (blog), AJAX evangelist at Yahoo!, talk about their work on the upcoming release of Yahoo! Teachers.

    “I think that both Bill and I believe deeply in participatory design, and we come out of a world where you have a troika between end users, designers, and engineering. This was actually a perfect use case from that standpoint, where we had the prowess of Yahoo! engineering, Yahoo! designers, and then this community of teachers who knew what they wanted. So this notion that we could build things by teachers, for teachers, was really how we approached the project.”

    9 August 2007

    Downloading wisdom from online crowds

    Downloading wisdom from online crowds
    Prediction markets, where people bet on everything from the likelihood that a movie will be a hit to the chance that a politician will become president to whether the stock market will go up or down, are in vogue. Research papers have been written on their accuracy, and the media likes to write about how these predictions often beat the purported experts.

    But they are not perfect. Markets require babysitters. [...] Wharton School professors Albert Saiz and Uri Simonsohn have found a cheaper way to deliver some of the same benefits. It’s called an Internet search.

    Specifically, Saiz, in the real estate department, and Simonsohn, in operations and information management, argue in a new research paper that the likelihood that a topic is discussed online, in relation to a given location, correlates with its relative prevalence in the real world.

    Interestingly, as a side benefit of the study, they also assessed the various online search engines, all of which Saiz and Simonsohn tried to use. Google kicked them off. “It won’t allow a single automated search,” Simonsohn says. They ended up preferring Exalead, a French search engine, available in English, because they consider it and Ask.com to be the most reliable. “We found Yahoo to be the least reliable,” he adds. “If you search for something today and again next week, there can be several million pages of difference in the number of results on Yahoo. I don’t think several million new documents were created in a week.”

    Read full story

    8 August 2007

    Turin 2008 on Italian slow design, Irish design innovation and doing good

    Slow Food
    Three new articles on the website of Turin 2008, World Design Capital (all written or edited by Experientia partner Mark Vanderbeeken):

    slow+design – interview with Giacomo Mojoli, Slow Food spokesman
    Slow Food, the international ethical movement about good, clean and fair food, has been working a lot lately on developing a slow approach to design (see my earlier report on a small international conference on this topic last year in Milan). Last week I interviewed Giacomo Mojoli to get a better understanding of this initiative. Interestingly he speaks a lot about the meaning of strategic design, service design, experience design and sustainable sensoriality, and raises some controversial ideas about the importance of imperfection, limitation and technological restraint in our design thinking.

    Doing Good and Doing Better
    Nik Baerten of Belgian foresight consultancy Pantopicon writes about how the design-world appears to be especially active in upping the stakes on doing good.

    Center for Design Innovation, Ireland
    Then there is also an article by myself setting out the vision behind the Centre for Design Innovation, which is at the heart of a ten-year strategy to push design up the business agenda in Ireland and Northern Ireland. Their approach is all based on user-centred innovation.