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Putting People First

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November 2007
30 November 2007

Mobile service providers failing to meet corporate customer needs, says Gartner

Business user
Many mobile service providers are failing to capitalise on potentially lucrative corporate contracts because they don’t focus enough on client’s business needs, according to Gartner. Service providers that don’t update their sales strategies to provide tailored solutions to businesses risk losing valuable corporate customers and becoming chiefly consumer players, analysts warned.

“These continue to be very competitive times for mobile service providers with the market near saturation point in many regions,” said Martin Gutberlet, research vice-president at Gartner. “To compete efficiently in this challenging landscape, mobile service providers need to find new ways to improve customer loyalty and retention and this must include corporate contracts. Our research shows that many service providers are not currently doing enough to retain corporate clients in the long-term.”

Many mobile service providers would argue that they already have a dedicated corporate sales force that focuses on business requirements, but Gartner has found that for the most part, providers are not fulfilling these needs. Instead, the focus is on selling SIM cards with complex, non-transparent pricing schemes and giving discounts related to total spending, rather than delivering individual, tailored services.

Read full story

30 November 2007

InterSections 07: a debate on design

Intersections
The UK Design Council sponsored conference InterSections 07 brought together 34 leading thinkers in design to consider how design is evolving and how this is affecting its relationships with other fields.

The conference, held in NewcastleGateshead in October 2007, asked how design is transforming as it adapts to a world in transition. Two days of stimulating and energetic debate considered how designers are adapting to the new landscape by acquiring new know-how.

Audio and transcripts are now online and feature a series of keynote presentations:

as well as panel discussions and breakout sessions:

  • What is the new know-how in service design? (audio | transcript)
    Services have been around for centuries, but Service design has recently become a hot topic. Designers Gillian Crampton-Smith (IUAV), Chris Downs (live|work) and Heather Martin (Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design) outline some examples of good, and bad, service design and discuss what the core skills of service designers are whether traditional designer notions such as craft, beauty and visualisation are still important. Jeremy Myerson (RCA) moderates.
    <  >
  • As designers, are we guilty of killing the planet? (audio | transcript)
    John Thackara (Dott07) will argue that 80 percent of the environmental impact of the products and buildings is determined at the design stage; and the ways we have designed the world force most people to waste stupendous quantities of matter and energy. But for John, playing the blame game is pointless, the best way to redeem ourselves is to become part of the solution.
    <  >
  • Clever by design (audio | transcript)
    Where does design fit into management thinking? What is the role of the designer in the modern economy? Sir George Cox, Design Council Chairman and Dr Andrea Siodmok, head of its Design Knowledge team discuss with chair Jeremy Myerson whether businesses are making more use of design capability and, if so, whether designers have the right skills to talk to business.
    <  >
  • New connections: question time (audio | transcript)
    At the final panel session of Intersections 07, delegates had the chance to put questions to the panel (Peter Saville, Richard Seymour and John Thackara), ranging from the lack of women in design, to the role of designers in creating unnecessary landfill, and how best to reconcile the desire for visionary design with co-creation. This session draws together some of the key themes from the conference.
    <  >
  • Fashion connections (audio | transcript)
    Vicky Richardson, Editor of Blueprint magazine, Ignacio Germade, Design Director of Consumer Experience Design at Motorola, Sarah Maynard, Designer and MD of Maynard Bespoke and Tom Savigar from Future Laboratory discuss the influence of fashion on wider design practice. They argue that fashion is not just about the type of things that designers create, but it can be an approach to design thinking about products, interactions, space and environments.
    <  >
  • Interaction blur (audio | transcript)
    How is interaction design changing and what the drivers behind this? Has it managed to develop the skill sets it needs to deal with the challenges ahead? And how does interaction design overlap with other design disciplines? Andy Altmann from Why Not Associates, Durrell Bishop of Luckybite and Daljit Singh, founder of Digit discuss with chair Nico Macdonald.
    <  >
  • Are design schools the new B-schools? (audio | transcript)
    Business Week has floated the idea that tomorrow’s Business school might be a design school. Jeremy Myerson, from the RCA, Janet Abrams, from the University of Minnesota Design Institute, John Bates, London Business School and Christoph Böninger, formerly of Siemens discuss whether designers can really go head-to-head with the MBAs and whether students would be better equipped for the business world if they were design trained?
    <  >
  • Feedback: Day 1 breakout sessions (audio | transcript)
    Vicky Richardson reported back to delegates on Fashion Connections, the Culture thread of day one’s breakout sessions, and Nico Macdonald told the audience what they had missed if they hadn’t been discussing Interaction blur in the Interactions thread. Chair Jeremy Myerson told delegates all about the Business thread and how the panel had discussed whether D-schools were the new B-schools?
    <  >
  • But is it art? (audio | transcript)
    Can design fill the aesthetic and cultural vacuum left by contemporary art? Where are the boundaries between the two disciplines and is it even useful to try and draw distinctions between them? Designers Allan Chochinov, Peter Saville and Richard Shed are joined by artist and writer Matthew Collings in a discussion about the nature of ‘design art,’ chaired by Vicky Richardson, editor of Blueprint magazine.
    <  >
  • Can good design be co-created? (audio | transcript)
    Can good design be co-created? What can designers learn from the open source software movement and ‘wikinomics’? While everyone is a designer, isn’t it the job of professional designers to champion good design? Writer and journalist Nico Macdonald chairs a discussion with Joe Heapy (Engine), Lynne Maher (NHS) and Austin Williams (Future Cities Project) about the possibilities and pitfalls of co-design.
    <  >
  • What can design bring to strategy? (audio | transcript)
    Design strategy is a growing sub-discipline of design. This session, chaired by conference director Kevin McCullagh, asked what strengths designers bring to strategy building and what new skills they might need to acquire. The panel, Jonathan Sands from Elmwood, Richard Eisermann from Prospect and Ed Silk from Interbrand, covered the topic with reference to their own wide experience as designers and strategists.
    <  >
  • Feedback: Day 2 breakout sessions (audio | transcript)
    Vicky Richardson“>Vicky Richardson informed delegates who had not attended the Culture thread of the breakout sessions on Is it art? of what they had missed. Nico Macdonald feedback what delegates who had attended the Interactions thread thought about the question of whether good design can be co-created and Kevin McCullagh, who had chaired the Business thread debate on design and strategy, updated the audience on what had been discussed.
29 November 2007

Intranet Information Architecture

Intranet
Jakob Nielsen has published the executive summary of his study of 56 intranets.

The study documents intranet IA processes and the resulting designs, both in terms of the visible user interfaces and the underlying structures. The report contains detailed profiles of 56 real-world intranets’ information architecture as well as generalised analyses and best-practice recommendations derived from these many case studies.

- Read summary- Order study ($396 for a single-user license)

29 November 2007

Tips for integrating user experience and agile development

Agile UX
At last week’s 7-Minute Soapbox in Waterloo, Canada, Declan Whelan of Whelan & Associates talked about how to fit user experience/design/usability into an agile development process.

There is a crisis in the software world! Well, I’m not sure if you can call something a crisis when it has been going on for more than 15 years — but let’s call it that. The annual CHAOS reports first released by the Standish group in 1994 showed that in the US about one third of software projects are cancelled and about one half are 200% over budget. The bottom line: annual direct costs of such software failures are estimated at $140 billion.

Many companies responded to this by imposing stronger process control mechanisms with comprehensive documentation and formalized hand-offs between functional groups. This has worked in some domains but has failed badly in others. I believe that plan-driven, waterfall methodologies may be applicable when the human costs or capital costs of failure dominate — such as nuclear reactor safety systems or international space stations. But such processes foster functional silos and formalized communications which can actually make the situation worse. Worse, because such processes struggle to keep pace with technology changes and competitive pressures.<

The agile community offers an alternate approach. Put together a cross-functional team including the key product stakeholder, developers, interaction designers, Q/A, project managers, and so on. Have them work together from requirements through to functioning software on a weekly basis. Empower them to choose the tools and processes that work best for them. This is really a tough way to produce software — but it works.

Now how does traditional user experience fit in with all this? I see three key challenges:

  • Agile teams focus on stakeholders, designers focus on users.
  • Agile teams focus on technical issues, designers focus on usability.
  • Agile teams focus on modeling just-in-time, designers model up-front.

There is a tremendous opportunity to close the gap between these perspectives and I offer a few suggestions for an interaction designer on an agile team:

  • Infuse user experience issues and approaches into the team — train them, let them know your world.
  • Be the user advocate and lobbyist, especially with the product stakeholder.
  • Use personas — make them physically visible and make sure they are present as the actor in every agile user story.
  • Introduce user experience guidelines — good agile teams will follow them if you can show the value.
  • Do just-enough user experience modeling — look for minor course corrections rather than Eureka moments.
  • Use light-weight tools — whiteboards, index cards, pen and paper.
  • Be a generalizing specialist — do whatever you can to help the team follow the agile mantra and “do the simplest thing that could possibly work.”

See video and slideshow

(via Alberto Mucignat)

27 November 2007

Mobile web: so close yet so far [The New York Times]

Mobile web
An article in the New York Times cites recent surveys challenging the notion that smartphones are ready for primetime:

Surveys by Yankee Group, a Boston research firm, show that only 13 percent of cellphone users in North America use their phones to surf the Web more than once a month, while 70 percent of computer users view Web sites every day.

“The user experience has been a disaster,” says Tony Davis, managing partner of Brightspark, a Toronto venture capital firm that has invested in two mobile Web companies.

While many phones have some form of Web access, most are hard to use — just finding a place to type in a Web address can be a challenge. And once you find it, most Web content doesn’t look very good on cellphone screens.

Read full story

27 November 2007

AJAX pioneer emphasises user experience

Jesse James Garrett
Jesse James Garrett, who coined the term AJAX, says that consumers want a personal relationship with the products they use, reports PC World.

The inventor of the term AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML), urged attendees at The Rich Web Experience conference in San Jose, Calif. Friday to emphasize user experience when designing products.

Jesse James Garrett, founder of the Adaptive Path consulting firm and coiner of the term AJAX, stressed that users want a personal relationship with products they use.

The brain mechanisms engaged when using an interactive product are the same mechanisms engaged when interacting with other human beings, Garrett said. “In other words, we relate to technology products as if they were people,” he said.

Read full story

27 November 2007

Apple is creating “a place where you belong”

Bob
Apple has been progressively changing its retail store format over the past year, eliminating cash registers while introducing several new services and increased staffing, to create a more personalized and friendly environment for customers, reports MacNN in an article entitled “Apple overhauls retail customer experience”.
Apple wants to maintain a casual feel in the stores, something that is reflected by its customers as they browse, use internet, or bringing their children in to play at the low-legged tables. “We try to pattern the feeling to a 5-star hotel,” said Apple’s retail chief, Ron Johnson. “It’s not about selling. It’s about creating a place where you belong.”

Read full story

A longer story on the topic was recently published by AP News.

27 November 2007

Two more interviews with Donald Norman

Donald Norman
Now that Donald Norman‘s new book, The Design of Future Things, has been published, the man is on a book tour and interviews with him are popping up left and right.

After a first one on Core77 (see also this post), Norman is now also in the Inquirer and on CNET News.

The Inquirer, a British magazine, points at the apparent reversal in his thinking: “Where, in 1988, he was arguing that technology needed to be designed to make it easier for humans, today he argues that nonetheless, since humans are more adaptable than machines, if we are to work successfully with the much more complex cars, appliances, and other devices of the future we are the ones who will have to change, at least to some extent.”

Also CNET News addresses this question, but the interview is longer and more wide ranging in scope.

26 November 2007

The fruits of a wireless world

Bob
The Wireless World Initiative (WWI) has developed prototype user-centred systems that will potentially enable millions of people to make the most of third-generation (3G) and beyond mobile technology to work, relax and play any time, anywhere. ICT Results reports back from WWI’s crowning event.

“It is Monday morning in the not-too-distant future and two neighbours, Bob the builder and Bob the businessman, are getting ready for work. The builder has to drive to a job in a nearby town and the businessman needs to take the train to the office. They switch on their televisions and request information on road and rail conditions.

Outside their front doors, the two Bobs wish each other a good morning and head their separate ways. On the train, the businessman watches the financial news on his palm pilot, while the builder tunes in his phone to his favourite digital radio channel and relaxes in the morning traffic to some classical music.

Meanwhile, the businessman phones his secretary and tells him through his earpiece that he forgot his PowerPoint presentation and speech. Bob the businessman’s palm pilot bleeps as he enters the state-of-the-art conference centre where he is to give a speech and presentation. It informs him that he has entered a high-data rate zone and asks him whether he would like to switch to ‘superbroadband’.

He sits in the conference building’s lounge area and notices a message from his secretary in his inbox. He begins to download the documents he requested and surfs the web to do some last-minute research.

In the evening, both Bobs decide to go out. The builder checks the opera programme on his phone, while the businessman checks the cinema schedule and they buy their tickets online. Their phones’ e-signatures authenticate who they are. As they enter the opera house and cinema, their phones automatically switch to mute.

The EU-backed Wireless World Initiative (WWI) has developed the prototype user-centred systems that have brought these future Bobs a lot closer to the present. The integrated architecture the initiative’s five projects – MobiLife, SPICE, WINNER, Ambient Networks, E2R – have developed will potentially enable millions of people to make the most of third-generation and beyond mobile technology to work, relax and play any time, anywhere. And, to top it all off, their experience will not just be wireless but also seamless.”

Read full story

26 November 2007

Nokia dials cool hunters for tomorrow’s trends

Nokia's Jan Blom with the students of Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology in Bangalore
Aparna Kalra reports in Mint, a new Indian business newspaper produced in collaboration with the Wall Street Journal, on how the trend of cool hunting – and then innovating – in India by companies also illustrates how the country is moving higher in the food chain in product research and development.

Bangalore: In his quest to understand the Indian consumer, Jan Blom, a boyish looking 32-year-old from Finland, finds himself back in college.

The senior design manager at Nokia Design, a part of Nokia Oyj, moved here a few months ago, driven by a partnership between the world’s largest cellphone maker and the substantially tinier Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology. The 60-seat private college here is run by a trust of six women, who canvassed door-to-door for students when they started in 1996. And, yet, it is a place that Nokia thinks might yield the next big innovation.

Meet the “cool hunters”.

Big firms are turning to such small and focused niche gro-ups in search of trends and also to better understand consumers, especially in complex, developing markets such as India and China. In the case of Nokia and Srishti, the firm hopes to get these ideas by assigning projects to students learning art, visual communication or product design.

Read full story

26 November 2007

Optimising the e-business experience

Optimisation
From an article in the E-Commerce Times:

“In today’s business world, losing any customer or partner is expensive and unnecessary. It costs up to 10 times more to acquire a customer than to keep an existing one, according to Gartner. Today, customers and partners must be at the center of your organization’s business strategy — a strategy that provides consistent, personalized customer experiences at all touch points.”

“Today’s global enterprises must optimize their web sites to maximize the power of the Web to drive business and increase sales. B2B (business-to-business) or B2C (business-to-consumer) web site design, usability and content are the top considerations as companies focus on success and satisfaction ratings of the customer and partner experience.

The customer and partner experience has become increasingly important in recent years because of growing competition across all sectors. People won’t hesitate to go elsewhere if they are not getting the kind of service they want, whether online or offline.

Therefore, a consistent approach and smooth execution of the buying experience is crucial for retaining customer loyalty and ensuring that brands are enhanced by a positive experience rather than damaged by inconsistencies.”

Read full story

26 November 2007

User experience of the future

Reactable
The people at Smashing present what they call “some of the outstanding recent developments in the field of user experience design.”

The very visual feature contains an overview of the most recent tactile and touch interfaces.

(via UX Magazine)

25 November 2007

Special report on Samsung in French newspaper Le Monde

Talk to me
The French newspaper Le Monde has published a special report on Samsung, including a highly visual special on Samsung’s design strategy, which by the way features glimpses of a few rather interesting looking presentation slides (the design goal is to create a culturally-based emotional experience, which goes beyond identity and originality, whereas the design philosophy describes an iterative “emotional journey” circle between intuition, delight and desire).

In the interest of sharing this story with non-French speakers, here is my translation:

 

Design at the heart of the Samsung strategy

“We have three levels of design analysis: global design intelligence, future design intelligence and corporate design implementation,” says Harry Choi of Samsung’s Corporate Design Center. The text below is based on an interview with him:

  • “Global design intelligence”: Six international offices (San Francisco, London, Shanghai, Tokyo, Milan and Bangalore) gather the various sociological trends that characterise the forms, materials and colours of the local design. The experts — architects, interior designers or stylists — do not work full time for Samsung, but are commissioned to regularly brief Samsung on the strategic developments taking place in their geographical area. 
  • “Corporate design implementation”: Here the experts’ information and analyses are reinterpreted from an industrial perspective. It was through the analysis of the products of our various competitors — LG, Bosch, Siemens — that we became fully aware of the coherence of their product line, and the relative incoherence of our own. So we created our Corporate Design Center to create a more integrate design between the products coming from our various activity sectors. We always choose for one single design for a product. It is the same all over the world. It is impossible for us, because of industrial and economic reasons, to develop regional designs. But that doesn’t mean that we do not respond to local needs. For instance, we consider China as a market on its own and we have products there that do not exist anywhere else. We also create “limited edition” series, particularly for the European market, where people are fond of high-end products. We do not make much profit with these products, but they enhance our brand image. 
  • “Future design intelligence”: Here we develop a product roadmap that foresees and prepares our various product lines within a five year time frame. This becomes an important strategic direction for the company, and it is constantly updated. The example of the television is very illustrative. The technology has evolved a lot in five years. We have gone from the Hertz diffusion to TNT, to cable and now to IPTV. The external optical media and their associated connections change practically every year. And the aesthetics are evolving as well.

  

Two products, two design strategies

“When we think of a printer nowadays, we think of a noisy, ugly and cumbersome object,” says Jun Won Bae, designer of the SCX 4500 printer. “That was at least the result of our preliminary studies. Based on these findings and on a clear public demand, we decided to devote more attention to the design. We ended up with a trendsetting product.”

“We focussed on four reference values to change the traditional mindset people have of a printer:

  • Use value – We reduced the surface and volume of the object to the minimum, by turning it into the smallest laser printer in the world.
  • Visual value – We have chosen for a shiny and glossy black. We were inspired by the lacquer of the grand piano and the simple forms this object has. We also avoided the traditional shapes of buttons by creating tactile zones and blue backlit areas to indicate the functions of the printer.
  • Tactile value – The materials were chosen for their tactile quality, and are very different from what is usually offered.
  • Sound value – We have reduced the printing noise to 45 decibels, from a standard minimum of 50 decibels for other printers.

This small printer is aimed at the SoHo market (small office and housing) but it has a premium price. We want to bring design intot the office, as Apple has successfully done these last few years. In fact, Apple is the exclusive distributor of this product on the American market.

The manufacturing of this printer requires a multitude of skills: mechanical, micro-electronics, chemical (for the inks), and software. This is why there are so few players in this market segment and the Chinese for instance are not attacking us here. We are for now just focusing on a particular sector — laser printers — where we already master the technology. Since we can no longer conquer the market by making conventional printers, we put our energy on design. And for the moment, this strategy is working.”

There is also an interview in this section with the designer of the G800 touch phone.

 

A university dedicated to R&D

In 1995, Samsung created a design school in Seoul. The Samsung Art and Design Institute (SADI) has meanwhile become a real study laboratory for the group.

Originally the school was dedicated to graphic design and fashion styling. But in the last two years it has opened itself up to industrial design and technology design. Here are some of the student prototypes [which do not seem to be based on much user research].

  • Bong-Bong Boxer – Instead of forbidding children to fight with each other, it might make more sense to give them the tools to do so without getting hurt: gloves, “shoes” and a helmet. 
  • Okids phone – This multifunction phone is for the little ones. In phone mode, the child can call preprogrammed numbers and push an emergency button. In “heart” mode, thanks to its ingenious pivotal rotation system, the screen becomes a gaming screen with a separate keyboard. 
  • Talk to me – Each flower is an MP3 recorder and belongs to a member of the family. They can all leave a message on it when leaving the house. When a message is left behind, the lower part of the flower emits a soft pulsing light to indicate that it has something to say. 
  • Spicy cartridge – This box contains little spice containers. A rear projector provides information on each of the containers. It could be part of an intelligent cuisine where recipes are proposed based on the available ingredients. 
  • Mamang – This object reinvents the rocking horse. The child is perched on its back and gets solicited by its parents through the built-in screen and camera. 
  • Take1 – This miniature camera with an omnidirectional screen and built-in tripod, provides bare essential functionality but is highly discrete. 
  • Draw your finger – A mobile phone specially developed for the visually impaired. 

The report also contains a slideshow of products about to be launched on the market.

25 November 2007

Experience Project embraces anonymous socialising

Paul Dourish
The Experience Project (EP), which launched a public beta about a year ago, is built specifically around the concept of remaining anonymous while socializing, explains Josh Catone of Read/Write Web.

The site has grown to 250,000 members, almost 60% of those added in the past three months, and is backed by an impressive line up of angel investors including Ron Conway, Kathryn Gould, and Steve Blank.

According to EP, by emphasizing and encouraging anonymous interaction, the site allows people to open up more than they do on other social networking sites. One member gushes, “this is the most real representation of myself anywhere — friends, family or online. I’ve never felt so accepted nor had more fun anywhere online.”

Users create profiles on EP based around experiences, which are immediately transformed into groups where other members experiencing the same thing can share stories and feelings about that issue. These can range from the serious, such as medical conditions, battles with addiction, or marital problems, to the whimsical, such as being in love, or having seen the latest episode of Dancing With the Stars. You can also form groups around goals, such as the desire to lose weight.

Read full story

(via InternetActu)

25 November 2007

Ethnography and design

Paul Dourish
In “Responsibilities and Implications: Further Thoughts on Ethnography and Design“, presented a few weeks ago at DUX2007, UC Irvine professor Paul Dourish continues to elaborate on the use of ethnography in human-computer interaction and the “implications for design” issues he addressed at CHI2006.

In the CHI paper, he argued how the use of ethnographic investigation in HCI is often partial since it underestimated, misstated, or misconstrued the goals and mechanisms of ethnographic investigation. Which is problematic since researchers aims a deriving “implication for design” from these investigations.

The DUX paper continues on that topic to show how ethnography is relevant but not in the bullet-point “short term requirements” way some use to think about. As he says, “the valuable material lies elsewhere” or “beyond the laundry list“, which is described through two case studies about emotion and mobility.

Abstract

Many researchers and practitioners in user experience design have turned towards social sciences to find ways to understand the social contexts in which both users and technologies are embedded. Ethnographic approaches are increasingly prominent as means by which this might be accomplished. However, a very wide range of forms of social investigation travel under the “ethnography” banner in HCI, suggesting that there is still considerable debate over what ethnography is and how it can best be employed in design contexts.

Building on earlier discussions and debates around ethnography and its implications, this paper explores how ethnographic methods might be consequential for design. In particular, it illustrates the implications for design that might be derived from classical ethnographic material and shows that these may not be of the form that HCI research normally imagines or expects.

(via Pasta&Vinegar)

24 November 2007

Umpqua Bank Innovation Lab

Umpqua Bank
Umpqua Bank has opened its new store concept in Portland, Ore.’s South Waterfront neighborhood. The store will serve as Umpqua’s Innovation Lab, showcasing emerging and existing technologies that foster community and redefine what consumers can expect from a banking experience. As a testing ground for new initiatives, the Lab will change regularly to feature new technology, products, services and community events.

Umpqua has collaborated with numerous technology companies including Cisco, Intel, Lenovo, Microsoft, Nexus IS, Inc. and Planar to develop and integrate technology that enhances the customer experience and store operations. In many cases, it is the first time these technologies have been implemented in a consumer setting.

Inside The Lab: Harnessing Technology to Create Community

The Innovation Lab is designed to serve the community as a hub of activity, information and resources, including available meeting space. At opening, it will feature:

  • Product Wall: A 25-foot, interactive, seamless dynamic plasma wall that features touch screen technology, pod casts and community search functionality.
  • Community Wall: This interactive display wall serves as the store’s official community center. It provides information on volunteer opportunities and community events, supports fundraising for community organizations and includes a survey option for users to tell Umpqua which topics they would like to learn more about.
  • LocalSpace: Umpqua’s own social networking site. Designed to connect and assist local businesses in a virtual setting, LocalSpace offers opportunities for mentoring, expert advice, public community calendars and 3-D mapping from Microsoft’s Virtual Earth.
  • Computer Café: Features tables embedded with state-of-the-art Lenovo laptops inviting visitors to try out easy-access online banking solutions or simply surf the Web.
  • Ask an Expert: Uses the Cisco Unified Meeting Place solution to connect customers face-to-face with experts on a wide range of financial topics at any time.
  • Interactive and In-store Shopping: Browse merchandise from local merchants as well as Umpqua’s Discover Local Music CDs, books and other finds.

Read full story

23 November 2007

The DIY Future: what happens when everyone is a designer?

The DIY Future
Last week Joe Lamantia, a New York-based user experience and information architecture consultant, gave the closing talk at the Italian IA Summit in Trento, entitled “The DIY Future: what happens when everyone is a designer?”.

In his seemingly very interesting presentation, he talks about integrated experiences, the need for permeability, and conflict as the missing ingredient in design – and also puts the work of Peter Morville, Bruce Sterling and Jesse James Garrett in a new context.

He just posted the abstract and the slides online. I hope audio will soon be available as well.

Broad cultural, technological, and economic shifts are rapidly erasing the distinctions between those who create and those who use, consume, or participate. This is true in digital experiences and information environments of all types, as well as in the physical and conceptual realms. In all of these contexts, substantial expertise, costly tools, specialized materials, and large-scale channels for distribution are no longer required to execute design.

The erosion of traditional barriers to creation marks the onset of the DIY Future, when everyone is a potential designer (or architect, or engineer, or author) of integrated experiences – the hybrid constructs that combine products, services, concepts, networks, and information in support of evolving functional and emotional pursuits.

The cultural and technological shifts that comprise the oncoming DIY Future promise substantial changes to the environments and audiences that design professionals create for, as well as the role of designers, and the ways that professionals and amateurs alike will design. One inevitable aspect consequence will be greater complexity for all involved in the design of integrated experiences. The potential rise of new economic and production models is another.

The time is right to begin exploring aspects of the DIY Future, especially its profound implications for information architecture and user experience design. Using the designer’s powerful fusion of analytical perspective and creative vision, we can balance speculative futurism with an understanding of concrete problems – such as growing ethical challenges and how to resolve them – from the present day.

View slideshow (click on “full”) | Download slideshow

23 November 2007

Interview with Donald Norman on Core77

Donald Norman
Donald Norman‘s shining career began with a post at Harvard and then the University of California, San Diego, where his interests in psychology turned toward cognitive science. As one of the founders of that field, he eventually shifted his energies toward the relationship between user cognition and (computing) technology, which led to executive positions at Apple and Hewlett Packard.

Today he is co-founder and principal of the Nielson Norman Group, a executive consultancy for user-centered thinking; a Professor of Computer Science, Psychology, and Cognitive Science at Northwestern University; and co-director of Northwestern’s Segal Design Institute (among too many other titles and activities to list). Importantly for design though, beyond his writing, he is trying to spread the word of design to our engineering and business brethren, so that they get how important design is, and so that we can work better together.

Bruce M. Tharp of Core77 caught up with Don at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s design center for a no-holds-barred chat. Don starts things off by criticizing the design of Bruce’s voice recorder, talks about his just released book [The Design of Future Things], what he’s writing and thinking about now, the relationship between engineering and design, and much more.

Listen now (mp3, 38 minutes) | iTunes

23 November 2007

Bob Jacobson reviews “Authenticity” by Gilmore and Pine

Authenticity
Jim Gilmore and Joe Pine, authors of the 1999 marketing classic, The Experience Economy: Work is Theater and Every Business a Stage, have just published a new book Authenticity: What Consumers Really Want (see also this post).

In a review Bob Jacobson calls it “an important, simultaneously prescriptive and cautionary addition to the rapidly growing corpus of literature on experiential marketing” and “a manifesto for our time that can’t be ignored”.

“Transformations, which bond companies and customers irrevocably, occur only when authenticity — customer self-identity and the brand experience — are total. They’re beyond intentional design. But at the highest level of manipulable reality, the generation of experiences, the higher the degree of authenticity, as perceived by customers, is the critical differentiating factor in the quality of experiences that companies offer to their customers. “

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22 November 2007

Designing the ‘care’ into health care

Intel's MCA
Business Week looks at how improving the user experience could inspire people to tap into the system more regularly to help stave off more serious illness.

“Focusing on improving the user experience could inspire people to tap into the system more regularly to support healthful choices that could help stave off more serious illnesses. Innovations are called for that are relevant to people’s needs and encourage compliance, improve communication between doctor and patient, and help people help themselves be healthy.”

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